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2009 Year End Best Of

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2009 was an interesting year for music, to say the least. Normally, when I put together the lists, I have a couple of records that are clearly the "best" from the year, then there are some that are really good, then some that are mostly good, and so on. It's a fairly graduated list. But 2009 was different. In this case, there are more than a few records that were brilliant, some that were really good, and then….nothing. Basically, everything else I listened to made me say, "Meh." Nevertheless, the records listed below are all stayed in my heavy rotation in 2009, and are definitely worth a listen.

  1. Wildlife by Headlights. This is easily my favorite record of 2009, which is no mean feat. Perfectly produced with a nice balance, this album is filled with moody pop tunes, all with the lightly focused vocals of Erin Fein and Tristan Wraight. Furthermore, it features Dead Ends, which may be the most beautiful tune I've heard in years.

  2. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Happy pop with pointed lyrics all delivered with a breathless energy. Postlibyan calls it "candy" and I'm inclined to agree.

  3. Deaths and Entrances by My Latest Novel. This is just an epically beautiful record from beginning to end, as this Scottish group plays with volume, tone, and harmonies throughout (although I do love Dragonhide the most). Probably the most coherent record on my list, which should be listened to in one take.

  4. …And the Horse You Rode in On by The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir. I can't help it, but I really like this sarcastic, bombastic record. Admittedly, it's an angry bitter album at heart, but the bounce in the music makes it go down much easier.

  5. Home Free by The Besties. More bubblegummy than The Pains of Being Pure of Heart, this Indie Pop record is laced with girl group-esque harmonies and is pretty funny to boot. I have to like anything that manages to reference both Tim Armstrong and Bear Grylls.

  6. Remind Me Where the Light Is by Great Northern. I've never managed to write a review on this album because it's so damn dark. But that doesn't mean it isn't excellent, with the melancholy more or less oozing from every pore. Just make sure you're in the right mood, or it may push you over the edge.

  7. SCORE! 20 Years of Merge Records The Covers! by Various Artists. This cover record probably deserves it's own category, but taken as a whole, it's one of the most solid record of 2009. The New Pornographers manage to make Don't Destroy This Night into a pop tune, while Les Savy Fav manage to do their best Superchunk impression on Precision Auto.

  8. Azar by Venice is Sinking. Lovely light Americana-tinged pop from an Athens band who have shown remarkable growth over the past couple of years. The harmonies are enchanting and the music doesn't overwhelm anything. It's a perfect record to listen to once you're sick of the Headlights album.

  9. Oohs & Aahs by Say Hi. Eric Elbogen's group released their first album on Barsuk records in 2009. It's less poppy and more introspective than the previous efforts, but many of the songs are still very listenable, even without the pervasive keyboards you'd expect.

  10. Wish You Well by The Orphins. Honestly, if this album had come out in a different (earlier) year, it would have ranked higher. Almost too long in the making, this record still contains more than a few good songs, with the sublime Tundra leading the way. Beyond that, it's the only record my Little Feral Cat has ever enjoyed, so that's worth something.

Like Postlibyan, I spent much of the year avoiding the concert venues, especially after a couple of particularly vile experiences with over privileged crowds and under concerned bands. So, if you pop on over to his list, you'll read pretty much what I would have written (except for the whole Sonic Youth thing, which I'd replace with That Petrol Emotion as seen at SxSW). I'd probably rank Headlights and The Pogues higher, but that would just be nitpicky, because our sentiments are essentially the same on this one.

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