This is the yearly series of top lists of the year that is leaving.
Albums of the year, everyone has their end all album of the year, everyone has some suspect mentions, my list has both. In case you don’t actually know me, my musical taste is bi-polar at best. There is nothing more addictive to me than a perfectly crafted pop hook, and nothing more beautiful than a simple line sung by a raspy imperfect voice backed by an acoustic guitar.
I went with 30 albums, and there were plenty of albums that don’t make this cut, however the ones that do are ones that held a place in my year, that I listened to over and over again, or connected with me on some level, or was the soundtrack to me writing run on sentences. I gave an order for 1-10, but the rest all equally move from 11 to 30 on any given minute. These collections of songs are obviously the ones I was the most connected to this year, so for 1-10 I will include a few thoughts on the album and it will spill into non-sense at any given moment.
1. Manchester Orchestra – Mean Everything To Nothing
Their debut album was one of those records that made me love music and love working in the music industry (I was at TMG when I first heard it, and there were some talks and meetings in those days). Somehow I didn’t have any built up expectations for this record, and when I heard it I had not one disagreement with the direction the band went. Some could argue it’s a different record than their debut, some could nitpick the evolution, but when a bands evolution is natural and “right” the album just seems right (for the opposite of this feeling, see Brand New’s “Daisy”). I think this album played for 24 days straight on repeat. I’m not even kidding.
2. fun. – Aim & Ignite
I hated this album with such passion at first. I hated this album probably as much as Nate hated “Cause A Scene” when he wrote this album. I hated it because he hated that, and then one day, over-stressed and freaking out about life, someone amazing said to me “Be Calm” and so I let it play, and “heard” this record for the first time.
3. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
This was the soundtrack to me driving the 101 to the 110 this year. I don’t know why, or how, but it was always on. Phoenix finally made the record that catapulted them out of the immensely talented (and saturated) french pop rock scene and into the mainstream.
4. Where The Wild Things Are OST
Legendary children’s book that was a huge park of my life being made into a movie, penned by my favourite author, directed by a spectacular visionary artist, could this get any more hyped personally? And then Karen O went and put the perfect sounds with the most beautiful images I saw this year. I’m sure this soundtrack/score will lose out to something horrible (such as that Avatar song) in all the awards, but it was one of the best soundtracks in years.
5. Say Anything – Say Anything
After an underwhelming double album, how could you really expect much from Max Bemis? You knew the uniquely catchy songs were still in him, you knew he was still insane, you knew he was still jaded, but somehow that double album created an ocean to saturate his genius. This album was precise, exact, and exactly what was needed. Heck, he even only needed 30 words or less for some of these scene pop gems.
6. Andy Shauf – Darker Days
I’ve heard Andy Shauf compared to Elliott Smith in something I read. I’m not sure if that’s accurate, yet I totally get what they meant. His songs invoke this feeling I haven’t had for years, this feeling as you are listening that everything is exactly where it should be in this musical landscape and that your connected to the artist and his words in the most simple and honest way. The last time I felt that way was with… Elliott Smith.
7. Third Eye Blind – Ursa Major
The EP got my hopes up, the single hooked me, and “Bonfire” and “Summer Town” solidified this record as one of their best. It would be impossible for me to rank 3eb’s albums, but I feel like this one stands up well against the others, shows their familiar characteristics along with enough freshness to be just what I needed out of them. I also saw the band live for the first time this year on a cliff in Malibu, I had previously promised I would never see them live (because of all the rumours that they are horrible live), needless to say it might have been the setting, but I found their live performance breathtaking.
8. Discovery – LP
It was hard to keep Discovery in my mind all year, I’ll admit. The beginning of 2009 was filled with Discovery, though, it’s the kind of record to put on while you are getting ready to head out for a great night of bad decisions. It gets the blood running with it’s electro fused sounds, is cool enough and unknown enough to surprise your hip friends, and tops it all off with polished pop vocals and harmonies that put a smile on your face. I’m not sure how to explain the mischievous mood you wind up in after listening to this record, but I’m extremely glad for it.
9. Freelance Whales – Weathervanes
I went to see this band live with my friend Rob, who admitted he wasn’t really into the band, but thought that the perfect girl would like this band. Let me tell you, he is absolutely correct, the perfect girl LOVES this band. This album is quite honestly perfect folk pop, it’s also acceptable to love even if you’re a guy.
10. The XX- XX
One of the most complete albums of all time. It’s almost the “Frankenstein’s Monster” of my musical tastes.
11. thru 30, in alphabetical order.
All Time Low – Nothing Personal
The Avett Brothers – I And Love And You
Boys Like Girls – Love Drunk
Cartel – Cycles
Cassino – Kingprince
Fashawn – Boy Meets World
The Fray – The Fray
Hockey – Mind Chaos
Jamie T – Kings & Queens
Jay Z – The Blueprint 3
Kevin Devine – Brother’s Blood
Lights – The Listening
Matt & Kim – Grand
John Mayer – Battle Studies
Mayer Hawthorne – A Strange Arrangement
Mike Dunn & The Kings Of New England – Sundowner
Monsters Of Folk – Monsters Of Folk
Muse – The Resistance
Sherwood – Qu
The Swell Season – Strict Joy
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