Top Albums of 2009

Here are my Top Albums of 2009:
(To best see all the embedded videos and songs, you should probably view it here: http://mjonthemove.blogspot.com)

1. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Songs: Lisztomania, 1901, Lasso
My Last.FM rank overall: 18

Phoenix was on my radar from 07 or 08. I’m not sure how I found them, but I loved their 2006 release It’s Never Been Like That. So, it was with much anticipation that I was looking forward to their 2009 release. I wasn’t disappointed. This French band’s all-English album is danceable, fun and keyboard happy. Seeing them at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago in October was a definite high-point.

Listen to “Lisztomania” here:

Here’s a Breakfast Club mash-up video for their song “1901” (probably recognized from the Cadillac commercial):


2. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz

Songs: Soft Shock, Runaway, Skeletons
Released 3/10/09
My Last.FM rank overall: 59

My good friend Peter talked me in to giving this album a second chance. I was told it was great, but I wasn’t into the singles at all. It was the softer side of this album that caught me. Songs like “Soft Shock” and “Skeletons” are quiet, softly-falling-rain-outside-your-hardwood-floor-3rd-level-condo-in-a-big-city-if-you-were-in-a-good-mood music. Have a listen to “Skeletons”:

What you’ll notice on their quieter tracks is guitarist, Nick Zinner, has unimistakable harmonium-esque guitar tones he layers over this song that really adds and makes the Yeah Yeah Yeahs a unique female-fronted rock outfit. Here’s a fan-made video for “Soft Shock”:


3. Passion Pit - Manners

Songs: Little Secrets, Sleepyhead
Released 5/19/09
My Last.FM rank overall: 97

Passion Pit is perfect get your energy level up music. It’s oozing with melodies and can make the most drab winter day seem miles away. Definitely in the MGMT vein, Passion Pit delights with what seems like a soundtrack to a killer party. On their song, “Sleepyhead”, it’s almost requisite that I do a little fist bump after the hand claps add a bass drum at 01:01:

The music video for “Little Secrets” is great.


4. Mew - No More Stories

Songs: Introducing Palace Players, New Terrain, Sometimes Live Isn't Easy,
My Last.FM rank overall: 238

This album started off decently, and on subsequent listens began to blow my mind ever more. It was an odd phenomenon to be sure. I was initially obsessed with the song “New Terrain” because playing it backward reveals an entirely different song called “Nervous”. It is available on YouTube, of course.

Here’s New Terrain:

And here’s the same song played backwards as “Nervous”:


The second song to blow my mind was “Introducing Palace Players”. If the song doesn’t initially hit you, the sudden shift at 00:53 wins me over every time. Here’s the video from Mew:


5. Old Canes - Feral Harmonic

Songs: Little Bird Courage, The Last Collapse, Next Flood, Stuck
My Last.FM rank overall: 99

Formed by The Appleseed Cast frontman, Chris Crisci, the Old Canes strike a chord because they are acoustic rock that isn’t singer songwriter, isn’t Dashboard Confessional, isn’t even really folk. It’s something different. As a huge fan of The Appleseed Cast (featured lower on this list), Old Canes had a little more grace than other bands might have, but the enthusiasm coupled with Crisci’s tin-can vocals on “Little Bird Courage” won me over quickly. The lyric rings out, “When I’m thirsty, you are the fountain. In the face of danger, I’m unafraid.” Great line. Have a listen:

Additionally, the slow-and-low trumpet on tracks like “Stuck” move me. I have a real soft spot for subtle trumpet:

6. The Swell Season - Strict Joy

Songs: In These Arms, Feeling the Pull
My Last.FM rank overall: 33

Swell Season (aka: those folks from Once, the Frames w/ a girl, Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova) released Strict Joy this year, and thanks to Sarah’s ticket acquiring prowess, we scored front-row seats for their performance at the Pabst Theater this past Fall with some good friends.

The consummate showman, Glen Hansard knows how to put on a show.

The Swell Season is truly something that has to be experienced more than listened to, but this album sees Swell Season add the Frames and write a much fuller album. Their more stripped-down track “In These Arms” initially pulled me in:

The song “Feeling the Pull” really highlights what Glen Hansard can do with more upbeat songs. Here’s Glen and Marketa performing the song live in Seattle for a KEXP benefit:


7. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros - Up From Below

Songs: Home, Janglin, Desert Song, Black Water
Released: 07/14/09
My Last.FM rank overall: 70

This band snuck up on me after I missed my chance to see them at a very intimate Club Garibaldi show in Bayview.

These guys are awesome. Here’s “Home” being performed live on Letterman. It speaks for itself:

Here’s another song called “Janglin” recorded live in studio:

8. Jaydiohead - Fresh Minty Beats AND The Encore

Songs: 99 Anthems, Dreaming Up, Reckoner's Encore
My Last.FM rank overall: 99

This is a mashup done with the songs of Jay-Z and Radiohead.

Here’s a fan-made video for “Dirt Off Your Android”

And here’s the song “Dreaming Up”:
http://www.youtube.com/v/mEUdiRTpKfk&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&color1=0x2b405b&color2=0x6b8ab6 adef&fullscreen=1

It’s available as a free download here:


9. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimist

Songs: Two Weeks, All We Ask, While you wait for the Others
My Last.FM rank overall: 67

Of all things, this band jumped out at me from an episode of How I Met Your Mother. I enjoy them quite a bit. For me, the most meaningful track on the album is definitely “Two Weeks”. Here’s the official video:
http://www.youtube.com/v/tjecYugTbIQ&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&color1=0x2b405b&color2=0x6b8ab6 adef&fullscreen=1

10. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

Songs: Brother Sport, My Girls
My Last.FM rank overall: 36

Three keyboards. Three vocalists. Much noise. This is a noise-pop synth band to the core.

Here’s the video for the song “My Girls”:
http://www.youtube.com/v/zol2MJf6XNE&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&color1=0x2b405b&color2=0x6b8ab6 adef&fullscreen=1

Honorable Mentions:

11. Beach House - Devotion [2008]
Norway (2010), Gila, All the Years
My Last.FM rank overall: 85

Here’s the song from their upcoming 2010 release titled “Norway”:
http://www.youtube.com/v/LSLzpwqConM&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&color1=0x2b405b&color2=0x6b8ab6 adef&fullscreen=1

12. The Appleseed Cast - Sagarmatha

Songs: The Road West, A Bright Light, Like a Locus
My Last.FM rank overall: 31

13. We Were Promised Jetpacks – These Four Walls
Songs: It's Thunder and It's Lightning, Moving Clocks Run Slow
My Last.FM rank overall: N/A

Glasgow rock. A lot like Mogwai with words. Here’s “It’s Thunder and It’s Lightening”:

14. Sunset Rubdown - Dragonslayer

Songs: Silver Moons(decent), Idiot Heart
My Last.FM rank overall: 375

Side Project from Spencer Krug of Wolf Parade fame.

11:46 AM