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Favorite Albums of 2009

Favorite Albums of 2009

by Fuck Buttons

1. Tarot Sport
Fuck Buttons

Purchase Tarot Sport via ATP Recordings.

Fuck Buttons - Surf Solar (7-inch Edit)
Fuck Buttons - Rough Steez

          Though some may find the British duo’s moniker somewhat obscene, I’m not afraid to shout in praise of Fuck Buttons’ Tarot Sport to the heavens of the blogosphere. I once described Fuck Buttons’ Street Horrrsing debut as the perfect soundtrack to both the best dreams and the worst nightmares. Following that same train of thought, the duo’s sophomore effort can safely be described as an outer space dance party. If this doesn’t get your toes tapping, I don’t know what will. With Tarot Sport, Fuck Buttons showcase their ability to create a cohesive album by seamlessly mixing one track into the other while still giving each song enough substance to stand on its own. From the building crescendo that blasts into hyperspace on “Surf Solar” to the head bobbing bass line of “Rough Steez” to the steady marching band-esq drums of “The Lisbon Maru”, Tarot Sport is well worth the listen from start to finish.

by Sunset Rubdown

2. Dragonslayer
Sunset Rubdown

Purchase Dragonslayer via Jagjaguwar.

Sunset Rubdown - Nightingale/December Song
Sunset Rubdown - You Go On Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II)

          While not as instantly addictive as its predecesor Random Spirit Lover, Sunset Rubdown’s Dragonslayer is equally as satisfying. In Dragonslayer Spencer Krug continues with several themes present in Random Spirit Lover (see: “You Go On Ahead [Trumpet Trumpet II]”), but adds a new level to his songwriting by incorporating significantly more female vocals courtesy bandmate Camilla Wynne Ingr. For those not already obsessed with all things Krug, Dragonslayer may be the perfect introduction to his wide catalog.

by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

3. Up From Below
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Purchase Up From Below.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - 40 Day Dream
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - Home

          The first song I ever heard by this Californian collective was “Home” and fittingly so, I was on a flight back home to Atlanta. Upon my return I immediately tracked down the album and was surprised to find the entire record to be as catchy as the single I’d heard. The ensemble is led by Alex Ebert of Ima Robot fame. Band member Jade Castrinos twangy yet sweet vocals complement Sharpe’s folky voice, creating a sound reminiscent of Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood duets. Whether you’re a fan of retro music or not, the hippy pop sounds of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero’s Up From Below are sure to warm your heart.

by Various Artists

4. Dark was the Night
Various Artists

Purchase Dark was the Night
via Beggars Group.

Dirty Projectors and David Byrne - Knotty Pine
Bon Iver - Brackett, WI

          Admittedly, I’m neither a Dirty Projectors nor a Bon Iver fangirl, but never-the-less the Dark was the Night compilation was an early contender for Favorite Album of 2009. Produced by Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National, the record also includes notable covers and tracks by Yeasayer, Sufjan Stevens, My Brightest Diamond, and Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian, among others. Proceeds benefit the Red Hot Organization, a charity created to raise funding and awareness for AIDS.

by tUnE-yArDs

5. BiRd-BrAiNs

Purchase BiRd-BrAiNs on
CD & LP via Beggars Group.

tUnE-yArDs - Sunlight
tUnE-yArDs - Hatari

          I first mentioned the phenomenal, show-stealing talent of Merrill Garbus aka tUnE-yArDs in a post earlier this year. Ms. Garbus’ showmanship also translated very well to CD and LP, despite being self-recorded on Audacity. Not long after its independent release, BiRd-BrAiNs’ primal yet soulful sounds caught the attention of 4AD and re-released internationally and stateside via Beggars Group. The album is a must listen for fans of loop pedal recordings.

by Summer Cats

6. Songs for Tuesdays
Summer Cats

Purchase Songs For Tuesdays
via Slumberland Records.

Summer Cats - Let's Go
Summer Cats - Wild Rice

          As the band name and album title may suggest, Summer Cats’ Songs For Tuesdays is a collection of songs perfect for listening to on warm summer Tuesdays. Full of jangly and distorted sounds, there’s no way anyone could not fall in love with the pop songs crafted by the Australian band. Resistance is futile; Smiles are guaranteed!

by Animal Collective

7. Merriweather
Post Pavilion

Animal Collective

Purchase Merriweather Post Pavilion
via Domino Records.

Animal Collective - In the Flowers
Animal Collective - Summertime Clothes

          Animal Collective’s critically acclaimed album Merriweather Post Pavilion is a must have on any Favorite Records of 2009 list and rightfully so. However, I chose to place the album towards the end of my list because, while I greatly enjoy the majority of the album, I feel like it loses some momentum and begins to sound too repetitive about halfway through. Regardless, it’s still very much worth a listen, and if you haven’t given it a chance yet because of all of the hype, now is the perfect time to crawl out from that rock you’ve been hiding under.

by Dead Man's Bones

8. Dead Man’s Bones
Dead Man’s Bones

Purchase Dead Man’s Bones
via ANTI- Records.

Dead Man's Bones - In The Room Where You Sleep
Dead Man's Bones - My Body's a Zombie for You

          Dead Man’s Bones was released thanks to the seemingly unlikely collaboration between actor Ryan Gosling, his friend Zach Shields, and the Silverlake Conservatory Children’s Choir. If you’re skeptical of actors turned musicians, have no fear: It’s actually quite easy to ignore that those crooning vocals are coming from the star of The Notebook. In fact, it’s harder to imagine that they are– The music is that good. If Dead Man’s Bones wasn’t already the soundtrack to your Halloween, make it so in 2010.

by Passion Pit

9. Manners
Passion Pit

Purchase Manners
via Frenchkiss Records.

Passion Pit - Let Your Love Grow Tall
Passion Pit - Make Light

          After the widely acclaimed debut of their Chunk of Change EP in 2008, Passion Pit have followed up in 2009 with Manners. For the band’s first full length album, lead singer Michael Angelakos decided to stick with his signature falsetto vocals. Also incorporated into the sound was a children’s choir from PS22 on Staten Island. My prediction for music trends in 2010: Children’s choirs and loop pedals.

by Camera Obscura

10. My Maudlin Career
Camera Obscura

Purchase My Maudlin Career
via Beggars Group.

Camera Obscura - French Navy
Camera Obscura - You Told A Lie

          Not much can top the pop perfection that was Let’s Get Out of This Country, but Camera Obscura have returned 3 years later with a respectable album in its own right: My Maudlin Career. The group’s latest release presents a more rock-based sound, but maintains Tracyanne Campbell’s bittersweet vocals. My Maudlin Career is a must listen for fans of strong female vocals and 1960s girl groups.

Other Noteworthy Releases:

by School of Seven Bells

School of Seven Bells

Purchase Alpinisms
via Ghostly International.

School of Seven Bells - Half Asleep
School of Seven Bells - Connjur

Award: Favorite Album That Came Out In 2008 but I Only Got Around to Listening to After it was Reissued in 2009

          I’d been recommended this album time and time again but for some reason I only gave it a listen this summer, at which point “Half Asleep” became my nightly lullaby. Comprised of members of the Secret Machines and On! Air! Library!, School of Seven Bells feature the ethereal vocal stylings of the Deheza twins. Don’t make the same mistake I did– Give Alpinisms a listen now and prepare yourself for hours of sweet dreams in the near future.

by The Antlers

The Antlers

Purchase Hospice
via Frenchkiss Records.

The Antlers - Kettering
The Antlers - Bear

Award: Favorite Album I’m Sure is Great but am too Afraid to Listen to for Fear that it Will Throw Me into a Deep Depression

          Though I’ll be the first to say that I adore anything put out on Frenchkiss Records, I just can’t bring myself to listen to this album in its entirety. Of the 3 songs I own, I can only bear to hear to 2 songs at a time. Why, you ask? Well, Hospice is a concept album about a cancer patient’s hospice attendant and everything that develops around the situation. The first and second person narratives include lyrics such as:

There’s a bear inside your stomach,
a cub’s been kicking from within.
He’s loud, though without vocal cords,
we’ll put an end to him.
We’ll make all the right appointments,
no one ever has to know,
and then tomorrow I’ll turn twenty-one,
we’ll script another show.
We’ll play charades up in the Chelsea,
drink champagne (although you shouldn’t be),
We’ll be blind and dumb until we fall asleep.
None of our friend will come,
they dodge our calls,
and they have for quite awhile now.
It’s not a shock, and you don’t seem to mind,
and I just can’t see how.

-“Bear” by The Antlers

Needless to say, this album deals with a lot of difficult subjects. Click here to read the rest of the lyrics. Listen at your own risk.


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