MY BEST ALBUMS OF 2009
(One of my favorites of 2009, Grizzly Bear's "Veckatimest")
First, in the "Nice Try" category:
Tortoise - Beacons of Ancestorship. "Post-rock" with an electronic bent. Still haven't been able to like this as much as "TNT", "Standards" and "It's All Around You". Seems kind of sterile in places.
Flaming Lips - Embryonic. I just wasn't able to get into this one, not yet anyway. Technically, it's pretty amazing, but it kind of leaves me flat. A bit too dissonant, with too many bleeps and blips. (Even with that, I suppose I could still call it an unofficial #16 because I love the Lips!)
Now on to the rest, and I am sure there are at least a couple I forgot about:
15. Todd Rundgren - Arena. The man never ceases to amaze! Lots of really good guitar work on this one.
14. Star Death and the White Dwarfs - The Birth. If it sounds a little like Flaming Lips, it's in the genetics! The band leader is related to the Lips' Wayne Coyne. A very creative debut!
13. Andrew Bird - Noble Beast. Bird croons, he whistles, he emotes, and once again he creates a huge variety of sounds with his violin. What a nice record!
12. Bon Iver - Blood Bank (EP). Only four songs, but the title track is worth the price of admission. Modern "folky" stuff at its best!
11. Pelican - What We All Come To Need. Grunge at its best... bow down to the almighty power of the riff! There are few if any vocals, but no big deal. This band is sheer power!
10. Do Make Say Think - Other Truths (album cover pictured above). "Post rock" but of the more organic type. Nice and trippy, and all done without synths. You'll hear some trumpet now and then. Some of the best instrumental music available, in my opinion. Intense and mellow at the same time, rarely harsh, it builds, it wanes, it takes you to new places.
9. Wolfmother - Cosmic Egg. To quote a good friend of mine, these guys have done their homework. You will hear some of Zeppelin in here, maybe a bit of Sabbath and who knows what else. Marvelously crafted hard rock music, takes me back to the Seventies.
8. Doves - Kingdom of Rust. Fine songwriting and great arrangments, plus some atmospheric production make this a great dream pop/rock album to relax with on a rainy day.
7. Cheap Trick - The Latest. They do little wrong on this one, and in fact, they seem to get better with each CD they release. They are like a fine wine, getting better with age. This is masterful pop/rock, some of the best in recent memory!
6. Porcupine Tree - The Incident. Led by Steven Wilson, this band never ceases to amaze with their cool, impeccable arrangements. The title track is a 55 minute collage, composed of 14 movements. The other 4 tracks are also marvelous. My favorite track on this one is "Flicker", an ambient/atmospheric marvel. But it's all good!
5. Boston Spaceships - The Planets Are Blasted (album cover pictured above). One of ex-Guided By Voices frontman Robert Pollard's latest, this is the best he has been in about ten years. Great off-kilter, beer-fueled pop and rawk! Tracks 1-5 and 11-14 rank with some of his best music ever. For this band, he has recruited Chris Slusarenko (ex-GbV) for bass and guitar, and Decemberists' drummer Jim Moen.
4. The Aliens - Luna. New music par excellence from former Beta Band members. This one is like what might happen if Sixties/Seventies psychedelia came to the 21st century. Absolute ear candy!
3. Wilco - Wilco (the album). Jeff Tweedy and his band have come up with yet another gem to add to their canon. This one is full of fun, hooky songs. I can't wait to hear them do some of these "live"!
2. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest (album cover pictured at the top of the post). One of the more creative albums in quite a while. Lots of comparisons are made to Brian Wilson, and Van Dyke Parks is mentioned now and then re. these guys. If you like great vocals, odd melodic twists and turns, and sheer creativity, you should like this one.
1. Steven Wilson - Insurgentes (album cover pictured above). Porcupine Tree's leader serves up a masterpiece. This is "prog rock" bliss! Nice guest performances by keyboardist Jordan Rudess and bassist Tony Levin. Intense, moody, emotional and virtuousic in every respect. As my naming this the "best CD of the 2000's" in my previous post suggests, this is the kind of artistic statement that only comes around about once a decade.