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Albums My Top Albums of 2009  

Clark Benson
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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.

1
Merriweather Post Pavilion is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Animal Collective - Wow. There are a few average tracks, and it's possible that I'm overreacting a bit, having been on an Animal Collective high since they shocked me at Coachella 08 (playing mostly unreleased songs that appeared on this album). But there is no question this is the most original record that I have loved in years. Biggest leap forward of 2009. I was only a partial fan of AC below this, in fact some of their music I haven't even kept. I salivate at the thought of seeing them live again (unfortunately walked into Bonnaroo as they were finishing up their last song).

2
No Line on the Horizon is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
U2 -

For all I know this could even be the album of the year. I save my U2/Wilco listening for when I'm spending quality time with the wife (I can't expect her to chill with me listening to ISIS or Satyricon or Phil Lesh and Friends). And I don't listen to the radio much these days (do they play U2 on the radio? who knows anymore), so I actually haven't been overexposed to this record yet.

I do know it has at least some great songs, and I think it's sad that, like Vertigo, they led off with that stupid Boots single, the worst track on the album. But every song before Boots, which i think is #6, is either really good or a stone classic, and there are some great songs later in the record as well

3
It's Blitz! is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Yeah Yeah Yeahs -

This is the album that most feels like "2009" to me, for whatever reason. Maybe because it's so fresh and original, maybe because YYY's are a band that I really didn't want to like, and took a long time to get into, maybe it's because I saw them play this material at both Coachella and Bonnaroo.

It's Blitz just grows and grows on me. There is something about the way Karen O sings on this record. And while I've always been a fan of their songwriting, there are at least 3 songs (the first 2, and the last) on this record that are just 5 star, A-list, difficult-to-get-out-of-my-head songs.

4
Kingdom of Rust is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Doves - Every Doves record to date has been of the highest quality, and this is no exception. Title track might well be my most-listened to song of the year.

5
1372 Overton Park is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
1372 Overton Park Lucero

6
Wavering Radiant is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list My Top Albums of 2009

7
Octahedron is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
The Mars Volta - First 2 Volta full-lengths are stone genius. Everything after is pretty damn great as well, but I'm always a shade disappointed after the first 2-3 listens. But then it grows and grows, or I see them kill a track live, etc

8
Them Crooked Vultures is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Them Crooked Vultures

9
Blue Record is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Baroness

10
21st Century Breakdown is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Green Day - Not quite "American Idiot", but unquestionably a strong record

11
Embryonic is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Flaming Lips - Very pleasantly surprised by this piece of interesting nocturnal weirdness. It’s like the polar opposite of their last record. Makes me wanna see the tour even.

12
Crack the Skye is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Mastodon - A fine return to form after the slight disappointment of the previous release.

13
Joy is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Phish

14
The Eternal is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Sonic Youth - GREAT record. However, this is kinda a weird year for me in the sense that I'm not really FEELING this record like other equally good SY records of recent times. Not sure why - and I don't think it has to do with the quality of the record, which is as consistent as they come.

15
Working on a Dream is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Bruce Springsteen, E Street Band -

Nothing on this album sucks but the songs overall are slightly weaker than his other records since the comebabck. Nothing that I didn’t like, just a bit more slight than I’d hoped.

I didn’t like the "outlaw pete" song when I first heard it but am really starting to dig it now (even tho in places it directly rips off the melody of "I was made for loving you" KISS’s attempt at disco c) 1980), and even tho some of the lyrics seem a little ridiculous. He KILLS this song live, if you get a chance find the version from Bonnaroo which was broadcast on Fuse and is somewhere viewable on the web i'm sure. But there aren’t many other really standout songs.

Still - a step down for The Boss shouldn't be ignored if you are a fan.

16
There Is No Enemy is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Built to Spill - while a solid record by most standards,definitely a bit of a disappointment to me. BTS are one of my alltime faves, but this one is less memorable than any other of their major label releases.

17
Big Whiskey & The GrooGrux Kin... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Dave Matthews Band - Has a couple of great songs ("Why I Am" and one other). And a bitchin' album cover. Best DMB since Crash.

18
Wilco (The Album) is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list My Top Albums of 2009

19
COSMIC EGG (DELUXE EDITION) is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
COSMIC EGG (DELUXE EDITION)

20
Keep It Hid is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Dan Auerbach - Big fan of the Black Keys but I feel like this album has a bit more soul, songs a bit deeper, etc. Auerbach is only slightly less talented than Jack White, and it's good to see both of them branch out beyond the solo guitar-with-drums dimension

21
Yours Truly, the Commuter is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Yours Truly, the Commuter Jason Lytle

22
World Painted Blood is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list My Top Albums of 2009

23
Tarot Sport is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Fuck Buttons

24
The Mountain is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Heartless Bastards

25
By a Thread is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
By a Thread Gov't Mule - Another surprisingly strong studio record by a live fave not known for great studio work.

26
When the Devil's Loose is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
When the Devil's Loose A.A. Bondy

27
Farm is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Dinosaur Jr

28
Monsters of Folk is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Monsters of Folk

29
The Holy Pictures is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
The Holy Pictures David Holmes

30
Roll On is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
J.J. Cale

31
Receivers is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Receivers Parts & Labor

32
Before the Frost...Until the F... is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list My Top Albums of 2009

33
Backspacer is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Pearl Jam

34
Insurgentes is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Steven Wilson

35
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Jason Isbell, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, The 400 Unit

36
Ashes to Dust is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
William Elliott Whitmore

37
Groundswell is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Groundswell Parts & Labor

38
Together Through Life is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Bob Dylan - Definitely a disappointment, just feels kinda slight, but that said has no sucky songs and still far better than, say, any 80s Dylan save Oh Mercy

39
¡Dos! is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Wooden Shjips

40
Sunrise in the Land of Milk an... is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey Cracker

41
Sewn Together is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Meat Puppets

42
Horehound is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
The Dead Weather

43
Draw the Line is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Draw the Line David Gray

44
The Fall is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Norah Jones

45
Hold Time is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
M. Ward - Probably my fave of his so far

46
Killers and Stars is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Killers and Stars Patterson Hood

47
Already Free is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
The Derek Trucks Band, Derek Trucks

48
Chickenfoot is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Chickenfoot - Old guys trying to be cool/funny choose ghasty name for supergroup (maybe the domain was cheap?). Yet this record does not suck (disclosure - I was a big fan of Van Hagar until the last record or two).

49
Fork in the Road is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Neil Young

50
Just Dance (feat. Colby O'Doni... is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list My Top Albums of 2009
Just Dance (feat. Colby O'Donis) OK I don't even know if this record came out this year, and to be honest I only have 2 songs, but I've been going to a gym a lot this year (knee rehab) and in the AM they are always playing the cheezy Sirius dance music station and god damn it, these fricking Gaga songs got stuck in my brain.