Hey there peeps.
My blogging may be pretty sporadic nowadays, but how can I miss a chance to share my opinions on the years best music?
It’s time for my top albums of 2009!
It’s been an interesting year in music. The past couple of years has seen music shift from the serious and emo to the chilled out and fun. I tend to think that as the world leaders change, so does the musical landscape. When the world was condemned to bearing with leaders like Bush and Howard, it was up to the artists in the world to defend our rights with hard-edged and thought-provoking music. As the world starts to collaborate more and head towards a common goal, music becomes more optimistic and also less hard edged.
I go browsing other people’s best of lists and quickly start to realise that I seem to be missing out on a lot of stuff. Bands like ‘The xx’, ‘Animal Collective’, ‘Grizzly Bear’, ‘Future of the Left’.
Why haven’t I heard these albums? Sure, I have heard some of their songs around the place, but have never been inspired enough to hunt down their album. Does this make my list less about musical aptitude and more about mass consumption?
I know it’s all just opinion and personal taste, but I guess it comes down to the fact that I have listened to the albums below the most this year and hence they are my favourites. (in no particular order)
Silversun Pickups – Swoon
I missed their intial album, but glad I didn’t miss this one. Sounding suspiciously like Smashing Pumpkins from 1995, their full sound fills your ears with a wall of wholesome guitary goodness. I was immediately hooked in by ‘There’s No Secrets This Year’ and then the album just delivers punch after punch.
Sarah Blasko – As Day Follows Night
Sarah Blasko improves with every listen. Her unique nymph-like voice can take a little getting used to, but once you do, it’s like listening to a pixie sing. Coincidentally she also looks a bit like a pixie. A pixie with awesome talent. The hypnotic violin on ‘All I Want’ is my highlight on this album. Unfortunately I was listening to it in the car on the way back from Sydney the other day and nearly drove into a truck. Let this be a warning for you.
Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures
How do you react when you hear that Dave Grohl is teaming up with Josh Homme and a guy from Led Zep? “Fuck Yeah!” is suitable. This album is everything you’d expect it to be. Arsekicking beats from Grohl, roaring guitars from Homme and powerful driving bass lines from John Paul Jones. A super group seems to be a lacklustre description of this band. ‘Mind Eraser, No Chaser’ is a standout for me as well as ‘Elephant’. Man, they just plain rock.
Lily Allen – It’s Not You It’s Me
My opinion of Lily Allen has changed a lot over the last few years. A couple of years back she was seen as little more than an internet sensation/one schtick wonder. Her first album was good, but couldn’t really been seen as musically impressive. Whilst her 2nd album doesn’t hit the dizzying heights of musical prowess, the song-writing has improved a lot. And so has she. LaLa and I had the chance to sit within about 3 metres of her earlier this year having already listened to and loved her new album. Hearing her sing acoustically in front of us definitely made us appreciate her talents go beyond dating older men and dressing badly. My highlights would be “Chinese” and “Everyone’s at It”.
Muse – The Resistance
How does a band top an album like ‘Black Holes and Revelations’? Well, when you’re a band li ke Muse, you just take it up a notch. Record some majestic Queen like song, a couple of stadium rock anthems and a 3 part classical masterpiece and you have ‘The Resistance’. This album is unlike most things you would hear and the eclectic style of it adds to it’s impact. You would be excused in thinking that the real Muse is contained in the powerful first 4 songs of the album, but you have to go deeper in to find out that Muse are more than just a rock band. They are a deep, soulful and infinitely talented trio.
The Temper Trap – Conditions
This is one of those bands that came out of nowhere for everyone I suspect. I suddenly heard the name of this band bandied around in the middle of the year but had not really noticed which song they sang. It took me until seeing ‘500 Days of Summer’ to notice the song ‘Sweet Disposition’. I thought, hey, that’s a top song, but then I forgot about it….until just recently when I listened to the whole album once, and then again..and then again. I am officially addicted. This band is a perfect example of that feel good relaxed and chilled vibe that really works at the moment. Expect massive things from these guys.
Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
LaLa helped me get on to these guys a few years ago, and they have been popping up with tunes for quite a while now. The difference with this album is that they have smashed through the ‘little french band/huge international act’ barrier with their song ‘Lisztomania’. It’s definitely one of the songs of the year for me and catapults this album into a new level of Phoenix excellence.
The Whitest Boy Alive – Rules
Similar to Phoenix, this band lends itself to infectious little grooves and pithy melodies about love, forgiveness and rollercoasters. The lead singer, Erlend Øye, is better known from his part in ‘Kings of Convience’, but he lends his voice to this album and it became one of my more popular albums of the year. It suits a Sunday arvo, chilling out on the couch and thinking about trips to Europe in the summer..
Wolfmother – Cosmic Egg
Wolfmother’s first album is a musical standout for me this decade. They blasted out of the blocks with their self-titled album, but early on there was a mountain of expectation for album No. 2. What happened next surprised even me. Guitarist Andrew Stockdale split from the original bassist and drummer and Wolfmother, or at least 1 third of it continued with a new rhythm section (+ new guitarist). This change has resulted in ‘Cosmic Egg’, which whilst not as exceptional as their debut, has a lot to like about it. Ignoring Stockdale’s attitude problems including ever increasing ego, he manages to bring so much power to his songs. Soaring guitars, screaming vocals and trippy lyrics. I’m hoping they don’t split again before the next album, cause maybe they could improve more.
Karnivool – Sound Awake
Prog-Rock, Indie-Rock, Alternative-Rock, I dunno what you call it, but Karnivool have it. They plummeled our ears with their debut album, ‘Themata’ and now they’ve kicked it up a notch with this one. Ian Kenny’s side-step into Birds of Tokyo has given Karnivool a slightly more melodic feel, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The musicality of this album really stands out. Can’t wait to see them live at the BDO in January!
Phew… so there we go. My top albums of the year. I think it’s a pretty diverse list, but probably not as obscure as some. I feel like I should have listened to a lot more albums this year and am definitely going to check out Kasabian’s new one, as well as Mumford & Sons and Calvin Harris. Gotta get up to speed with the acts playing the Big Day Out!
So, do you have a list?
Link in comments!