My buddy Browner, the SeanMcCallum.com resident music expert, is finally here to weigh in with his picks for the albums of the year. And yes, I know the year in question ended more than 6 weeks ago. But I guess having me complain about the tardiness of his picks (in light of how horrificly inactive this blog has been of late) is a little bit like when the guys in my beer league complain about the quality of the officiating in our 10:30 Wednesday night games: the quality of the officiating is usually equal to the quality of the hockey being played.
In any event, here are Browner's picks. As always, they are beyond solid.
So here's my very belated and half-assed attempt at a best of '09 list.
I should start with a disclaimer. 2009 was a year in which I completely retreated into my own little bubble. I probably listened to a grand total of less then 5 hours of commercial radio this year and I can't think of a single artist that I discovered that way. As a result my favourite albums of the year are heavily skewed towards the sources that I surround myself with... which is to say most of them aren't on the Billboard charts and you'll find almost as much cancon here as you will on the CBC. Having said that, I still don't feel like I missed much. Even reviewing other best of lists there did not seem to be any consensus picks this year (eg. Radiohead- In Rainbows '07, Kings of Leon- Only By The Night '08). The hip blogs seemed to coalesce around Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear, but those didn't do it for me. And the more mainstream publications played it very safe with well established artists (Really? One of Springsteen's weakest albums coming in at #2? And U2 at #1? Is it possible they just mislabeled Achtung Baby on their ipods?)
Anyway, without further ado, here's what I did come up with:
10. Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson- Summer of Fear
Warbling vocals layed over loose, quiet rock that plods along and builds intensity.
Check Out: Summer of Fear pt. 2
9. Still Life Still- Girls Come Too
This is the type of music that should have come after the grunge era- the same vitality and urgency, but more complex and subtle musically.
Check out: Pastel
8. Silversun Pickups- Swoon
A bit of a throwback to the early '90's, but still manages to sound fresh.
Check out: There's No Secrets This Year
7. The Wooden Sky- If I Don't Come Home You'll Know I'm Gone
Atmospheric and contemplative folk rock.
Check out: (Bit Part)
6. Dan Mangan- Nice, Nice, Very Nice
Charismatic Vancouver singer/songwriter walks a line between folk and pop.
Check out: Road Regrets
5. The Antlers- Hospice
This record reminds me of Bon Iver. Intensely personal, beautiful, and intricate.
Check Out: Two
4. Timber Timbre- Timber Timbre
Haunting and completely captivating bluesy folk songs.
Check out: Demon Host
3. Tegan and Sara- Sainthood
Is Sainthood as good as The Con? No. Were the '07 Patriots as good as the '72 Dolphins? No. Were they worth watching? See what I'm getting at here?
Check out: Hell
2. The Rural Alberta Advantage- Hometowns
Heartfelt, energetic acoustic folk rock by a band named for Alberta that had the good sense to move to Toronto.
Check out: Frank, AB
1. Metric- Fantasies
I wasn't even a Metric fan before this album. This is the definition of taking it to a new level.
Check out: Gimme Sympathy
Honourable mention: Bahamas- Pink Strat, Wilco- Wilco (The Album), Monsters of Folk- Monsters of Folk, Gaslight Anthem- The '59 Sound, Phoenix- Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, Brandi Carlile- Give Up The Ghost
Here are a few of seanmccallum.com's favourites from the past 365 days:
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - "Up From Below"
Check out: Home, Janglin
Harlem - "Free Drugs" (Album title of the Year?)
Check out: South of France
King Khan and the Shrines - "The Supreme Genius of King Khan and The Shrines"
Check out: Welfare Bread, Land of the Freak (from "What Is?"), Torture,
The Almighty Defenders - "The Almighty Defenders"
I think their Wikipedia bio pretty well speaks for itself:
The Almighty Defenders is a postmodern gospel rock supergroup consisting of members from the Black Lips and The King Khan & BBQ Show. The band was formed in February 2009 in Berlin, Germany.
On the Black Lips' 2009 tour of India, following an incident at a rowdy show in which Cole Alexander kissed fellow bandmember Ian St. Pe and exposed his private parts on-stage, the Lips fled the country while rumors of their arrests circulated the internet. The tour was canceled and the group members fled to the residence of King Khan (musician), who was living in Berlin at the time. Over the course of eight days, in a typically booze-sloppy Black Lips fashion, they laid down 11 tracks with Khan and his King Khan & BBQ Show bandmate Mark Sultan. On June 17, the full group made its live debut, performing a set in choir robes at the North by Northeast festival, and Vice Records made plans to release the Almighty Defenders' self-titled debut on September 22, 2009.
Check out: Cone of Light
Deer Tick - "Born on Flag Day"
Check out: Easy, Smith Hill
Bad Veins - "Bad Veins"
Check out: The Lie, Go Home (my favourite song in the world this month)
Tiny Vipers - "Life on Earth"
Check out: Dreamer (runaway favourite for "breakup song of the year")