Top 15 Albums of 2009 (15 – 11)

I have noticed that, of late, I have avoided writing anything of substance and descended into a roll-call of endless lists that are collectively of very little use or function. Now, considering we are coming to both the end of a year and the end of a decade, I think that this is reasonable, as I am attempting to create some sort of summation of all the music that has come before. Thus I present a list of a little more standing than an ordinary Wednesday Countdown, the top 15 albums of 2009, which will be presented in three parts, five albums apiece.

Just to be clear, yes, I know that Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion isn’t on this list. Want to know why it isn’t on this list? Because it is exasperatingly ordinary and mostly dull. If you want to complain about this state of affairs, don’t bother, people who think MPP is better than Veckatimest seem to be in the majority, so rather than argue, just quote the number of publications that have put Animal Collective as No. 1 album of 2009. I am also aware that albums that I’m sure will appeal to me but I haven’t got round to listening to yet (Dirty Projectors, Phoenix, Atlas Sound, Dinosaur Jr.) may well be better than the album I have at number 15. So the comprehensiveness of this list should also be called into question. But whatever, I don’t think I should pull apart my own work, good as I am at doing so.

Anyway, list.



Wilco – Wilco (The Album)

Key Tracks – Wilco (The Song), You And I

Fans of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot will be dispirited by the turn towards pop, and in this case the relationship between “pop” and “dull” holds fairly true. Light and uncomplicated fare, Wilco show that they can do the simple stuff well to distract from how simple it is. Jeff Tweedy shows that his vocals are good enough to lead where once they would simply have accompanied, which is worthy of note in itself.



The Antlers – Hospice

Key Tracks – Two, Kettering

Though I personally don’t feel the deep emotion the melancholic music is trying to convey, I can certainly tell the skill involved, and the haughty ambitions are achieved spectacularly on “Two” (if not on some of the longer songs such as “Atrophy” and “Wake”). Often threatens to collapse under layers of pretension, but the sincerity of the writers prevents this from ever actually happening.



Yo La Tengo – Popular Songs

Key Tracks – Avalon Or Someone Very Similar, Periodically Triple Or Double

The album as a whole is imbalanced by a closing three tracks each going well over nine minutes, and seems to comprise mostly of droning indifference. This takes away a little from the opening half of the album, which is a clever, varied mixture of tracks that retains attention by ensuring unpredictability. The organisation may have been haphazard, but there is still plenty to enjoy from YLT’s seemingly endless invention.



Andrew Bird – Noble Beast

Key Tracks – Fitz and the Dizzyspells, Effigy

This is not exactly a disappointing album, but you expect Andrew Bird to extend himself more than he does here. There are certainly good tracks, and all of the trademarks of an Andrew Bird record are in place, but somehow it doesn’t do anything spectacular enough to warrant attention. Not that it does anything particularly wrong either, it’s just the sort of decent album that I can’t fault specifically, and definitely enjoyable, but is somehow too lightweight.



Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures

Key Tracks – No One Loves Me And Neither Do I, New Fang

It was an interesting experiment, pulling Gods of Rock from three generations together and seeing what they could come up with. Less than the sum of its parts, but only because the parts (Grohl! Homme! John Paul Jones!) were pretty damn good to start with. Stripped down but punchy, it parallels the best of QOTSA, but misses a bit of variety and changes in pace or mood.


About Alex Pavitt
I work in the field of emotion. My tools are instinctual feelings and my laptop is the medium between my brain and the outside world. I deconstruct and rebuild. I imagine. I steal other people's lyrics because somtimes, my own words aren't enough. I spend all of my time somewhere inside my head. I worship Douglas Adams, and in the back of my mind I am always painfully aware that I will never be as good as him or, for that matter, anybody else.

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