Tfronky’s second Best of List for 2009 is another music related one (duh). Billboard, eat your heart out, here are the Best Albums of 2009. Well, in my opinion at least.
10. Appleseed Cast – Sagarmatha. I am curious how much more I would like the latest offering from The Appleseed Cast if there were more vocals on this album, but even with the tracks being instrumental dominated, this is still a powerful disc. This band seems to get more eclectic on each release, moving away more and more from the emo influence of their early work. This album is worth it just for the lead song As the Little Things Go, an absolutely stunning track that leads off with several minutes of instrumental that builds and builds for 6:21 of a song that clocks in at 8:15, then simply explodes at the end when the vocals come in the picture.
9. Silversun Pickups – Swoon. The second full-length from this great band did not suffer from the dreaded “sophomore slump”. This is one of the best live bands around today, and on record continue their progression. Swoon varies the tempo more than Carnavas did, but still possesses the bit of My Bloody Valentine influence mixed with the current style of indie-pop.
8. Cut Off Your Hands – You and I. What an impressive full-length debut from this powerful band! Cut Off Your Hands’ blend of indie-pop with at times a furious punk tempo comes together well on You and I after a string of promising EP’s and singles. Happy As Can Be and Still Fond stand out on an album that recalls elements of historic bands such as The Smiths and The Buzzcocks. If these guys can ever produce an album to match the ferocity of their live show, look out!
7. We Were Promised Jetpacks – These Four Walls. The first of two albums on my list from FatCat Records, this is also the first of two albums brilliantly suggested by Lindsay from Stinkweeds Records in Phoenix, AZ. Yea Lindsay! Post-punk has experienced a resurgence in recent times, and These Four Walls offer a steady diet of the genre with a healthy dose of indie-pop. Every track on the disc possesses plenty of fiery energy, with the lead song It’s Thunder and Lightning a stunning track that gradually evolves into one intense explosion.
6. Bob Mould – Life and Times. One of the most incredible musicians for 30 years now, going back to his days in the legendary Husker Du, Bob Mould released in 2009 what many critics proclaimed as his best solo offering since his solo debut Workbook. The gnarl of his self-titled third solo offering is still my favorite, but Life and Times is just a notch behind. This is a very well-written album, both from a musical and lyrical perspective, and shows Bob at his artistic best. The tempos vary throughout the album, Bob’s vocal delivery is as good as ever, and once again his guitar work is unbelievable. I saw this legend three times in 2009, and every show could easily have landed in my Top Ten list for this year.
5. Jimmy Eat World – Clarity Live at the Marquee Theatre. On March 7 of this year Jimmy Eat World played the last show of the Clarity Live Tour at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe, AZ. The band commemorated the tenth anniversary of that watershed album by playing the disc in its entirety for just ten dates. Back in their hometown for the final date of the tour, the band put on an incredible show (my Number Four pick of the year). This digital only release came out a month later, spotlighting the entire Clarity set, as well as the first two songs of the encore, which includes my highlight of the concert No Sensitivity.
4. Mary Onettes – Islands. I am becoming a huge fan of this retro band! Elements of New Order and a-ha shine through once again on the band’s second full length album. This is beautiful dream pop, full of lush arrangements with a definite 80’s feel to things. Just as on their debut, song two from the album, in this case Dare, is one of the songs of the year. The track is that amazing. Dreampop has not sounded this good in a long time!
3. Twilight Sad – Forget the Night Ahead. Holy mackerel, what a disc! Album two from FatCat Records, once again courtesy of Lindsay from Stinkweeds, this album is an incredible mix of shoegazer and pop music. That Birthday Present, track number seven on the disc, is the highlight of an album that is so delicate in its delivery, yet at times so brutal in the sonic attack unleashed on the listener, that every listen will leave you spellbound. The guitars shimmer on this disc, the vocal delivery complements the dark tone of the lyrics very well, and the entire band plays as one tight unit. This is one very special band!
2. A Place to Bury Strangers – Exploding Head. Easily the best proper studio album of the year! Exploding Head, the sophomore release from New York’s A Place to Bury Strangers, takes the dark elements of their first self-titled album and adds in a surprising amount of pop element to the mix. The brutal sonic annihilation is still present, even with the effect turned down just a smidge compared to the band’s debut. The opening two songs of the album are easily the best lead-off tracks of the year, setting the tone for ten songs that will leave you speechless, and possibly with a severe case of tinnitus. Exploding Head is not for the weak at heart. A Place to Bury Strangers continues to take Psychocandy-era Jesus and Mary Chain to new levels, and does so with amazing paradox. Pain has never sounded so beautiful on record.
1. Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid Live at Abbey Road Studios. The greatest band in the world performed their Mercury Music Prize winning fourth album The Seldom Seen Kid in its entirety at Abbey Road Studios on January 17, 2009. Elbow performed during this concert with the BBC Concert Orchestra and the London-based chamber choir Chantage. The show was recorded for BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music. Unless things have changed since then, this is the only time the band has performed the final track from the album, the gut-wrenching Friend of Ours. The studio version of The Seldom Seen Kid was amazing enough, but to hear this album played from start to finish, backed with an orchestra and choir, was stupendous. Guy Garvey’s voice was impeccable as always, the entire band’s play was flawless, and the live renderings of some of my favorite tracks from the disc such as The Bones of You, Some Riot and One Day Like This were, if possible, even better than the originals. The beginning of the set Starlings will blow you away. This is a CD/DVD set. If you only buy one disc in 2010, this needs to be the one!