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2009 Year End Best Of

 
 
Minion Name:
  Inspector Jason  
         
 
Favorite Songs:
 
  1. Falling Over by The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart
    This deep cut from The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart's Higher Than The Stars EP is the perfect pop song in a time when there's a shortage of pure pop songs out there. This song reminds me of the carefree pop tracks of the early-to-mid 1980's (General Public Tenderness, Altered Images I Could Be Happy, etc.) and it's probably of no surprise to anyone who knows me that this is one reason why it's my favorite song of the year.

  2. Glacially by Asobi Seksu
    This one, from Asobi Seksu's Hush album, stands right up there with the best of Lush, Slowdive, and all of those other glorious 1990's shoegazer acts.

  3. Peace by Depeche Mode
    In 2009, Depeche Mode wisely reintroduced the world to the electronic synth glory that put them on the map. Peace is the best in a batch of very good songs from a band that is still going strong.

  4. Magnificent by U2. U2's latest album, No Line On The Horizon, was released a few days before I ran my first marathon. On the morning of the race, I listened to Magnificent a couple of times in my truck between the hotel and the start line of the marathon. Since then, it's become a good luck tradition for me to listen to Magnificent before all of my races on the morning of each race. No Magnificent = No race. That's how it is.

  5. Life Of A 1000 Crimes by Echo And The Bunnymen
    Echo And The Bunnymen just keep going strong and nothing gets in their way. Ian McCulloch, my all-time favorite vocalist, still belts them out, although he's a bit raspier these days.

  6. Sidewalk by Hatcham Social
    Talk about unexpectedly good pop songs. This Hatcham Social track, complete with distorted guitar soundscapes, was another song that made 2009 worthwhile.
 
         
 
Favorite LPs:
 

Hmmm. It's difficult this year. While there were a lot of "pretty good" albums in 2009, this year lacked that one amazing album that really sinks its teeth in me. Every album on my list has some missteps that could have stayed in the vault, but there are some key songs in the midst.

  1. It's Blitz! by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
    It's Blitz! wins my top spot simply by being the album that I listened to the most in 2009. This album of sleek, sexy synth pop is a different approach from a great band that keeps evolving.

  2. Sounds Of The Universe by Depeche Mode
    Depeche Mode sound guru Martin Gore bought over 100 ancient 1970s/early-1980s-era analog synthesizers and associated equipment from eBay during the recording of this album and, according to him, he used each and every one. The return to Mode fundamentals is evident in the very first note of the first track, where Kraftwerk-esque synths soar into the sky. Depeche Mode really returned to the sound and feel of their first four albums here. During my first listen, I kept waiting for the big live drum sound to kick in, as it has during all of Depeche Mode's recent offerings, but it never did. This one is just a lot of synthesizers and a lot of greatness.

  3. Begone Dull Care by Junior Boys
    Junior Boys impressed all during their first two albums with their resplendent synth/electronica approach. On the one, Junior Boys mellow out a bit and venture into more soulful territory, in the same way that 80s synth acts like Soft Cell and OMD mellowed out way back then. I couldn't put my finger on why I like the lead single, Hazel, so much, until I realized that it reminds me of Hall & Oates. A black mark on my musical tastes? I hope not.

  4. Hush by Asobi Seksu
    Where is that gloriously cascading guitar distortion and where are those thundering drums? The Asobi Seksu that helmed intense numbers like Nefi + Girly have moved on and Hush is a much more keyboard-heavy album. The 90s shoegaze sticks its head up into the sun often enough to keep me fascinated, though, and I like how this album takes a more Cocteau Twins-esque approach.

  5. The Fountain by Echo And The Bunnymen
    I think that, of all of those glorious 80s underground bands that I still love, Echo And The Bunnymen are the ones that have matured the best. Ian McCulloch has developed a melancholic croon that accentuates his status as an elder statesman and guitarist Will Sergeant kicks out the riffs just like always. The guest vocal from Coldplay's Chris Martin in the title song only serves to demonstrate how much better the Bunnymen are than the ones that they influence in this day and age.

  6. Never Been by For Against
    For Against quickly completed this second full reunion album, and it stands tried and true to last year's offering. The only criticism I have is that, well, this album is quite the downer. While these songs are flawless in their approach, I can't help wishing that For Against will rescue some puppies from a shelter, date some supermodels, or get into a fistfight with Liam Gallagher. Some sparks would be most welcome.
 
         
 
Favorite Films:
 

I lowered my standards a bit this year and decided that any movie with just one single camera shot that lasts over five seconds is a good movie. The rest of 2009 was a blur of fast-edit MTV-video style CGI effects that bored me silly. Fortunately, the ones on this list are pretty darn good.

  1. Inglourious Basterds
    Quentin Tarantino's re-imagining of World War II in Europe was my favorite movie of 2009 and it just might be my favorite Tarantino film, even eclipsing Pulp Fiction. If Christoph Waltz, who plays SS Colonel Hans Landa, doesn't win a Best Supporting Actor award, then there's a problem with the system. Quentin Tarantino exceeds at his trademark balance of generating suspense through brilliant dialogue scenes, when we all know the violence that he's capable of is just under the surface waiting to abruptly emerge.

  2. A Perfect Getaway
    This "one week in theaters and you'll miss it" tropical adventure thriller, starring Milla Jovovich, Timothy Olyphant, and Steve Zahn, will not been seen on any other critic's Best Of 2009 list this year. That's exactly why you should disregard the professional critics and trust that Inspectorjason always knows best and is always looking out for you (when and if he ever has time to post on EvilSponge, that is). When two couples on a romantic hiking trip in Hawaii find out that psychopaths are stalking and murdering tourists on the island, chaos ensues. There's an exceptional twist-ending here that I didn't see coming.

  3. The Hurt Locker
    Now, this film will be seen on the critics' lists and, at present, it's shaping up to be the contender of 2009. A broken clock is correct twice a day and, as such, the critics are correct in this case. This film, about an explosives ordinance unit in Iraq, uses the camera in the way that the best 1960s and 1970s spy movies did, by showing in lingering slow shots exactly how things work and how situations are put together. There's never a moment in this film where we have to question what's going on and, for a movie with an Iraqi war setting, that's an accomplishment. When the lead character, played by Jeremy Renner, takes his cautious time disarming a crude car explosive, our viewpoint stays with him through every excruciating second.

  4. The Road
    It's impossible for any movie to truly do justice to the Cormac McCarthy novel on which this film is based, but director John Hillcoat and company do as good of a job as anyone possibly could have. As he did in his Australian Western, The Proposition, Hillcoat succeeds at depicting what characters would really look like in a world without running water or plentiful nourishment. This is a downer of a movie, but there's an otherworldly beauty present as well.

  5. The Hangover
    Even with all of my love for an obscure foreign film or a thought-provoking indie story, I still love a rowdy drunken comedy like the next person. Despite my affinity for Criterion and Kino DVDs, I still have to put myself out there for ridicule by saying that two films by director Todd Phillips, Road Trip and Old School, are some of the most frequently-viewed movies in my collection. The latest Phillips effort, The Hangover, will sit well alongside these on my DVD shelf. Worth the price of admission for the tiger song.

  6. Extract. I love Mike Judge's talent for authentic observation in his movies and cartoons. In the same way that Office Space was so funny because it was....so....incredibly....real, Extract elicits real comedy from its subtlety and attention to character quirks.
 
         
 
Favorite Concerts:
 

Or...the year that Inspectorjason was busy running and didn't make it to hardly any concerts to speak of.

  1. The Psychedelic Furs @ The Masquerade (October 2, 2009)
    Richard Butler is still the man, and he led this current incarnation of The Psychedelic Furs through a surprisingly lively set of best-loved songs. The Furs played the big songs brilliantly, but this concert got its biggest shots in the arm from the underrated album tracks included in the set. I was blasting Heartbeat in my truck for days after this concert.

  2. Ladytron @ Variety Playhouse (April 18, 2009)
    I love Ladytron and I'm always up front for their shows, along with my friend Carlos. Ladytron ties Interpol as my favorite new band of the 2000s decade and I'm always impressed at their ability to so adeptly bring their synth beats to a stage setting.

  3. Coldplay @ Lakewood Amphitheatre (May 17, 2009)
    I ran a challenging 26.2 miles at a mountainous trail marathon the day before this concert, so nobody is allowed to call me a wuss for attending a Coldplay concert. One of those "You know...the masses are sometimes right" moments was experienced on this night. Chris Martin and company made sure that there was never a dull moment at what is usually a big and impersonal arena setting

  4. Junior Boys @ The EARL (May 2, 2009)
    "Wow. He even looks like Michael McDonald with the beard." Junior Boys loosened up The Earl on this night with some danceable favorites and their dangerously-close-to-yacht-rock new material. I loved this show.

  5. Depeche Mode @ Lakewood Amphitheatre (September 1, 2009)
    Dave Gahan is getting on a bit and his vocals show it, but Depeche Mode still put on an exceptional show. They even played Fly On The Windscreen.

  6. U2 @ Georgia Dome (October 6, 2009)
    "Wow. That's a big stage down there. What are those things moving around? Oh, they're people! ...and they're playing The Unforgettable Fire. Great song!" Yeah. If there was ever a band that can make Georgia Dome into an intimate location, U2 is that band and, thanks in part to their interesting 360-degree stage setup, they brought everyone up close.

  7. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart @ The EARL (May 3, 2009)
    This New York band and their earnest pop sensibilities were a highlight of 2009 and so was this concert. Unfortunately, I missed them when they toured through here again with the superior material from their Higher Than The Sun EP.

  8. Asobi Seksu @ The Earl (September 24, 2009)
    My second time seeing Asobi Seksu in 2009, and this was the better of the two shows. Yuki and company give 100% each time they swing through Atlanta, and I always find myself anticipating their next visit.
 
         
 
Related Links:
  Return to the End Of Year Lists menu.
Inspector Jason's 2007 year-end lists.
Inspector Jason's 2008 year-end lists.
 
         

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