Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Best Albums of 2009!

The Best Albums of 2009 (If I were the one to give out awards and such, all these would get awards)

1. Monsters of Folk, Monsters of Folk (“Baby Boomer,” “Temazcal,” “Say Please,” “The Sandman…”)
2. Neko Case, Middle Cyclone (“People Got a Lotta Nerve,” “This Tornado Loves You,” “Middle Cyclone”)
3. Andrew Bird, Noble Beast (“Oh No,” “Souverian,” “Fitz and the Dizzyspells”)
4. Jay Farrar and Benjamin Gibbard, One Fast Move or I’m Gone (“California Zephyr,” “One Fast Move or I’m Gone,” “Big Sur,” “These Roads Don’t Move,” “Low Life Kingdom”)
5. The Flaming Lips, Embryonic [with a few deletions and additions from non-album tracks] (“Watching the Planets,” “What Does it Mean,” “Convinced of the Hex”)
6. Clem Snide, Hungry Bird (“Born a Man,” “Pray,” “Hum,” “Me No”)
7. Son Volt, American Central Dust (“No Turning Back,” “When the Wheels Don’t Move,” “Roll On,” “Down to the Wire”)
8. Jason Lytle, Yours Truly, The Commuter (“Brand New Sun,” “Flying Through Canyons,” “Rollin’ Home Alone”)
9. A Camp, Colonia (“Stronger than Jesus,” “The Crowning”)
10. A.A. Bondy, When the Devil’s Loose (“A Slow Parade,” “To the Morning,” “I Can See the Pines Are Dancing”)
11. Noah and the Whale, The First Days of Spring (“Blue Skies,” “The First Days of Spring”)
12. Cracker, Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey (“Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out with Me,” “Yalla Yalla”)
13. Elizabeth & The Catapult, Taller Children (“Rainiest Day of Summer,” “Taller Children”)
14. Jill Sobule, California Years (“Spiderman,” “Palm Springs,” “San Francisco”)
15. Mark Olson and Gary Louris, Ready for the Flood (“Turn Your Pretty Name Around”)
16. Dave Rawlings Machine, A Friend of a Friend (“Ruby,” “Bells of Harlem,” “How’s About You”)
17. Great Lake Swimmers, Lost Channels (“Palmistry,” “Everything Is Moving So Fast,”)
18. Dangermouse & Sparklehorse, Dark Night of the Soul (“Jaykub,” “Star Eyes,” “Revenge,” “Everytime I’m with You,” “Daddy’s Gone,” “Dark Night of the Soul”)
19. Volcano Choir, Unmap (“Island, IS,” “Still”)

I also got albums from Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Wilco, A Fine Frenzy, Animal Collective, Coconut Records, Erin McKeown, Ian Hunter, M. Ward, Bonnie Prince Billy, and Throw Me the Statue, and a few others here and there came and went. All had things that were good about them, but in the end, I don’t go back to them much.

Wilco is a good example. “Bull Black Nova” is an excellent song, but most of the rest of the album sounds more twee than Tweedy to me. I’m really amazed that so many people are fawning over this album, rather than despairing for how far things have fallen from the amazing run of Being There, Summerteeth, and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot . . . the last two Wilco albums, especially, are a dramatic falling off in every respect but their playing. Wilco remains a wonderful band, but they’re really run out of ideas. And this Tweedy media saturation this fall all about finding humor and a spiritual center just feeds the cult of personality over song quality. That’s my little Wilco rant.

And then an Animal Collective rant: I really didn’t see what was interesting about this album. I’ve forced myself to listen to it several times, but it continues to just irritate me. It grates on my nerves.

Also, the following all came out this year as well, and I spent a LOT of time listening to them, but they seemed not to qualify for the list, as they were, well, less new. The Beatles, especially, sounded great, but in the end these are all songs I’ve been listing to for 40 years, you know? I grew up with them. they’re a part of the air now.

Leonard Cohen, Live in London
Bon Iver,
Blood Bank (as it was an EP [and one of the songs was a reworking of a song from the Volcano Choir album])
Neil Young, Dreamin' Man (Live ’92)
Neil Young Archives Vol 1
The Beatles Remasters
Philip Glass,
The Orange Mountain Music (Philip Glass Sampler Vol I)

Elizabeth & The Catapult, “Perfectly Perfect”


At 12/06/2009 2:07 PM, Blogger Oliver de la Paz said...

Nice list. I'll post mine before the end of the decade. ;-)

BTW, I got your shirt. Back channel me your addy?

At 12/11/2009 8:56 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I'm not sure I understand this comment in reference to Animal Collective, "I really didn’t see what was interesting about this album."

Now I can understand not enjoying it, hating it, thinking it was OK, but to say there was nothing "interesting" about it just makes it seem like you never listened to the album (though, I believe you did, and this is why I can't understand your comment).

The first track in itself is incredibly "interesting," even if you don't enjoy it. I'm just at a loss here, and I'd like to understand your opinion further, I'm not just attacking your opinion I would really like to understand how a song with such an "interesting" time signature like "Lion In a Coma," or the gorgeous "Bluish" or what I perceived to be a universally enjoyable song "My Girls" can be heard without the slightest "interest."

I'm sure this comment is coming off wrong, and I'm an obviously biased fan of the band, but would really appreciate if you could further explain your opinion of the album.

At 12/11/2009 9:57 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Oh, I guess you're right. I kept going back to it, so there must have been something interesting there. Part of the interest I had was that I kept hearing people talk about how wonderful it was . . . so part of my interest was sociological I suppose.

I found it hard to listen to, and in the end, not pleasurable. And I was surprised by that, as many people told me it was, indeed pleasurable.

For me, the layering of things made it into mush. That's probably due to the fact that I like rather under-orchestrated things.

When I was saying "interesting" I should have said "arresting." There was nothing arresting in this album for me. It just kind of whooshed by.

Thanks for making me clarify. I have a tendency to just glaze over things.

At 12/17/2009 6:13 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

I'm sentimentally attached to all things Neil Young, of course, but I really wasn't knocked out by his or Dylan's new ones. As well, I've just gotten the Avett Brothers album and I like it a lot. Maybe it would be number 20.

There were a lot of really good things that came out this year, so many of which (the Son Volt, the Louris/Olson, the Cracker, etc) were almost totally overlooked. I wish I were dictator of the music universe.

Also, I'm growing wear of the Volcano Choir one already. Maybe Fork in the Road should be 20 and Avett Bros 19 and Volcano Choir off...


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