2009 was a great year. It brought us many great albums. Here are my picks for the best albums of 09.
1. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
While I had dabbled into Phoenix’s previous material, it took them this album to finally win me over. From beginning to end, these songs shine brighter, and dig deeper into the soul than anything else I listened to this year. This is an indie album at heart, yet it is easily accessible and creeped into the mainstream. A masterpiece I only like to consume in its entirety if possible, the album takes those who listen on a journey to their inner workings. Congrats Phoenix, you’ve joined the big boys.
2. Kings of Leon – Only By The Night
2009 was the year of the kings. While being a successful band all over the world, they had not achieved mainstreem success here in the states until this album. Even though technically it was released in 2008, it exploded all over 2009. so we will let it slip through the cracks. You can hear the soul pouring out of singer Caleb Followill’s mouth as he sings the lead single “Sex On Fire”. And after the radio play it got, it is hard to assume they are living like anything less than kings.
3. Muse – The Resistance
Muse is poised to be the next big band in the world, and with The Resistance you can hear that they are almost there. With each album they put out they stray slightly more toward an arena sound that works for them. A hugely ambitious record, this is the first where Muse really develops sonically. They brought in symphonic and electronic elements to flesh out their already huge dark soundscapes. 2009 solidifies their status as rock gods. They spent the year touring with U2 and playing the VMA’s, which exposed them to millions. There is nowhere to go but up from here.
4. 30 Seconds to Mars – This Is War
I always get scared when I hear albums being described as “epic”. This usually translates into “boring” for me. So when I saw the reviews of 30 Seconds to Mars latest offering, I was a little skeptical. Luckily I gave it a chance, because it blew me away. The band managed to take that huge arena sound and keep it interesting, filling the album harsh guitars, big electronics, and singer Jared Leto’s soaring vocal hooks. They even had a guest appearance from rapper Kanye West. Despite having the actor turned rock start stigma, Leto has finally created an album that lives up to his acting career.
5. Set Your Goals – This Will Be The Death of Us
If punk is dead, then no one told Set Your Goals. This Will Be The Death of Us is an amazing punk album that recalls the punk scene of the early 90’s. It’s hard not to hear traces of NOFX or Pennywise riddled throughout, and it comes off as refreshing. The dual vocals blend smoothly and the music is played fast and hard. With support from all their idols, punk could very well be the next big thing.
6. Passion Pit – Manners
Electro – indie newcomers Passion Pit have captured the scene with their debut album. The disc is just such an easy listen. Manners was way to pretty to be ignored. The songs evoke thoughts of floating through clouds and open meadows in the spring time. Despite the beautiful music they have created, one must wonder how many drugs Passion Pit had to take to create it.
7. Lady Gaga – The Fame Monster
Lady Gaga is the weirdest sensation of 2009. It was strange to see a pop start with real talent and a unique style. She dominated the media this year, and became a household name everywhere. The best part is that her music matches her outlandish behavior. This isn’t your typical pop record, and the songs are as interesting as she is. The production of the songs keeps everyone dancing, while her dark lyrics and crisp melodies keep the listener on the edge of their seat. Questions is, can she handle the fame?
8. Brand New – Daisy
Few bands can reinvent themselves like Brand New. Daisy starts with Jesse Lacey screaming his lungs out on the first track, Vices, and doesn’t let up much afterwards. You can feel the man’s pain and anger with so much clarity throughout this album. Proving that there are still a few gems in the “emo” genre, they created a piece of art that anyone who has been hurt in the past can feel.
9. Say Anything – Self Titled
Say Anything is back with a vengeance! After releasing 2007’s over inflated double disc album, In Defense of the Genre, they return with a more concise set of tunes. This seems to work to their advantage, as they noticeably trimmed the fat. There is no filler on this record. It seems to channel their older, more accessible work. Noticeably absent from the record are the curse words that singer Max Bemis used so frequently. Even though he toned down his foul mouth, he managed to keep the album full of the tongue lashing songs the band is known for.
10. After Midnight Project – Let’s Build Something To Break
Sharp hooks, and vocals to match made this debut from After Midnight Project cut through the crap of ’09. Their sound contains tinges of My Chemical Romance pre Black Parade, and mixes it with pop sheen. The production is spot on, and seems to be almost a member of the band. This sometimes makes me wonder if we are listening to After Midnight Project, or producer John Freldmann himself. Either way, this is a band to watch for in the future.