Travis Parno Album Cover

Travis Parno

Phew, 2009. An exhausting year, for sure, but an excellent one, both for me and for the music scene at large. While I personally didn't find as many albums to fall in love with this year as I did last year, there were some gems that illustrated how interesting, majestic, and evocative music can be when artists stretch their minds and their boundaries. When I reflected on this year's musical smorgasbord, I felt compelled to factor in not only how much I enjoyed a particular release, but also how important I thought it was in the spectrum of creative songwriting. So, with that, here's my take on the year 2009...

Best Albums of the Year:
Honorable Mention: Lars Katz The Veil
25. The Appleseed Cast Sagarmatha
24. Say Anything Say Anything
23. As Tall As Lions You Can't Take It With You
22. The Builders and the Butchers Salvation is a Deep Dark Well
21. Volcano Choir Unmap
20. Maria Taylor LadyLuck
19. Kevin Devine Brother's Blood
18. mewithoutyou It's All Crazy...
17. Nightmare of You Infomaniac
16. All the Day Holiday The Things We've Grown to Love
15. Regina Spektor Far
14. Kiss Kiss And the Meek Shall Inherit What's Left
13. Moving Mountains Foreword EP
12. We Were Promised Jetpacks These Four Walls
11. Brand New Daisy
10. P.O.S. Never Better
9. Ben Kweller Changing Horses
8. Manchester Orchestra Mean Everything to Nothing
7. fun. Aim and Ignite
6. The Dangerous Summer Reach for the Sun
5. Bon Iver Blood Bank
4. The Dear Hunter Act III: Life and Death
3. Grizzly Bear Veckatimest
2. The Decemberists Hazards of Love
1. Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavilion

ApologeticsOk, ok, go ahead. I've been expecting it for weeks, so by all means, slander away. The phrase "indie hipster bullshit" or its cousin "fucking indie hipster bullshit" gets thrown around on this site almost as much as the word 'daisy.' And while some of my picks have become the Lady GaGa of the indie scene, I always hope that as a site of musically-minded folks, we can (finally) start accepting the fact that different people like different stuff. Then again, this is the internet...

All of that messy business aside, I can confess that I arrived at the Animal Collective show a bit late in the game. I finally gave MPP a chance in mid-July and it still finds its way in and out of my rotation. Each time through, I hear new bits of harmonized chants or electronic nuance that I'd somehow missed before. Rather than a single experience, MPP seems to adapt to suit the listener's senses, changing and evolving with each exposure. Quite simply, it's a revolutionary record and easily the most important release of the year.

The Decemberists managed an impressive feat and easily would grab a #1 spot in a non-MPP year. The story that winds its way through Hazards of Love is beautiful, haunting, and told in an incredibly fascinating manner. They've re-set the bar on what it means to write a concept album. Grizzly Bear rounds out the top three with their chamber-pop jewel, Veckatimest. I'm not sure I knew what chamber-pop was before this album, but I'm certainly glad I know now.

Author's note: Rather than include a short list of EPs, I added Bon Iver's Blood Bank and Moving Mountains' Foreword EP into the mix because I believe that although they are shorter releases, they stand tall with this year's crop of LPs.

Best Songs of the Year:
15. Say Anything "Ah... Men"
14. Cursive "What Have I Done?"
13. Grizzly Bear "Two Weeks"
12. The Decemberists "The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid"
11. Manchester Orchestra "Jeremy, He Whispers"
10. P.O.S. "Let It Rattle"
9. Animal Collective "No More Running"
8. We Were Promised Jetpacks "Thunder and Lightning"
7. Moving Mountains "Lights & Shapes"
6. P.O.S. "Graves (We Wrote the Book)"
5. Brand New "Vices"
4. Bon Iver "Woods"
3. The Decemberists "Annan Water"
2. Manchester Orchestra "Pride"
1. Animal Collective "My Girls"

ApologeticsLet's face it, "My Girls" is the best indie-pop song written in quite some time. There's just no getting around it. MO's "Pride," with all of its down-'n-dirty grit and grime, comes in at a close second. It epitomizes how Andy Hull has thrown a yolk on his frustrated anger and ridden it to indie stardom. "Annan Water" is just one of the many chapters written by The Decemberists that could qualify for this list. I find it the most compelling and exciting portion of the story, but feel free to substitute any of your personal favorites in the #3 spot.

Author's Note: Had Manchester Orchestra's "I Can Feel A Hot One" not been released in an identical form last year, it would easily top this list. Easily.
This review is a user submitted review from Travis Parno. You can see all of Travis Parno's submitted reviews here.
Displaying posts 1 - 4 of 4
12:39 AM on 12/22/09
glory glory
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IamTheINDUSTRY's Avatar
best staff list on the site.
04:12 PM on 12/22/09
It's a shame we need everything
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Illuminate's Avatar
best staff list on the site.
11:02 AM on 12/23/09
Resident New Yorker
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saysmydoctor's Avatar
Kiss Kiss is good. Nice list.

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