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Albums of the Year (2009)

Music, Year-End, Reader Lists | January 4, 2010

Top 13 Albums of the Year (2009)

Check out our list to see how it compares with our readers' list.

Today, we present the results of our favorite reader list: The Top 13 Albums of the Year. Your Top 13 includes seven albums that made our Top 13 and six that did not. While we don't agree with all your choices, we certainly understand them. A big thanks to a handful of our readers who contributed the commentary accompanying each of the entries on The Top 13.

You can see the albums that finished 14-50 here.

The Top 13 Albums of the Year project is brought to you in conjunction with The Music Slut, a New York-based music site, which in 2007 was ranked by Billboard as the best music blog.

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Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion


Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

tmaider Animal Collective had been on the radar for awhile with their strange style, but this record broke new ground that no AC fan could see coming. That new ground was a pop record. . . . Merriweather Post Pavilion was the record that made people who had never heard their music before say, "I might like this." And that's exactly what happened. . . . Merriweather Post Pavilion wasn't just some album AC got lucky with, it was the album they NEEDED to make. oshoney As soon as I heard this record, I knew nothing would top it this year. . . . The songs on this album can be challenging and catchy at the same time, and it makes for their most accessible album yet. fiveiron83321 I was instantly hooked with the electronic beats and just a different sound than what I was used to.

Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix


Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

pegt The album was just a refreshing breath of air in the otherwise mundane music scene. Although there were other great albums out this year, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix was by far the most interesting! fiveiron83321 This was an album I loved front to back, with mainstays like "1901" and "Lisztomania" being among my favorite songs. . . . Though it was kind of synth driven, it was not overpowering, which made it very enjoyable. ryecatcher Detractors may accuse the clumsily titled Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix of being too mainstream. However, the skinny Frenchmen have pulled together themes from their previous three albums to create a slice of pop-rock heaven full of catchy riffs and hooks. An album that is as well suited for road trips as it is for parties. . .

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!


Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!

ryecatcher With It's Blitz!, the YYY's have proved once again that they are a fine set of musicians able to create music that leads the music industry as well as their contemporaries. That music is combined with the powerful and emotive range of Karen O's singing to make this a contender for Album of the Century, let alone 2009! fiveiron83321 I really enjoyed Fever to Tell and Show Your Bones, but It's Blitz! brought something different to the table. It was almost a more mature sound from the trio, but it still worked, even with the garage punk sound found on their previous records. This album also had another favorite 1-2 punch of mine with "Zero" and "Heads Will Roll."

Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest


Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest

oshoney This album snuck up on me. It's subtle, layered, and intricate. One would think this would make for a boring listen, but the guys in Grizzly Bear know how to draw you in without hitting you over the head with a beat or a gimmick. Even with "Two Weeks," the lead single and most straightforward song on the album, there are new things that you'll notice in listen number 12 that you didn't before. Same goes for the rest of the album, which makes it the most rewarding listen of the year. Every time you give the album a spin, you'll get something new out of it. Good thing it's endlessly repeatable.

Sunset Rubdown - Dragonslayer


Sunset Rubdown - Dragonslayer

stillathreat Perhaps the best of all the Wolf Parade-related albums, including Apologies to the Queen Mary, this album is an amazing step forward for Spencer Krug's side project. The increased reliance on Camilla Wynne Ingr and the growth of the band to five members added a richness to Dragonslayer that was not present in Sunset Rubdown's excellent earlier albums. Buddah Dragonslayer brought Sunset Rubdown to a higher level. The musicianship suggests they are more than just a Spencer Krug side project.

The xx - xx


The xx - xx

H8TVOTR I like The xx because they're mopey tweens with raging hormones. I like their goth look. I like their English accents. I like their back up dancers. I like their album art. I like their safety pin earrings. I like their fourth member. I like their Pitchfork rating. . . . I like that they inspire me to be me. I actually don't like The xx anymore because they're soooo 2009. It's all about the Teen Dream and Odd Blood album leaks. roxylalune The xx put out the best album of 2009 without a doubt. Three kids, beautiful songs aching with longing, innovative and refreshing sound in a world of diluted music for the masses. . . . It is a thoroughly cohesive, moving and accessible album.

The Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca


The Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca

shark The cover art is appropriate because Bitte Orca is like their previous sound but in bright, vibrant colors. slicefriedgold While there are many reasons why Bitte Orca is such an exceptional album - the wondrous staccato rhythms and pop prog affectations, the eclectic and unique nature of their sound - my favorite is simply the vocal performances. . . . In particular, when the female vocals dive and combine to form another layer of rhythm to pair with the instruments, it adds a level of sound that no one in 2009 was able to match. Dryvetyme Yes, I'm aware that Bitte Orca received a tremendous amount of hype, but it's most certainly deserved. Dave Longstreth and friends have created a highly contagious strain of avant-pop for a new generation, complete with stunning female vocals and quirky, technical guitar riffs.

St. Vincent - Actor


St. Vincent - Actor

Buddah Actor is an overall amazing record. The way Annie Clark arranged each track on the record brought a new and exciting element to the listening experience. kristaconnects Actor was an album that I constantly played right after I got out of the shower. I don’t know why, but I felt that this album was the perfect sound to start fresh with. In that sense, I figured a shower was as fresh as a person could be. After the 50th time listening to Actor, I tried narrowing it down to finding a favorite song within this album. It was such an impossible task.

The Avett Brothers - I and Love and You


The Avett Brothers - I and Love and You

wdpiper I and Love and You is in many ways a return to Americana music with a new twist as the decade comes to a close. . . . The collection of songs flows together wonderfully and captures a wide range of emotions and instrumentation. In short, Rick Rubin pushed these guys forward with this record, allowing them to create a pop/bluegrass/indie rock disc that hopefully will have lasting power for decades to come. Caseydoy I and Love and You is a sing-a-long gem that is equal parts rootsy, folky, and poppy. Lyrically, they like to tug at heart strings, but they also know how to be goofy and sugary sweet. . . . This is an album that will be in my rotation for a long time.

Passion Pit - Manners


Passion Pit - Manners

Sura Manners made indie-friendly electro-pop interesting again. pookie Really upbeat little jams that put a smile on my face. My favorite subway listen and good for power walks through the park. . . . It's electro-pop but somehow very distinctively theirs. slicefriedgold This album is a blast of sunshine straight through your speakers. It is all driving, bouncy rhythms and soaring vocals that fills your life with the feelings of an endless summer. david Uplifting, positive and not too cheesy indie electro-pop. It's a lot of fun listening to Manners.

Dinosaur Jr. - Farm


Dinosaur Jr. - Farm

KungFuJay What's maybe the most impressive thing about Farm is that Dinosaur Jr. managed to improve upon their amazing - and unlikely - reunion album Beyond. stillathreat It's just the best rock album of the year for me. And I think it might be Dinosaur Jr.'s best album, which is saying a lot for a band that's been around for so long. jasun Notorious for being one of the loudest live bands in the world, the true greatness of Farm lays behind the walls of feedback and distortion with it's downright solid songwriting.

The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love


The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love

Caseydog The arrangements on this album are flawless and the role players, Becky Stark and Shara Worden, deliver performances that make me weep. . . . If you don't like Colin Meloy's language, get yourself a dictionary. My 5 1/2 year old daughter doesn't know what half the words mean, but I kid you not, she can sing along with this album from start to finish. The album must be ok. wdpiper If there ever was an album that truly grows on the listener, this is it. Crafted with a wide variety of instrumentation, the Decemberists’ Hazards of Love makes a great listen in its entirety or track by track. KDavis But then I saw the whole rock opera played out live and fell in love. After seeing them live, it gives me a "moment" to remember when just listening to the album driving alone in my car. It's just a seamless album.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Self-Titled


The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Self-Titled

Dryvetyme There's a heady level of mature musical acumen on display here that belies the relative youth of this quartet. I found it difficult to not play frenzied air guitar and pogo about the room with glee anytime I heard the sounds of songs like "Come Saturday," "Young Adult Friction," and "Everything With You." This album is a certifiable winner in my book. roxylalune The Pains of Being Pure at Heart achieve greatness in ten songs: superb combination of a few indie-pop micro-genres with the requisite amount of self-referentiality to craft some excellent heartbreak anthems.

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Comments Leave a comment


Nice list. I can endorse most of the Top 50, but I deleted Passion Pit and Fever Ray from my hard drive. AC was a given at #1.

8:00 AM   Jan 04, 2010


I want to make a longer comment, but for now: I don't "get" animal collective - does nothing for me. Loved Hazards of Love on the 1st listen, but it gets too repetitive for me after a while. Grizzly Bear would be my #1, but I didn't submit a list, so I won't complain too much.

8:31 AM   Jan 04, 2010

stillathreat ★★

Thanks for using my comments. I like this list, but I just can't get into Dirty Projectors.

8:46 AM   Jan 04, 2010

ajay ★★

Only three from my list are on here (AC, Phoenix, Decemberists), but I expected my top pick (Fantasies by Metric) to do worse than 19, so I guess I'm content.

9:17 AM   Jan 04, 2010


Phoenix as number 2? Really?

9:21 AM   Jan 04, 2010

tloveisready ★★

Awful collective Top 13, but there are a lot of good albums in the top 50. Well done folks.

9:34 AM   Jan 04, 2010

KungFuJay ★★

I agree with tlove. I only like a few of the top 13... it's a predictably boring list for the most part. But the top 50 is much more interesting.

9:50 AM   Jan 04, 2010

jason ★★

tmaider nailed it with the comment for MPP. It was the album that kept on giving in that it enabled me to finally "get" Animal Collective and explore their excellent back catalog (most notably Sung Tongs and Feels). Even though I'd tried to listen to those albums pre-MPP, they never appealed to me. Now they do. It's not a perfect album, but I think it's a fitting #1 (even if I voted for Phoenix).

2:07 PM   Jan 04, 2010


Thank god TVOTR didn't drop another crap album for people to ejaculate over.

3:19 PM   Jan 04, 2010


So glad Wilco didn't make the top 13. Jeff Tweedy is the fugliest man in indie rock.

3:22 PM   Jan 04, 2010

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