Top Music Albums of 2009
2009 is the year when the US welcomed its first black president, Barack Obama, who promised hope and change. People still suffered economic hardships that started during the previous year, although some signs of improvement appeared.
In the world of music, 2009 saw the death of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Taylor Swift’s popularity skyrocketed, thanks to various American Music Awards and Grammy Awards nominations. Lady Gaga dazzled with her crazy costumes, colorful wigs and bubbly pop music. Many indie music bands became mainstream stars. Singles continued to become popular because of the prevalence of iTunes and YouTube, which somehow replaced CD stores and music shops as the place to enjoy music.
Below are the best albums of 2009, tallied from the best music magazines:
And the top 20 best albums of the year are…
Wilco’s seventh album is praised by Times-Picayune as a “thrilling nuanced set”. It combines the intimacy of its previous studio disc, Sky Blue Sky (2007), with the experimentation of A Ghost Is Born (2004) in a set that boasts strong melodies and gorgeous, often unabashedly pop arrangements.
Malian maestro Bassekou Kouyate is a virtuoso picker and visionary whose work blurs the lines between West African and American roots music. Bassekou’s intrument, the ngoni, is a “spike lute” and an ancestor of the banjo. Kouyate leads his band Ngoni Ba, the first-ever group built around not one but four ngonis-all played by members of his family.
Working on a Dream, by one of the finest American songwriters of his generation, was recorded with the E Street Band and features 12 new Springsteen compositions plus a bonus track: ‘The Wrestler’. ‘The Wrestler’ won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. SBME. 2009.
Imidiwan: Companions is the band’s fourth release for World Village and it possesses all the elements that have made them so magnetic to western ears: raw simplicity, melodic beauty and songs ranging from the epic and universal to the intimate and personal. Since their debut, Tinariwen has picked up a number of awards and a raft of ‘legendary’ fans including Robert Plant, Carlos Santana, Brian Eno, Thom Yorke, TV on the Radio, Bono and The Edge.
The band’s performances throughout are pure liquid pop energy grounded by driving loose limbed rhythm . Their sound is a result of the band avoiding studio gloss by playing together in the room. Two Dancers is streamlined, minimal, and user-friendly Wild Beasts.
The album contains 14 tracks of quintessential Madness; subversive, expansive British Pop music at its finest. As with all previous Madness albums, The Liberty Of Norton Folgate features songwriting contributions from all band members and is a timely reminder of the ability of this unique act to turn their hand to multiple musical styles.
An elegant sort of Americana, the songs are about long-ago travels and romantic travails, eternal longing and inevitable leaving are often hushed, dreamy and mysterious. Simple folk-song structures are uplifted by hymn-like, chamber music arrangements. Paste declared, ‘The Low Anthem’s harmonica-and-string-flavored ballads are as haunting as they are gorgeous. This group of Providence up-and-comers knows how to break your heart and make you smile at the same time.’
Neko Case returns to the darkly romantic sound of 2006’s near-perfect Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, only this time the songs are even more fervid and more troubled.
Fever Ray’s music is intense and anxious, yet luminous. After having her second child and eight months of the most productive daydreaming later, Karin had a batch of new songs and the raw materials for the production of Fever Ray.
According to The Onion, the album is “Genuinely, gloriously deranged”
Lungs is an intoxicating mix of delicate fragility, dark humor and twisted Tim Burton style fairy-tales. From the live favourite ‘You’ve Got The Love’ to the raw Blues-tinged ‘Girl With One Eye’ to the beautifully painful ‘Between Two Lungs’, the album is crammed with crowd pleasers. Also boasting fresh tracks like new single ‘Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)’, ‘Drumming’ – with its epic denseness, the terrifyingly brilliant ‘Howl’ and ‘Hurricane Drunk’ with it’s paradoxical charms of heartbreak, love and loss, Lungs promises to leave us wanting more of the insanely captivating Florence Welch.
There is an unbelievable clarity of sound and vision to Veckatimest: vocals (a duty shared by all band members) are sharper and more complex, arrangements are tighter, production is more venturous and lyrics more affecting. Having opened the creative dialogue at such an early stage, Grizzly Bear was able to realize these 12 songs together as a band, making it their most collaboratively compositional album to date. This yielded an unexpected mix of material that feels more confident, mature, focused and most of all, dynamic. Veckatimest is an album of the highest highs and lowest lows – an unbelievably diverse collection of songs that celebrates the strength of each band member, and the power of the whole.
It’s Blitz! signals both a glance backward and a step forward for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Zinner’s vintage Arp–the same model used on records by The Cars, Joy Division, and Kraftwerk–contributes atmospheric washes (“Skeletons”), disco wiggles (“Dance till you’re dead!” Karen sings on “Heads Will Roll”), and New Wave melodrama (“Soft Shock”). The first single, “Zero,” combines all these elements to create a dance-floor anthem that sings directly to the listener. “We’ve got a death grip on the adolescent way of feeling things,” O said. That’s something I’ll never be able to shake in the music I write. It’s almost feels like a John Hughes 80s movie.” But acknowledging the past in this way doesn’t sound make for a nostalgic-sounding album. “I think there’s a cool stability reflected in this record,” Brian Chase says. “It reflects our transformation, and how we’ve developed as people.”
From the French Electro-Rockers. Born out of restlessness and a steady hunt for inspiration, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is a career-defining album filled with the band’s signature melding of synthetics and organics, sharp, danceable rhythms, infectious choruses with a considerable dose of aural panache and candy-colored pop sensibilities.
At the risk of being redundant, Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle is about as beautiful an album as you can expect to hear sung circa 2009. Unfolding like a first view of paradise, then a slightly less ecstatic second view of paradise and then finally a glance back over your shoulder at that stupid paradise bulls***, Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle surveys a landscape that grows organically, like the time two people spend together; or the time one person spends alone (with another). One way or another, it’s awfully pretty.
5. Sonic Youth – The Eternal
“The Eternal” is a supercharged rocker, recalling aspects of the Evol-Sister-Daydream Nation holy trinity, but with cleaner, louder production and more straightforward momentum. With Pavement’s Mark Ibold joining on bass, and producer John Agnello back at the controls, “The Eternal” takes the melodic songwriting of 2006’s “Rather Ripped” and slams down the accelerator pedal.
4. Bob Dylan – Together Through Life
Together Though Life, produced by Jack Frost, was prompted by the composition of a new song, “Life Is Hard,” which was written for a forthcoming film by French director Oliver Dahan (La Vie En Rose). Bob Dylan’s latest studio album was recorded late last year and features 10 new songs including “Beyond Here Lies Nothin'” and “It’s All Good.”
The whoops and hollers that previously held together the sublime, chaotic urgency of their earlier work now signal the calm sense of euphoria and wonder that ripples through this wide eyed record. According to Entertainment Weekly, “Their intoxixating jumble of cosmic electronics, organic instruments, and undersea vocals is one extended, ecstatic sonic jubilee.”
2. The xx – The xx
The Xx unique make-up is an inadvertent second nature marriage of 2009’s urban/guitar tribes, in one corner fluttering new wave indebted reverberation, in the other, plumes of post-dubstep sub-bass and figuratively, their defining core of rich R&B vocal textures. The enveloping vocal partnership of Romy and Oliver is one that would’ve dropped-jaws in any decade this century, and set amidst a shivering soundscape of beats and plucks, their bedroom-reared concrete-soul is being justly heralded as the UK’s most original and treasured alt. pop artifact of late. According to Nylon, “(The xx are) making hauntingly beautiful music with its electro pop-soul jams and emotive lyrics.”
The album’s idiosyncratic and sincere take on popular music is reminiscent of David Byrne with whom Dirty Projectors collaborated on “Knotty Pine” for the 2009 compilation “Dark Was The Night”. In many ways, group leader David Longstreth could be seen as this generation’s answer to Byrne, a distinctive torchbearer of labyrinthine song arrangements that go down easy. According to Rolling Stones, this is “the year’s most original album: sideways harmonies, warped-soul crooning, dream-logic arrangements. They tried to hide it, but these Brooklyn art rockers are really hippies at heart – and their breakthrough was a blast of freaked-out fun.”
Top Pop Music Albums of 2001 to 2006
Top Pop Music Albums of 2007
Top Music Albums of 2008
Top Music Albums of 2009
Top Music Albums of 2010
Top Music Albums of 2011
Top Music Albums of 2012
Top Music Albums of 2013