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Mod Games

Spazz gets banned, and within minutes there's a mass mutiny in the GS community and seemingly the MOD community.

I won't pretend to know the details. I won't pretend I know what's going on, or that I know each mod personally.

I have been here for ten years. I've watched people join, become mods, resign / get banned, etc. and nearly all the site admins that came from the forums are people I recognize and can recall from days, weeks, months and years back. For the most part they're all very fair people, even if they may have changed over time.

Fact is, Gamespot lost a plethora of good mods around 'Gerstmanngate' out of protest and ever since then cracks have appeared and dissent is spilling onto public boards and blogs. I've never seen Solidruss this upset, for one. I really hope he doesn't get banned for this because outside of MAILER_DAEMON, he's the most fair and understanding mod in the community. Spazz was definitely up there and had such character as well, and to lose him really is a blow to the public opinion of the moderating team. If Russ went, I don't know what would happen.

We've seen countless bans from users being pushed to the brink because of questionable moderations(spanning from a lack of detailed explanation to using greay area rulings that hardly fit the crime) and inconsistency in rulings, and eventually get banned for complaining in the public forum. I've never seen so many high profile members go down so often as I have this year in OT, and I've been here for a while. I remember the GameDude and RyanTheGod game-board raids and OT spam-raids.

I hope cooler heads prevail on both sides of this. I hope the community can forgive the mods and admins, I hope the mods can forgive each other, and I hope the admins can actually stop being so systematic about everything and remember why people come to gamespot. I don't get my news from gamespot. I rarely read reviews or previews or features on the site. I come for the people, who are on the forums and blogs and whatnot, and if those were whittled away I'd stop coming. I stopped reading Gamespot reviews after Navarro(best game reviewer ever) jumped ship. Tor Thorsten is still around, and he's a cool guy, nd the odd time I'll check out his articles, but there's not much else keeping me here.

If there would be more transparency and leniency I think a change would come for the better. Just a little more lenient, not IGN lenient.

Anywho, that's it from me for now. This all could have been avoided, really.

EDIT: Solidruss is banned.

****, people are dense. Two of Gamespot's top 4 mods gone in one day? What next, Duxup gets canned?


Was a pre-April Fools day prank. :D No one's gone! Though I feel hosed. :P

RIP Alex Chilton

One of the most underappreciated and underrated musicians out there. :(

This is really, really, really sad. I should probably post on other things I've done lately, but out of respect I'll leave them until later.

Rest in peace, sir Chilton. :(

Top 100 Albums of 2009: 5-1

5. The Twilight Sad - Forget the Night Ahead

I really didn't expect this one. Past Twilight Sad album were very mood-driven, to the point where it was rather binary. If I was in X mood, I would enjoy it, if I wasn't then I wouldn't. End of discussion...until now. I stress tested the crap out of this album and it consistently came out on top. It was my go to whenever I was in a different mood, and where it used to fail, it succeeded. I don't know what it is about it. I can still go back to their older albums and feel as I used to about them (although slightly lessened as I've attuned myself to their sound characteristics). Their production has jumped to new levels, which is always a good thing(note that I don't necessarily mean radio-friendly production, I mean production catering to their sound that emphasizes their positive attributes rather than masking them and feeling more like the producer's own signature stamped on). I suppose I could equate it to The Hold Steady prior to getting passable production (Separation Sunday), and The Hold Steady after getting passable production(Boys & Girls In America, Stay Positive). Sure, I could listen to THS before they had good production, but it was always iffy and sometimes I just couldn't feel it because it was a maelstrom of crap swirling in my ears instead of the music. Anywho, this is about TTS. This album felt right from the get-go. It's funny, actually, that I wanted that maelstrom of crap to become a maelstrom of sound, and they actually did just that. From open to close, it's a scathingly loud album laced with vicious guitar feedback and the most Scottish vocals you could ever imagine(okay, I'm kidding with this one, but can you imagine a stereotypical Scotsman waiting on a Flying V in the middle of a hurricane? I can, and it's AWESOME)...basically, they turned it up to 11 on this album and they shouldn't regret it. Yes, they rely a lot on effects pedals and feedback and noise and all that jazz, and yes it can make some tracks feel a bit similar to others, but if you actually listen to each song, you'll find a mini work of art. "That Room" is incredibly intimate, although it still allows for a heavy bass-drum and bass-beat starting off (much, much better than the version I heard on their B-sides EP) . As the singer raises his voice, a faint shredding guitar sound can be heard, and you know there's always a chance that this song breaks out into mayhem, even though it doesn't, truly. "I Became A Prostitute" has some of the most venomous vocal-work I've heard in a chorus in a long while(well, since Low's Drums & Guns from 2007). That's one thing, though that I noticed. This album has clearer vocal production, and it has really enhanced the entire sound. Cure the 'only as strong as the weakest link' talk, but it can be true. Honestly, though, in this song, the chorus is absolutely killer. Maybe I'm imagining the venom in the vocals, that could be the case as a friend I was talking to pointed out he heard no such aspect, but I can hear it in the tone shift and the open mockery abound in each word. Sure, it may be the accent throwing me for a loop, but whatever. The opener "Reflection of the Television" makes these two songs a HUGE one-two punch to start the album, with the persistent bass, off-beat drums, and random feedback(which later in the track bursts in favor and envelops the track) setting the stage for what this album is about to lay into your ears. At the end of the thrilling closer "At The Burnside" I was certain this album was going to be one of those albums, and I've cemented that opinion over the past 2 months.

4. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest

After a long while of listening to this album I realized that unlike one of the higher ranked albums on the list, it isn't greater than the sum of its parts, it simply is the sum. I feel bad for Grizzly Bear here because they crafted some great music this year within Veckatimest, and I would have loved to give them the #1 spot, but I can't will myself to. It fits all the criteria: excellent songwriting, excellent production, excellent lyrics, great flow from track to track, and a great closing track(among the best this year). It has everything going for it but it falls short because while most of the songs are excellent, and flow together, it all feels so loose and unwrapped. I really don't know how to explain this and I don't like talking more about the downsides to the album rather than the upsides because it's a spectacular effort. It really is. "Two Weeks", "Ready, Able", "Foreground", "Cheerleader", "About Face", "I Live With You" and "While You Wait For The Others" are all excellent tracks, and will likely stand the test of time as well as the other Grizzly Bear tracks have in the past. I just feel that while the songwriting has been totally unified here throughout the group, it lacks a form of coherency. Maybe because it's not a concept album, I'm leaving it out. Who knows? It's an excellent album though, and should not be missed. Chances are, I'll listen to this in the future more than I do the 1st place album, but that happens sometimes. Anyone who hasn't heard any Grizzly Bear should find this to be an easy entry point. Check out "Two Weeks" and "Ready, Able" and you should find yourself understanding their sound so you can jump into their other stuff. The album is absolutely pristine.

3. The Protomen - Act II: The Father of Death

I'll probably get flak for this. A megaman-themed concept band, in my top five for 2009. This is a joke, right? No.

This album has the strongest back-to-back-to-back trio of songs of the year in "Breaking Out" "Keep Quiet" and "Light Up The Night", all three of which have remained contenders for top song of the year, for months. It's not just that terribly awesome trio, though. The album opens with "The Good Doctor", a western themed track with contrasting vocals and a great intro to the storyline that's evident throughout the entire album. Even going in knowing it's about Dr. Light and Dr. Wily, it doesn't ring out too cheesy on the opening song, and solidifying that relatively serious presence in the storytelling hols the album together as you move through the tracklist. Sure, it might be my megaman bias coming into play here, but the opener really sets a tone. The album progresses from a western sound to a modern sound as you progress, signifying the advancement of time through the story. Father of Death continues with the older theme, surrounding the events of Light's wife/fiancee's death and each of Wily and Light's part in it. The bell and horns really help this track out, as it's the weakest of the bunch, but luckily The Hounds follows it up and really brings a more modern sound. With a chugging bass, wailing electric guitar and horns, it's a slight shift forward. Wily takes front stage here, convincing the law that Light killed his wife/fiancee. It's among the strongest tracks on the album, due to its upbeat tempo and how the lyrics and songwriting just concretes its quality with every second. The State vs Thomas Light, and the following track Give Us the Rope are both more downbeat with a bit of cheese when it comes onto the vocals, but are supported by the cinematic feel of each: the first being more somber pre-trial, and the latter being more Ennio Morricone-light in its sound during what sounds like a public execution but if I recall is sentencing him to exile. How The World Fell Into Darkness, an instrumental track, bridges the storyline gap, as White is exiled and the world he once knew changes to something he couldn't have imagined. That bridging track leads us to Joe, a guy who sees what's wrong with Wily's city and wants a change, and the trio of "Breaking Out", "Keep Quiet" and "Light up The Night" bring in a new atmosphere of hope and will, as Joe goes about finding a way to tackle Wily's empire to reclaim the city he proclaims as "dead". The tracks resemble something of a mixture of Springsteen, Meatloaf, among others, but are inherently The Protomen in their sound. The lyrics are impeccable, both in storytelling and in general. Some are cheesy, but from the context of the character that they revolve around, it rings sincere. Light Up the Night is the shortest track of the three, but the most intense, signaling the final act of Joe's effort's. It's absolutely infectious for an 80's synth-rock lover like me, complete with the watery drums made famous in TV ****cs like Miami Vice, and the arena-rock choruses found so often in those days. Definitely the climax of the album by any stretch, even with The Fall (another instrumental track) there to bridge Joe going about his mission and completing it, dying in the process, and bringing the city even more into Wily's control from the alleged terror plot. Here Comes The Arm is a morose track with White reluctant to continue the fight, having inadvertently killed a young kid with a foolish plan, with humanity trembling and hiding in their homes unwilling to fight. Yet the track ends with him reading a note from Emily, his wife/fiancee, before she died, telling him to keep trying to save humanity if she's passed on. So he does, and with this album being a prequel to their debut, it's a great lead-in to the original plot from their first. All in all, it's a great cinematic album that while being a little cheesy, is an impeccable example of how to do a concept album right, and how to produce an album around a theme correctly. Rife with numerous epic moments, it's bound to keep your interest if you like rock music at all, and you're interested in a story to go with it.

2. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Chances are you've heard of Phoenix. Wow. I've waited so, so long to type out those words. It's only taken what, five years for them to catch hold on a market that should have been enraptured by their sound(six or seven if you consider what Lost in Translation should have done for their popularity with "Too Young"). Still, better late than never, and at least they got popular before they all turned forty. They have some pretty great connections, despite being from France(I kid, I kid), with their guitarist having been in a band with a certain duo that went on to form Daft Punk. Anywho, this is about their music. They've been refining their sound for a while now, they're 3 LPs in, and with "Liztomania" and "1901" they've captured the ears and (hopefully) hearts of music listeners globe-wide. Those two heavily-exposed singles deserve all their time in the splotlight because it's durn well earned. Yet, those who dish out for the full album will surely find there's much more to Phoenix than their singles. Heck, those two are just the beginning(true, they're the first two tracks off the album). "Fences" is just as ear-catching as the singles, "Love Like A Sunset"(both parts 1 and 2) fill out to be a mostly instrumental piece akin to their last album's "North" but three times as beautiful and elegant, "Lasso" is a short and sweet soon-to-be-single (if the labels are smart at all) with an excellently crafted chorus that's probably the catchiest bit off the entire album. "Rome" is a slower, cooler track that packs in a ridiculous amount of well-written lyrics about a messed up relationship, although the pulsating ending to the track really blows you out of your seat. "Countdown(Sick for the Big Sun)" is a really summery song that manages to sound exactly like an early September evening, although it asks "Do you remember when 21 years was old?", to which I reply "yes, stop making me feel old you bunch of jerks." "Girlfriend" returns to the playful side of the band, sounding much like a trip with a significant other through the streets of a decent city, even if it seems like the opposite with the narrator having walked away from his girlfriend who he longs to be with, but who also scorns him and refuses to do anything with him. Mayhaps it's that new-found freedom of not having such a burden on one's shoulders that they capture here? That's probably it. "Armistice" finishes the album with a strong pop song characteristic of Phoenix's past album, but with a little more juice. All in all, a fantastic pop album, one of the best this decade has seen. Accessible as hell too(which, I'm told, is quite accessible. At least, so says the odd Christian I talk to). Go get it.

1. The Antlers - Hospice

One of the more transparent albums of the year, "Hospice" is about a healthcare worker's time spent in a hospital or home with a depressed and abusive wife dying of cancer. Where there's a certain vagueness to what we really know about the backstory, it's spelled out through the music itself. All the possible emotions one could feel in such a situation are expressed here and it can be a hard album to listen to if you're in a certain mindset. Much like a lot of my favourite albums, it's minimalistic in the usage of instruments and in the usage of the soundstage(for the most part at least). After an instrumental "Prologue", "Kettering" fades in and gives a basic detailing of what's going on on, and it's possibly one of the most emotionally intense tracks due to the perfectly sterile production, the sterile piano, and the far from reassured vocals that just match the theme of the album. I can just imagine after the line "I didn't believe them when they told me that there was no saving you", when the drums and synth hit to be this emotional whirlwind of helplessness that just builds and builds and builds and then...they place their hand on his and suddenly, while everything isn't right, he can allow himself that belief. "Sylvia", the following song, recounts an earlier time it seems, where he's trying to find some mix on both sides of her, as he can't stand to see her cry and he can't stand to see her furious, but he most of all can't stand to see her fall apart completely. The entire last stanza is lyrical gold, and yes I am going to post it here. 'Sylvia, can't you see what you are doing? Can't you see I'm scared to speak, and I hate my voice cause it only makes you angry. Sylvia, I only talk when you are sleeping. That's when I tell you everything, and I imagine somehow you're going to hear me '. Jeez. I don't even like listening to the lyrics, it's so sincerely narrated. The entire chorus is hard to hear too, even if it's kind of silly in a slightly morbid way, because of how helpless the narrator is there. "Atrophy", the fourth song, truly bridges the narrator-patient divide by delving into the relationship and spelling out a lot of her personality that we missed thus far, or the personality that's missing more or less since she's been sick. Again, some strong lyrics here in 'Someone, oh anyone, Tell me how to stop this. She's screaming, expiring, and I'm her only witness. I'm freezing, infected, and rigid in that room inside her. No one's gonna come as long as I lay still in bed beside her '. Harsh. "Bear", the following track, is about their relationship and how a pregnancy and discussion over an abortion starts to crack their relationship, as reflected with 'We're terrified of one another. And terrified of what that means.' "Thirteen" reflects his wife's suicide attempt in relation to "Sylvia", along with her wondering why he couldn't stop this sickness in her. "Two" spells out in intricate details the progression of the relationship through marriage and what it had become, with him in a waiting room seemingly recovering from domestic abuse from her. This track is so placid, yet the undertones are overwhelmingly based in anger, regret and frustration. Yet through all the anger, there's definite sadness, as it seems he realizes he mst leave her for her to come to terms with it all, and that his hope is infuriating her. So he leaves. "Shiva" details the emotions running through his body as he learns of her death, and he being so at a loss and still wishing he could help her that he placed her burdens on him even after she's gone. All her nightmares, all her disease, everything, and it starts killing him, his imagining a physical embodiment for the regret, guilt and sorrow he feels. "Wake" is the aftermath, the fallout. Regrouping with friends, or what friends are left, and the trouble of letting them into your struggles and your life again, after having your life torn apart so much it doesn't resemble anything it used to. It explains the state of mind and the recovery process, with some of the best lyric writing in years, if taken in context with this album. 'Don't be scared to speak, don't speak with someone's tooth, don't bargain when you're weak, don't take that sharp abuse. Some patients can't be saved, but that burden's not on you. Don't ever let anyone tell you you deserve that. '

The album closes with "Epilogue" and if you're lucky, you're not too emotionally drained and can go onto something else quickly to mask it up, something happier to forget it. Even though the album ends on a semi-positive note, it's such a harsh thing to face after falling into the story and feeling the guilt and helplessness throughout. Even though that last line rings sincere, it's hard to truly believe it. That's what makes this album so great, and so powerful. It tears you down with its mind-numbingly depressing story, makes you re-live it through the narrator's eyes, and then tells you it's all okay, because in a twisted way, it is. Even with the nightmares he has years after the ordeal, similar to hers, and all the hallucinations and memories, it's okay, even when it's not. While this album may not be that great taken in a track by track perspective, ignoring the context of the album, it is within the concept that the album truly shines and is greater than the sum of its parts.

IT'S OVER. YES. Finally, my fingers can rest.

So yeah, while musicianship lost out this year to "emotional-connections-ftw", whatever. It's a powerful album in the right mindset, and it's powerful in mine, so it takes tops. It's funny, I had Protomen all the way back at like, 20, when I started making the list, and then I kept edging it up until I realized 'Ok, I'm just letting my thought that it's a guilty pleasure album affect me. It's really friggin good, so let's put it where it deserves to be! So 3rd it is, just edging out Grizzly Bear by a hair.

Heck, if there's on thing about 2009 it's that there was no clear cut victor. Not like last year, or the year before that, or the year before that. This year had helltonnes of depth, but no real elite-level entries. *shrug* That's how it goes sometimes. If it means anything, all of the top 9 were sitting at #1 at some point in time, AFTER I'd heard all these albums, so that gives some perspective.

Top 100 Albums of 2009: 10-6


10. Handsome Furs - Face Control

I had these guys higher up until I did a bit more soul searching and found I just wanted to put them higher up. I'd ignored the flaws(if slight) in favor of the excellent songwriting abilities of the duo. Face Control offers some of the most fun music of the year, as well as some hypnotic slower punk-ish dirges. Boeckner's punk-rock abilities shine through as usual here, but it's his wife Alexei that's taken a step in the right direction here and filled out the other half of the sound spectrum and unlike the last album, it's a really good split between the two even though Dan's vocals and guitarwork are almost always at the forefront. The opener "Legal Tender" finishes with a chorus that doesn't get to be repeated, and keeps me re-listening to the track because of it. Truly leaving the best for last on the opener...well, it raises my eyebrows a bit and is something I don't hear too often. It jumps from the quick, energetic opener to the slower electro-punk dirge "Evangeline" which has this sexiness to it that will show its face again later in the album. "Talking Hotel Arbat Blues" is a lengthy title for a track that only registers just over two and a half minutes. It's another little energetic, fun track with plenty of guitar and thumping kick pedal. It's a great, catchy track that lacks a bit of a punch, but is nonetheless a very strong song. After a little intermission in "(Passport Kontrol)", we're treated to a great track that really showcases the abilities of these two when they hit their mark. "I'm Confused" harnesses a retro feel and is one of those tracks that's radio-friendly and really catchy, even if it's not their best effort on the album(although certainly it's a good track). We're treated to another intermission in "(White City)", then "Nyet Spasiba" is a bit darker than some of the other tracks to start off, and takes a bit of time to get going, by this band's standards, but bursts back into their customary sound, and the last minute and five seconds provide a great climax for the track much like the opener's final moments. "Officer of Hearts" returns with that minimal, sultry atmosphere provided not only by the backing drum machine and synths, but also by Boeckner's ragged vocals. Definitely a standout track that could be remixed into some dancefloor groove is anyone so wished(although it would likely end in defiling the song, but the potential is there, technically, to do it right). "Thy Will be Done" follows it and provides a great, steady, pulsing track. The finale, "Radio Kaliningrad" is the masterpiece of the album, opening with a noisy transmission blanketing a clean guitar riff, and eventually clears up, progressing into a bit of a love story adventure crafted into song. It's easily the best song on the album, and probably the best of Handsome Furs' entire work. A great bookend for a soviet-themed album that never really achieves excellence until the last track masks the rest. Truly is the equivalent of a gatekeeper album on the list. A great album you should check out if you like music with some punk, some rock, and some synths and drum machines, but is never oversaturated.

9. Kurt Vile - Childish Prodigy

Kurt burst onto the scene late last year with a bunch of publicity over his bedroom recorded "Constant Hitmaker" and "God Is Saying This To You" have have allowed a fervent fanbase to grow around him and his short solo career. So it wasn't a surprise when his big label debut was leaked, and it wasn't shocking that many over-hyped the album to the point where Childish Prodigy was deemed disappointing. Everything was compared to fan-favourite "Freeway" off his Constant Hitmaker album, which is rather unfair since "Freeway" is just one type of song, even if it's a very well made song. Especially since his other albums didn't have supporting material equal to "Freeway", where this album is really consistent and hits a lot of highs without dropping any to the curb. "Hunchback" opens the album with a jagged rock and roll number that harkens back to the early-mid 70s sound, infusing Kurt's low-fi rock signature onto it. Easily one of the best off the album and of his career, it's a promising start that doesn't let up. "Dead Alive" is much more minimal and slow, but has a charm of its own and shows off his lyrical charm without feeling like it's dragging on too long. "Overnite Religion" picks up with some acoustic guitar and almost reminds me of Freeway in a way, before his vocals hit and remind me it's a different song. It's not a weak track by any stretch, but it's not a great track. It carries on the flow though, so it gets credit there. "Freak Train" comes out of nowhere, but works itself in nicely and is an absolute joy to listen to. Whether it's the cheeky lyrics making fun of train passengers and how riding public transit sucks, or the immensely fun backing music, it's unseated "Freeway" in terms of his best track, in my mind at least. You can just tell he had a blast doing this psychedelic track. Much like how that song came out of the blue, "Blackberry song" intrudes a bit providing a purely acoustic track along with his subdued vocals. It's a bit of a grower, as are most psych-folk tracks and has become my second favourite off the album. It's really subdued and relaxed in comparison to a lot of his other work; it just has a sense of calmness. "Monkey" follows it with yet another cheeky rock track about love at first sight and the growing relationship that came from it. It's a great track by itself, and the texture of the guitar is absolutely perfect here. "Heart Attack" is much like "Dead Alive" in how it's repetitive and mostly lyrical, but it doesn't drag somehow, and is quite enjoyable. "Amplifier" is a bit of a kickstart and is a really great effort that offers placid vocals over the churning guitars and drums, and odd horn section. I find myself running out of words to use or descriptors for Kurt's music here because it really is straight forward rock music with a retro, low-fi psychedelic edge, while his more sedated psych-folk tracks are exactly that. "Inside Lookin Out" is a throwback blues-rock track in the purest sense, and it works perfectly. As weird as it is, his rock tracks mingle perfectly with the folk tracks, and I'm not sure what linking element there is between the two that allows it. I'm usually not for such abrupt changes unless it is to make a point, but there's the odd album here and there(ok, there's quite a few that do it right, but it's rare that someone does it right than it is vice versa). I wholly recommend this to anyone who likes retro rock, because I think they'll get a kick out of it. Everyone else should give it a shot too, so long as you're not scared of a little bit of low-fi production.

8. Timber Timbre - Timber Timbre

It's shameful that Timber Timbre are as unknown as they are. Heck, even with CBC radio's help, they're unknowns. Before CBC radio, they were playing in CD shops and tiny coffeeshops. Atrocious! Can you imagine "Lay Down in the Tall Grass" with a 5 or 6 person audience? Intimate, yes, but with the talent at hand, Timber Timbre deserve more. Nothing like a gothic folk act to...well, certainly not cheer things up, but provide some perspective. The album opens with the ghostly track "Demon Host", laying down the vocal ****you'll come to expect for the rest of the album, and the general atmosphere of the album. It's a plodding track that keeps a steady pace throughout. The second track, the aforementioned "Lay Down in the Tall Grass" is a minimalistic, gothy number that manages to sound both smooth and jagged at once, through the organ, percussion, and the perfect vocal track to coincide with it all. It gets slightly more complex at points, but dies back down to the simple stuff soon after. Definitely catchy, even if it's an abnormal pull. "Until the Night is Over" has a middle-eastern twinge and one of the most active choruses on the album, although it pales next to the following track "Magic Arrow", which is one hell of a driving song. Even with its minimal beat, the western guitar and the rather rapid pulse of the track makes for a fun little song (well, it's actually pretty long, so not little by any stretch) with some great lyrics. "We'll Find Out" is a short sedated affair that has a bit of a hypnotic element to it, although that could just be the repetition, I suppose. The chorus and viola(I think that's it, although it could be a fiddle or violin, so I'm probably mistaken) really add to this piece near the end. "I Get Low" is a fun little track that I keep having to shoo away the image of the guy behind Timber Timbre wearing gangsta clothes and slowly performing the song. A great track though, real minimal. "Trouble Comes Knocking" starts with a great bass and string accompaniment and is rounded out with a gorgeous organ and a great vocal track, and the song ends with a bit of a bang. "No Bold Villain" completes the album with an intimate, folky acoustic number with a violin and piano alongside, although the main reason to listen to the song is because it's probably the best showing of his vocal ability on the album. All in all, it's easy to hear the influences in the album, but he makes them his own and crafted a wonderful, remarkable album I'll be listening to for a long while.

7. The XX - XX

It's not difficult to sum up The XX's debut album as a late night sensuous romp. Truly, they channel some of the greats in that category, even if their sound is much different than their predecessors. The two vocalists of the group (Romy and Oliver) often trade it up mid song, adding some sexual tension that winds up feeling like it will burst even though there's no sign it will. The album is a slowburner, running at a pace shared with many of Low's albums, and it mixes pop with R&B and emphasizes the bass tones throughout the album; not hard when the soundstage is mostly empty compared to many other albums(another thing they have in common with Low). Where they're not minimalistic is in the vocals though, that drip with sensuality. There's no better example than the track "Shelter", where Romy slowly sings out "Maybe I had said something that was wrong. Can I make it better? With the lights turned on?" which is absolutely cheesy, but these aren't high-****nobles and they aren't experienced far beyond their years, they're 20 year-olds and they only have SOME idea of what they're doing. In fact, Romy is pretty much all about the sultry innuendo throughout the album, where Oliver dips in occasionally. There's really no track that sets itself apart from the others, but in this case that just means every other track is right there with the rest. Each track had its own memorable moments and each draws me to it rather equally. It's almost lounge music, even, but once again, it really isn't. It's this confident, sexy album oozing with the talent of its creators through great songwriting, incredible vocal work, and masterful production. SHOULD be a staple in some late-night bistros or clubs, but it probably won't be for some inexplicable reason. Too bad, it could really shake things up.

6. Fever Ray - Fever Ray

Karin Dreijer Andersson is a madwoman. One listen to "If I Had A Heart" could clue you in, and if you've heard The Knife's discography, and this album(her solo persona), you'll know this. Her work in the album is very organic sounding, yet oh so electronically assembled. It's odd to hear such a consistent mix of both ends; it's like listening to a foreign world in some spots. She truly takes this sound as her realm, she covets it, and she lets you in on menacing bit by menacing bit. Her usage of vocal alteration is once again masterful, as it has been in past The Knife efforts, yet it's used more effectively here within her usual vocal range rather than jumping all over the place. I wouldn't go as far as to say it's up to The Knife's standards, but it comes close, and lacks only the nuances her brother adds, and the impeccable production quality they can create together as one **** Here, there are some spots which are lacking, but that's about all I can nitpick. Her songwriting is definitely off the wall as usual, and it lends to her sound, and makes me wonder how polished this would be if she spent even more time on her own working on solo work. Her lyrical prowess is...well, she's never been known for being anything but hamfisted, but she at least avoids placing a word in her songs that sounds awkward. The album is definitely an experiment, and the concept is more cerebral than physical in nature, and it's not as easy to listen to as her previous work, but it's still very, very good. Everything in this album rings out personal to her, I can see bits from every age's perspective, from either gender's, and from every basic emotion. It's complex and layered with dense imagery and denser synthesized sound effects, but it's so fresh and wondrous that it's required listening. This is truly her album, her realm, her sound, and everyone else ventures in at their own risk. It's truly a risk worth taking.

Real post was too long to fully list, 5-1 coming next up.

Top 100 Albums of 2009: 25-11

25. Drummer - Feel Good Together

An exciting band with an upbeat sound, they've found a place in my 'driving music' niche, which I suppose could branch out to party music, or just plain fun music. Another of the great releases this year that I didn't really see coming. I just think it's funny the band is made up entirely of drummers from other bands, and they REALLY pull it off. The album has a great vibe. "Mature Fantasy" is, IMHO, the absolute standout track on the album, and dominated my playlists for weeks after first hearing it. Its catchy, upbeat, and has some power behind it. I don't think I could ask any more out of them in this song. "Good Golly" is also another big song that has an electric chorus. Aside from those two, the album settles out a little but in the end it's really fun, well-made rock. Sure, it's clear the singer doesn't have a great voice, but he sure as hell is trying his best.

24. Beirut - March of the Zapotec/Realpeople Holland

Beirut has had a place in my heart ever since I first heard "Postcards From Italy", and it hasn't faded one bit. Condon is, once again, earning his keep with excellent arrangement, and such instilling of character into each of his tracks. "The Concubine" is mesmerizing, with Zach's voice just gabbing my attention and not letting go. Great percussion on the track, by the way. Simple, but it ties it all together, along with the simple accordion. Meanwhile, "My Night With the Prostitute from Marseilles" is a synthesized, disconsolate song about a romp that sounds like it was much more meaningful for him than it should have been; either hiring her from loneliness, or using the song as a vessel for a one-sided relationship that was hollow for one while the other hoped for more. Sure, it was off a benefit album prior to this one, but it's a legit track and it fits in the split album context here. "No Dice", another synth standout, is a playful little thing that pushes the tempo into areas we hadn't traditionally heard from Condon, but it works well and my opinion is that this guy could do anything in music and succeed. The split album IS half this kind of electronic music(executed or influenced), while the other is traditional Beirut backed by the nineteen-piece Jimenez band he found while in Mexico. Both have their own sound, but it's all combined by the similar foundations shared on both ends through Condon's songwriting. More great work from a great group of musicians.

23. Antony & The Johnsons - The Crying Light

Antony returns here with probably his most emotional work to date, if "Her Eyes Are Underneath The Ground", "Aeon", and "Epilepsy is Dancing" are any indication. It's a bit less consistent than his prior work, but the supreme quality of some tracks balance that out. His voice is iconic and as good as ever here, signaling his emotion with each waver in his voice. If you enjoy emotional, sad(but not depressing), piano-driven songs, this is the album for you this year.

22. Volcano Choir - Unmap

A collaboration between Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, and the group Collections of Colonies of Bees, this album really makes a home for both of their respective sounds. The trick here is that Vernon's memorable vocals aren't for storytelling here so much as they are showing the natural element of the voice as an instrument. The first two tracks set the tone for the kind of music you'll be hearing; more post-rock than anything else, but more like a DMST type of post rock, with Vernon's vocals bringing a new element to the mix. Sure, Vernon sings words in the odd song, like the standout "Island, IS", although stream of consciousness lyrics that mean nothing just tease us and let us know not to expect the type we found in "For Emma, Forever Ago". One of the quirkier numbers is the "Cool Knowledge" semi A-Capella, but for the most part it's serene post rock jams that can be a bit mournful and a bit jubilant, and a lot in between. If you've heard Bon Iver's "Blood Bank" EP, you'll recognize a reworked track in "Still" which is much more effective in this album than the EP. "Youlogy", the closing track, is mostly Vernon's isolated vocals with the odd percussion and intervention by other instruments, with choral backing vocals filling in on the latter half, allowing Vernon's to fall in lockstep and provide a fitting end to this experiment.

21. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion

Some might wonder why this is so low, when it really isn't. It's a great, solid album. It's just that there's three excellent songs, while the rest range from good to great, making for yet another album from a band that's consistently inconsistent. "My Girls" and "Summertime Clothes" truly are excellent songs, among the best of this year, and are probably both as good as "Fireworks" off their prior album Strawberry Jam(which is high praise from me, as Fireworks was among my favourite songs that year). The arrangement....everything from the synths, drum machines, claps, etc. all fit together perfectly, further showing the level of talent they possess. Yet, those two aren't the entire album, "Brother Sport", "Daily Routine" and "Lion in a Coma" are also great efforts that I could write more about as well. It's the rest that pull the album down, and the poor tracklisting (what I mean is, the order of the tracks on the album). Still, I'll take what I can get from these guys, and there's some fantastic stuff to be found here, and they made top 25.

20. Tegan and Sara - Sainthood

After The Con, I didn't know what to reasonably expect. It was basically my favourite T&S album, so following that up was a heavy effort. They did their best though, and after a couple of full listens, I've begun really warming to it. The songs retain the T&S charm that's always evident in their work, and Tegan is as punk-focused as ever, but this time Sara really throws caution to the wind and tries for some really new approaches...some of which stick and some which slide a bit down the scale. Still, it's not bad, it's just not up to the bar Sara's tracks had set for me over the past two albums and I was incredibly spoiled by those, so this was a bit of a step down. Still, tons of hooks and riffs to grab onto, and the vocals are almost as good as ever, as there's the odd bit that sounds off, but for the rest they're on their A game. The production really saves this from slipping any further back because of how precise it is in reflecting the individual sound of each track. There are a few standouts in "Hell", "The Ocean", "Northshore", "Someday", and "Arrow", but it's a pretty consistently great album that people who enjoy a range of pop to rock to punk with some experimenting throughout.

19. Passion Pit - Manners

Passion Pit came to me via a friend on Gamespot who proclaimed they were mere months away from being huge, and that fellow was very correct. There was an immediate sense of glee upon hearing the album. There was a lot of light-hearted, silly songwriting with ridiculous lyrics that accompanied the falsetto lead vocals. The synths jangle and soar, the guitars and percussion cover simplified duties, but they get the spotlight here and there in semi-expected moments of the songs. "Make Light" makes an immediate impact, and while many of the songs have similar sounds, each has its own characteristics and themes that set each apart from the other. Truly not an album for anyone who can't stand sugary pop, it's among the happier and more uplifting albums of the year. An incredibly consistent albm when it comes to the quality of each track in comparison to the rest, and that's a large reason why it's so high. No weak tracks at all. It also didn't hurt they employed one of the cooler and well known elementary school choirs on the east coast to fill out their backing vocal sections on numerous songs.

18. Lullabye Arkestra - Threats Worship

I really wanted to keep this review to a single sentence(This album is as Bad-ass jagged as you can get) and let you go from there, but I figured a wee bit more detail should be awarded a top 20 album of the year. I recall I picked up Lullabye Arkestra's debut because the album art was awesome, later finding out they are on GY!BE's old label. Then, I heard their raw, aching soul-meets-garage-meets-metal sound that reeked of immaturity and vulgarity. They took a while to release a follow-up, and it seems that vulgarity and immaturity hasn't faded, but they have improved a fair bit and are much more focused. Sure, while they have yet to release another track as awesome as "Unite!!!!!!!!", they come remarkably close on numerous occasions on this album, where on Ampgrave, they didn't(even though Ampgrave is incredible, and 'Ass Worship' is a very great track that's rather epic for their type of music). Where Ampgrave was mostly imagined as a bit of a soulful, drunk cabaret-ish bassist with an equally drunk percussion and horn section along for the ride, Threats Worship is these two sobered up and up to more trouble. They're back with the same unforgiving track titles like 'Euroshima' and 'We **** the Night', both of which are incredibly fun and harsh songs with impeccable bass and drums like I've come to expect from this duo. If there's one think Katia, the bassist, has mastered...it's the art of opening the song with a killer bass riff that draws the listener in(Get Nervous, Euroshima, We **** the Night, Icy Hands, Fog Machine, This is a Storm, Voodoo). Justin, the drummer, often does the same, although he tends to accompany her basslines perfectly with his steady, ragged percussion. Definitely an album for anyone who's looking to get their groove on and their blood pumping with some semi-severe music. Check out Ampgrave while you're at it too.

17. Bibio - Ambivalence Avenue

This album is a weird one. There's folk-ish acoustic tracks, high ****electronic music with great sampling, some dream pop-esque tracks, and some bits that are a mixture of all three. Diversity is their strong point, and while there's no true flow to the album, it makes up for it in the quality of the output. From the active "sugarette" to the relaxing "Lover's Carvings", to the funky "Jealous of Flowers", to the downcast "The Palm of Your Wave", it has something for most people.

16. Long Distance Calling - Avoid the Light

A very loud, fast paced, active post-rock band. LDC is one of the relative newcomers to the post-rock scene, having released prior work at lesser profiles before jumping up to "Avoid the Light", which has some of their most massive tracks from their discography. "Apparitions" starts off slowly building, climaxing, and dropping off...the traditional post-rock take, and while the opening track may be the weakest, it sets a good tone for the rest of the album while laying a respectable sound for itself. Where "Apparitions" only sits just beneath the bar, the rest takes that bar and runs with it. Sure, many tracks use the quiet-loud-quiet-loud formula, but it's not so much the innovation as it is the intensity they bring, the transitions between key spots in each song, the masterful percussion, and the evolution of each track. Heck, they even mix it up with a wonderful vocals track on "The Nearing Grave" by Jonas Renkse, a well known dude in Europe for his work in Katatonia who happens to have a very good voice. Again, it doesn't bring a lot new formula-wise, but much like God Is An Astronaut, they bring other elements to the post-rock table and this is surely a success.

15. The Big Pink - A Brief History of Love

A Brief History of Love is a noise-pop and rock lovechild that never misses a step. Catering to us with great songs, one after the other, it's hard to place this out of the top 10. Much of the album is about love, and people who love each other, lost love, or people journeying for love, so if you're not into that schtick, then you should probably pass, but for those who DO like that theme, you'll find a treasure-trove here with "Love in Vain", "Too Young to Love", "At War With the Sun", "Velvet", "Frisk", "A Brief History of Love", and "Dominoes" all fitting the bill, while all the other songs seem to fit into other categories remotely similar and just as good sounding. Definitely a worthwhile pickup if you're looking for something catchy that's more pop-rock-esque.

14. Moderat - Moderat

The best traditionally electronic album of the year, Moderat is a collaboration between Apparat and Modeselektor, two elites of the scene, and the album is fittingly impressive and matches or exceeds their prior works in quality. Hooks are so prevalent here that you might just get cut by how sharp they are. That was a bad pun. But seriously, "A New Error" opens the album and hits immediately whilst still growing throughout its six minute length. There's the odd track with vocals, but they're always overshadowed by the work mixed behind them, although the vocals are done quite well so they're not a negative, really. "Seamonkey", ""Nr. 22" and "nasty Silence" are three other highlights off the album, and this is al album you want to pick up if you like catchy electronic music that shies away from being too poppy, and retains its edge.

13. Mono - Hymn to the Immortal Wind

If you want to hear a cinematic, symphonic, epically gorgeous and emotional album, check this out. This album is Mono's entry into the post-rock hall of fame. They've finally made it. Sure, their formula didn't change much, but their songwriting and the sheer FEEL they have for their instruments, and storytelling through music, makes this album unforgettable. Nothing more to say about this one. It's going to be one of my post-rock staples from here on out.

12. ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead - The Century of Self

This is a flat-out rock album. Opener "Giants Causeway" lets us know that much, and "Far Pavilions" confirms it with its dual vocals, loud guitars, heavy percussion and quick pace. Considered to be an Art-rock band, it shows in the concepts that fly around in their songs and lyrics sung by their singers. The third track on the album, "Isis Unveiled" is a highlight for sure, swirling like a tornado or a massive hurricane, with a fittingly religious theme(seemingly about how two-faced god is in the Bible) throughout the bombastic track. Yet, while most of the album is in 'rock-hard' mode, "Luna Park" is a softer little track that eases the pace...for a while, before even it ascends back into the fires of rock. It's definitely a stand-out track. However, from there, the album does slow it down a bit, with "Insatiable One" , the interlude "An August Theme", and "Insatiable Two" which make up three of the final five songs. It all works together though, and is highly recommended by me to anyone who likes any form of rock music.

11. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - The Pains of Being Pure At Heart

These folk have the soundprint of Jesus and Mary Chain, but do semi-cutesy pop music instead...which works for me. The opener "Contender" sets the sound, but to be honest it's probably the weakest track on the album. "Come Saturday" breaks out what you can expect from them for the rest of the album, with lyrics like 'come saturday, you'll come to stay, you'll come to sway in my arms'. That lyrical cheesiness follows throughout the album with the stories of teenagers in and out of puppy love, and all the feelings surrounding it all, especially in "Everything With You" and "A Teenager in Love"(which opens and immediately makes me think of The Strokes' "Someday"). Yet they throw some curveballs, like "This Love is ****ing Right" which seems to be about lesbian relations referencing The Field Mice, "Young Adult Friction" throws in a bunch of library jokes surrounding a couple having sex in a library, while "The Tenure Itch" seems to be able teacher/student relations, which combine to turn the album up a notch with spectacular songwriting. It's a solid, solid pop album that is a bit noisy at times, but is rather accessible nonetheless.

Been sick lately, still sick. Hopefully I'll feel better enough tomorrow to finish it all like I had hoped to. Been having stupid half-sleeps. You don't want to know, they're so ridiculously messed up they make my head hurt when I think about them. :P

Top 100 Albums of 2009: 35-26

35. A Place to Bury Strangers - Exploding Head

Loud, Abrasive, compressed, noisy...why would you want to bury a stranger in a place like that? Honestly, what a jerk move. Yet, that's what these guys sound like, all the while holding down some serious harmonies and an impeccable rhythm section. "Deadbeat", "Exploding Head" and "Ego Death" are the standout tracks on the album, but the album is rather consistent in the level of quality from track to track so any singling out is just to show personal favourites instead of high and low points. The production is spot on, and their shoegazey sound rings strong signaling this band's entry into a lot of people's "to keep tabs on" lists(if they weren't already, that is).

34. Islands - Vapours

Vapours is a serious return to form after last year's debacle(I still say Arm's Way was probably the most disappointing album from last year) and I welcome it back. Honestly, there are no words for how happy "Switched On", the album's opener, made me. I fully support bands exploring their sound, that's not what made me hate Arm's Way(it was trying to be a rock album with no hooks, terrible lyrics, and being fully generic...not that it lost its quirky pop feel), but Islands returning to a form of their original sound just makes this album triumphant. Sure, this album is a minor progression from what they did in their original, but the right progression was made. There's new tricks, better use of atmosphere(check out "Shining", probably their creepiest song since "Tuff Ghost" under their band 'The Unicorns, and how it goes from that into the mellow "On Foreigner"'), catchier hooks, excellent percussion, wonderful production, and so much more. All in all, the tracks aren't as filled out as much as in Arm's Way, but they're working on it I'm sure. Jamie Thompson just was the missing creative link from last album, they needed him back for this album, and here they all are back together. Not an incredible effort, but certainly very enjoyable. Heck, even the autotuned "Heartbeat" is real pleasant.

33. St. Vincent - Actor

Annie Clark's act 'St.Vincent" has strayed from the sound of debut album "Marry Me" into a darker, slightly more twisted watermark that remains audible throughout most of the album. This isn't a bad thing, it wasn't too surprising either; it's just very well done. It definitely has some signature bits of The Paper Chase's John Congleton, who works his dark magic here with the production of the album, which is absolutely spot on. Whether it's "Laughing With A Mouth of Blood", "Marrow" or the catchy "Actor Out of Work", it's a spellbinding album that should ensnare some interest by anyone who enjoys pop/rock.

32. The Dead Weather - Horehound

This album starts off with...a chug. A trudging, dark, blues-rock powerhouse of a track called "60 ft. Tall" that really laid me out. I recall placing it on a big MP3 mix CD and for a week I thought it was Lullabye Arkestra(don't ask me why, but that kind of subtle, soulful viciousness in Mosshart's vocals, and the aggressive drumming had me forgetting there's guitar in here which should have set me on the right path on the first listen). Truth be told, this album displays Dean Fertita and Alison Mosshart's songwriting skills more than it does anyone else's, and it truly benefits from it. When they all collaborate together, they get results, but the best tracks are written in duos on the album, and each of them have either Mosshart, Fertita, or both involved. The good thing about this band is that no one band member truly overpowers the other, nor do they ease up creatively to accompany others. Most supergroups tend to be jumbled messes, or at best slightly awkward, but everyone runs on all cylinders on Horehound, and I can't wait to see if they decide to continue the project in the future. Certainly, if it comes close to the jagged blues rock found in here, it's bound to make a lot of people happy.

31. Bat For Lashes - Two Suns

Natasha Khan's work is often riddled with this mystical element that sticks throughout each of the tracks on her albums. Is it her voice? The production? Her quirky songwriting? Who knows. I do know she's hit another out of the park here. For a woman with merely an okay voice, she pushes it hard, much like Leslie Feist, except some cracks show here and there on this album. That said, it often happens in tracks like "Glass" or "Moon and Moon", where the surrounding music truly makes any such qualms negligible. The main single off the album, "Daniel" is deservedly a popular track, as Khan's songwriting is once again incredibly strong. She shakes enough things up this album to keep it all from going stale, and truly keeps perfecting her craft. Sure, I might like her stuff because of the "80's sound" much of her music has, but that's simply working in proper production to fit her music. Didn't hurt she brought in help from Yeasayer to work on her drum programming and basswork(something Yeasayer knows a thing or two about). Give it a try if you're looking for some...heck, I'll give a shot at describing it....dreamy, slightly melancholy alt-rock.

30. Mount Eerie - Wind's Poem

* Enter burgeoning wall of overpowering noise *. That's how the album starts off in "Wind's Dark Song", the opening track. A wall of noise. A blasting wall of low-fi, electric guitar-driven noise. I had to do a double-take, and ask "Is this Phil Elverum? Really?" Yet it is, and he's back at it with what some call his Black Metal album, which is odd for a dude who normally does lo-fi acoustic work. I'm not so sure the label fits, but it is definitely inspired by black metal, filtering into his regular low-fi sound. It's one hell of an adventure, and definitely one any Microphones/Mount Eerie fan wants to check out(although they likely already have). Phil's probably got his best work, in general, since "The Glow, pt2", in my opinion. Last year he released two albums which were both great, and give this one a really good run, but right now I'm siding with this one. For a chilly, winter's night record, done in low-fi rock, check this out.

29. Girls - Album

Girls is an old school dive into old school rock and roll music of the 50s and 60s, mixed with some new school ethic and shoegaze influence. Sure, some other bands have done it in the past, and some have been quite successful, and Girls is set to join those select few. As some reviewers have pointed out, there's a lot of Brian Wilson and Buddy Holly influence found in the songs, but they manage to put their own spin and it comes off clean and fresh...even with the slightly low-fi production, that somehow grants a bit of charm to the album. "Hellhole Retrace" is such an incredible song, even with it repeating itself over and over again. "Ghost Mouth" is triumphantly melancholy, yet it's the double-take-inducing track "Big Bad Mean Mother******" that really shows off the comedic charm found throughout the album. Highly recommended.

28. Junior Boys - Begone Dull Care

Parellel Lines opens the album up with the seductive pull of its repeated bass hits, pitch perfect production, and sensually breathy vocals that never fail to enrapture me. The chorus hits, giving a bit of a reprieve before it drops back down and pulls you back in. For two thirds of the track you're held in its grasp and then it's "Lights, no show, no sex. That's all you get." What a tease. Unfortunately, the album truly delivers, even if its tracks play coy. Junior Boys masterfully work in a slightly dark theme that evokes a nighttime vibe. Their arrangements are lush and constantly fresh...I've had this album since it was released and I haven't been bored of it for a single second, even if it IS slower than their other albums in general. I will say there's no climax to be had here, but that doesn't mean mch since it's rife with detail throughout that will have you discovering more with each listen. It runs through casually and smooth, and warns you to stay c|assy, except when you shouldn't.

27. Florence and the Machine - Lungs

This one came out of nowhere, and then rocketed to the top of the charts(well, #2) in Britain. Such an ascent is bound to make an impression some way or another, and this one is inherently positive. For such a clean, crisp album, there's a lot to digest; luckily it's remarkably easy to listen to(which explains how it got charted so quickly and maintained its position for so long). From the astounding "Howl", primal lyrics and all, to the theatrical "Cosmic Love", it provides a wealth of sound that is bound to be on loop between your ears for hours, if not days. Easily among the most consistently great albums of the year.

26. Memory Tapes - Seek Magic

Memory Tapes is the combined projects of Dayve Hawk(previously of Hail Social, an act I really enjoyed): Memory Cassette and Weird Tapes(both of which had excellent demos). Done entirely by him, it's this intimately wisftul, dreamy dance-pop that I surely wouldn't find frequenting dance-clubs where I currently live. Wrong audience, although a quick remix would solve that, methinks. This album is just too summery for clubs nearby...and not that sweltering summer heat. I'm talking about the 26 celsius temps with that warm breeze, light blue late-afternoon sky around 4PM. This year has been great for electronica albums, especially dance albums, and this is one of the premier ones. A great, great relaxing-yet-fun feel from this album that makes me feel like summer is right outside my window(if only the visual out my window was comparable).


I'll have more up soon enough! Aiming for Wednesday or Thursday, might have it prior to then though.

2010 has kicked off very well! Already some great stuff being released or on the way.

Indie pointed me towards The Irrepressibles, who sound fantastic!

Also, Givers have an album coming out soon and that excites me terribly! Anyone in(or near) Louisiana should go check them out if you like fun at all.

Top 100 Albums of 2009: 50-36

50. Built to Spill - There Is No Enemy

Built to Spill make entertaining albums laced with some ol' school rock elements mixed with pop and prog, and this album once again shows their range off beautifully. The opener 'Aisle 13' is a bit interesting to start off with but quickly jumps back into familiar territory and sets a high standard quickly, which the album easily matches throughout repeated listening. The net two songs share a country tinge, before jumping back into pop-rock with 'Good Ol' Boredom', a six and a half minute semi-epic. "Life's A Dream" picks up where it left off with a more melancholy number, and the following "Oh Yeah" slowly ascends to its peak of oscillating guitars and thick layering that the average fan of Neil Young would probably applaud. "Pat" starts abruptly where "Oh yeah" finishes, with a fast-paced, solo-filled juggernaut that manages to not really switch anything up and still remain very interesting. The album slows a bit in the proceeding songs but keeps up with the theme the album had brought in from the start, finishing with the longest track on the album "Tomorrow", which finishes with a section of wailing guitars and feedback, providing a fitting bookmark in contrast to the smooth, calculated, perfected innards of the album.

49. Matthew Good - Vancouver

Matthew Good has been a staple in my collection for years, I can attribute a lot of my love for music to him and his band, who were my first foray into real, modern music. When he went solo it broke my heart, and I refused to buy Avalanche out of spite for a year before I broke down and heard how excellent it was. White Light Rock and Roll Review came quickly afterward as a bit of a disappointment as it lacked the atmosphere found within his prior works. Hospital Music was among my favourites of 2007 and was a return to his atmospheric, honest rock music. Like clockwork, this album is a bit off. The atmosphere is there but for the first time in a while, I've been left questioning the songwriting. It's lacking the depth and ...well, something else...that was found in a lot of his other work. It just isn't catching this time around, even if it sounds beautiful at times. Ok, heck, it pretty much is still a great album, but it's hard following up Hospital Music and it's even harder to take this album on its own.

48. Nadja - Under the Jaguar Sun

This duo decided to be a collective jerk and force me to finangle two audio systems to hear this album as it was meant to be heard. Luckily, that finangling paid off as it's a treat to listen to. Not at the level of "The Bungled & the Botched" but it's close enough and still rattles my bones at times. Great, great drone music. Can't really be taken as anything but a single track, even if it separates itself into multiples.

47. Metric - Fantasies

This album gave me a weird feeling. On one hand, it's really energetic and fun, but it also feels...a bit soulless. I don't know if it's Emily Haines' voice, or not(I doubt it, since I do like Metric's other work), but it's just sounds real placid compared to the surrounding music, and that just confuses me. I can picture the band going all out, and then her sitting in a chair singing the song calmly. The exception being Gold Gun Girls(and maybe Stadium Love, but distortion makes it debatable), and I know this is just her vocal character and the band's sound, but it's the equivalent of having a great time at a concert and the people beside you standing perfectly still, wringing their hands. In the end, it's a great, fun album, but it's awkward to listen to aside from small spurts.

46. The Field - Yesterday and Today

I didn't know what would happen after his debut album, and I was antsy about potentially hearing a rehash of techniques and nothing new aside from cool new samples woven into alluring ambient tracks...but I shouldn't have worried. This is a great album in its own right, and he really pushed it into a new, if familiar, territory.

45. Worriedaboutsatan - Arrivals

Like Tim Hecker, this band isn't for everyone. They're not only ambient, they're also dubstep, and they're incredibly minimalistic and use many tiny blips and boops from samples, synths, and mangled guitars. But they're also very atmospheric. Worriedaboutsatan didn't do anything new here, they just released a very refined album revolving around what seems to be a bit of a formula, but one that is creatively possessed to the point that it sounds so fresh and vibrantly cool. The album offers little intermissions that break up the majority of the work in the album...similar to The Mae Shi's intermissions in their LP Terrorbird...which manage to strengthen my stance on their tracks than if I were to leave them out. A wonderfully foggy, dark trek, but a great one at that.

44. There Will Be Fireworks - There Will Be Fireworks

For a long time there haven't been a lot of bands with a post-rock sound that included vocals. Sigur Ros was, but with the vocals being in "Hopelandic", it's rather easy to say that they're instrumental more than lyrical in nature. A few bands have attempted vocals with lyrics, and some have marginally passed, but it's rare that a group comes along and incorporates vocals like There Will be Fireworks does in this album. It isn't perfect execution by any means, but they balance the crescendos and the spoken/sung passages incredibly well, and when they truly intertwine both somehow share the spotlight with equal intensity. "We Were A Roman Candle" is enough proof of this, although "I Like The Lights" fits such a description as well as numerous others on the album. What's WITH Scotland, this year? Seriously, they're proving their salt in 2009 with ease.

43. Pg.Lost - In Never Out

Pg.Lost return triumphantly with another post-rock gem. What else is there to say? Is it a better album than their debut? Probably not, because INO plays it safe in too many spots to really push the envelope at the same rate their debut did, but in the end it's still beautiful music, even if you know they were only running at 60% of what they could be, and that's scary. If they go for broke next album and unleash the hounds, we could see the birth of a new post-rock heavyweight hitting its stride.

42. Japandroids - Post-Nothing

A punchy Canadian punk-rock outfit from the west coast singing songs about ascending from the teen year to their twenties, and how they feel about it all, as well as songs about mindless sexual fantasies, eloping, and the fallout in relationships. They yell out "We used to dream, now we worry about dying" right after singing about partying tomorrow out of the equation, and before singing about just wanting to worry about Sunshine Girls(a shout out to the Sun media chain?). That pretty much sets the tone. "I Quit Girls" finishes the album fittingly. Go give it a listen.

41. The Phantom Band - Checkmate Savage

Another Scottish gem, these guys are almost chameleons, changing their sound from track to track, while remaining the same recognizable entity so long as you listen closely. As a rock band, they never get close to turning it up to 11, but they register a 6 or 7 for the most part. Less about the volume and intensity as much as they are about the character of the sound. "Burial Sounds" and "Crocodile" are enough evidence of that pursuit. They have character coming out of the wazoo. If you want a rock-ish band with some interesting songwriting decisions, take a gander their way.

40. Faunts - Feel.Love.Thinking.Of

Faunts can come off as a less sonically mature junior Boys at times, but I hardly fault them for it. In truth, they cater to a more pop-oriented sound and are generally have a more jovial atmosphere than Junior Boys. It's fitting to compare them, as they have similar sounds and are both Canadian, but that's kind of where the comparison should end. Faunts released a great album this year with plenty of high points and few lows, and should be commended for such. It's not a risk-taker album, nor does it break new ground, but it works in established territory by refining the crap out of of their own sound.

39. **** Buttons - Tarot Sport

Yet another electronica album among the heaps of great releases this year is **** Buttons' "Tarot Sport", which is quite a doozy of an album. Book-ended by two epics that live up to the title, it has you coming and going with intense, and alluring music that one could probably dance to if they tried hard enough. Great release here, hard to say much else about it.

38. Royksopp - Junior

Royksopp have always made albums that appeal to the dance scene, with their excellent choices on the accompanying vocals to their digital soundscapes, and they continue that trend with Junior, calling on veterans like Karen Dreijer Andersson, Anneli Drecker, Lykke Li and pop stalwart Robyn. Yet, even with all this star power, these Nords almost make those vocals forgettable with the calibre of their music that takes backseat to no one. The only song where the vocals take over the rest of the song is the main single "The Girl and the Robot" where Robyn is absolutely flawless in her delivery, and the music caters to her vocal characteristics perfectly. Karen Dreijer Andersson is always impressive whenever she teams up with Royksopp, although only one of the two songs she's involved in("This Must be It") stands out, with "Tricky Tricky" slipping with some real bad lyrics. All in all though, the album is youthful and fun, and Royksopp at their best.

37. Au Revoire Simone - Still Night, Still Light

I'm almost exhausted with all these electronica-based albums in which I use the same terms over and over again(or at least consider using them, which is just as exhausting). Still Night, Still Light is an atmospheric little ditty that is dream pop at heart. Armed with three synths and a drum machine, they sing along to the floaty harmonies they do so well. Sure, there's darker spots on the album like "Shadows", but even that sounds like a lighthearted trek. "Knight of Wands" is the standout of the album, I feel, even though it doesn't rely so much on their vocals as it does their synths. The lyrics remain simple and repeated over and over, while the track evolves around it. The latter half of the album slows down a bit in quality, but only ever so slightly, and it finishes well. Anyone looking for some new dream pop should find themselves at home with this release.

36. Neko Case - Middle Cyclone

Neko Case's delivery has always been appealing to me, enriched with such character and this soothing ability that often contradicts the messages she sings of. She's not the first singer to have this effect on me, but she's one of a select few that I will constantly follow if only for newer material to soak in. Middle Cyclone delivers in that case, going over and above what I normally expect from her. "Fox Confessor" was a great album but it lacked the teeth this one wields with such accuracy. In the end, the vocal performance found I the confines of all fourteen tracks makes it worthy of a top 50 spot, and the songwriting is strong enough to push it up further. It's difficult not to give this a top 30 spot because she's such a great lyricist, but this year is just far too deep. I'm certain I'll regret this positioning, but right now, this is where it sits, even with the brilliance of "People Got A Lotta Nerve" and "This Tornado Loves You".

Only a shorter amount this time around due to some longer ramblings and the fact that I'm exhausted with writing up some of the above album's stuff, with still many albums on the way.

I promise a shorter turaround next time. :)

Top 100 Albums of 2009: 75-51

75. Mungolian Jetset- We Gave It All Away...Now We Are Taking It Back

This is a weird album. I'm not too sure if it's a remix album or not, but it seems there's enough original stuff here to consider it a full album. Anywho, it's like space disco. But the Daleks have defiled the dancefloor it's playing at. Take that how you will. It's really quirky and odd, but it all works quite well and is overall a real fun time.

74. Beak> - Beak>

I didn't expect to like this Portishead spinoff, but it's pretty good. Takes what I liked about Portsihead and lost some of what I didn't. Not much to say aside from that, take a gander if you like some great atmospheric music.

73. Dredg - The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion

These guys sound real radio friendly, but at the same time there's a complexity to their work and enough solid hooks and riffs to please most any alt-rock-lover. I wonder why these guys aren't more popular, based on how they sound. Oh well, take a gander at "Pariah" and get back to me. Not too hard, not too soft...just radio friendly rock music that's actually good.

72. Sonic Youth - The Eternal

A step down from their last effort in my mind, if only slightly due to the fact that while the album is consistent, it's consistently less engaging and enjoyable. It does do a fair number of songs right, but none really stand out, and when taken as an entire album, it comes off good, but nothing better. I kind of expect more from Sonic youth, but maybe with their increased age, I shouldn't.

71. Regina Spektor - Far

Regina's weakest effort thus far(see the pun), although it may end up growing on me like Soviet Kitsch did initially. Vocally, she's at her best, but there was this mystical aura that emanated from her work previously, but in this album it's barely there. A lot more...reeled in, I'd say. "Folding Chair" is the only true standout track here. The rest are very enjoyable, but none have that character a lot of her other songs have, and that's the reason it fell. Again, maybe it will grow on me, I felt much the same about of Montreal's album Hissing Fauna, but then it has since become one of my favourites of the decade.

70. Sunset Rubdown - Dragonslayer

It's hard for me to rate this album so low because I can almost be certain I'll like this album more in a few months once it truly kicks in. Their last album finished low on my list and was rather unimpressive until I really gave it some extended listens and time to grow. Right now there's only a few high points but I've barely had a chance to listen to it(maybe 4 full listens). Still, it's a solid album, take a chance on it if you like psychedelic rock.

69. Here We Go Magic - Here We Go Magic

These guys are just....weird. None of their songs are really alike. They remind me of The Mae Shi in their varying sound, although they don't go to the level of abrasiveness The Mae Shi did. In this context, it's hard to say they have much consistency as their sound varies from track to track, although there are traces of elements that are mostly kept intact, likely the producer's stamp. Still, it's not hard to say the album is very enjoyable. Real eccentric.

68. The Horrors - Primary Colours

Sheena Is A Parasite was released, and they got hyped up. They were exponentially more sty|e than substance, and I wrote them off after their debut. Then, they got help in production and they managed to right the ship. Where they left a bitter taste in my mouth last time with Sheena, they blew me out of the water with "Mirror's Image" which could very well be one of the best tracks of the decade. They needed this, and while the rest of the album hasn't met the standard that first track laid out, I'm sure with time I'll be able to lower that bias and see the other tracks for what they are. Which scares me, since the other tracks are mostly all solid. "New Ice Age" is especially gaining my interest with each play I give it. Definitely a band to keep tabs on, and check out Mirror's Image if you want to hear how to use shoegaze to open up and establish a post-punk song.

67. Cymbals Eat Guitars - Why There Are Mountains

This album has a great opening pair of songs, which works to its benefit quite well. Although the following two songs are rather weak, they pick it back up and continue strong until the end of the album. A solid, airy, slightly off-kilter rock band that makes great music. To think it's only their debut!

66. Wild Beasts - Two Dancers

I'm guilty, this album got my attention from the song "All The Kings Men", like I'd imagine most others drawn to that band got into them. It's just such a catchy track. Still the highlight of the album, even if the other tracks all meld together very well and the album progresses quite well, if a bit unnaturally. That said, it's nice that some don't mind having a riskier finish. The second half is more quirky, but it works just as well as the first half in my books, even if it lacks a killer finishing punch.

65. Dan Deacon - Bromst

Dan deacon is always hit or miss, track by track with me. It's difficult for me to take it on a full-album basis because he's often going in so many directions that he isolates me numerous times throughout the listening of the LP. That said, when I get attuned to his stuff, it often sticks for a long time. "Padding Ghost", "Slow With Horns/Run For your life" and "Baltihorse" work so well it's unreasonable. Sometimes I feel he makes his songs way too hectic and layered, but then, during songs I enjoy, it's like a blanket warming me at night...a very necessary and comforting device. So once again, he's up in the air, but he's definite;y improved, in my eyes. If only 'Wet Wings' and 'Woof Woof' weren't on the album, they're definitely sore spots.

64. Patrick Wolf - The Bachelor

Eccentric looking, I'm surprised this album is my first venture into his stuff. He's got a somewhat distinct voice, and has a flair for the theatrical(which is never bad so long as you can pull it off). I latched onto "Vulture" for weeks before giving the whole album the same treatment, and I'm glad I did. I don't see why he couldn't be headlining some big venues and "in the bigs" but he's supposedly not all that popular outside of Britain. Still, his work deserves some acclaim, it's a very good effort, and I can't wait to check out his other work.

63. Jesca Hoop - Hunting My Dress

Jesca's debut album Kismet ranked high on my list in 07 after it blew me out of the water. This album didn't shock me at all, and I think that somewhat effected my perspective going into this. I expected more, but I got a lot of what worked on the debut, almost as if they were b-sides of it. Some songs surely had charm, bt none so much as a lot that starred on Kismet. Much like Regina Spektor, there's something missing that I hope to find later on. There are no weak tracks on this album, I'm just trying to find out how high this album can rise. I've only given it a few listens, maybe five, so it's still new to me. Anyone into singing women should check it out, same for anyone who likes eccentric music. I know I've thrown that word out a lot this year, but it's rife with a lot of weird stuff this year.

62. Silversun Pickups - Swoon

A great band out of California that pairs the same foundation that propelled Smashing Pumpkins to great heights (shoegaze and dream-pop mixed with rock) but mixing it with a more modern feel. I don't like making the connection much, because they're their own band, but it's so obvious that they're influenced by them at least a bit, that I CAN. Anywho, this album suffers a little sophomore slump, although I do find the guitarwork to have been improved in this album a bit. It's paced better. The lyrics are as good as ever, and they continue to excel with the proper amount of reverb. The songwriting took a bit of a hit on the whole, but after much consideration, it's not much of a dip from the first, and still a very good album. Won't likely make you swoon though, unless you're a huge fan of them already.

61. Them Crooked Vultures - Them Crooked Vultures

Lots of people salivated over the idea of three rock greats(yes, I think Homme and Grohl have made their respective marks, even if they're not as well acclaimed as Jones) working together, and they expected something fantastic. Well, I didn't I expected a hard-hitting, persistent album, with visceral percussion, and that's what I got. I can't complain, it's a very good straight-forward rock album that they all are good at making. No one should expect prog rock, or Blues rock, they should have expected a great bare-bones rock album. It is. Get it if you like rock, chances are you'll have a good time.

60. Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca

Super hyped. My friend was actually told "Stillness is the move" was "heavy", and had me load it up for listening to show him the song. That song certainly is heavy according to regular experimental psych pop music, and the thumping, staggered percussion is truly focused on throughout the album, but it's not heavy. Great? Sure, but not heavy. Eccentric too (I did it again!). Anyho, Bitte Orca is inconsistent. Some great songs, some that kinda suck. That's Dirty Projectors though. That's how they are. I've accepted that, and the good tracks propel this album to this ranking. If you're looking for some interesting music, check them out, they might be worth it.

59. Real Estate - Real Estate

A wonderful opener set the tone for the rest of the album and it succeeded in keeping consistency and while I've only given it a few listens, it's proven to be very enjoyable. The production is very low but somehow it all comes across as if it were made very well with 1970s stuff. It SOUNDS aged, and pulls it off, because the only other choice would be to sound iffy. :P It's just some real good summer pop-rock. Real easy-going stuff for the most part.

58. The Dear Hunter: Act III: Life and Death

A lot of folks salivate over these guys, and it's true they tell a remarkably good story with their music, and they make interesting music, but sometimes I think they sacrifice the music for the storytelling and it damages the flow of the album. This has happened in each Dear Hunter album, and it happens here too. Still very good music though, if you can't tell from the ranking. Theatrical rock rarely works out well but they pulled it off fine.

57. Yeah Yeah Yeah!s - It's Blitz

YYY have never been my favourite band, but they often put out the odd song I can't stop listening to. Their newest is a great effort, but it's certainly not outstanding. I struggled to place it here, but I couldn't find a more fitting spot for it. It was very enjoyable, but much like the next entry, really was a tiny bit out of the running in the next tier.

56. Flaming Lips - Embryonic

Maybe I didn't give this album the fair shake it deserves. I've heard it full through at least 5 times, and while I find it quite enjoyable, I'm not getting the sheer excitement others have for it, as if it's the second coming of Soft Bulletin. It's a very good album, though, so I won't shy away from listening to it. Maybe it'll open its shell to me in the future.

55. Fanfarlo - Reservoir

I've been pumping Fanfarlo for a year and a half, and I was pretty happy they finally released a full length even if some of the better tracks off their EPs didn't make it. Still, the quirky collective know how to write pop music, and they do it very well in Reservoir. Some compare to Arcade Fire, but I'll refrain from doing that. They do have a jangle pop element like what was found in Funeral a little, but they're a much different band. There's not a weak track on this album, give it a shake.

54. Neon Indian - Psychic Chasms

There's really no wonder that I like this act's album here. I love the summery sound, the use of distortion to apply some character to the synths and samples...and the vocals are serviceable at worst. 'Deadbeat Summer' is among the better tracks of the year but they're not a one trick pony. Much like The Horrors, they've got some other tracks that have some weight behind them, but I found some tracks a bit too hollow. Still, a remarkable album that surprised me.

53. As Tall As Lions - You Can't Take It With You

I have a thing for ATAL, but this time around they threw a curveball and tried to merge a lot of their influences into one concise project and....well, almost pulled it off. The effort shows, and once again the vocals are excellent and very complimentary to the rest of the music. I think they struggled with the reverb and feedback here and there, rendering some songs far too cloudy and weathered to properly compliment their music. I can blame production for that, but in the end, the result shows in their music. A great album, but a few mistakes dropped this from a potential top 30 berth.

52. Mastodon - Crack the Skye

From my favourite metal band comes one of the better metal albums in recent years. It's no Blood Mountain, but it stands on its own with its own battering power. The prog elements will lend itself to further listening as all prog albums have in the past for me, but for now it's simply a really good metal album with a lot of intensity.

51. Pink Mountaintops - Outside Love

Go listen to "The Gayest of Sunbeams" and tell me you didn't smile once. Then go listen to "And I Thank You" and tell me it didn't stir anything inside you. Well, that one is a bit more debatable, but still, it shows a lot of successful variety I found lacking from the previous Pink Mountaintops releases. The songwriting is incredibly well done, although I found the album drifting on a bit in parts, which is weird as the tracks aren't so long at all. I struggle to place this album so far back, and I could totally see swapping this album straight up with Japandroids's album, which goes to show there's a DEEP talent pool this year. It was almost pulling names out of a hat to place some albums here.

Anywho, the album is so...sweet? It's weird to think, but this album really makes me smile a lot, even in the sad parts. That's probably going to give this album a lot of endurance.


I'll be back soon, with 50-26 :) Once I finish typing it all up. Hope you enjoyed it so far

Top 100 albums of 2009: 100-76

So here it is, my top albums of 2009 list! Well, it took a while, and I'm certain not a heck of a lot of people will read it all, but I enjoy doing it. This year really picked up in the second half and I think it might end up rivaling 2007 as the golden year of the decade. The ony shortcoming this year is the lack of elite releases. There's no "Funeral", "Drums and Guns", or even something rivaling last year's top three (Black Mountain's "In The Future", Have A Nice Life's "Deathconsciousness", and Bon Iver's "For Emma, Forever Ago").

However, there's a plethora of great albums that made it difficult to lay out the top 90 or so because so many of them were incredibly close. The 88th album is close to the 40th overall, so it's definitely been a good year for solid releases.

I couldn't even keep up with all the albums this year, missing out on big ones from Mew, Dinosaur Jr., Thrice, The Black Crowes, Yo La Tengo, PMMP, Future of the left, The Decemberists, The Church, mewithoutyou, Nomo, Manic Street Preachers, Oneida, Animals as leaders, Port Royal, Wilco, Doves, Morrissey, Akron/Family, DMST, Cursive, Converge, Imogen heap, Arctic Monkeys, Scale the Summit, Bruce Springsteen, The Dodos, White Rabbits, etc. just to name a few(and to dispel any potential backlash for not having those names on my list), so it's been a dense year.

So without further delay, I'll start it off!

100. Franz Ferdinand – Tonight

Initially, I didn't give this one a cshance, but I later warmed to the idea of listening to it after a few longer drives that wound up with some good tracks off the album playing. A solid effort, but nothing really stood out. I don't regret buying it though, it's still electric and fun,just not as consistent as I'd hoped.

99. M.Ward - Hold Time

M.Ward has always been good for smooth, enjoyable folky music, and he doesn't disappoint here. Nothing outstanding, I don't ever think he's been a bar-setter, but he doesn't break stride at all here, offering some fun little tracks like "For Beginners", "To Save Me", and the quirky old-school "Fisher of Men" which is pretty much the standout track if there was one on this album.

98. The Deep Dark Woods - Winter Hours

Deep Dark Woods are pretty much a country group. I'd like to say they are, but country has kind of transformed in recent decades, so it forces me to force the "folk" term in there as the primary here. The vocals here aren't top level, but they're spot on nevertheless, and it's often complimented by the accompanying band to a tee, especially the fiddle. The album is a bit inconsistent, but there are enough tracks that excel to even that out a fair bit. Definitely an act I'll be trying to keep my eye on.

97. The Temper Trap – Conditions

An exciting band out of Australia, they've been selling out venues in Britain and have garnered continuing success there and here in North America, so if you don't know about them right now you probably will fairly soon. Chances are you might recognize their song "Sweet Disposition" that's been used in ads here and there lately. Sadly, that's really the only great song on this album, while the others are good but can't just reach a level where I feel compelled to listen to it repeatedly. Still, where my interest may be lacking, yours might be piqued, so give them a shot. If you like Passion Pit, but prefer rock over pop, these guys might be up your alley.

96. William Elliot Whitmore - Animals in the Dark

A good blues-folk artist who has a surprising following in the punk community, his most recent is much like his other releases. Like M. Ward, his work is consistent but almost never outstanding, although I've only given his last 3 albums good listens, so I still have some digging to to there. Anywho, the album is an enjoyable listen, his voice stands out as usual.

95. AC Newman - Get Guilty

I wanted to really like this album, because I adore The New Pornographers, but in the end there were only a handful of great tracks to latch onto. Sure, the series of tracks from the album's pinnacle "Thunderbolts" through to the jangly "Elemental" are good enough for me to grant it a top 100 spot, but the rest of the album is near hook-less. Well, that's a lie, there are hooks, but they're so forced that I can't really feel good about the songs; only half of the songs are compelling. The production and remarkably good texturing on nearly all of the songs really brings the album back up to capable though, so it's definitely not a bad album. It's a good pop album, but I can't help but compare it to TNP and feel disappointed.

94. La Roux - La Roux

As anyone who knows my music interests knows, I like me some synthesizer, and anyone who can use one well gets respect from me, and La Roux has definitely earned it, building catchy and sometimes remarkable songs around their(yes, their...it's Elly Jackson and Ben Langmaid) synth creations. Some great, fun stuff here.

93. Maudlin of the Well - Part the Second

People were going insane over this album early on, and on my first listen I took a liking to "Rose Quartz Turning To Glass". Later, after numerous listens, I realized that's honestly the only great part of the album. The rest is ok. So here we have 1 great song and 4 decent to good ones. A journey of an album if you're up for it. It's real nice sounding...just not real interesting after one or two listens, for the most part.

92. Manchester Orchestra - Mean Everything to Nothing

An exciting young band if you're really into the Brand New-esque sound. Except they're not as good. Still enjoyable though, and rather raw and jagged at times too. Fun driving music mostly.

91. Vivian Girls - Everything Goes Wrong

I was expecting better from Vivian Girls, but I suppose I really wasn't very let down by the album. It's solid. That's the danger IMHO of shoegazey, dream pop type music...there's that danger of everything being so average that it blends into each other and it ends up a haze in your memory after listening to it. After further inspection I'm glad I gave it a chance to redeem itself and was rewarded with a few gems but it really could have been better. Still good, but less than I expected.

90. The Mars Volta - Octahedron

Another album that I had expectations for that fell beneath them. Still better than their last one, but all in all it's an average Mars Volta album. No real changes aside from a slight shift back to the sound of their debut. If you like Mars Volta you won't be disappointed, if you don't like them, you won't find anything new here.

89. Lightning Dust - Infinite Light

A duo from Black Mountain putting out gothic-folky music that really works well. Webber's voice has been sometimes off in past efforts through her other affiliated projects, but her work with Lightning Dust has always been perfectly paced and all in all this album is a great atmospheric folk album.

88. Crippled Black Phoenix - The Ressurectionists

CBP are a weird band. I never know what to expect going into their albums, and sometimes they can be off-putting but this year they produced two really good albums with a lot of emphasis on the character of their sound. It's one of those albums you can't really describe with words, so I don't think I'll try much on that part. It's a great post-rockish folky album.

87. Camera Obscura - My Maudlin Career

I keep returning to this album to wonder why it works, but it does. The vocals are pretty nonchalant, and it's really not all that catchy, but it's just very enjoyable...or at least most of the album is. "French Navy" is the obvious standout track and garnered fairly widespread interest through it as their main single off the album. It's just a very old-school sounding album. Has some real charm to it.

86. Amesoeurs - Amesoeurs

Once a promising conglomerate of skilled musicians, they've since broken up after making their first and only album. At its heart was a two faced design: one heavier, metal-geared sound, and another more streamlined post-punk sound, all united under some shoegazey elements. It never fully meshed yet they somehow made it work in the context of the album and there's plenty of great content in here. Take a gander if you're looking for some slightly heavy-ish stuff. They're French, so you may not understand the vocals, but in this case it's not so much what they say as it is how they say it.

85. Phideaux - Number 7

It's not often you stumble upon an enticing piano-driven group with multiple vocalists AND steady percussion. Fortunately, Phideaux outdid themselves here. I really did want to place this album higher up, but I can take comfort knowing this album kept coming up as a switcher(I'd be further down the list and see an open slot and wonder if I should move this up 5-20 slots). Honestly, has some Genesis-esque synths and a heck of a lot more interesting quirks. I have a feeling this will grow on me with time.

84. Baroness - Blue Record

Lots of people went gaga over this album this year, and that praise brought it to many top 10 lists on the year. I, for one, could see the appeal, but it wasn't without the odd flaw. I found the layout of the tracks to be uneven, and there were some definite weakpoints in some songs. However, this is not to say I didn't thoroughly enjoy the album. It was hard-hitting and made a claim for nearly a week's worth of playthrough. Anyone looking for anything metal-related should hop on this bus and take it to pleasuretown. :P

83. Bill Callahan - Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle

Bill Callahan isn't for everyone. He's almost spoken word, and he's folk, and he's rarely exciting. Yet, he has this draw, like a grandfather with this old story you've heard twenty times but can't excuse yourself from hearing for the twenty-first. His lyricism hits a nice stride from the opening straight to the end, making this possibly his most consistent effort yet.

82. Brand New – Daisy

I missed Brand New's last album, making my last reference point to them Deja Entendu, which I found quite enjoyable. This album was tricky. It had some really nice moments but in the end it was a bit underwhelming and not incredibly memorable. A strong enough effort for sure, it's still a good album, but it isn't consistent enough or has enough high points to finish higher on my list.

81. DOOM - Born Like This

This was a tough one, because I'm really not much of a Rap person, but MF Doom tends to make stuff that really clings to me; whether it be his quirkiness or his impeccable flow. Having a song named Ballskin surely didn't detract from the goofiness, even if it appeared he'd come back far more serious than before...which I suppose he did, but he still retained enough tongue in cheek to capture my attention.

80. Super Furry Animals - Dark Days/Light Years

I really do try hard to like these guys. Well, I suppose I do like them, but never enough to have them placing high on any of my lists. They often come out with a few gems on their albums, leaving the rest to be subpar, and that pattern rose again this year, although they did improve their consistency, so I'll defnitely give credit there. There's about 5 great songs and the rest are ok, but those 5 make up for the rest in spades.

79. Crippled Black Phoenix - Night Raider

Night Raider held my attention longer than CBP's other effort this year, although having Tom Waits guest didn't hurt it. The use of each instrument in the album to provide that much more of an immersible atmosphere put this one ahead of the other.

78. John Frusciante - The Empyrean

The news on Frusciante's exit from RHCP has now grown cold, and with some thinking over, it seems he made the right decision. His work this decade has been really fresh and high quality, and while I think RHCP is a fun enough band, I think John was a little bit trapped in their sound. The Empyrean displays his ability to make complete works that are quite different from each other, and that variety should fuel his career going forth. There's some really solid tracks on this album, and I think with his new-found freedom, he's going to release something really great next time around.

77. ATB - Future Memories

Anyone considering some upbeat electronic music should consider ATB's release here, as it should fit most, if not all, of your needs. "Summervibes with 9PM" is a joyful little track, the title track is an airy number with plenty of smart reverb and icy synths, and there's often enough bass in it to provide a decent track to dance to. Nothing that truly stands out, maybe aside from 'Summervibes', but it was a vital part of my summer playlists and it's proven to be a very, very good album.

76. Tim Hecker - An Imaginary Country

Tim Hecker isn't for most people Not a lot of folks like ambient, especially this semi-grating, noisy, repetitive ambient. Yet, it appeals to me, as it, more than most other albums this year, has provided me with a calmness that Eluvium and Quosp could in the past. This album proves its worth with the ability to cast the listener off into a more serene state, and while I could live with placing this album higher, it's still a very worthy listen if you want some background music to listen to while reading, sleeping, drawing, etc.

Well, that's it for the first 25, I'll be back soon with more!

Top 200 Tracks of 2009

Well, I'll post this here because I can, and because I've yet to finish the individual album writeups for my finished album list. If there are some tracks missing that you feel should be on here, it's probably because I chose different ones on the album, or I haven't heard that album. There's a lot that I didn't get the chance to hear this year.

Enjoy all!

My top 189

With the next 11 here.

And Happy New Year, because I won't be online when midnight hits, likely. :P