Dec 292009

With the year rapidly coming to a close it seemed a good idea to do some best of lists. First on the docket, top five albums of 2009.This was a hard one for me because there were plenty of albums that could have gone on this list. In fact, a top ten would be more appropriate, but the rules of this game is top five, so away we go.

Coming in at number five is Imogen Heap’s Ellipse. This album was a delightful surprise for me. I’ve enjoyed her previous albums, and work with Frou Frou, but nothing prepared me for how good this album was. Wonderful electronic trills, weird digressions, and other pieces of grace.

Number four is the newest album on the list, Weezer’s Ratitude. I was blown away by the sense of fun that permeates the album. The clearest example of this being the Bollywood rave-up “Love is the Answer.” My only regret is that they didn’t use the following version of I Want You Too on the album.

The third album on my list, Jenny Owen Youngs’ Transmitter Failure, shows that her previous album was no fluke. She managed the tricky move of changing up her sound, and not making it sound forced. Plus the album spawned my absolute favorite remix of the year, the Funny Energy remix of Led to the Sea. But beyond weird, electronic goodness, songs like Last Person have a zest that is infectious.

Coming in at number two is the Silversun Pickups with Carnavas, no wait, Swoon. No matter, Swoon, comes across as Carnavas volume two, and that is in no way a backhanded compliment. While Jenny Owen Youngs explored with her sound on her sophomore album, the Silversun Pickups were content to simply refine theirs, and when your sound is already so good that’s all you need. Panic Switch, with its distorted, frenzied paranoia, exemplifies why the Silversun Pickups are one of the best rock bands out there.

Really though, there was no question what my number one was going to be. Dave Matthews Band’s Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King, was hands down my favorite album of 2009. Part requiem for the fallen LeRoi Moore, and part return to basics, Big Whiskey is an album that can stand with the band’s output from the 1990’s. The sounds is vintage DMB, with Dave singing lyrics of loss over the sound of joy — muscular grooves blending seamlessly with tender jams. “Why I Am” especially makes the perfect tribute to the memory of LeRoi, and this the best album they’ve created in a decade.

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