Well the year is almost over so I thought I’d put up my list of my favorite albums of the year. Just like the Mixcast I did these are just my personal favorites, I don’t claim them to be the best in any way, it’s just what I was enjoying in 2009. If you listen to my Mixtapes/casts you’ll see a lot of familiar faces but I hope you enjoy it anyhow.
The list is in alphabetical order (by album name) and there’s no numbering. I hate trying to decide an order so consider them all equally amazing.
Bonfires on the Heath
by The Clientele
I’ve been a big fan of The Clientele for a long time and this album was long overdo. As the weather started to get colder it started to be my album that I walked around town to. It’s a festive album, for sure, and there’s just something timeless about their music. My favorite song on the album is definitely Tonight, a soft ballad that melts my heart every time I hear it.
Cocoon of Love
Los Angeles based Princeton makes my list for their completely charming album Cocoon of Love. This is their first major release and they already show a ton of potential. The album has tinges of all of your favorite bands like Magnetic Fields, Jens Lekman and Bishop Allen but definitely make their sound something fresh. I’m also smitten with Jesse Kivel’s voice which I think really sets them apart.
Columbus’d The Whim
by Holiday Shores
Holiday Shores is yet another new and upcoming band from 2009 that really struck a chord with me. Led by the rough yet dreamy vocals of Nathan Pemberton this is one of those albums that I listened to on repeat. I don’t think they had any hit songs, but I swear that the album is made up of nothing but gems. I also love that they use a lot of organs as well as the occasional horn. I’d say this reminds me of summertime pop you listen to at the lake.
by The Flaming Lips
Embryonic was probably hands down the best record of the year. Is it the most listenable? Probably not. Was it the most exciting and cutting edge? Definitely. This album reminded me of OK Computer in its range mixed with bits of jazz and psychedelic rock albums from the late 70’s. A bizarre, trippy album that was exactly what 2009 needed.
by M. Ward
If you look on my Last.fm you’ll see that M. Ward is my number one all-time played artist. There’s just something about his music that really clicks with me and his album Hold Time didn’t disappoint. It was really exciting to see him play live because he played a lot of the songs off of this album like To Save Me, which is by far one of his best hits yet, though I’ll always have a soft spot for Shangri-La.
by The Antlers
I said I didn’t want to rank any of these albums but if I had to pick an absolute favorite of the year, that was something I put on repeat and was touched by, it would be Hospice. This album has it all: hard parts, soft parts, passion, fear and every other emotion you can possibly think of all wrapped up into ten songs. This is going to be the album that I equate with 2009.
Love 2 came later in 2009 but it definitely made a huge impression on me. When I take the bus places at night or really walk anywhere at night I usually put this album on. I’d consider this one of their best albums so far as it was a return to songs that were driven more by the music and less by vocals. Kind of like a darker version of Moon Safari.
Monsters of Folk
by Monsters of Folk
Take four extremely talented guys, get them to create one epic album together and what do you get? Monsters of Folk. This was definitely one of my absolute favorites of the year because Conor Oberst, M. Ward, and Jim James are geniuses and combining that talent only intensified it all. Plus I have to give props yet again to Mike Mogis who I think really made things come together.
The Ruminant Band
by Fruit Bats
The Ruminant Band by Fruits Bats was one of those albums that took me by surprise. It’s an extremely folk-y feeling album, which I think is augmented by lead singer Eric Johnson’s voice. The album feels like a good summer album, something to listen to while the sun sets and you’ve got a beer in your hand.
As I write all of these I’m listening to the album, remembering what I loved about each one, and Tight Knit really brings back some good memories. I remember seeing Vetiver play live in Eagle Rock, standing about 8 feet from the band. It was a beautiful performance by an incredibly talented band. Tight Knit is another timeless sounding album, an album you just let wash over you.
Up From Below
by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes
What’s there to say about an album that I’ve already professed my love for over and over? Up From Below is an epic album that sprawls numerous genres and styles and never lets you down. It’s interesting that this is technically their first release, although the lead singer Alex Ebert used to be the singer for Ima Robot. Hopefully album number two will be just as amazing.
by Grizzly Bear
I was extremely tempted to not put Veckatimest on this list. I do think it’s a pretty great album, but there are some songs I’m not fond of, and I flat out hate the song Dory. That being said, the good songs on this album really outweigh the bad as soon as I listened to the whole thing on vinyl my resignation melted away. Veckatimest is a beautiful album when listened to as a whole and the production levels are out of this world.
by The Cave Singers
Hen of the Woods is another one of those albums that kind of surprised me. It feels like a mix between a country and a folk album which is augmented by Peter Quark’s vocals. The album is really simple, kind of minimal and stripped down, which was nice especially because the weather had started to change when I began listening to it. It’s music that makes you want to grow a beard and drink whiskey.
What Will We Be
by Devendra Banhart
The minute I put this album on I began to smile, just like the name of the first song. I remember walking up to my local bookstore listening to this, the sun shining brightly and not having a damn care in the world. I have a huge soft spot for Devendra and this is definitely his most polished and well done record. It’s absolutely a summer 2009 record that I won’t forget.
It’s entirely possible that Phoenix may have written the best pop album of 2009. It’s only 10 songs long but each and everyone of them make you want to get up and dance… okay, except for Love Like A Sunset. It’s amazing that in such a short time they went from having that one cool song on Lost in Translation to being nominated for a Grammy best alternative music album. But thankfully they’ve done it on their terms and made everyone dance.