in Top Ten

Colin’s Top Ten Albums of 2009

Alright. Now phase two of our “albums week” continues with Da Morgue’s favorite albums of the past year. For me, 2009 was kind of mediocre as far as the albums that were released, but the year certainly wasn’t without it’s share of quality music.

10. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest

I didn’t get in to this album quite as heavily as some people, but I still have plenty of respect for it. The way all of these reverb-soaked instruments are arranged to all these songs with a sort of chamber pop thing going on makes for quite a nice listening experience, and Ed Droste’s vocals are just a pleasure to listen to. Plus it’s got “Two Weeks”, easily one of the best songs of the year.

9. Passion Pit – Manners
I was having a hard time choosing between this album and Veckatimest for my number 10 spot, but then I listened to Bruce Springsteen’s Working On A Dream which was my original number 9, and realized it wasn’t quite as good as I remembered. Anyways, this is a pretty irresistable little electropop album, full of big choruses and falsetto vocals. It seems like MGMT has made it ok for alternative rock guys like me to listen to bands that are on the more electronic side of the spectrum, and these guys are kind of in that same vein.

8. Yeah Yeah Yeah’s – It’s Blitz!
When It’s Blitz! first came out, I was just starting to warm up to it and then John posted his middling three-star review of it, and I just stopped listening to this album entirely. Now I see that wasn’t a very good decision on my part. I’m actually really impressed with how far YYY’s have come in just three albums, and the way they trade in guitars and drums for keyboards and drum machines on this latest release seems completely natural. When you’re putting out songs that are as straight-up beautiful as “Skeletons” and “Hysteric”, combined with toe-tapping dance numbers like “Zero” and “Heads Will Roll”, you can do it on whatever instrument you like, I don’t care.

7. Wilco – Wilco (The Album)
I got pretty heavily in to Wilco this year after hearing Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and this is another solid release from one of the decade’s most reliable bands. Wilco (The Album) shows Jeff Tweedy and Co. going for a more laid back, but still very poppy approach that kind of reminds me of the seminal album they put out ten years earlier, Summerteeth. There’s also plenty of sunnier, upbeat songs like “You Never Know”, and “Sonny Feeling”, which are usually the kinds of Wilco songs I always find myself being most drawn to. On “Wilco (The Song)”, Jeff Tweedy sings the line “Wilco will love you baby”, and as long as they keep releasing albums like this, the feeling will be mutual.

6. Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown
Yes, I do realize that liking Green Day is about as cool as going to see the new Twilight movie, but I’ll be damned if Billie Joe Armstrong can’t still write one hell of a catchy rock song. Green Day have pretty much given up on milking the pop-punk genre and have shifted more in to classic rock territory with this album. I still haven’t listened to American Idiot, just because I’m still recovering from having to hear “Bouleverd of Broken Dreams” everywhere I went in 2004 and 2005, but this seems like a pretty worthy follow-up, even if it is a bit long.

5. Monsters Of Folk – Monsters Of Folk
This album seems pretty unprecidented. Not only for the fact that it brings together four of the most gifted minds in modern music, but also because it’s an album all four members of Da Morgue could get behind. It’s already made two appearances on this blog already and something tells me it won’t be the last so I’ll be brief. I like it, I like it a lot.

4. Girls – Album
It seems like every indie band I hear about nowadays just keeps milking the early alternative/post-punk sounds of the ’80s, but Girls’ Christopher Owens takes us back to the simpler sounds of the ’60s on Girls’ debut album. And no, I don’t like this band just because they’re from San Francisco. Whistful ballads like “Ghost Mouth” and “Lauren Marie” will melt your heart like butter, while songs like the surf-rock influenced “Big Bad Mean Mother Fucker” and “Darling” will tell you everything’s gonna be alright.

3. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
This album definitely took me a while to get in to, but once it finally clicked I was like, “Yeah, these guys are pretty weird, but they know what they’re doing”. Every song on the album is very dense and layered, instrumentally and vocally, so there’s always something new to discover with each listen. I don’t know why I haven’t checked out the rest of Animal Collective’s catalogue yet, because this is easily one of the most creatively adventurous albums I’ve heard in quite some time.

2. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
When this album first came out, I was pretty pleased with it, but I didn’t quite feel like it lived up to its predecessor, It’s Never Been Like That. Now I’m not so sure about that. If it isn’t Phoenix’s best album yet, it’s still a nearly perfect blend of bouncy vocal melodies, even bouncier drums, and guitars and keyboards that seem like they’re always perfectly calculated. In fact, everything on this album seems like it’s executed in such a precise way that it seems Phoenix have become one of the most adept bands at writing pop songs for the masses. I can’t believe I’ll be seeing them live in less than a month, should be amazing.

1. U2 – No Line On The Horizon
Putting a band that’s been around for 30 years as his favorite album of the year certainly makes one question himself, but what can I say? I did not expect U2 to put out an album as good as this one. These aging rockers reach for the skies with an album that captures the yearning anthemic quality of The Joshua Tree, and the cool, heavy attitude of Achtung Baby, while sounding more cohesive and more immersive than anything the band has done in years. Whether huge, stadium-sized rock n’ roll still belongs in this day and age is something to ponder, but few bands have perfected rock at it’s most honest and ambitious quite like U2, and this is another great example of why they pull it off so well.