Saturday, December 19, 2009

Top Albums of 2009

My top ten favorite albums of 2009:

10) Animals as Leaders

by Animals as Leaders
After previously d
eclining a record deal with Prosthetic Records, Tosin Abasi, an eight-string guitarist hailing from the D.C. area, eventually agreed to record a solo album once his band disbanded. Abasi teamed up with Misha Mansoor (AKA Bulb), another local guitarist and engineer, to create a poly-rhythmic record that baffled headbangers and music professors alike. For fans of: elevator music... from hell!

9) Daisy

by Brand New

Since I have Y chromosomes, I was unable to enjoy the simplicity and sappiness o
f Brand New's 2003 album, Deja Entendu, and nothing about their 2006 release really stuck out to me. As I grew older - and mildly wiser - I was able to appreciate the sincerity in their songwriting capabilities. I ended up buying Daisy for a friend, and decided to put it on my itunes in case I ever wanted to take a chance on it. If you were never a fan of Brand New, please forget every biased opinion you have of them and listen to this record. Dark, philosophical, and almost folksy, Daisy is a flower you should definitely pick.

8) New Junk Aesthetic

by Every Time I Die

The Bled disappointed me by not releasing a new album this year, so I had
to search for a metalcore band who would suffice. I was never partial to ETID in the past, but once I heard the opening tracks off New Junk Aesthetic, I decided they were more than sufficient. Though they are not nearly as heavy as most metal bands out there, their raw, southern style easily compensates. If you're having a bad day at work - or at life in general - blast tracks like "For the Record" or "Organ Grinder" to immediately feel at ease... or just punch your boss in the face. Same effect.

7) Fantasies

by Metric

This is bold, but if you are a fan of Radiohead and are curious to hear what they wo uld sound like with an equally crazy and random frontwoman, then check out Metric's latest r elease. One moment you're walking through the jaws of hell, the next you're dancing at a disco club. Clever, scary, seducing, and down right creative, Fantasies is as fantastical as it gets.

6) It's All Happening

by iwrestledabearonce
iwrestledabearonce releases their heavily anticipated debut album properly titled, It's All Happening. If Bjork and Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy had a lovechild she would have the vocalizations of Krysta Cameron. Accompanied by the most sporadic drum
parts, brutal riffs, and electronica programming the world has heard since the Number Twelve, Cameron and company have proved that they a promising future in the metal scene... assuming she doesn't develop vocal nodes first.

5) The Blueprint 3

by Jay-Z

I had always wished Jay-Z stuck to his retirement plan after The Blueprint
2. None of his latter albums were nearly as good as records prior to 2003. The man had already pa ssed his peak, and it was definitely time for someone else to reign as the King of Hip Hop. However, throughout the last couple years, hip hop has been tainted by cheesy hooks, frail beats, and this godforsaken craze called "auto tune." The king had to put a death to it all, thus creating The Blueprint 3. Though he assembled an all-star team of featured artists and strong beat makers, Jay-Z's rhymes still remain the highlight of the only rap album that stuck out to me this year. Clap for 'em. The ruler's back!

4) Octahedron

by The Mars Volta
I have always proclaimed The Mars Volta as the Led Zeppelin of our time. Renowned for their experimental, fast-paced, "operas," the prog-rock duo calmed things down a bit for their fifth studio release, Octahedron. Sounding more similar to Pink Floyd (if Pink Flo
yd was fronted by Geddy Lee) than Zeppelin, TMV describes this year's release as their acoustic albu m. Don't worry Volta fans, Omar can still tear up the guitar.

3) Mean Everything to Nothing

by Manchester Orchestra

Have you ever danced and cried at the same time? Well, thanks to Manchester Orchestra's sophomore album, you can finally experience it! The quintet from Georgia took nearly three years to release a new album, but in the end they exceeded the hype and earned themselves a spot in the top 50 on the
Billboard charts. This radio friendly disc is one of the more memorable albums of the year. If you're going on a road trip, this CD is for you.

2) Beggars

by Thrice
In the last three consecutive years Thrice has released a new album, and each time they surpassed my expectations. The once punk/post-hardcore band have been dramatically changing their sound with every record. Since their 2005 release of Vhe
issu, the group left their major label and decided to undertake a conceptual project, The Alchemy Index, based on the four elements: fire, water, earth, and air. These four, six-track EP's forced Thrice to create a sound for each element, enabling them to expand their musical boundaries. After this process was complete the pressure of writing songs that stayed on-task was over. By now the band had gone through enough musical experiments to finally find their true sound. In result, Beggars was born. I cannot say enough good things about Thrice's musicianship and songwriting proficiency. There is a reason all three of their last albums have reached my top ten list every year. Take a listen and let their art speak for itself.

1) Far

by Regina Spektor

Three years and four producers later, Regina Spektor finally completed the follow up to her successful album, Begin to Hope. The moment I heard she was releasing a new album this year, I began to hope that it would be even half as good as her last. Though it is debatable, I was pleasantly surprised - if not overwhelmed - to hear that Far was equally catchy, soulful, and cute as her other work. Her story telling ability is a talent incomparable to any other artist I have heard to date. Many times when an artist writes songs with deep and serious topics such as religion, self-worth, and politics, they are done so in an explicit manner. Spektor is much more subtle in the sense that she addresses such topics in a whimsical, almost childlike affectation. All in all, her anti-folk style and bluesy, yet perky vocals put her at the top of my list by "far."

This list is solely based on my own opinions and musical taste. I'm curious, what are your favorite albums of 2009?

- Alexander McCurdy




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