Massive Best Albums of 2009 List

2009 the Year in Music

Welcome! You have just found one of the most exhaustive and well-considered lists of quality, new music available in 2009. We don't promise to have everything that's out there but what is comes in one easy-to-digest package!

Read on below: Ultimately, we consider this to be an A-Z shopping list (we have great confidence that any and all of these 65 artist projects belong in your permanent collection) is a reflection of our own personal tastes. (Accordingly - there are some rather prominent omissions from this list - and we stand firmly by these selections. We didn't always agree - so there are some debated entries here!)

Enjoy the fruits of our labor & invest in the artist material. We all need to support the works of musicians and artists whose work we enjoy. With that in mind, here are the 2009 Recommendations from Ryan's Smashing Life....

Album of the Year

Dark Was the Night Compilation

"This is easily, hands down the best album of the year as it includes the cream of the crop as it were in the world of independent rock. (This is where I get to take the role of petty dictator. Last year I restricted our 'Best of Lists' to not include compilations, greatest hits and cover albums -- and our writers complied. I opened it up his year so this album could be included in our list!) A couple of really creative guys from The National put together this Aids benefit CD featuring a 'who's who' of talent. If you don't own it, put it on your music shopping list immediately. And know that when you pay, you'll be helping a great cause. Complete winner!" - Ryan.

AM - Future Sons & Daughters

"AM's vibrant, witty Future Sons & Daughters has been one of my favorite records all year long. It's always by my side: at home, in the office, in the car. And, there's a reason for it... It's hard to beat clever songwriting, vibrant presentation and glistening creativity. AM is smooth music personified. Well done!" - Ryan.

Ian Adams - Stay Up Late

"Ian Adams' Stay Up Late is an incredible album of howling ballads and wicked character stories. A 15-year veteran of the Boston Music scene, up until now, Adams played most notably with Rock City Crimewave. Here he finds himself here the subject of a rock and roll baptism. This is the sound of an unraveling soul - Highly Recommend!" - Ryan.

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

"Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion has been in my mp3 player all year. AC found a way, improbably, to improve on their already spacey, rhythm-dominated sound - expanding on their grasp of listeners' hearts. For best results, hit repeat and let it play through." - Ryan.

Art Brut - Art Brut v Satan

ART BRUT - With his typically wonderful scream-sing prose, Eddie Argos recaptured my heart with this year’s “Art Brut vs. Satan.” How could I not fall for lyrics about the simple way of approaching common themes in the hullabaloo of my life, namely, mysterious bruises and chocolate milkshakes? My adoration for this album, both silly and brilliant, was cemented by the October Art Brut concert at the Middle East, which Argos and company opened with a cover of The Modern Lovers’s “Roadrunner” in homage to the magnificent Boston post-punk band. I had to go home and convince myself not to drop out of B.U. and change my name to Emily Kane." - Emma.

"Offering us what was possibly the most entertaining live show of the year, Art Brut’s third album was a great collection of songs about comics, bad pop, and girlfriends who never were. You would be hard pressed to find an album this year that would give you so much to laugh about, or to dance to." - Nick

Au Revoir Simone - Still Night Still Light

"Complete with Lo-Fi synth arrangements, metallic drum beats, female harmonies and nostalgic melodies. Picture yourself traveling alone at night, in a cab through winter streets, arriving just short of a romantic rendez-vous. If you have tender spot for Stereo Total and Lali Puna you will like Au Revoir Simone." - Mark.

"One thing has become abundantly clear with Au Revoir Simone... The more I hear, the more I like. Another example of music that transcends the confines of a performance space, this is someone you need to know." - Ryan.

Avett Brothers - Dark Days / Light Years

"The Avett Brothers took their Americana style and polished it into something more beautiful than anyone could imagine. These acoustic jams are soulful, heart pounding, and, in a word, epic. With an impressively diverse mix of pacing and arrangement, the Avett Brothers’ voices tear through each song like there’s no tomorrow." - Nikhil.

Band of Skulls - Baby Darling Doll Face Honey

"Band of Skull’s debut release, Baby Darling Doll Face Honey, shows listeners that three musicians bringing their best to the table is better and more interesting than what a lot of larger bands have to offer. What makes the diverse genres in these tracks especially interesting is the way the album accumulates them in order to show more and more points of connection between various styles. Once the album gives us some raw and vulnerable moments in the standout song “Fires” and the country-esque “Honesty,” these feelings stick around and sound equally at home in the thick ending to “Dull Gold Heart” and the relatively quiet vocal harmonies in “Cold Fame.” The bluesy guitars in “Blood” turn red hot at just the right moment—just when we can’t take the smoldering anymore—and then delve into heavy-metal distortions. This is a band that knows each individual member and its collective identity well, and we’re the luckier for it.
" - Nikhil.

Very possibly my favorite album of the year. This bluesy effort is striking not only in its quality, but also in its range, They take you from down and dirty almost Zepplin-esque "Light of the Morning" to something that could be damn well described as flat-out pretty "Honest". The interplay between the vocals of Russell Marsden and Emma Richardson is totally addictive. Russell's vocals are strong but never strident and the power of Emma's vocals hearkens to a latter day Chrissie Hynde," - Sean.

"My pick for 2009 New Artist of the Year," - Ryan.

Devendra Banhart - What Will We Be

"An album and effort that's both sensitive and heartfelt while experimental, bold - and somehow oddly smooth, Devendra Banhart's What Will We Be is one of the best music projects of the year. Another of the selections picked instantly - and never fell from grace, I learned about myself by listening to this project. A top effort from a keen, artistic mind," - Ryan.

Lou Barlow - Goodnight Unknown

"Lou Barlow returned with a solo album in the same year as his original band, Dinosaur Jr, brought out another of their own. Barlow’s work alone was by far the stronger of the two, harkening back to some of his mid-90s cassette tape recordings, which were to launch lo-fi pioneers Sebadoh. Remarkably intimate, Barlow can still deliver simple songs that move you, like few others," - Nick.

"Barlow has never sounded so good. An interesting period in the man's career (balancing personal and group goals) has helped him create some simple, beautiful, low music. Very thankful that Nick pointed this one out... Highly Recommended," - Ryan.

The Beatings - Late Season Kid

"Known far beyond the dead lawns and low-lying brick buildings of Boston, the critically-acclaimed The Beatings are famous for their ability to work post-punk angst and dark soul into their songs. Such is the case with the band's epic everyman album Late Season Kid. A perennial favorite - and one only getting stronger with this new material, this one thoroughly impresses" - Ryan.

Andrew Bird - Noble Beast

"Maestro Andrew Bird has proven himself yet again on Noble Beast. And what he does is make beautiful sound arrangements framed in his witty, poetic lyrics. Bird has found his place amongst the leaders in classic instrument fusion with independent rock. Noble Beast is a beautiful album," - Ryan.

Bitter Tears - Jam Tarts in the Jakehouse

"The Bitter Tears are not your standard indie rock. They use many instruments, well placed harmonies and a variety of sonic flavors to engage and entertain. Imagine a rock version of Beirut or an updated Squirrel Nut Zippers with a little Cracker," - Sean.

Black Gold - Rush

"One of my favorite live shows of the year was Black Gold at the Middle East. A powerful and succinct touring bed Black Gold are led by the dynamic duo of Eric Ronick (credits include: Ambulance Ltd and Panic at the Disco) and Than Luu (credits include: M Ward, Shushshush and Rachel Yamagata). Their performance proved to be both analog and totally electric. Than Luu was the best drummer I saw all year long," - Ryan.

Camera Obscura - My Maudlin Career

"Highly orchestrated with lots of reverb, My Maudlin Career still has a sweet simplicity that just sucks you in and keeps you bopping in your chair," - Sean.

Neal Casal - Roots + Wings

Matthieu Zazzo photo

"Neal Casal has made his name by proving to the be the very bedrock of the Cardinals. Now he's out on his own. Roots + Wings is an absolutely amazing album - an unexpected treat out of the world of country," - Ryan.

Neko Case - Middle Cyclone

"As her music continues to be increasingly difficult to identify in terms of genre, Neko's Middle Cyclone brings together alt-country, folk, power-pop, and rock. The result is an album that is entirely original and surprising throughout. The vocals here are, as always, hauntingly beautiful and lend a startling strength to each song," - Nikhil.

Chairlift - Does You Inspire You?

"This band was one of my constant companions on the road in 2009 - I don't listen daily, but I always end up coming back. A complete pick me up... In Does You Inspire You listeners get the full tradition of good pop music: creative, jetty songcraft, unusual, quirky presentations and no fear of simplicity. Give Chairlift a listen." - Ryan.

Dan Auerbach - Keep It Hid

"Deep dirty blues with a dash of Southern Rock. Now, toss in a couple slow tunes to keep you on your toes and Dan Auerbach has put together one hell of an album," - Sean. "Sean and I were lucky enough to both be at the Dan Auerbach show at the Paradise here in Boston. The man has a spirit about him - an eye-opening show! - Ryan

Carbon Leaf - Nothing Rhymes with Woman

"As we’ve come to expect from these guys, Carbon Leaf’s latest is full of thoughtful lyrics that always manage to feel exuberantly fun, and Barry Privett delivers with his usual soulfulness. Their celtic and bluegrass roots are still discernible beneath some welcomed new effects on guitar, as Carter Gravett has a bit more room for nasty hooks in this one. “Another Man’s Woman,” “Miss Hollywood,” and “Pink” are sure to be new sing-along favorites at live shows," - Nikhil.

"A full-bodied indie-pop album with occasional flashes of Southern Rock. These twangy storytellers have put together a warm and inviting album that just soaks you in with lyrical hooks and choruses that beg for a a sing-along. "I got my X-Ray goggles and my X-Ray gun, I spy everyone," - Sean.

David Wax Museum - Carpenter Bird

"We just recently wrote about our love of the latest album from this Boston-based quartet. Carpenter Bird is a blend of America and Traditional Mexican music. Every song feels so full of love and life that your heart jumps with joy even on the minor chords. A special album that I hope you can pick up," - Sean.

"It fills me with much pride that such music is being made amidst our bustling, modern lives. With more time spent with the album, I have come to appreciate that the David Wax Museum are not just a jewel in Boston's crown, as they are destined, it seems, to be a national treasure." - Ryan.

Decemberists - Hazards of Love

"The Decemberists infuse their traditional British-inspired folk(tale) sound with, of all, things, metal riffs that can tear through this 17-song album at break-neck speed. There are still moments of soft beauty, but the album's strongest when Meloy's slightly sinister vocals are finally accompanied by the hard and jagged guitar work--not to mention the guest vocals from totally badass Shara Worden," - Nikhil.

Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca

DIRTY PROJECTORS - "If a record can be a season, “Bitte Orca” was my summer. I saw the four piece ensemble of musical geniuses once at Bonnaroo, where they were joined on stage by none other than David Byrne to do their single, “Knotty Pine,” from “Dark Was the Night,” and then again in Brooklyn at one of the summer Pool Parties. “Bitte Orca” is one of those rare masterpieces you can listen to over and over again and find something new to obsess over each time. I wait anxiously to see what their magnificent vocal harmonies and screeching crescendos amount to next." - Emma.

"Rhytmically complex, this album is a zig-zagging piece of art. There's loads of variety to appreciate as you travel through Bitte Orca. The one thing you'll notice is that they can make anything percussion...vocals, guitar and well, of course, the drums," - Sean.

"More accessible than their previous releases, Bitte Orca stills shows off Dave Longstreth’s unbelievable guitar skills and compositional imagination. Along with Longstreth, Haley Dekle, Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian lend their voices to some of the most acrobatic and original vocal arrangements this year. These songs unfurl in unexpected ways, their addictive hooks keeping you mesmerized every step of the way," - Nikhil.

Doves - Kingdom of Rust

"Doves have been away from the studio, and from Boston, for a few years now, but they returned with a very strong album last month. They play great mood music, and Kingdom of Rust is the dark horse candidate for best album of the first half of the year," - Nick.

Golden Bloom - Fan the Flames

"One of the most musically creative projects of the year, in Fan The Flames, Golden Bloom produced a stunning example of live parlor songs that come off sounds uplifting and fun whether played before a coffeehouse audience or a packed theater. Add to it, the way that Golden Bloom released a track for free each week online. It was a clever way to share the creation of the album track by track with fans. Singer-Songwriter Shawn Fogel is gifted," - Ryan.

Great Northern - Show Me Where the Light Is

"Great Northern was a very good band that got improbably got better and more passionate this year. This is must-have stuff," - Ryan.

Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown

"I wrestled with nominating Green Day, I mean its Green Day. But seriously, the intensity and variety of the songs on this CD make it a definite best for the first half of 2009," - Sean.

Handsome Furs - Face Control

"An intimate music event with Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry can turn your life upside down. Not only did this pair rip the top off Boston during their latest tour through the states, they also are good drinking company... Boeckner (also of Wolf Parade) is a gift. Perry brings the best out in him. The Handsome Furs are just magic," - Ryan.

Ben Harper and Relentless7 - White Lies for Dark Times

"This album warmed me, once again, to the place where drum & guitar rock 'n roll meets soul. The opposite side of the same cosmic guitar scale as Jack White, Ben Harper's latest effort not only rejuvenated both his sound and his already storied career, it has already won over a whole lot of new hearts. A tremendous effort worthy of this list, I look forward to seeing what The Relentless7 does next!" - Ryan.

Hanne Hukkelberg - Blood from a Stone

"One can only imagine that the midnight sun of Norway would bring about a disparate set of musical genres. Blood from a Stone arrives as Hanne Hukkelberg's 3rd album, a rush of dark brilliant chords balanced by the tension of quiet hymnal moments ready to crash and go in a completely unexpected directions. Her voice is something sexy like black ice cream." - Mark.

A Hawk and A Hacksaw - Deliverance

"Where Beirut ends, Hawk and a Hacksaw begins and delivers, with the wonderful colours of Arabic influenced, Eastern European folk genres. Spinning in endless escalations of violins and accordions through imagined country sides and stone taverns. The soundtrack of a silent film hero who emerges in dappled light through a corridor of wine, women and music." - Mark.

Heartless Bastards - The Mountain

HB's Erika Wennerstrom

"Heartless Bastard's CD release party at Great Scott's was a highpoint of this year's live shows. The album too, is a great mix of blues and rock behind Erika Wennerstrom's unique vocal tone," - Nick. "The aching passion behind this album comes through in lyrics and in tone. Rarely does introspection produce results that rock so hard," - Nikhil. "One of my three best records of the year for sure - and possibly the best. Heartless Bastards are one of the best live bands in the country," - Ryan.

Hands and Knees - Et Tu, Fluffy?

The Hands and Knees debut is absolutely one of the best records of '09. Et Tu Fluffy takes on a modern indie/alt-country dance with Hot Little Item, a swirling, slowly climbing homage to a girl that I swear to god could have come from Roy Orbison." - Ryan.

The Horrors - Primary Colours

"Easily my favorite album to come out this year, The Horrors second was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in England, and I think it should have been theirs. The album was produced by Portishead’s Geoff Barrow. Compared to their 2007 début, Strange House, Barrow’s effect on the project was to give it a wonderfully off-balance feel, with disturbingly off the mark timing issues, and yet still with their own Joy Division-like, industrial sound surrounding it. A must have," - Nick.

Jarvis Cocker - Further Complications

Steve Albini's angry production puts a fresh stamp on Cocker's music here. "Further complications" is a bitter pill of sarcasm and wit in equal measure. Cocker’s best work in years," - Nick. "I love this album a lot." - Ryan.

Logan 5 and the Runners - Featurette

"Sharp, punctuated drum driven forward by keys and rythmic bass only to be chopped up by electric guitars - this is the key to success on Featurette, the debut from Logan 5 and the Runners. I am further fueled by frontman David Berndt's voice which seems it was pretty much made for smoky lounge rooms and dark epiphanies," - Ryan.

Manchester Orchestra - Mean Everything to Nothing

"Atlanta’s Manchester Orchestra are on their way to big things, and we can only applaud their efforts. "Mean Everything to Nothing," with its high point. Be Sure to check out the video for "Pride," (full version) - the highlight of the album and its deep rock roots. I love it," - Nick.

Ida Maria - Fortress Round My Heart

"A total surprise, Ida Maria's debut LP is fun, moving, and invigorating. Her singing sounds like it comes from deep inside, and this blends perfectly with the band's punk sound," - Nikhil.

The Mars Volta - Octahedron

"In an interview with Amsterdam based, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez talks about the creation of music, "some people create music [with the idea that] if it works good, if it sells; do it again and some people create music saying, 'what do people want to hear'; maybe people don't want to hear everyday life, maybe people don't want complication, they want it simple, they want pop music, so they can forget about their internal know, I celebrate the internal monologue." Octahedron musically articulates the everyday struggle of self, where at times one finds their heart beating faster than the brain could calculate." - Mark.

Matt & Kim - Grand

"I named Grand the First Must-Have album to be released in 2009 and I stand by those words! Another band that has turned the page and gone on to do some remarkable stuff, Matt & Kim are just wicked on this indie pop record with punk undertones. Highly Recommend." - Ryan.

Maximo Park - Quicken the Heart

" Maximo Park write twenty-first century songs of love and romance. This, their third album, keeps up their tradition of (great) old-fashioned songwriting. Add to this their on-stage energy, which left us breathless when they played in Boston last year, and this album should win over many when they come back to Boston and play the Paradise in September," - Nick.

Mean Creek - The Sky (or The Underground)

"New Artist of the Year in Boston. Mean Creek, really blew my mind on first listen - and it only got better from there. This band play emotive music capable of lighting up your brain. One of the best of the new generation of bands on a national level... Highly Recommended," - Ryan.

MEandJOANCOLLINS - Love. Trust. Faith. Lust.

"Storytelling come with relative ease between bombastic rock performances from MEandJOANCOLLINS. You must add Love. Trust. Faith. Lust. to your collection - one of the best new albums of the year!" - Ryan.

Metric - Fantasies

Jenny Lewis photo

"With a bit of a Tegan and Sara flavor, Metric delivers rock electronica that is upbeat without being dancy. Luscious vocals and sweet beats makes you want to hit the road and drive fast (always obey the speed limit people)." - Sean.

Amy Millan - Masters of the Burial

"Amy’s whisper-soft voice is as irresistible as ever on her latest album, and she proves again that less can be more. Full of banjo, mandolin, and acoustic guitar, Masters of the Burial combines a healthy dose of whiskey-toned twang with some warm atmospheric tones, and the result is a set of songs that are as good as any company you might find yourself wishing for late at night under the covers." - Nikhil.

Most Serene Republic -
... And the Ever Expanding Universe

"What I love most about this album is how spontaneous it feels. Listening to how TMSR tie together so many instruments, voices, harmonies, and movements within a single song, I feel like I’m hearing a piece of chamber music performed live. But more than anything it’s the way these songs accumulate sounds and build to the point of explosion that makes this one of the best alternative pop albums of the year." - Nikhil.

Passion Pit - Manners

"Boston's own Passion Pit put the bounce back in indie music, and every track reels you in with its catchy mix of electronic music and guitar riffs," - Nikhil. "I have to admit - I have come to love this album despite some minor nagging flaws that bugged me at first. (Not all the intros work well and some of the tracks sound a little enclosed or rushed despite their tone...) But what's here was better than 95% of everybody else's releases this year. One of the most promising band's we've ever heard. If they can jump a few small hurdles, the sky's the limit." - Ryan

Peter, Bjorn and John - Living Thing

"Living Thing really spoke to me this year. I like the fact that PB&J draw from a wide array of influences to achieve their sound. Tons of experimentation and an upbeat live show all lead to one of those 'best of' type years. This one's a winner," - Ryan.

Phoenix - 1901

"Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is another one of those albums that seems to have infiltrated every facet of pop culture in the past 6 months, blurring the line between indie and everyone. And why not? The entire album drips with a catchy upbeat dance feel that makes it hard to stay seated. I could say more, but it feels like it’s all been covered by every music appreciator since the album’s release in May. Songs to pay special attention to: “Listzomania,” “1901,” “Rome,” “Armistice.” Ah, just all of it. Listen to all of it, and you’ll never be able to stop." - Emma.

Joel Plaskett - III

"Nova Scotia native Joel Plaskett crafted a massive exploration of song this year. Triple album with a triple theme. While there's a lot of tinkering, I came to find very little 'extra' on this voluminous, ambitious project. Much of that can be credited to the talented Plaskett's able co-conspirators. Together they have crafted unique, fun approaches to all this new material. Most songs leap from the sketch pad to fully actualized sit-in pieces - Others are howling rock ballads singed by country heat. An easy pick for Best of 2009," - Ryan.

The Points North - I Saw Across the Sound

"Despite its perfect capturing of the cold New England landscape, this album is the warmest and most inviting I’ve heard this year. The shared vocals between Chris Alspach and Regina Peterson pull listeners into the stories they unfold, and the result is a set of songs that feel like personal disclosures even when an entire region of the US is meant to be speaking to us." - Nikhil.

Portugal. The Man - Dark Days / Light Years

"I don't tend to be a fan of music where the vocals are the dominant force, but the funk-infused rock album from this four-piece from Wasilla, Alaska, gives us something to love from that town. Solid bass lines and laid back grooves from the drums back up the vocals which are then concentrated into a series of three minutes songs that get your hips shakin'," - Sean.

Sam Roberts - Love At The End of The World

"A touch of twang, a dash of psychedelia, a bunch of really good songs and at least three great ones. Oh Maria, this one's for you," - Sean.

Sea Wolf - White Water, White Bloom

"Big Sound! From the opener "Wicked Blood" Alex Church lets you know what you can expect from White Water, White Bloom. Its easy to get carried away with orchestration when you starting building songs like this. However, the liberal use of strings adds without distracting and creates a texture of sea for the vocals to sail on." - Sean.

"White Water, White Bloom is a Top Ten Album of the Year. Certainly one of the most satisfying shows I saw all year long, I am a Sea Wolf convert. This band is cut from a fine cloth - experimenting with classic instrumentation while finding clever new ways of advancing music, " - Ryan.

Speck Mountain - Some Sweet Relief

"A bit more subtle, but every part as beautiful and unfolding as our other selections, Some Sweet Relief proved to be one of my favorite albums of the year. Speck Mountain have proved themselves on this one; Highly Recommended!" - Ryan

St Vincent - Actor

"Annie Clark, a.k.a. St. Vincent, has mastered the contrast of angst-driven lyrics and a cool, haunting voice. Actor is an album about anxieties and dissatisfaction, but without listening closely to Clark’s words (or, maybe, without reading the song titles), you might never know it. It could just be playing in the background somewhere, with a steady beat and lovely voice that easily overcasts lines like, “Just like an amnesiac trying to get my senses back... Laughing with a mouth of blood from a little spill I took.” I prefer albums to grow on me, and Actor is simply beautiful: Only one listen doesn’t do justice to its subtleties." - Emma.

Super Furry Animals - Dark Days / Light Years

"How can you resist an album that features the lead singer of Franz Ferdinand doing a rap, in German? SFA show us once again they really are on a different planet. It's not just funny though - there are lots of SFA's signature harmonies, which make this one of the most beautiful albums of the year so far." - Nick.

Tom Thumb - We Never Die

"Taking my own award for the most breathtaking beautiful album of this half of the year is Boston’s own Andy Arch, and his musical persona, Tom Thumb. We Never Die is a showcase of lyrical excellence and musical poignancy that can give any solo artist (not just a local one) a run for their money." - Nick.

"My favorite solo performer from New England, Tom Thumb is a superb songwriter and a powerful live performer. Beneath his quiet exterior lies a creative lion. "We Never Die," is another Tom Thumb masterpiece - Highly Recommended." - Ryan.

The Tragically Hip - We Are The Same

"Vocally, this is The Hip's most complex album, and the songs all push the line between soniforous beauty and guitar-driven outbursts that will rock you out of your seat," - Nikhil. "I am still getting into this album, but love what I've heard. Re-joined the Hip's legion of fans follow's Nik's huge piece that ran earlier this year," - Ryan.

Travels - The Hot Summer

"Anar Badalov (of Baltimore faves Metal Hearts) and Mona Elliott (of Boston's beloved Victory at Sea) are back at it again and the results never sounded better! This creative couple - known as Travels, have released their second remarkable album and it's their best work to date!" - Ryan.

White Lies - To Lose My Life

"Probably the best of the 80s resurgence bands to come out of Britain in the last few years, White Lies are more than parody. This album is full of carefully built songs all their own, but still colored by the band’s history, and the history of many of their listeners," - Nick.

Wilco - Wilco

"The boys from Wilco get a bit tongue-in-cheek with their latest work, but what can you say? They have put together another in a series of great albums. Wilco (The Album) is a well orchestrated continuation of the rock/alt-country vibe that you have come to expect from them." - Sean.

Musical Prowess has never been in question for Wilco. On the new album, the band returns to some of the musical constructs of old but work just as hard to keep spirits light. For those unfamiliar and for fans who haven't listened for a while, this one's can be awfully inviting," - Ryan.

Wild Light - Adult Nights

Ryan Russell photo

"The word, 'Zeitgeist' refers to 'the spirit of the time' that something comes in. I am fairly convinced Wild Light's time is here and they are partially making it their own - and that their success is also due to something greater than themselves... It's impossible to not hear this NH band with Boston-ties and fall in love with their album. (Is California on My Mind a song of the year candidate?) Adult Nights is a spiraling staircase skyward - one step away from utter brilliance at all times," - Ryan.

Tim Williams - Careful Love

"There are but a handful of songwriters from the last half-decade who have worked as hard as - or have overcome as many obstacles as Tim Williams. The fact that he continues to grow and improve speaks to his talent, his strength and his artistic mind. Careful Love is a winner - earning a place on this list by the time the album cycled through. Highly Recommended," - Ryan.

Wooden Birds - Magnolia

"This is the new project from Andrew Kenny of the American Analog Set. The negative space on this record is just fantastic. Quiet and careful, it's full of lo-fi beauty that uses every note with incredible purpose and effect," - Nikhil.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz

"The album has an amazing arc, and Karen O makes you want to dance and lash out at the same time," - Nikhil. "

"A disco turn for what is still the best band out of New York of the last decade. Some have doubted this new direction, but I loved "It's Blitz" for it's swagger and it's fun. One of the best albums of the first half of the year," - Nick.


Trashy Pennies said…
Best list of 09 I've seen. Nice work.
I don't know, you claim to be fair to all genres, and while this is a GREAT list, I still prefer Pitchfork's Top ____ lists, because not only do they get music from any level of obscurity, but they give credit where credit is due, regardless of the genre. All said though, I'm still going to get everything on this list
PGYx said…
Thank you! Just when I'd written off 2009 as a bleak year for music*, you salvaged my hope that I can come late to the party and still have a fabulous time.

*Disclosure: I had just over no time to explore new music in 2009.
nicemandan said…
2009 has been the best year in music for some time. A vintage.
Anonymous said…
It's ridiculous to not have Merriweather Post Pavilion on there. It was the best animal collective album so far, and by far the best album of 2009.
Ryan Spaulding said…
Re: Anon You are right! (bet you didn't expect that for an answer.) I realized my egregious omission error (Merriweather's omission) just last night. I blame the massive final write & edit process, but ultimately I am only human. I didn't have time to finish their write-up last night... Next time you return, you will see they have been added - and rightfully so - to the list.

I disagree with you on when you call MPP the record of the year "by far". It's a Top 10-20 in my book, somewhere in that range... But that's nothing to sneeze at!
Anonymous said…
I thought that too much work was put into a list of the worst music i have ever heard. Made me sick to think that these talentless leaches that tried to steal music from the seventies, actually convinced you robots to like their music. It was honestly hurting my ears.
Anonymous said…
Damn, that's pretty comprehensive, nice job! I like the yahoo player too, it doesn't take forever to play something. Very good stuff, and thanks for introducing me to Ian Adams. I don't believe I haven't heard this guy before?!
E.L. said…
Great list - you need to add Visqueen, Message to Garcia.
pogoandchestnut said…
Veckatimest...... Grizzly Bear's Album was a masterpiece.
Ryan Spaulding said…
do not care for Grizzly Bear, at all
Anonymous said…
You are far too narrow scoped in the genre's you included in this list....seriously open your mind up to something that doesn't have it's roots solely in folk music....folk music is great, but there is much more out there....also much of this is convoluted "indie" crap that is supposed to be intricate and artistic, yeah bullshit....
Unknown said…
I think you missed a good one. Hometowns by the Rural Alberta Advantage. Otherwise a good list.

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