Thursday, December 3, 2009

Top 10 Albums 2009

Am I so egotistical to think that anyone cares what was my personal Top 10 new music for 2009? Well yes, I am. And whaddyagunnadoaboutit? The thought germinated after reading a few of the "best of the decade" lists, like this great one from eMusic, and also reflecting on how my tastes may have changed after getting back into music as slightly more than just a hobby this year.

So, here's my pick of 2009:

We Were Promised Jetpacks These Four Walls

I have to admit the seriously great name drew me in. I now do some of my online music transactions through the above-mentioned eMusic, on a monthly flat-fee subscription basis. I get 30 downloads every month for about $14 AU (fluctuating slightly with the US exchange rate). The site is tops and provides a vast number of sorting and collating tools which can help the decision making process. I go in there every month with one, maybe two, albums in mind. Other times, I just pick a mood or style or era or feel, filter it and see what comes up - which happened here and they lobbed this Scottish post-punk, indie foursome into my Pod. It's just the right mix of crunch, hook, anger and Scotts which is keeping the fire in the ears alight.

William Elliott Whitmore Animals In The Dark

I often spend hours just dicking around on the computer at home, keeping myself entertained and amused and out of trouble. From time to time I crank up the radio player and dial in a genre to suit my mood. Earlier this year Americana took my fancy and a few songs streamed past before this earthy, guttural, gravelly vocal got me searching. I dialled up a few more Whitmore tunes, but dismissed him for weeks fearing it was just another white-middle-class-crooning-man-with-an-acoustic-and-a-tale-to-tell; which is often nice to get into, but more often than not falls flat pretty rapidly due to their general dislike of pushing musical boundaries or trying anything outside of the beaten path (like Jack Johnson, John Butler, even Ben Harper for a bit). He finally got sufficient grasp of my short-n-curlies to wangle his way into my Pod and heart with his deep-south stories and captivating delivery.

Them Crooked Vultures Them Crooked Vultures

I'm gunna lose so much cred here and suggest that I don't like Queens Of The Stone Age much. I like the Foo Fighters even less. Led Zeppelin have always been a touchstone, but I could hardly call them personal inspirations due to the generational differences. So why do I like this supergroup so much? Because it sounds like a couple of crusty rock demons (whom I can identify with) sitting in a jamming room and going: "Man, wouldn't it be fucking cool if we could jam with John Paul fucking Jones?". I like to fancy I can sense Josh and Dave's musical boners on full extension throughout some of these songs, and can almost hear the boyish whoops and hollers as the cymbals slowly fade on some of their rockier numbers. This is pure "fuck yeah!" rock and it gets the blood pumping.

Sarah Blasko As Day Follows Night

Sarah's always been on top of my list of cherished Aus acts. Her artistry has been a pleasure to watch develop from the poppy plaintive pseudo-electronica of her debut EP to this, her genuine heart-break opus which delves deep lyrically and musically. She's put her metaphorical balls on the line here with some pithy, vastly foreign sounds which hark from gypsy eclecticism and viking beats, accompanying some of the most intimate lyrics I've heard for some time. It helps that Blasko seems to have such a self-assured artistic vision, as this could just as easily be a massive train-wreck in given a half-assed treatment.

Pearl Jam Backspacer

Ok, so it's no surprise that the 9th studio effort from my skin brothers would be on this list. It almost wasn't, though. It came out while we were in Japan and flitting around Tokyo with little chance to really get into it. When I got home, one of the first things I did was whack this on the stereo and give it a whirl. And I was disappointed - massively. It just seemed more MOR than I was willing to accept. That was until the Tiger went out and I was able to truly crank the speakers and hear the crunch. It was then that I realised this effort had a massive bottom end and an energy which I haven't heard from them for a while. This was confirmed by the frantic, frenetic live show in Brisbane a couple of weeks back where the Tiger and I were able to feel the full force from the moshpit. If I wasn't sold on this album before, I am now. And I fear I've unleashed a fellow PJ maniac in the Tiger. Can't be a bad thing.

Mumford and Sons Sigh No More

I fell in love with these guys probably more for the way in which I discovered them - they literally stopped me in my tracks while I was faffing around the house one Saturday morning and old faithful Rage was keeping me company. Little Lion Man builds to this great emotive climax of acoustic guitars, stomp boxes, double basses and banjos which I have no hope of resisting. Nu-folk is generally greeted with a rather energetic yawn in this quarters, but something tells me this unit has changed the genre rule book with this effort.

Future Of The Left Travels With Myself And Another

A mate wouldn't shut the hell up about this band, so I tried them out. My mate Mick tends to stay pretty close to the screamier end of the rock spectrum and while I seriously value his opinion, I do realise we have slightly different tastes and so I generally tread with some caution. This one is straight from Mick's noise collection, and is made up of the remnants of Welsh trio McLusky. It's a decent mix of noise, screamery, post-punk-post-Britpop piss-taking which is backed by some great melodic hooks. I'm going to listen to Mick a bit more next year.

The Duckworth Lewis Method The Duckworth Lewis Method

I have no idea where this non-super super-group came into my consciousness. I think I saw them in a Rolling Stone magazine and found the image of 2 hairy musos shouldering Duncan Fearnley cricket bats just interesting enough to read on. It's a duo of 2 Irish underground pop heroes who found themselves so inspired by the up-coming Ashes series that they just had to record a cricket-themed record. It's gimmicky, it's funny in parts, but it's also a serious study in pop mastery.

The Black Crowes Before The Frost... Until The Freeze

There was a small article in a Rolling Stone about how this huge double album was made and it intrigued me. Just a year after their triumphant return, the hairy gods retreated to a barn in New York state and recorded a double album live in front of a studio audience. The feel is electric and energetic with the southern rock champions finding an irresistible groove and a certain dignity of age.

Ben Harper and Relentless7 White Lies For Dark Times

I turned away from Ben for a while as he plumbed the rich vein of ovary-friendly roots-pop. I even dismissed this effort early on as just another way for him to seem like he was reinventing without actually changing. That was until he accompanied me through Japan in his new outfit. It's an evocative collection which still has a strong mind's eye connection to a pretty darned special time in my life and, hence, it goes up on the top 10 list of the year.

And so that's what, where and why for my 2009 Top 10. I'd like to here your top albums for this year and also where you find out about them. I'm always keen to hear of new musical discovery options.


Natalia the Russian Spy said...

Your blog. Your rules.

Albion Love Den (aka Blue Box, Jamin, BrisJamin) said...

Well, my blog my rules until for some inexplicable reason 3 "yappy broads" decide to turn it into a mother's club meeting.

Not that I think that'll happen, just sayin.

beeso said...

In no particular order La roux-La roux, Low Budget - Laserdisc, Lily Allen - Its not me its you, Hilltop Hoods - State of the art, Ugly Duckling - Audacity, Decoder Ring - They blind the stars, Fat Freddys Drop - Dr Boondigga,

Albion Love Den (aka Blue Box, Jamin, BrisJamin) said...

Thanks Beeso. I've missed input from friends regarding non-guitar-bass-drums-screamery and always keen to hear more.

beeso said...

I might just do a post on the way i've been influenced this year in music now

Dr Yobbo said...

Black Crowes live are quite the unit. Never saw them - they've toured Oz once every thousand years - but one of my favourite live albums of all time is the Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes double album Live At The Greek, playing a bunch of old blues and Led Zep standards (they also did some Black Crowes stuff but their record company wouldn't let them put those on the CD.)

Speaking of Zep survivors (sorry Bonzo) JPJ was always my least favourite Zep, possibly because he was responsible for writing their crappiest albums in the late 70s. Also thought at the time he made a bit of a hash of producing the Datsuns' second album, though on reflection they'd already used up most of their best ideas. Looking forward to the Vultures album - could buy it now, but ran out of ideas for Xmas presents for myself.

Albion Love Den (aka Blue Box, Jamin, BrisJamin) said...

Beeso - please do, I'm in a massive new music phase right now and need some diverse inspiration.

Yob - Black Crowes live are the shit. Also been feasting on Warpaint Live which was released this year, which should be a worthy mention in the above list. They played at Blues and Roots one year recently, but I was going through my "I should grow up and stop wasting all my money on stupid things like music" phase and this was the result. Damned me.

Dr Yobbo said...

Haven't got Warpaint yet (that was the one with the 'fake review' controversy in Maxim US I remember.) Got all the others, up to Lions (2001). Really should pull finger and buy some fkn records.

Albion Love Den (aka Blue Box, Jamin, BrisJamin) said...

You have children. I think that's a fair reason not to be album-consious.

Lyndal Cairns said...

I too was a latecomer to Backspacer. It must be a slow-burner. Sure is beautiful but.

Albion Love Den said...

It may well have been my home stereo set up, but I didn't get it at all until it was cranked. Which, I guess, is the entire point.

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