Best Music of 2009

Perhaps the most eagerly awaited post on is the annual Best Of music list.  We pretend to be music critics, you pretend to be interested, the site gets a bunch of spam from auto-link generators that I have to delete.  It’s a great time to be alive.

As always, feel free to post your own lists in the comments.  We’re also looking for Top 50 Songs of 2009 lists for our Scientific Best of 2009 list.

So without further ado, here is the Best of Music 2009 List:

Brent’s List:

15) The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Every year I fall in love with some band that has a jangle-pop sound. This year that band is Pains of Being Pure at Heart.  They are noisier than my usual choice in this category.  I must be growing up.

14) Girls – Album.  Girls started out as annoying garage music.  Then it got a little charming.  Then it just ended up being charming.  Then it was 14.

13) Camera Obscura – This band can do no wrong in my ears, but they will probably never crack the top 5 in any countdown of mine because their style can only go so far.  But they do it very well, and I want to live in their songs.

12) Handsome Furs – This was an album of nearly great songs that got by on the fact that all the songs were nearly great.  This is a man/woman band, and they take really sexy pictures together, which (along with their connection to Wolf Parade) may have something to do with their spot on this list.

11) It’s True – Chelsey’s friend Hayden put this on our computer when she was staying with us.  Further proof that once can listen to heaps of music from all over and be clueless about good things that are playing down the road from him.  If you love heart-on-sleeve music, this is for you.  If you don’t, this entire list may not be for you.

10) Yacht – Electronic pop music done in such a way that I like it. This is a tall feat.  Chelsey doesn’t like it that much, which is puzzling to me.

09)  The XX – Even though this only hit third, I think it is the album that I would most widely recommend. There’s something going on here that is just…sexy.  And I don’t throw that word around. I promise.  I wish I had a better word already.

08) Cass McCombs – A nice part of listening to 8000 albums a year is that some stick for no good reason. I like this album.  I don’t expect you to.  It’s slow and pretty with nice harmonies. And it has a song that has “See You Next Tuesday” in the refrain.  Which is the name of my Tuesday drinking club.

07) The Flaming Lips – I’m so happy the Flaming Lips made a good album again.  They were certainly due.  Gets back to what they do well.  Gets away from why they have sucked for the last 5 years.

06) Generationals – Ok here we go.  Phil Spector meets Paul Simon meets Vampire Weekend meets Pet Shop Boys.  From New Orleans.  Good stuff.

05)  Neko Case – Neko Case is my girlfriend.  We met this year, and now we are going out.  It’s serious.  This album is about nature kicking human ass. Possibly out of love.

04) Rural Alberta Advantage – Kent calls this second-rate Neutral Milk Hotel.  He may be right.  But I like it better than most of what came out in 2008.  And I think it was just re-released in 2009, but I am counting it as a 2009.

03) Yeah Yeah Yeah’s – This album is a poor man’s version of my number one.  It’s got one badass song on it, and bunch of other songs that are badass to a lesser extent.

02) Antlers – Hospice – This is a poorly recorded album about a person caring for another person in Hospice care.  Despite the sound quality, it wins you over.  More than once I have caught myself craning my neck trying to make out lyrics because I am just that emotionally involved.  This is a little pathetic.  But there’s nothing I can do about it.

01) Elvis Perkins in Dearland – This was the best album of the year, hands down.  Doomsday is the best song of the year, and the rest of the album isn’t too far behind.  Note to everyone:  if you want to make an album, hire a brass band to play on it.  Boom!  Great album. It makes all music 20% better.

Kent’s List:

1. Middle Cyclone – Neko Case
There is not an album that I listened to more than this one.  Leslie absolutely hates it.  She is at the Neko Case stage that I was last year.  I just didn’t see the appeal.  Then this album totally blew me away.  I guess Leslie needs one more Neko Case album to come out before she comes around.
Person most likely to enjoy this album:  Beth.

2. Elvis Perkins in Dearland – Elvis Perkins
For those that don’t know who Elvis Perkins is, he’s the son of Anthony Perkins, who was a huge Elvis Presley fan.  His mother died in 9/11.  It was tough to pick a top album, as this one is very deserving as well.  Somehow, Perkins makes a rambling 6 minute folky country song enjoyable consistently on this album.  It’s interesting that my top two albums could be considered country albums.
Person most likely to enjoy this album: Nobody that doesn’t already have it.

3. Con Law – Generationals
A local New Orleans band without the local New Orleans sound.  Seriously, no funk, no brass bands, no Mardi Gras Indians.  A great summertime album, that manages to sound retro without being too corny about it.  A little pop, a little rock, a little electronic, great fun.
Person most likely to enjoy this album: Hipster dorks.

4. Hospice – The Antlers
This album is made for me: A concept album, with recurring themes, and winding lyrics.  It took Brent and I forever to figure what the heck was going on in it, and what we came up with is: A guy working in a hospital falls in love with and marries a critically ill patient, they have a child, which kills her.  Very sad.  Very affecting.  Unfortunately, they recorded the album themselves, and the mix is all messed up.  Could have been #1 if it was recorded better.
Person most likely to enjoy this album: Sara F. (who introduced me to the Generationals)

5. XX – The XX
Sexy English electro-R&B album.  For awhile, I thought it would be my top album this year, but I shelved it towards the end of the year for the ones above.  The sound is very sparse, with a staccato  guitar and booming, deep bass.  I really enjoy the contrast of the two singers’ voices: silky female and mumbling male.
Person most likely to enjoy this album: Paul.

6. Mo Beauty – Alec Ounsworth
Better known as the singer of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Alec Ounsworth recorded this album with New Orleans musicians like James Porter, but doesn’t really succumb to the New Orleans sound.  He’s still the guy with the horrible voice from CYHSY.  If your used to his voice, you can get into this album.  If this is your first exposure to him, you’re going to turn it off quick.
Person most likely to enjoy this album: I’d like to say BJ here, because of the NOLA connection, but there’s no way.

7. Dragonslayer – Sunset Rubdown
I love Sunset Rubdown.  Unfortunately, after their incredible Shut Up I am Dreaming, they haven’t been able to put together a really good album until now.  It’s still not of SUIAD quality, but I like the trick of redoing phrases from that album in this one.
Person most likely to enjoy this album: Beats me, I think I stand alone on Sunset Rubdown albums.  I’ll always have Beth to go to their live shows with me, though.

8. The Bright Mississippi – Allen Toussaint
Straight up jazz album from NOLA master Allen Toussaint.  This is the album I play when I drive people to the airport.  Everyone compliments it.  It’s familiar, but not in that “I’ve heard this same music 1000 times on WWOZ” kind of way.
Person most likely to enjoy this album: People going to the airport.

9. Album – Girls
This seems to be the year of singers with terrible voices.  This album manages to capture a beach party feel, without any sort of the polished Beach Boys sound that’s been trendy in indie rock for awhile.  It’s a real messy album, and yet totally catchy and well-crafted.  Fun to sing along with in the car.
Person most likely to enjoy this album: Amber.

Honorable Mentions

All in all, this really wasn’t a great year for new music.  These are some others that I enjoyed throughout the year:

  • Embryonic – Flaming Lips
  • Keep It Hid – Dan Auerbach
  • March of the Zapotecs – Beirut
  • Horehound – The Dead Weather
  • Hometowns – The Rural Alberta Advantage
  • It’s Not Me, It’s You – Lily Allen
  • Dark Night of the Soul – Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse

Top 50 Songs of 2009, Scientifically Determined

Another favorite feature is the scientifically created Top 50 Songs of 2009 list, based on an average of rankings from Kent and Brent (so far – I’ll update when/if we get more individual song lists.

Here’s the list as of 18 December 2009:

01. Doomsday – Elvis Perkins In Dearland
02. When They Fight They Fight – Generationals
03. VCR – The xx
04. Two – The Antlers
05. Sleep All Summer – St. Vincent and The National
06. 123 Goodbye – Elvis Perkins In Dearland
07. This Tornado Loves You – Neko Case
08. Zero – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
09. Nobody Could Change Your Mind – Generationals
09. Watching The Planets – The Flaming Lips
11. The Afterlife – YACHT
12. Holy, Holy, Holy Moses (song for New Orleans) – Alec Ounsworth
13. Prison Girls – Neko Case
14. Dominos – The Big Pink
14. How’s Forever Been Baby – Elvis Perkins
16. Summertime Clothes – Animal Collective
16. The Reeling – Passion Pit
18. Don’t Forget Me – Neko Case
18. Idiots in the Rain – Alec Ounsworth
20. Crystalised – The xx
20. This Love Is Fucking Right – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
22. Idiot Heart – Sunset Rubdown
23. Psychic City – YACHT
24. Epistemology – M. Ward
24. Send My Fond Regards To Lonelyville – Elvis Perkins In Dearland
24. Edmonton – The Rural Alberta Advantage
24. Lust For Life – Girls
28. Hey – Elvis Perkins In Dearland
28. Marrow – St. Vincent
30. Honestly – It’s True
31. I Heard Your Voice In Dresden – Elvis Perkins In Dearland
31. Spacious Thoughts (feat. Tom Waits & Kool Keith) – N.A.S.A.
33. Talking Hotel Arbat Blues – Handsome Furs
33. There Are Maybe Ten or Twelve – A.C. Newman
35. Home – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
36. Calculator – Micachu & the Shapes
36. The Fear – Lily Allen
38. I Cut Like a Buffalo – The Dead Weather
38. Yeah! Oh, Yeah! – Tracey Thorn
40. Bear – The Antlers
40. Shelter – The xx
40. When The Night Comes – Dan Auerbach
43. Bad Romance – Lady GaGa
43. California On My Mind – Wild Light
45. Genius Next Door – Regina Spektor
45. Things I Like To Do – Ben Kweller
47. Drain the Blood – The Rural Alberta Advantage
47. I Can Be a Frog – The Flaming Lips
49. Middle Cyclone – Neko Case
49. Swashbuckler Blues – The Theater Fire

There you have it.  Get cracking on your own lists.

4 thoughts on “Best Music of 2009”

  1. I was driven to the New Orleans airport twice this year, and never heard that album. I bet it would have been nice.

    My favorite moments of these lists is when you and i both put a song on the list that we have never discussed. Like California on My Mind by Wild Light. or Pyschic Cityt by Yacht.

  2. Hard to resist a song with lyrics like “Fuck today, fuck San Francisco, fuck California”

    Did I drive you to the airport?

  3. I think Leslie did once, and Dave did the other time. We listened to other music.

  4. From Chelsey:

    Top Albums:
    1. Yeah Yeah Yeahs It’s Blitz!
    2. The XX The XX
    3. It’s True There, There, Now…
    4. Elvis Perkins In Dearland Elvis Perkins In Dearland
    5. Generationals Con Law
    6. Lady GaGa The Fame Monster
    7. Neko Case Middle Cyclone
    8. Twilight: New Moon Soundtrack
    9. Kelly Clarkson – All I Ever Wanted
    10. Flight of the Conchords I Told You I Was Freaky
    11. Dead Man’s Bones Dead Man’s Bones
    12. Micachu & the Shapes Jewellery
    13. Rural Alberta Advantage – Hometowns
    14. Passion Pit Manners
    15. Discovery LP

    Top Songs:

    1. Home Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
    2. VCR The xx The xx
    3. Runaway Yeah Yeah Yeahs It’s Blitz!
    4. Dominos The Big Pink A Brief History Of Love
    5. When They Fight They Fight Generationals Con Law
    6. Honestly It’s True There, There, Now…
    7. Ready, Able Grizzly Bear Veckatimest
    8. Shampoo Elvis Perkins In Dearland Elvis Perkins In Dearland
    9. Bad Romance Lady GaGa The Fame Monster
    10. Heads Will Roll Yeah Yeah Yeahs It’s Blitz!
    11. Forever Drake, Kanye West, Lil Wayne & Eminem More Than a Game (Music Inspired By the Film)
    12. The Calculation Regina Spektor Far
    13. Lose Your Soul Dead Man’s Bones Dead Man’s Bones
    14. People Got A Lotta Nerve Neko Case Middle Cyclone
    15. Possibility Lykke Li Twilight: New Moon Soundtrack
    16. Lionkiller Got Married Cass McCombs Catacombs
    17. Sleepyhead Passion Pit Manners
    18. 1901 Phoenix Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
    19. Papa Was a Rodeo – Bright Eyes Bright Eyes SCORE! 20 Years of Merge Records: THE COVERS!
    20. Empire State Of Mind Featuring Alicia Keys Jay-Z The Blueprint 3
    21. Magpie To The Morning Neko Case Middle Cyclone
    22. Slow Lif (with Victoria Legrand) Grizzly Bear Twilight: New Moon Soundtrack
    23. Dance In The Dark Lady GaGa The Fame Monster
    24. True Love Stalker Miss Li Dancing The Whole Way Home
    25. California On My Mind Wild Light Adult Nights
    26. Seaweed Song Passion Pit Manners
    27. The Trapeze Swinger Iron & Wine Around the Well
    28. Funeral Singers Califone All My Friends Are Funeral Singers
    29. My Body’s a Zombie for You Dead Man’s Bones Dead Man’s Bones
    30. Everytime I’m With You (feat. Jason Lytle) Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse Dark Night of the Soul
    31. Hurt Feelings Flight of the Conchords I Told You I Was Freaky
    32. My Girls Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavilion
    33. Just In Case Micachu & the Shapes Jewellery
    34. Alaskan Fiasco It’s True There, There, Now…
    35. Change of Heart El Perro del Mar Change of Heart – Single
    36. No Dice Beirut March of The Zapotec and Realpeople Holland
    37. Fuck You Lily Allen It’s Not Me, It’s You
    38. We’re Both in Love with a Sexy Lady Flight of the Conchords I Told You I Was Freaky
    39. Never Had Nobody Like You (Featuring Zooey Deschanel) M. Ward Hold Time
    40. Satellite Heart (Air Mail Remix) Anya Marina Satellite Heart (Air Mail Remix) – Single
    41. In the Room Where You Sleep Dead Man’s Bones Dead Man’s Bones
    42. Orange Shirt Discovery LP
    43. Ecstasy jj jj nº 2
    44. Hellhole Ratrace Girls Album
    45. I Can’t Get Away Stardeath and White Dwarfs I Can’t Get Away – Single
    46. Ancestors Throw Me The Statue Creaturesque
    47. Knight of Wands Au Revoir Simone Still Night, Still Light
    48. 11th Dimension Julian Casablancas Phrazes For The Young
    49. Daniel Bat For Lashes Two Suns
    50. Giving Away the Bride Califone All My Friends Are Funeral Singers

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