Close ContendersManic Street Preachers Journal For Plague LoversThe Low Anthem Oh My God, Charlie DarwinAndrew Bird Noble Beast
Most exciting album of 2009Nirvana Live at Reading
But my favourite albums of 2009 are these:
10. The Leisure Society The Sleeper
A pleasant little album, made prettier by the gorgeous The Last of the Melting Snow, (Ivor Novello nominated apparently), Are We Happy?, and The Sleeper, then counteracted with the sourness of Save It For Someone Who Cares, We Were Wasted and The Darkest Place I know. Wonderful debut album.
9. Atlas Sounds Logos
I'd never heard of this guy before and even less made the Bradford Cox/Deerhunter connection, which is slightly odd given that I love Deerhunter. I didn't like Logos much when I first heard it; it sounded unfinished, slightly rough cut. The classic case of an album being a grower. Standout tracks, Walkabout, Sheila?/ Shelia? and Quick Canal, the highspot of the album.
8. Memory Tapes Seek Magic
The Melding of Weird Tapes/Memory Cassette evidently. Although info on either band is a little sparse. Seek Magic is a fun dreamy, electronic affair in a dance-y sort of way. The first 3 tracks Swimming Field, Bicycle (with the inevitable-but-not-in-a-bad-way New Order comparison), and Green Knight are the strongest cuts on the album, although no tracks could be regarded as filler.
7. Papercuts You Can Have What You Want
One of those quietly understated albums which took a while to grow on me. Fragile and ethereal, it lends itself to repeated listening. The ghostly Future Primitive is a wonderful track, but for sheer beauty The Machine Will Tell Us So, and You Can Have What You Want allow you to wallow in introspection and longing. Yet are still strangely uplifting.
6. The Mars Volta Octahedron
So here's my confession, I never really liked TMV; or at least not De-Loused and Frances. They were just too messy and dissonant for me. Then they go and bring out Octahedron, their take on an acoustic album allegedly, and It's beautiful. Still plenty of squall and mess, but shot through with melodic choruses and riffs. From the opening track Since we've Been Wrong, it simply doesn't put a foot err, wrong. Cotopaxi and Luciforms are worth the price of the album alone
5. The Clientele
Bonfires On The Heath
Lovely seasonal album as the title might suggest. Scrunching through the autumn leaves, the smell of woodsmoke, hazy, frosty early mornings. Largely a set of relentlessly heartbreaking and beautiful songs, with seemingly little hope of respite. Yet The Clientele still manage to capture a certain warmth throughout the album. I Wonder Who We Are, Never Anyone But You, and the gorgeous Share The Night are the cream of some of the best love songs written this year.
4. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Probably the most infectious and fun album of 2009. Filled with easy dreamy pop; nothing complex about it, nothing to bring on a dose of melancholia. Yet has staying power. How easy it is to love an album so much you practically listen on repeat, for what seems like forever, and then get bored with it. Not so with this one. Although they have a prettily gorgeous EP, Higher Than The Stars out should that happen... Highly recommended.
3. Dinosaur Jr. Farm
Dino deliver yet again. (Just in case Beyond with the new and reformed J, Murph, and Barlow looked like being a flash in the pan). Farm is just an all round great album. Pieces is the perfect opener, pulls you in, and compels you to stay for the rest of it. Although I do think Imagination Blind is the only weak (or maybe less strong) track on the album. There is nothing particularly new about Farm, and I see nothing wrong with that, why change a winning formula when you've been in the business as long as these guys have, and are as good as they are? But there is of course the to-die-for guitar solos, I Don't Wanna Go There, and the heartbreakingly beautiful love songs, Plans and See You. Saw Dino earlier this year, and it finally struck me; part of J's genius guitar playing is the fact that he makes it look totally effortless..
2. Matisyahu Light
Fervent Hassidic Jew eh? Singing songs of his faith in a rap/reggae/hip-hop/beatbox/freeform way, eh? Who would have thought Light could be such an astoundingly good album? (Not many evidently; overall, the album gets some pretty dire reviews). Here.http://www.metacritic.com/music/artists/matisyahu/light?q=matisyahu
Yet astoundingly good album it is. Smash Lies, So Hi So Lo and I will Be Light, (possibly my favourite track from the album), are taken from the lesser known Shattered EP. One Day and Darkness Into Light are standout tracks too. I absolutely love this album simply because it is uplifting, positive and fills me with hope. Not with the hope of some sort of spiritual redemption or awakening, I don't mean that. I guess it is the passion and sincerity Matis sings with. It kind of rubs off. Again, I saw him live a few weeks ago, and it was one of the most astonishing, memorable and joyous gigs I have been to.
1. Andrew Morgan Please Kid, Remember
Andrew Morgan has crafted a gossamer fine, delicate album of love and loss; yearning and regret, (are not all the finest albums based on such sentiments?), yet manages to make it anything but a depressing affair. He captures his feelings with a warmth and gentility and an almost gleeful contemplation of nights drawing in, the trees shedding their leaves, the cold winds blowing in, and the first snowfall of the year. His hushed and wistful vocals and the chiming melodies throughout the album add to the feeling of warmth and hope. Absolute highlights are Victory In Passing, (It's not a lament, it's a victory, just joyous), As Long As We're Together, First Snow Of The Year, and Turn Your Collar To The Cold. Please Kid, Remember was aptly described as 'like listening to music from within a snow globe.' I can't top that. I just wish I'd thought of it first....
That's it. Please let me know what other masterpieces I have missed this year!