I’ve struggled this year finding favorite albums. Sure, there were good ones. The one I listened to most consistently since its release has been Monsters of Folk. But even there, the second half doesn’t live up to the promise of the first half.
I’ve always been an album kind of gal. But, as times change so must I. It even seems like artists, including “indie” ones, aren’t bothering with the album as an art form any longer. The exceptions may be The Flaming Lips’s Embryonic and Julian Casablancas’s Phrazes for the Young, both of which contain strict rules on sound and instrumentation. That’s good and bad. Albums can be consistent in more than just sound…there’s many ways for an album to mesh together into a coherent piece of work. Just look at two more great albums this year, Dark Was the Night and Dark Night of the Soul (no they aren’t the same thing or even connected). These collections of various artists all sound like they belong together, even though they don’t sound the same. They just feel the same.
So, with that said, I welcome you to my favorite tracks of 2009, in some kind of order. (Most links will open the Google audio player in a new tab.)
- Another John Doe – thenewno2: Actually this came out in 2008 or something on MySpace or in France or something, but it wasn’t officially released until this year.
- Home – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes: Duets rule.
- Say Please – Monsters of Folk: How do you write a perfect poprock song? This is the answer.
- You Never Know – Wilco: Channeling George Harrison never sounded better.
- The Strangers – St. Vincent: Annie Clark is aware of the porn under the mattress trick.
- Convinced of the Hex – Flaming Lips: I love all the details here. Listen for the ding that appears at just the right time. Gives me chills.
- Two Weeks – Grizzly Bear: Enough to make Brian Wilson either sink into another deep depression, or write his next Pet Sounds.
- Train Song – Ben Gibbard & Feist: I don’t really care for either of these people normally, but this song stuck with me. It sounds so old, I wish it had static for texture.
- I’ll Fight – Wilco: Dying for someone you love sure is catchy.
- Just War – Gruff Rhys: I’ve no idea who this guy is, but it’s from that Dangermouse/Sparklehorse/David Lynch project. I love that mid-60s Brit pop sound.
- Sabali – Amadou & Mariam: Blind African pop never sounded so good.
- Shrangi-La – M. Ward: One of the simpler tunes on Hold Time, but it enters my mind at the weirdest times.
- Left and Right in the Dark – Julian Casablancas: Wake up wake up wake up wake up wake UP!!!
- Dear God – Monsters of Folk: What a surprising opening from a folk band.
- The Whole Damn Thing – Those Darlins: I wish I’d written that.
- Here to Fall – Yo la Tengo: YLT does a string quartet!
- Revenge – Flaming Lips: Well said, Wayne.
- Wild One – Those Darlins: Channeling Wanda Jackson never sounded so…possible.
- 11th Dimension – Julian Casablancas: Lost Bee Gees song, or leading single from the former Strokes lead singer?
- Wishes and Stars – Harper Simon: This kid’s got talent. Where on earth did he get it?