Reviewed: Top 10 Albums of 2009

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22. Dez. 2009, 13:07

In what now seems to have become an annual event, it is time to compile my favourite 10 albums of the year. This is the third year I have done this now, and 2009 has definitely been a much stronger year than both 2007 and 2008. Usually I pick about 6 albums that are awesome then struggle to fill up the final 4 places. This year, I managed to write down 15 albums I loved, and actually had a hard time eliminating five of them from the list. So without further ado, my favourite albums of the year are:





10.Tonight: Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand
Third album from everyone's favourite Scotsmen. Franz are one of those bands I've followed from the very beginning, and so far they are yet to produce a dodgy album. They just seem to have a superb knack of writing totally addictive tunes, and Tonight is no different. Lead single Ulysses sounds fresh without being too much of a departure from earlier Franz. The album is solid throughout, with Dream Again being the only song I'm not too keen on. Although that may be because it follows the absolute beast that is Lucid Dreams, possibly Franz's finest achievement to date. My other highlight, Twilight Omens, is typical of the album: catchy and danceable. The album translates excellently live as well, and shows that Franz will be around for many years to come.






09. Lungs - Florence + the Machine
Debut effort from Miss Welch. I heard Drumming Song at the beginning of the summer on the radio, thought it sounded great, and hence decided to check out Lungs. I can't say I was expecting much, as this isn't usually my kind of music, but I was pleasantly surprised. What a voice! Best bits include Dog Days Are Over, Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) and Cosmic Love. Florence's voice swirls through the record, demanding your attention and making you want to put the album on constant repeat. The artwork is really cool as well, which is always a good thing. Go and listen!






08. Swoon - Silversun Pickups
Follow-up to Carnavas from this Californian band. Silversun Pickups are one of those bands that I try to tell everyone about. I got into them after a friend linked me to Lazy Eye, and since then they seem to have become one of my favourite bands. I don't think Swoon is as good as Carnavas, but it's still a great effort. The opening two songs completely blow you away, and the awesome strings and vocal combination at the end of The Royal We is one of my favourite music moments this year. The only real criticism I'd have is that there are only 10 songs, yet the album lasts over 50 minutes; some of the songs could be shorter, but that is being a bit picky. Oh, and I feel cheated with the artwork package - no CD booklet. Still, the music is superb - well worth their place on this list.






07. West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum - Kasabian
Return to form after their disappointing second album, Empire. I wasn't sure what to expect from this - their debut was brilliant, but let's be honest, Empire was a bit crap. However once I saw the video for Vlad the Impaler, featuring the genius of Noel Fielding, I knew it was going to be good. The album opens with the powerhouse sound of Underdog, and doesn't look back from there. Where Did All the Love Go? was a great single choice. Fast Fuse and Thick as Thieves are as good as they were when they first surfaced in 2007. Fire is of course another highlight. I haven't over listened to this album, which actually makes a nice change, because whenever I do put it on, I am newly impressed with it each time. Great effort.






06. Only Revolutions - Biffy Clyro
Biffy go further and further down the road of pop with their fifth album. I wasn't sure where this album should be put in this list: one moment it was at #2 and the next it was at #8. I've listened to it pretty much constantly since it was released: the album is insanely catchy, but I'm not sure I'll be listening to it much this time next year (in the same vein that Puzzle got terribly over listened to). Having said that though, there are some amazing songs on here. That Golden Rule is hands down the best song released this year, and the closest to old school Biffy that we're ever going to get. Bubbles features Josh Homme playing that awesome little guitar riff - everything that man touches at the moment turns to gold. Many Of Horror has become my favourite Biffy ballad; I love the lyrics here, as well as those on Booooom, Blast & Ruin. I think sixth place is probably accurate though - it'll be interesting to see whether this album can stand the test of time.






05. Journal For Plague Lovers - Manic Street Preachers
Richey Edwards lyrics and Jenny Saville artwork: The Holy Bible Part II? This would have probably been my favourite album of the year had it been released in 2007 or 2008, however this year's competition is too strong. I remember hearing Peeled Apples on the radio before the album was released, and it got me really excited for the album. I enjoyed Send Away the Tigers a lot, so I can't call this a return to form, but it is certainly a step up. Lyrically it is brilliant (obviously), but above all, the songs really rock. Highlights would be Me And Steven Hawking ("today it's a cow, tomorrow it's you!"), Marlon J.D. and the emotional closer William's Last Words. Bonus track, Bag Lady, is also worth a mention - how this didn't make the final cut is beyond me. Better than The Holy Bible? Probably not, but definitely their best since then.






04. Backspacer - Pearl Jam
Wow, it actually rocks: impressive stuff from the Seattle veterans. If I'm honest, Pearl Jam could have released a CD consisting of 12 tracks of silence and it would probably still be on this list. Yes, they're old, but importantly they have evolved. They are no longer the grunge band of the 90's, but are now crafters of middle paced, quality guitar music. Don't mistake this for average though - anything with the voice of Eddie Vedder and the guitar of Mike McCready is worth paying attention to. Got Some is a stormer, and sets the standard for the rest of the record. Unthought Known is my current favourite, with its Wishlist-esque guitar and "You will be no one's rival" refrain. Force of Nature showcases McCready's ever-impressive guitar skills, and they are apparent all through the album. I finally saw them live this year, and I can safely say they are one of the best around. Bring on the next album!






03. The Resistance - Muse
Muse cement their place as the most joyously OTT stadium band in the country. I don't think any Muse album will top Absolution: for me, that is one of the finest records ever created. The Resistance doesn't come close, but that doesn't stop it from being a mighty fine album. I Belong to You (+Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix) aside, there isn't a weak song. Lead single, Uprising, is everything that we've come to expect from Muse - apocalyptic lyrics, a huge guitar riff, and a backing track made for Dr Who. The title track is probably my personal highlight, especially the chants of "We could be wrong, could be wrong". United States of Eurasia is Queen all over, and Unnatural Selection has the most awesome riff of 2009. However it's the symphony at the end that really makes the album: this a real departure for the band, and I think they pull it off spectacularly. Brilliant album.






02. Them Crooked Vultures - Them Crooked Vultures
The debut album from the supergroup that everyone is talking about. When I heard these three guys were getting together to record an album, my expectations were unrealistically high. However, to my eternal surprise, the record stacks up. Full of meaty riffs, mean bass lines and godlike drumming, this is an album that is a real pleasure to listen to. Opener, No One Loves Me & Neither Do I, explodes halfway through with a riff so big that your ears won't even know what's hit them. New Fang oozes with class, Dead End Friends will immediately become your new favourite song and the first minute of Elephants is the one of the best intros I have ever heard. Then there's Scumbag Blues, with probably the best guitar parts on the entire album. I haven't even touched on the second half of the record, but trust me, it's equally as good. You must hear this album: rock is back.


Now we come to the moment you've all been waiting for (I bet you're really excited right now). It's hard to believe something could top Them Crooked Vultures, but you better start believing, as my #1 album of 2009 is...

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01. The Empyrean - John Frusciante
Maybe leaving the Red Hot Chili Peppers was a good thing? It certainly is if it means we get more solo albums as good as this one. This is the most awesome album of the year without a doubt. John's solo albums have been known to vary in their quality, from the frankly awful Smile from the Streets You Hold, through the average Ataxia stuff, right up to subliminal efforts such as Curtains and Shadows Collide With People. This possibly trumps them all though. The 10 minute instrumental opener is beautiful - usually I'm not into this kind of track, but this is an exception. The cover of Song To The Siren is stunning, and leads straight into one of the highlights of the album: Unreachable. Combining John's usual emotionally-charged lyrics, it breaks down halfway through only to build back up again to an incredible crescendo of guitar and sound effects. Other worthy mentions include the transition from "Dark" to "Light" in Dark/Light, the lyrics of Heaven and the majesty of Central, most certainly one of John's very finest songs. The album ends nicely with After The Ending, but bonus tracks Today and Ah Yom are very good and well worth getting hold of. I'd recommend listening to this late at night in the dark for best effect. However you listen to it though, it's sure to be one of the best albums you'll hear in a long time.




Unfortunately in a top 10 album list, there can only be 10 albums. Special mentions however go to Arctic Monkeys, The Mars Volta and Idlewild, whose albums narrowly missed out on the top 10.

Kommentare

  • coffeym

    Sweet, number 1 was no surprise :P Controversial putting Kasabian ahead of Silversun though. No Seasick Sam?

    22. Dez. 2009, 19:23
  • FunkyCrime17

    Haha, no Seasick :P Swoon has more weak points than Kasabian, and it isn't helped by the fact that Carnavas is better =)

    22. Dez. 2009, 21:26
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