I am well aware that the posting of this list comes much too late to be of any relevance to the hipster-verse, but I refuse to let some unforeseen difficulties stop me from ringing off on the best and brightest of 2009's musical releases. Thankfully one advantage does emerge from my forced tardiness in posting: I now feel very confident in my thoughts on these albums, and though I realize some will be more long-lasting in their appeal than others, they are all very enjoyable entries within their respective genres.
Without further delay - and before I start raving about the widespread critical misuse of the term "chillwave" - here are the best albums of 2009 (in my (wildly sophisticated) opinion, of course)...LPs
1. Animal Collective - "Merriweather Post Pavilion"
2. St. Vincent - "Actor"
3. Cymbals Eat Guitars
- "Why There Are Mountains"
4. Royksopp - "Junior"
5. Fuck Buttons - "Tarot Sport"
6. Fever Ray - "Fever Ray"
7. Grizzly Bear - "Veckatimest"
8. The Flaming Lips - "Embryonic"
9. Bat for Lashes
- "Two Suns"
10. The Antlers - "Hospice"
11. Sunset Rubdown
12. Neon Indian - "Psychic Chasms"
13. Girls - "Album"
14. The xx - "xx"
15. Dan Deacon - "Bromst"
16. Phoenix - "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix"
17. Bill Callahan
- "Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle"
18. Passion Pit - "Manners"
20. Japandroids - "Post-Nothing"
21. Wildbirds & Peacedrums
- "The Snake"
22. Bear in Heaven - "Beast Rest Forth Mouth"
23. Wild Beasts - "Two Dancers"
24. The Horrors - "Primary Colours"
25. Lightning Dust
- "Infinite Light"
26. Memory Tapes - "Seek Magic"
27. The Very Best - "Warm Heart of Africa"
- "Dark Rift"
29. Levon Helm - "Electric Dirt"
30. Circulatory System
- "Signal Morning"
31. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - "The Pains of Being Pure at Heart"
32. Mount Eerie - "Wind's Poem"
33. Bibio - "Ambivalence Avenue"
34. Sleeping States
- "In the Gardens of the North"
35. Neko Case - "Middle Cyclone"
36. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "It's Blitz!"
37. Super Furry Animals - Dark Days/Light Years"
38. Doves - "Kingdom of Rust"
39. Sonic Youth - "The Eternal"
40. Florence + The Machine - "Lungs"EPs
1. Animal Collective - "Fall Be Kind"
2. Teengirl Fantasy
- "Bay of Pigs"
4. Deerhunter - "Rainwater Cassette Exchange"
5. Bon Iver - "Blood Bank"
At the beginning of 2009, I wasn't much of an Animal Collective fan. Clearly that makes me the most passe of poseurs, but perhaps it might also suggest just how transcendent an album "Merriweather Post Pavilion" is. "Sung Tongs" I had liked, but not heard enough to love, "Feels" became too willfully formless in its second half, but MPP struck exactly the right ground between electronic experimentation and perfectly polished songwriting. The appeal of "My Girls" is impossible to escape, samesies for "Summertime Clothes," "Bluish," "Brothersport" and practically any other song on the whole god damn album. But if that wasn't enough, the crazy kids went and released "Fall Be Kind" late in the year, again proving their limitless creativity while also casting a shadow over any other major EP release of the year.
Good year for Animal Collective then, and bad year for everyone else, yes? Not nearly, despite what I've read on various music blogs and review sites. Perhaps my feelings are opposite those of many simply because I opened myself up to so much new music in 2009 (and was instantly rewarded for my efforts), but it's my impression that those not hearing anything they liked in 2009 were either not listening hard enough, or have become reliant on outdated formats like radio for their quick musical fix (I won't divulge further into that tangent, or I'll never stop writing this). There was a surplus of great music to enjoy in 2009, from excellent debut albums out of The xx, CFCF and Cymbals Eat Guitars, to great new entries from consistently amazing bands such as Sunset Rubdown, Phoenix and Destroyer. We were even dealt astounding left hand turns from artists like The Horrors, Bibio and The Flaming Lips.
So what is it that I'll take away from the musical year of 2009 in total: psychedelia will always be a part of indie culture? lo-fi's cool again? "chillwave" is a bullshit genre name, but it's applied to some fucking great music? I feel all those things, or at least recognize the trends in today's blogosphere, but what the beginning of my intensive listening taught me last year, most of all, is that there's no stemming the tide. The internet's an integral part in how we all learn and communicate, and now also in how we experience and find music. You want to find some new shit in that thrice hyphenated sub-genre you read about on that one blog last night? Ok, spend about 20 minutes randomly googling genre keywords and chances are you'll find enough .rar files to fill half your hard drive. It's intimidating, especially if you set out to hear about everything (as I naively did), but it's also incredibly exciting to know that there are musicians, and music fans, in every part of the world listening to/creating/hating/remixing/critiquing any form of music imaginable. Some say we're seeing the collapse of the music industry. I think we're in the middle of a fucking renaissance, and I couldn't be more excited.