Top 10 Albums of 2009 (list by yours truly)

The end of the year is officially upon us.  With less than two weeks till the end of the year, there is no better time to review 2009’s musical offerings.  These are ranked, as best as possible, however, on any given day, I suppose one album could jump ahead of another.  So, here we go:

1. Gallows-Grey Britain (Epitaph)

Gallows released what was, to me, the most solid attempt to recapture the essence of the 80’s hardcore scene, while at the same time, adding a flair and a touch of solid metalcore and current hardcore ala Every Time I Die, Maylene, and even some Motorhead.

2. Thursday-Common Existence (Epitaph)

To those of you that know me, this album pick should be no surprise.  Although released in the second week of the year, this is still an album that I find myself coming back to.  More than any album before, Common Existence is heavily influenced by many different authors, and this is reflected both in the lyrics and the instrumentation. Standouts songs include “Friends in the Armed Forces” as well as “Circuits of Fever”.

3. Frank Turner-Poetry of the Deed (Epitaph)

I first saw, and hear Frank in September, a week after moving to Denver.  Angela and I were in dire need of a good show and some familiar faces, so we made plans to see Murder By Death and the Gaslight Anthem.  Frank Turner opened, however after his short set, I was left wanting more.  His brash take on folk music, tinged with elements of punk, hardcore, and irish bar tunes was just the sound to get me through my first quarter of grad school.  With lyrics like:

“Ever since my childhood I’ve been scared I’ve been afraid
Of being trapped by circumstance and staying in one place
So I always keep a small bag full of clothes carefully stored
Somewhere secret somewhere safe
And somewhere close to the door”

It’s hard not to eagerly await the next adventure life throws at you.  If you have not heard Frank Turner, you are missing out.  Trust me on this one, i’m still making up for lost time.

4. Cursive-Mama, I’m Swollen (Saddle Creek)

Let’s clear the air here.  This album is NOT Domestica, or the Ugly Organ…with that said, “Mama, I’m Swollen” is one hell of an album.  After accepting that Cursive had moved on, changed their sound a bit, and matured as song writers, this album quickly found itself constantly on the turntable.

Songs like “What Have I Done?” and “I Couldn’t Love You” make this album for me.  They contain the same harsh self criticism, drunken frantic-ness, and deep introspection that drew my to Cursive back in High School.

5. Every Time I Die-New Junk Aesthetic (Epitaph)

ETID is back, and they shred!  I had high hopes for this album, and trust me it did not disappoint.  The grindcore intro found on “Roman Holiday” sets the dark, yet frantic tone of the album.  With hints and whispers of their early work albums like “Hot Damn!” and “Last Night in Town”, this album is sure to bring back a lot of ETID believers.  Do yourself a favor and grab the deluxe edition, as “Buffalo 666” as a bonus track makes it well worth it.

6. Buddy Wakefield-Live from the Typer Cannon Grand (Righteous Babe Records)

Most of the poems contained on this album are not new.  However, this mixture of live, and previously unrecorded slam poetry by my favorite poet, is no small collection.  With over 20 tracks, “Live from Typer…” is one of the most solid examples of Buddy’s passion, humor, rage, and discomfort.  With several tracks containing backing from Ani DiFranco herself, this collection of poetry, music, and freestyle finds its way onto my iPod many a night, when the deep introspection of Buddy’s poems seem the most haunting.

The best way to experience Buddy is to see him, please watch the video below, I get chills every time I watch it.

7. Brand New-Daisy (Interscope)

I’ve been a huge Brand New fan since their first album.  They have grown from a group of pop-punk/emo purveyors into the powerhouse of dark, brooding rock found on both “Daisy” and “The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me”.  Even on their first album you could tell that Brand New were too intelligent and wise to correctly fit into the pop-punk moniker.  With albums like “Daisy” they capitalize on their older fanbase, and their growth as artists to give us wonderful tracks like “At the Bottom”.  This album is full of unique sounds which punctuate the now infamous words of frontman Jesse Lacey.

8. The Decemberists-Hazards of Love (Capitol)

I must admit, I have not always been that big of a Decemberists fan.  Possibly just a backlash to their indie stardom, however, all that changed with the release of ‘Hazards’.  The strength of the electric guitars, as well as the darker mood set by the more driving bass lines on this album are what had me sold.  I love hearing the trademark Decemberists sound in a far more bold and dark sound.  Track 3, ‘A Bower Scene’ does a great job of showcasing this sound…check it out below:

9. Converge-Axe to Fall (Epitaph)

I can guarantee you that this album is appearing on nearly all Best Of lists this year.  It really is that good.  It would also probably be higher on the list had I spent a bit more time with it.  The album released late in the year, but was immediately met with talk about ‘best metal album of the decade’, certainly an impressive feat.  I look forward to diving deeper into this album in the next few months, and there is definitely plenty to dive into.  At times this album becomes as thick as sludge, with multiple layers of guitar, bass, and vocals creating massive depth, which is a lot of the fun in listening to metal-core, trying to dissect those layers, and rebuild them in your head.

10. The Thermals-Now We Can See (Kill Rock Stars Records)

Not only are these guys hilarious to follow on Twitter (@thethermals), but they also put out one hell of a record!  ‘Now We Can See’ is by far my favorite release from the band.  The step up in studio production did nothing to hurt the bands garage-punk sound, and in a way, added a more solid rock n’ roll vibe to the record.

The title track brings to mind the best aspects of The Pixies, early Weezer, and even Cake.  Definitely a record for anyone who thinks that good ol’ rock ‘n roll has disappeared.

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