My Top Ten Albums of 2009

December 31, 2009

Hey folks. Another year, another chance to look back over twelve months and see what’s been rocking my socks off. Now I should be clear: There’s a lot of music out there I don’t give a monkey’s about and so I haven’t listened to it. I haven’t listened to Lady Gaga because I’m a 35 year old straight man – she’s not aimed at me. Similarly most of the indie bobbins out there is aimed at people who go to Motorhead gigs ironically and then spend all night taking photos of themselves to post on Twitter – again, I’m not the target demographic.

So this is just the stuff I’ve stumbled across and liked. Maybe you’ll like it too.

In no particular order:

Touchdown – Brakes

This is probably best described as Indie pop with a touch of Country and the occasional blast of glam rock. The closest comparison I can make, with some reservations, is The Shins. The album starts with the pulsing Two Shocks, moves through chiming guitar pop, a gospel style hoedown and ripping off Roxy Music riffs.

It really is an album with a surprise around every corner and consequently it’s one of my favourites this year.

Watch Me Fall – Jay Reatard

Reatard seems to have a knack for pissing people off. There’s that awful name for one. He’s got into fights with his audience and angered his band to the point where they deserted him mid-tour. So it’s quite surprising to find that his music is not just snotty punk rock but fantastically skillful pop music with an undercurrent of psych. This album rattles through 32 minutes in no time at all and the quality is high throughout.

The Prodigy – Invaders Must Die

I wasn’t as disappointed with “Always Outnumbered” as many Prodigy fans, however even I can agree that this is a fantastic comeback. For this album they seem to have married the best elements of the first two albums to the punk attitude they discovered on Fat of the Land meaning they’ve pulled off a brilliant trick of invoking their past without repeating themselves.

Let’s Wrestle – In the Court of the Wrestling Let’s

And the award for the best album title goes to In the Court of the Wrestling Let’s! The album itself is pretty great too if you like Wedding Present-ish type stuff. I Won’t Lie to You was on of my favorite singles from last year and they really showed that it wasn’t a one off. The real star of this record is the lyrics where our protagonist is a loser but not a self pitying one.

The Wildhearts – Chutzpah!

Wildhearts albums have always been a mixed bag but this time Ginger and crew have really hit the mark. A collection of three minute pop epics in a variety of styles that never seem at odds with each other. While there are the usual air-punching singalongs there are also epic rock workouts like Jackson Whites and Tim Smith (a tribute to the Cardiacs main man who fell ill recently). While the Wildhearts sound might be too polished for some tastes, for anyone else this is as about as good as it gets.

Art Brut – Art Brut vs Satan

Eddie Argos is a cracking lyricist and he’s occasionally in great form here. Of particular note is Alcoholics Unanimous with it’s story of drunken misbehaviour. On top of that the tunes are great. Having said that there are a few tracks here that only just manage to tread water. I do have one pet peeve about this album though: I find the habit of making the chorus just a repeat of the title barked out four times in a row just a little tedious.

Still, Art Brut are great and I’m looking forward to the next album.

Bob Mould – Life and Times

Bob was on my list last year and here he is again. He’s still overly keen on that autotune/vocoder effect (come on Bob, your voice isn’t that bad) but his songwriting is terrific and really hits all the right notes with me. I think I’m Sorry, Baby, But You Can’t Stand in My Light Anymore is a Bob Mould classic that as good as anything else he’s ever written.

Spinnerette – Spinnerette

I must admit that I was only vaguely aware of Brody Dalle’s previous band The Distillers. I heard Ghetto Love and was immediately impressed. On this album Brody really shows us what a versatile singer she can be while the music is surprisingly ambitious, such as the jangling mandolins that suddenly appear in the middle eight of Baptized by Fire.

Therapy? – Crooked Timber

Therapy took a break before this album to regroup and try something different. This is certainly more experimental and while it occasional misses, it is a tremendously vicious listen if you’re in the mood for such a thing. Certainly, this is a band very much ploughing it’s own furrow, confident in who they are. This doesn’t sound like Troublegum and they don’t care.

Zoot Woman – Things Are What They Used to Be

This is fantastically well made electro-pop record. I must confess it hasn’t connected with as much as I thought it would however Just a Friend of Mine, Lonely by Your Side and We Won’t Break are fantastic songs.

Also…

A few albums came out in 2008 and I didn’t catch them until the start of 2009 so I thought I’d sneak them in here.

The Week That Was and School of Language were my most played albums of this year. In case you don’t know, the brothers from Field Music decided to go their separate ways and create their own records. School is very much the effort of a single person while Week is rather lavish. Both are fantastic albums and sit very well together. I highly recommend both of them.

Additionally I discovered You Slut!‘s album, Critical Meat. It’s instrumental rock music that is almost the opposite of post-rock. It’s frenetic, energetic stuff that sounds like an alien’s hurried interpretation of what all human rock music sounds like. Again, highly recommended.

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One Response to “My Top Ten Albums of 2009”

  1. Slack-a-gogo Says:

    Some great stuff. I’ll check out Let’s Wrestle baed on your description and that clip.

    I kept meaning to pick up Spinnerette but never did (I like Brody Dalle and loved the last album by the Distillers – it’s one of my favorite modern punk records). I need to get that very soon.

    The last Jay Reatard was in my Top 20, but this one never grabbed me. I was sort of bummed since I really wanted to like it.

    I had no idea Therapy? got back together. I used to love them.


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