>It’s that time of the year again…

>Yep, the end of the year is coming and it’s that time again when you hear me rant about the best (and perhaps also the worst) albums of the year. So brace yourselves cause here I go.

Personally, I think this year brought along a lot of good music but also a lot of shit. I mean a lot. Bands you wouldn’t believe came up with crappy albums. Like, I thought the Decemberists’ The Hazards of Love was a little too much. Well, not that they were mind-blowing before, but they just seemed to be going too far with the whole ‘progressive folk’ thing. As if that’d make them as good as Tool or something. Or that AnCo album… hell, wait up, I’ll talk about that later.

So, here are my picks for best albums of ’09 (in no particular order cause I suck at ranking shit):

Soulsavers – Broken
Um, this album featured Mark Lanegan (duh), Mike Patton, Will Oldham, Gibby Haynes and Jason Pierce. Need I say more? Don’t think so.
Recommended track: Unbalanced Pieces

The Cinematics – Love and Terror
And here I was, thinking British indie had been rendered outdated. Well, technically it has. We still gotta give it to them Brits — no one does post punk revival like them. Well, maybe Interpol does.
Recommended track: Love and Terror

Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions – Through the Devil Softly
This woman’s voice is like a soft caress kissing every part of your body and sending chills up and down your spine. Ever see those toilet paper ads talking about how soft and fluffy the product is? Well, that’s how I feel about Hope Sandoval’s voice. Don’t think that was a very good example, though. Very ethereal and minimalistic, relying mainly on Sandoval’s TP-esque vocals. Heh.
Recommended track: Blanchard

Florence + the Machine – Lungs
Another female vocalist’s ethereal-ish album, only this voice isn’t ethereal and frail but strong and Black-gospel-singer-like (with a British accent, lol). Love how she mixes just the right amount of blues, pop sensibility and melodrama, and can still make me smile.
Recommended track: Cosmic Love

Ramona Falls – Intuit
I don’t really know why I liked this. It’s not even that good. This sounds very much like Menomena, RF frontman and sole official member Brent Knopf’s day job, and I’m not a Menomena fan. So why do I like it? Because for indie rock, it sounds a little bit exotic, and that’s enough for me. I’m so easy to make happy.
Recommended track: Melectric

Bat for Lashes – Two Suns
Indie at its best, this represents all that is right about music. Dark and melancholic, electronic and simple… I love Natasha Khan. You should love her too.
Recommended track: Daniel (heh, commercial, I know, but I have my reasons…)

A Place to Bury Strangers – Exploding Head
Well, this one was a given. I honestly could give two shits whether this album is any good or not, cause they’re still APTBS and they’re fucking face-meltingly AWESOMEEE!!! Helps that the album really is good. Best Jesus and Mary Chain ripoff band that will ever exist, period.
Recommended track: I Lived My Life to Stand in the Shadow of Your Heart

Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
There’s nothing I can say that hasn’t been said already about this album. Yep, Edward Droste is a genius, he’s Jesus, he’s gonna cure cancer. Yep. So I’ll just shut up. The album’s worth a shot anyway.
Recommended track: While You Wait for the Others

HEALTH – Get Color
They did get color. Seriously. Their brutal, insane, minimal, drumbeat-driven trademark sound seems to still be there, but layered with colors, melodies, less noise and sugar. Nice.
Recommended track: Nice Girls

Fever Ray – Fever Ray
It’s Karin Dreijer Andersson, of course it’s fucking brilliant! Eerie, bleak and somewhat mysterious, but sensibilized by Dreijer’s quirky voice and cryptic lyrics. Damn, I miss The Knife.
Recommended track: Keep the Street Empty for Me

The Horrors – Primary Colors
I am somewhat glad these dudes shed their horror punk outfit and put on something more approachable but still interesting enough to keep my attention. Instead of the exhausted, run-of-the-mill British post punk revival, they made something really gripping: garage rock with a little more depth but not too deep.
Recommended track: Primary Colours

Telefon Tel Aviv – Immolate Yourself
Ah, when did electro get so goth? This is so dark it scares me! Love these guys, always have, and I’m really happy their ambient shit got so cool.
Recommended track: M

Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse – Dark Night of the Soul
Not exactly what I’d expect from Sparklehorse, but since he teamed up with batshit crazy guy Danger Mouse (from New York, suckasss), this is a completely different, way more pleasant sonic experience than anything I’d heard from him. I’m not even gonna type the list of guest artists that contributed to this album, cause I really wanna go to bed, but all I’m gonna say is David fucking Lynch. Yessss.
Recommended track: Jaykub (featuring Jason Lytle from Grandaddy)

The Twilight Sad – Forget the Night Ahead
I know I said I wouldn’t rank the albums, but I gotta say, this is my favorite album of ’09. More mature than their debut, wall-of-sound-laden, lyrically despairing and terribly depressing, this album is nothing short of moving and amazing. Yanks a tear out of me every now and then.
Recommended track: (All of them, especially…) Made to Disappear

Of course, like last year, I am also going to include some honorable mentions that didn’t quite make the very-best-of-the-year list, but are worth mentioning:

Julian Plenti – Julian Plenti Is… Skyscraper
Heh, I so had no faith in this album whatsoever. Somehow I thought it’d be as big a FAIL as Julian Casablancas’ solo album. Guess this just goes out to prove me wrong, yet again, and to reassure me that Interpol are fucking great. Two thumbs up to you, Paul Banks.
Recommended track: (Won’t mention Games for Days, won’t mention Games for Days, won’t mention…) Only if You Run

The Big Pink – A Brief History of Love
Remember how I said APTBS will always be the best JaMC ripoff band to ever exist? I wasn’t kidding. These dudes try, they sure do, but good JaMC ripping off can only be done properly in Brooklyn. I still like them.
Recommended track: Velvet

A.A. Bondy – When the Devil’s Loose
Fleet Foxes meets Devendra Banhart, plus a much bigger country feel. Result: Much more pleasant than it might seem.
Recommended track: A Slow Parade

Clint Mansell – Moon (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture)
Yes, Clint Mansell did it again, with his glitchy genius soundscapes. Who would have thought that funky guy from PWEI could be so… er, deep?
Recommended track: Sacrifice

PJ Harvey and John Parish – A Woman a Man Walked By
Three words: PJ fucking Harvey. Twelve more words: Talent and elegance converging in a creative and powerful cannonball of poetry. Cause it’s PJ Harvey.

Mew – No More Stories / Are Told Today / I’m Sorry / They Washed Away // No More Stories / The World Is Grey / I’m Tired / Let’s Wash Away
Less dark than most Mew albums, it still has an element of nostalgia that grabs me and keeps me lulled for hours on end. Heh, love how their song structure and composition are rather special and unusual. Also, the title kinda kicks ass.
Recommended track: Repeaterbeater

Puscifer – “C” Is for (Please Insert Sophomoric Genitalia Reference HERE)
Puscifer is growing on me and I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing. Probably good. Though miles away from the old, experimental, brilliant days of Tool, Maynard James Keenan has come up with a project that’s both amusing and actually interesting so as to keep us distracted and make us forget about the fact that he promised new A Perfect Circle material for this year. Puscifer is hella funny, so I understand why he’d rather work on it than APC, since the latter is so dark and serious and Maynard is a happy fellow. Artwork is retarded but at least the music’s good.
Recommended track: The Mission (feat. Milla Jovovich)

Warpaint – Warpaint
All-girl experimental/psychedelic band from Los Angeles whose debut EP was produced by John Frusciante, THE John Frusciante. What’s not to like about them?
Recommended track: Elephants

Antony and the Johnsons – The Crying Light
Heart-breakingly exquisite.
Recommended track: Another World

There’s more I’d like to put in the list but to keep it short and nice I won’t. I’m just gonna cut to the shit, er… the underwhelming albums of ’09:

Street Sweeper Social Club – Street Sweeper Social Club
They’re much better live. I bet, had they included their cover of M.I.A.’s Paper Planes on the album, it would have been much better. Then again that would have been way too Rage Against the Machine, and that is so not what these guys are all about. Nope…

Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures
One of those albums I really wanted to like. Hell, when it comes to ’09 supergroups, I even liked The Dead Weather’s Horehound quite a bit, cause I was motivated enough to enjoy their music it just grew on me. Other than a couple tracks that caught my attention for a minute or two, the whole album bored me. Oh ya, probably cause I hate Josh Homme.

Depeche Mode – Sounds of the Universe
I admit, Wrong is catchy as hell. Sexy as hell too. What happened to the rest of the album? I’m sure, had they just filled the disc with remixes of Wrong, it would have been exponentially better than it was with all the other, “less commercial” tracks. Whatever.

Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca
Hipster shit for dirty hipsters. This album, along with a certain other I’ll mention later (I’ll give you a hint, it sucks and it’s called Merriweather Post Pavilion, heh) suffers from chronic Vampire Weekend syndrome.

Massive Attack – Splitting the Atom EP
Hell, this was probably the biggest disappointment of the year, and it was only four tracks long. Granted, it’s not horrible. It could certainly be worse. I’m just so used to Massive Attack blowing my mind, after such a long time waiting for new material from them I was expecting fireworks and eargasms all the way and instead I just got a smile and a pat on the head. At least they got Martina Topley-Bird.

Tegan & Sara – Sainthood
This is the kind of crap they feed tweens nowadays and then people wonder why they’re turning out so stupid. Uh, duh! Definitely aimed for poser emo teenagers, I really don’t get how these women could get so famous and earn themselves a reputation for being deep and mature when they make music like this. Ugh.

Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
Ahhh, I’m not even gonna talk about this. Why this album keeps popping up on every year-end list just boggles my mind. Why people keep falling for this kind of ridiculous shit just proves we humans are stupid.

All and all, this was a good year for music. Er, except for the fact that that this was the year that saw shemale mutant demon Lady GaGa ubiquitously infect the world with her poisonous, viral, gonorrhea-laden beats and tranny-on-crack-inspired outfits. She makes me wish the Mayans were right about the end of the world coming in 2012. Or even sooner, if possible. For those saying she is the new Manson, well here’s the deal: at least Manson surrounded himself with the right people to make his music at least tolerable. Plus, believe it or not, he used to be a smart person. So take that, GagGag — unlike you, he’s not really a moron… it’s just the drugs.

Oh… and let’s not forget this little winner. Sorry in advance.

@import url(http://beemp3.com/player/embed.css);

Vampire Weekend – Horchata .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine

Ordinarily, this would be the end of my post. But not so fast! This year also saw the birth of my now-shamefully forgotten podcast, so what better chance to revive it than this! Hereeeeeehereee you’ll find some of the tracks I’ve recommended above. If you check the older posts, you’ll also find some nice tracks by some of the artists I’ve mentioned here. So give it a shot if you want. 🙂

So that’s it. Your friend from the gutter is wishing you a happy new year full of love, smiles, puppies and rock & roll. Sayonara and we’ll meet again in 2010. Here’s hoping Lady GaGa will overdose on pig’s blood before the year’s over. One can only dream…

Now playing: The Zombies – Time of the Season
via FoxyTunes


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