Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ryan's Top 15 Records of 2009

Just when you thought it was safe to leave '09 behind, prepare for another obligatory "Best of" list! So, after yet another long hiatus, I return to give you my TOP 15 OF 2009!

But First, here's a couple albums that were close to making the list:
- Dark was the Night Compilation
Rain Machine - Rain Machine
Simian Mobile Disco - Temporary Pleasure

15. Set Your Goals - This Will Be the Death of Us
After finally managing to reach a buy-out agreement with Eulogy records and settling with Epitaph, Set Your Goals finally brought fans their sophomore effort in the form of This Will Be the Death of Us. Clocking in at about 40 minutes, this 12 track long record gives you exactly what you would expect and want from SYG - fast-paced melodic hardcore that starts the second you press the play button. The one thing that sets Set Your Goals apart from most other bands in the genre is still apparent in This Will Be the Death of Us, their ability to maintain focus and drive throughout. Granted the whole Hayley Williams freak-out thing during the middle of ‘The Few That Remain’ is a bit retarded but, overall, SYG takes what made Mutiny great and builds on it in their second offering.

14. Mt. St. Helen's Vietnam Band - Mt. St. Helen's Vietnam Band
The debut album from this Seattle quintet has proven to be one of the better indie releases of the year. After establishing a humble fan base by putting out a couple joke PSA videos, Mt. St. Helen’s Vietnam Band has definitely delivered on the promise that their self-titled would give listeners, “ … smooth sounds of indie-prog-math-pop-rock.” Yeah, it did.

13. MF Doom -
Born Like This
I'm far from knowledgeable when it comes to hip hop. Honestly, I really don't listen to too much unless I hear about some ridiculously amazing stand-out in the genre. This year, that stand-out for me was MF Doom's Born Like This. Under the pseudonym of 'Doom,' he has released a record filled with grim, fierce rhymes with topics ranging from a plot to take down the entire legal system to his apparent personal fear of fading out of the music scene. Plus Raekwon and Ghostface tear shit up at points in the album, so that's pretty baller. For a taste of the album, check out the tracks 'Absolutely' and 'Cellz.'

12. Converge -
Axe to Fall
Converge again proves why they are considered pioneers of metal and hardcore as they provide their fans with another album which can be perfectly described as a shit-kicker. Every song is insanely intense as the bands tears through each track with furious, heavy rhythm and blistering guitar work. Obviously, this can be seen immediately in the form of Axe to Fall's first three offerings let alone the entire album. Axe to Fall also has a bit of a 'softer' side too though with tracks like 'Worms Will Feed,' 'Cruel Bloom,' and 'Wretched World' which evens the record out a bit.

11. Them Crooked Vultures -
Them Crooked Vultures
Not much about Them Crooked Vultures can be said that you wouldn't expect from a supergroup that consists of 3 (needless to say) extremely talented individuals who, if they have not already obtained it, approach the status of rock legend. Together, Homme, Grohl, and Jones have released a modern rock album which completely and totally captures the essence of the genre. Think of TCV as the modern day, balls-to-the-wall version of ZZ Top with obvious measures of Led Zeppelin and Queens of the Stone Age. If you need a single example of the epic quality of this album, look no further than the 7 minute behemoth that is 'Elephants.' This track alone proves that not every supergroup ends up like Audioslave.

10. Brand New -
Brand New is able to create an amazingly dense feeling of loneliness and anger with Lacey's use of imagery throughout his lyrics as well as the bands heavy, calculated movements withing each track on the album. With each offering, Brand New grows in maturity musically and lyrically as they take their sound on Daisy to areas out of the ordinary playbook with songs like 'Be Gone' and 'Vices', which is an unusually harder song for the group. Also, at certain points of the album, it's evident that they are continuing to advance further and further toward elements of post-rock that are akin to Mogwai.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!
When the Yeah Yeah Yeahs released their well-received EP Is Is in 2007, most fans believed that the same, familiar YYY sound could be anticipated for the upcoming full-length. This assumption was a little off when guitarist Nick Zinner showed up to the recording studio with a carload of old synthesizers. When I first heard this news, my faith in It's Blitz! is, without question, one of the catchiest albums of '09. Once again, Karen O proves her worth as one of rocks leading ladies as she switches between the sexy and playful wailing of dance tracks like 'Zero' to the more intimate, emotional cuts like 'Soft Shock' and 'Runaway.'

8. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Pretty obvious pick considering that Phoenix has always been awesome and Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix has only helped them become a household name.

7. Arctic Monkeys - Humbug
Throughout Humbug, Turner shows just how much his songwriting continually matures with each album. This is especially seen in the best track on the album, 'Cornerstone,' in which Alex uncharacteristically obsesses over a lost love. As is usually the case with the Arctic Monkeys, the rhythm section is brilliant and once again makes you wish that you were at least half as talented. The smooth bass and pounding, steady drum which are showcased in 'Crying Lightening' are without a doubt some of the best work the band has ever had to offer.

6. Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca
When I saw Dirty Projector's live near the beginning of the year opening for Tv on the Radio, it was undeniable that they were a fucking amazing band. The only problem was when I trying to describe their style to people and having to resort to pinning them solely as 'indie.' This doesn't do any justice in describing the multi-layered arrangements and intricate guitar work which could be found in each song they turn out. Also, it's impossible to discount frontman Dave Longstreth's out-of-the-ordinary vocals which are greatly enhanced by the amazing harmonies between Amber Koffman, Angel Deradoorian, and Hayley Dekle.

5. Major Lazer - Guns Don't Kill People ... Lazers Do
After looking at their combined resume, it's not really a stretch to see why DJs Diplo and Switch have created one of the best albums of the year. After working with artists like M.I.A., Santogold, and Basement Jaxx, the two have combined forced to create an eccentric and catchy as balls record under the guise of Major Lazer, a Jamaican commando who lost his arms in the secret Zombie War of 1984 ... apparently. This infectious blend of reggae and electronica kicks off with the rumbling, western-like bass line of 'Hold the Line' and doesn't let up until all 13 of the flawless produced tracks are said and done. While it is one of the best tracks on the album, the only bad thing about the record is the vomit-enducing music video for 'Pod De Floor,' which easily wins the award for the most disgusting people to clothes-fuck in a music video for '09.

4. The Flaming Lips - Embryonic
The Flaming Lips continue to be one of this generations most original, psychedelic, and interesting bands with their 12th studio album, Embryonic. Throughout the entirety of the album, it's pretty clear right off the bat that the group's first double album is filled with consistently funky bass and drum combinations as well as extremely dramatic crescendos which results in what Coyne has referred to as the band's ability to remain in, ' ... a sort of perpetual panic." Compared to their previous releases, this is definitely the case for Embryonic, as it has a massive freak-out vibe that might make you feel like someone slipped you a couple tabs of acid.

3. Thrice - Beggars
It goes without saying that, with each album, Thrice has been moving forward with their sound. Shifting from their post-hardcore beginnings, the band now finds themselves in a far more alternative territory; Even more so than The Alchemy Index Vol. I - IV. The major difference between Alchemy and Beggars is that the latter has far less of a dreamy tone and, instead, is far more up-tempo and energetic. This is especially evident with tracks like 'The Weight,' 'At the Last,' and 'The Great Exchange.'

2. The Antlers - Hospice
By far, Hospice is the most emotionally charged album this year and probably that I've heard in a very long time, if not ever. The extremely human lyrics make you feel completely invested in every word that Silberman mournfully whimpers into your headphones as he explicitly recounts his story of a loved one's inevitable death due to cancer. The sound Silberman and company capture is a low-key, somber atmosphere which is extremely effective in adding to the emotionality of the album.

1. Manchester Orchestra - Mean Everything to Nothing
Since mid-April, Manchester Orchestra's Mean Everything to Nothinghas become an undeniable musical juggernaut which has totally conquered my Ipod. For several months, it reduced me to one of those annoying dudes who constantly and shamelessly trys to plug an album to anyone and everyone that will listen to him. Mean Everything to Nothing is, simply put, the most exciting and layered collection that 2009 has had to offer. The fact that this is only the band's second album is mind blowing and will leave you wondering what Manchester Orchestra is capable of in the future. I could mindlessly rant about how perfect this album is, but I will instead give to you a few amazing studio versions of a couple of the best tracks. (The River, I've Got Friends, Everything to Nothing)

BUT THAT'S NOT ALL! Real quick like, here are a couple records that were released in 2009 that I found to be either: 1) Disappointing, or 2) Complete Shit

-The Dead Weather - Horehound
Was completely stoked for this album; How could a band featuring Jack White and Alison Mosshart be anything but amazing? Apparently, pretty easily considering the record starts to lose steam fast after the first 5 tracks. Weak sauce.

-The Mars Volta - Octahedron
Never make another acoustic album. Fucking horrible.

-Muse - The Resistance
Only decent tracks were 'Exogenesis: Symphony Parts 1-3.' 'Undisclosed Desires' is the worst Muse song they've ever made, easily; Just a completely boring single with no substance.

Well there ya have it, go forth and check this shit out. Look forward to maybe some more articles this year?


  1. Ryan Klaeysan talks out his ass. Dougie the froggie bank had undoubtably the performance of the year. In any case if you see him, do not hesitate to slap (Ryan that is, not Dougie).

    Your favourite Irish gombeen.

    also my top 5 albums,
    Why? - Eskimo Snow (some nice bits, nowhere near Alopecia though)
    Mumford and Sons-Sigh no more
    Bon Iver - Blood Bank (if EPs are included)
    Eels- Hombre Lobo (every track is like BAM!)
    The Xx - Xx (without a doubt album of the year, and a debut at that, from a crowd of 20 yearolds. insanely good)

  2. Goddamn Irish always have opinions. You're right about Dougie though, he's been bringing his top notch musically ability into this year. Way to pass off the slaps to somebody else too, at least you realize you couldn't hit for shit.

    Your favorite disorientated NY City Cabbie

    Definitely have to check out The Xx. Don't know how I overlooked that one until a couple weeks ago. Massive fail on my part.

  3. The XX are amazing (hence #3 for me) but this is what these lists are for: Other people to (re-)discover albums they may have overlooked. I'm really digging Daisy, not sure why I waited so long to download it.