UPDATED in early 2011. In retrospect, 2009 was a decent year, especially compared to the rock debacle that was 2010. The Top 8 records on this list all have turned out to be more consistently strong than ANY album of 2010, though there are a few 2010 albums (Band of Horses comes to mind) that have 5 or 6 excellent songs, enough to make up for a bit of filler.
OLD NOTES: A below-average year for albums (and ditto for live shows). Only a handful of great ones.
Overall verdict? "Meh+". But there is still good music, oh yes.
A lot of my perrenials in my top 10 - the two big surprises were the YYY's (definitely the record that will most remind me of 2009), and of course Animal Collective, to some degree. The Animal Collective record wasn't at all a surprise in the sense that I had been DYING to hear these songs ever since they played a set of mostly that material at Coachella 2008, but it's certainly the first studio record of theirs that I've rated very highly. And the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were just one of those rare bands that I didn't want to like at all and over time have acquired Maximum Respect for.I might add more to these notes when I have time - sadly I am too busy to even use my site to make lists right now.