Best / Favorite Releases of 2009

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Dic 23 2009, 13:17

In the midst of being bored out of my skull, I decided to compile a list of the best releases of 2009 (in my opinion); the list will consist of an initial ranking of albums that were released this year, while the other will compile albums that were released previously, but played a significant role in my listening habits in the year of 2009.

It would be a bit difficult to explain exactly why I chose the positions I did for each album, but I will try to summarize my reasons briefly under each item. [Note: This is not the end all be all list that shits on you and your listening habits; this is for mere fun, discussion, and totally subject to my bias. After all, it is my music taste. But I'm sure some people would feel these albums were great for the year.]

A combination of plays, enjoyment, new faces, comparison to back catalog, and other factors went into consideration regarding the rankings on both lists. So, here we go... from the bottom to the top..

Best Releases of 2009

#9 - Muse - The Resistance



Selected Tracks: Resistance, United States of Eurasia (+Collateral Damage), Guiding Light

I'll probably get burned for this considering how Muse fans behave on last.fm, but I'm putting "The Resistance" by Muse at the bottom of this list for a number of reasons, the main one being I haven't given it a proper run through. I thought it was appropriate to acknowledge such a major release, but I don't feel capable of reviewing the album fully. I just got it today.

The album picks up where Muse's previous releases left off: space age rock and opera, bombastic ballads, over-the-top arena jams in the vein of Queen. It's odd because this can be this album's up and downfall. Granted, Muse's brand of prog-rock is amazing in its technicality and lyrical urgency, but at the same time comes across as a caricature of the genre as well. Basically, if you're into that kind of thing, you'll find nothing wrong with it, but I would not recommend this as a gateway to Muse's discography.

IMO, there's nothing wrong with the record; it's very enjoyable. I'm just not surprised that Muse's latest release turned out this way.


#8 - Asobi Seksu - Hush



Selected Tracks: Layers, Transparence, I Can't See

I had the pleasure of seeing Asobi Seksu early this year, and they are one monster of a band. Oddly enough, I would characterize the band as shy and meek though. It was the first "shoegaze" band I had seen, and the place sounded like an airplane hangar. But enough about the show.

"Hush" (Asobi's 3rd release) picked the quieter side of the fork in the road. Coming off of their successful sophomore effort, these guys have taken more of a Cocteau Twins approach to their songs. The loud, grinding, distorted, signature shoegaze sound has practically disappear on this record, leaving only sweet ballads characterized by subdued vocals, generous reverb, and minimally-decipherable lyrics.

All in all, a solid record that has apparent highs, but tends to linger on the pretty a little too much.


#7 - IAMX - Kingdom of Welcome Addiction



Selected Tracks: Nature of Inviting, You Can Be Happy, The Great Shipwreck of Life

Mr. Chris Corner (of Sneaker Pimps notoriety) has been making pants wet with his brand electropop for the last five years. All the main ingredients are there: thumping bass, falsetto, ear-drilling synth, brooding introspection, sensuality. His work has been winning over crowds of people across Europe.

"Kingdom of Welcome Addiction" doesn't deviate too much from what he has established. The dire pleading noteworthy in his previous albums still titillates the senses, and the record's "groovability" will make it quite impossible to resist. Mr. Corner also knows his way around a good ballad. The motto is: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Kudos sir!

#6 - Lady Gaga - The Fame Monster



Selected Tracks: Bad Romance, Dance in the Dark, Alejandro

Pop's newly crowned queen. Gaga has been making noise since 2008; Her talent for infecting her listeners is undeniable, as noted by pop fans and even metalheads. Love her or hate her, the woman's name has left practically everyone's mouth at some point within the last year.

Fashion. Art. Presentation... Oh yeah, and she can actually sing and play instruments. What's not to like. Packed with "guilty-pleasure" tinged eurotrash beats, pop culture references, and sultry vocals, "The Fame Monster" pushes forward with the Gaga phenomenon. The album is accessible, quite possibly it's great asset. The odd thing Gaga seems to have over her contemporaries is her ability to satiate pop-hungry fans (and non-fans) with something filling, rather than just something sweet.

She's what's in. She's what's hot, and it would be foolish to leave her release off of this year's list. The only question is how long will the spotlight shine on Lady Gaga.

#5 - Sonic Youth - The Eternal



Selected Tracks: Sacred Trickster, Antenna, Massage the History

Noise rock gods Sonic Youth churn out their genius with the latest release "The Eternal"; quite an appropriate title, as they demonstrate their relevance on their 16th album. A tightly knit group this bunch is. Nothing too "outstanding" from this release, but a formidable and great release nonetheless. You wouldn't expect less from Sonic Youth. The group is still in rare form, dissonating and crunching their importance throughout alternative rock even to this day.

#4 - Silversun Pickups - Swoon



Selected Tracks
: Panic Switch, It's Nice To Know You Work Alone, Substitution

90's ingenues Silversun Pickups continue their established (or other artist's rather) sound on their sophomore release. Downsides to the album are the seemingly facetiously inserted strings, a lack of Monninger's present vocals, and a repetitive sound that can discern listeners from a proper run through. When it's good, it's good, but the album mostly picks up where Carnavas left off, and truncated some of the better moments on the previous album.

Still, it seems as if the band is still growing, and I will give an A for effort. They're a solid group that's still attempting to find their direction. Trust me, "Swoon" wouldn't be this high if these guys weren't creative and musically sound.

#3 - Placebo - Battle for the Sun




Selected Tracks: Ashtray Heart, Bright Lights, Happy You're Gone

Placebo are still at it in 2009, and they don't offer too much more to their sound, but the subtleties on "Battle For The Sun" give their songs a new buoyant twist. A recognized level of maturity within the group is notable on the record; sources of influences have changed; "Bright Lights" leads me to believe the band listened to My Bloody Valentine a bit before recording the song.

The sorrow, introspection, and "freaks of nature" attitude Placebo presented throughout their career has been subdued, but fans should be able to latch onto certain songs that reminisce to tracks of yesteryear. A solid album. No more, no less. If you enjoyed the band before, you should find very little faults.

#2 - Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions - Through The Devil Softly



Selected Tracks: Blue Bird, Blanchard, Wild Roses

The siren of sleep. Hope Sandoval and her Warm Inventions return to soothe, play, wonder, and entrance. The lovely lady's sultry yet haunting, broken yet assured vocals transcend time and space on the second effort from the band, across soundscapes that are not unfamiliar to admirers of the Mazzy Star era. Yet it does not falter. "Through The Devil Softly" is a vivid, engaging dreamland that invites its listener for a ride / coast through heartache and bliss that proves Hope can still embrace and captivate her audience after eight years of leave. Folk psychedelia never sounded so good.

#1
- Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!



Selected Tracks: Skeletons, Hysteric, Zero

80s, Blondie, thumpa thumpa.. mix those together, and you've got a concoction that breathes new life into the YYYs. Known for their brash, in your face, "sex as combat" jingles from the past, the band shows that they know how to have a little fun without losing their identity. "It's Blitz!" is a confident extradition from their past work.

Karen O woos instead of hollers, Nick beats on a synth rather than his Fender, and Brian quietly moves everyone along. The album is a perfect mix of glee, glamour, and goodbyes. "Dancefloor versus ballad" meshes in a way only the YYYs can pull off. In my opinion, the best and strongest record of the year.

Congrats guys!

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