It's that time of year again, and everyone is gathering together their "Favorite Albums of 2009" lists, and I just put mine together. I have also put together a playlist with some of my favorite songs of the year, and highlights of the records listed. Download the playlist HERE.
15. Various Artists - Dark Was the Night: This 2 disc benefit compilation was curated by members of the National. Some killer unreleased tracks from great artists, as well as some really great collaborative songs from artists we can't help but love. Grizzly Bear & Feist? The Books and Jose Gonzalez covering a Nick Drake song? yeah.
14. Califone - All My Friends Are Funeral Singers: As always, Califone provides some good folk. Enough said.
13. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest: For some reason, this band always creates Dr. Seuss'esque images in my head. One song from Yellow House seemed like it was used in 'The Grinch,' and the Organ parts on "Two Weeks" create that same vibe. Not to say it is a bad thing, the harmonies are layer, its all very rich with so many parts, and complete with great build ups and poppy melodies.
12. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion: First, I was actually a little disappointed in this album. I missed the screams and yells and banter that AC brought with Feels and Strawberry Jam. But it is still a great pop/dance record, and as a result, their most accessible.
11. Loney dear - Dear John: This band always makes me so happy. The first time Adam and I saw them open for Low, we wanted Low to stop playing and LD to play more (nothing against Low.) They are just always so happy. This album is complete with Emil's usual un-ending layers-upon-layers of tracking different instruments, but this time adding some synth and technical parts as well.
10. Vetiver - Tight Knit: Talk about a summer record. It took me some time to really get into Vetiver, and it finally happened on a road trip during a hot Ohio summer day.
9. Why? - Esikmo Snow: Alopecia was my record album of last year, and this quick follow up was pretty damn good as well. However, I do miss Yoni Wolf's slinging hip-hop lyrics, but they still bring the great harmonies and vulgar honest lyrics. Not to mention catchiness.
8. Efterklang - Performing Parades: Parades (2007) was a record built up on incredible instrumentation and beautiful orchestration. They came back with a re-interpretation with the Danish National Camber Orchestra. The performance is beautiful both visually (as a DVD) and musically. The percussion on this sounds crazy.
7. Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca: Who doesn't love this record?
6. David Bazan - Curse Your Branches: While I don't agree with everything this man has to say (at least on this record), I still am amazed by his songwriting skills. Ex-Pedro the Lion frontman has always written detail-specific, well-written lyrics, and there is nothing less on this record. Accompanied with full instrumentation, proclaimed "one of the best records this label has ever put out" by Barsuk.
5. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Beware: This main never fails to put out straight-up, damn good folk, and usually at least a record and a handful of EP's per year.
4. Ramona Falls - Intuit: Brent from Menomena's new solo record (with Danny Seim on drums), everything you could want from Menomena ('07's best record,)'s lead. The music video is beautiful as well.
3. Bill Callahan - Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle: He has done it again. As he states in the first song, "I used to be darker, then I got lighter, then I got dark again," his last record 'Whaleheart' was significantly poppier than his previous works as Smog. Though that record was great, it's great to hear him transition back into the sound that was Smog.
2. mewithoutYou - It's All Crazy! It's All False! It's All A Dream! It's Alright: These long-time friends never cease to improve with each release. This album, significantly happier than their earlier work, is my favorite to date. With Neutral Milk Hotel as a definitive influence, this band, as always, mix folk, rock and tons and tons of lyrics about Jesus. Often metaphor'ed and driven by stories of Sufi Islam Mysticism and ancient Monk sayings.
1. Akron/Family - Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free: This record just rules. Their last album, Love is Simple, only did it for me with a handful of songs, and this album is just more complete, and built up with all the characteristics I loved from the last record. I will say this: they were the most disappointing show I saw all year (after a 5 hour drive), they strayed from every song (only 6 total) with 15 minute Grateful Dead'esque jam sessions. Not a fan, but this album has just the right amount of that 'wild' element. Personally my favorite album of the year.