2009 Sounded Like This

The end of the year brings lists and this is mine. I fell behind on my reading and darkened the door of few movie houses, so this list of fifteen will focus on the sounds of 2009 as I heard them.

  • 15. Jon Hopkins – Insides. Almost as good as 2007’s Untrue from Burial. Almost. When the machines take over, they will march rather gracefully in time to this. (Listen to “Wire”)
  • 14. Alela Diane – To Be Still. There is a certain beauty to spareness, to starkness. Alela Diane has a voice from another time. (Listen to “Dry Grass & Shadows”)
  • 13. Tanya Morgan – Brooklynati. Tanya Morgan is not a girl. Tanya Morgan is a rap group. And if you’ve lost hope for hip-hop, Tanya Morgan might restore it. (Listen to “So Damn Down”)
  • 12. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion. This album is at the top of so many 2009 lists. Deservedly so. Like a latter day Pet Sounds. (Listen to “My Girls”)
  • 11. Noisettes – Wild Young Hearts. Not every album has to be profound or Earth-shattering. Sometimes, you just need something to hum through your day. (Listen to “Wild Young Hearts”)
  • 10. Ben Folds – Ben Folds Presents: University A Cappella! Songs by Ben Folds, produced by Ben Folds, performed by college a cappella groups, often sounding much better than Ben Folds himself. There, I said it. (Listen to “Army”)
  • 09. Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown. The almost-as-good follow-up to American Idiot (2004), wherein a punk trio uses concept rock to define the state of our national union and does it wonderfully. (Listen to “Peacemaker”)
  • 08. Lee Fields – My World. Did you love Amy Winehouse? Really? Then the phone is ringing. It’s Mr Lee Fields. You should take that call. (Listen to “Love Comes And Goes”)
  • 07. St Vincent – Actor. This is a collection of twisted pseudo-lovesongs, all orchestrated to (very) loosely resemble the scores of classic Disney cartoons. Really. (Listen to “Laughing With A Mouth Of Blood”)
  • 06. God Help The Girl – God Help The Girl. Imagine Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian woke up with the brilliant idea of making a film in reverse, starting with a joyful soundtrack of mostly Belle & Sebastian covers. This is that. (Listen to “Funny Little Frog”)
  • 05. The Clientele – Bonfires on the Heath. If Animal Collective produced this year’s Pet Sounds, then this is the Odessey and Oracle of 2009. (Listen to “Harvest Time”)
  • 04. Art Brut – Art Brut Vs. Satan. I was not a true believer until I saw them live. Now? I believe. “Bring. Me. Coffee!” (Listen to “Alcoholics Unanimous”)
  • 03. Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career. I want our next NFDC show to look as deliriously charming as this album sounds. (Listen to “French Navy”)
  • 02. Imogen Heap – Ellipse. She invited any and all to witness the creative process behind this album, building anticipation through participation rather than hype. This is the future of making music. (Listen to “Swoon”)
  • 01. Neko Case – Middle Cyclone. As soon as I heard the first track of this album, I knew it would be my number one for the year. Nobody has a voice like Neko Case, and that voice is a force of nature. Who better to sing a love song from the perspective of a spurned and vengeful funnel-cloud? (Listen to “This Tornado Loves You”)

Now it’s your turn to tell me what I missed.

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