Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top 20 Albums of 2009

20) A LITTLE HAPPINESS (Aimee Allen)
The aim of this album was said to be "to get people in a good mood and show them life is to be enjoyed” and it certainly achieved that aim. Not everything is a winner (it does get alarmingly all “Jack Johnson” at times, but the strength of the song writing means that this is a light, summery winner. ESSENTIAL TRACKS: Save Me, Calling The Maker

19) THE GRADUATE (Nerina Pallot)
Sadly, it wasn’t anywhere near a “Fires” but Nerina Pallot’s third album has enough winners to make it another good album. ESSENTIAL TRACKS: Real Late Starter, I Don’t Want To Go Out

18) SCARY FRAGILE (Butterfly Boucher)
It took a long time to come (over five years) but the follow up to Flutterby finally made it to the wider world in 2009 and it proved that her first album was no fluke. The kind of quirky “pop” music that could be huge but probably never will be, thankfully it avoided the trap of concentrating on castigating her former record label and just concentrated on the great tunes. ESSENTIAL TRACKS: I Found Out, Gun For A Tongue

17) DO YOU WANT THE TRUTH OR SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL? (Paloma Faith)
I kinda ignored Paloma Faith when she first shot to prominence. But her funny turn on Never Mind The Buzzcocks had me smitten (I’m aware it was pretty a much Marmite moment) and after seeing the hilarious youtube video diary where she went into HMV to buy her own album I took the plunge. And I was glad I did. There is an argument that the album is purely an attempt by a record company to fill the gap until Amy Winehouse is sober enough to record her new one, but there are some genuinely good songs on here and it’s a very good album. ESSENTIAL TRACKS: Smoke & Mirrors, New York

16) WE TOLD YOU WE WERE FREAKY (Flight Of The Conchords)
The genius of the Flight Of The Conchords is that it’s very difficult to listen to the songs they parody once you’ve heard their versions. Can anyone take the R’n’B likes of R Kelly seriously once they’ve heard tracks like “We're Both In Love With A Sexy Lady"? Does the Black Eyed Peas “My Humps” have any relevance once you’ve digested “Sugalumps”? Similarly, you’ll never quite listen to the Police’s “Roxanne” the same way again once you’ve heard “You Don’t Have To Be A Prostitute”. This is more than pastiche; it’s more than parody; it’s a bloody good record in it’s own right. ESSENTIAL TRACKS: Hurt Feelings, Sugalumps, Carol Brown

15) THE DUCKWORTH-LEWIS METHOD (Duckworth-Lewis Method)
The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon, doing a concept album about Cricket…? Well it shouldn’t work, but work it did. There’s no denying that SOME liking for Cricket helps the experience (it could all be a bit baffling otherwise) but at the end of the day the songs are strong enough to stand up on their own two feet. ESSENTIAL TRACKS: Jiggery Pokery, Meeting Mr Miandad

14) FIRST LOVE (Emmy The Great)
I was listening to the radio late one night, and I heard a live version of We Almost Had A Baby not knowing who the hell I was listening to (and the radio didn’t offer me any further clues) and it was still by accident that I bought this album and realised that that track was on it. And whilst that still remains my favourite Emmy The Great track, it’s by no means the only quality song on here. A stunning debut. ESSENTIAL TRACKS: We Almost Had A Baby, Bad Things Are Coming We Are Safe.

13) FEARLESS (Taylor Swift)
Someone criticised me liking Taylor Swift because she does “music for twelve year old girls”. Which may be a by-product of her record company’s attempt to market her in this Country (because Country music is traditionally a hard sell over here) but truth be told, none of that matters. Her debut album was accomplished enough, but this was another step up. There is some genuinely good song-writing going on here, and if it at times it all gets a bit “teenage” and “High School Musical” we shouldn’t forget that she’s not exactly an old lass is she? ESSENTIAL TRACKS: Fearless, Forever & Always, The Best Day

12) IT’S BLITZ (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) Cynically, rock-punk band coming back with an "all-new" electro sound should have been a sign that things were going to be “ho-hum” but I was proved wrong with a stomper of an album that never once gets dull or boring. I can imagine why some people got “upset” over this, but as “pop” isn’t a dirty word in my book, I loved it! ESSENTIAL TRACKS: Heads Will Roll, Soft Shock

11) TONIGHT (Franz Ferdinand)
Franz Ferdinand may never regain the critical acclaim that surrounded their debut album and the monster that was Take Me Out but I think they’ve remained constantly good and, perhaps as importantly, interesting. For me, Tonight, their third album, is up there with the debut overall and the likes of Ulysses, No You Girls and What She Came For are the kind of punchy indie-pop gems FF made their name on. ESSENTIAL TRACKS: Ulysees, No You Girls,erm...What She Came For.

10) TRANSMITTER FAILURE (Jenny Owen Youngs)
Taking everything that was so beguiling about her debut, adding a commercial sheen but losing nothing of what made you fall in love with her in the first place, Transmitter Failure is a triumph. The sheer scale of emotions she can take you on shows again that she can both tug at the heart strings and, with her tongue-in-cheek attitude, make you laugh and that is some combination. ESSENTIAL TRACKS: Led To The Sea, Here Is A Heart, What Beats Within

9) TWO SUNS (Bat For Lashes) Fur And Gold should have won the Mercury Prize (it really should) and whilst in some ways Two Sun’s nomination for the same award felt like an acknowledgement of that fact, this is still a stunning album which if not quite matching Fur and Gold, proves that ambition and quality can go hand in hand. ESSENTIAL TRACKS: Daniel, Sleep Alone

8) WONDER (Lisa Mitchell) Largely known (if at all) for a song from an advert for Fabric Softener or something, it’s a shame that Mitchell’s beguiling debut album is destined to be largely ignored. A shame because it’s really rather good indeed. ESSENTIAL TRACKS: Neopolitan Dreams, Sidekick, Animals

7) HARDSHIPS (Jenny Wilson)
Some albums defy easy categorisation, and so it is with Hardships. Theoretically this is an “R’n’B” album, but if it is then it’s unlike any one that you’ve heard before. Perhaps the best compliament I can pay it is that it’s packed full of songs that would be mega hits if certain other singers recorded them, but that kind of misses the point., Wilson’s genius is of it’s own. ESSENTIAL TRACKS: The Wooden Chair, Pass The Salt, Anchor Made Of Gold

6) DON’T STOP (Annie)
There was the potential problem that an album that combined Annie (excellent) with Xenomania (excellent) and Richard X (excellent) couldn’t possibly live up to the potential. Happily such fears were unfounded. Songs Remind Me Of You (produced by Richard X) is arguably my favourite pop song of the year and Loco (produced by Xenomania) is exactly the sort of pop stomper that Girls Aloud would have done before they got far too serious for my liking. Granted not everything on the album “works” but most of it does and it’s just a shame that, once again, the record buying public at large completely ignored an Annie album. ESSENTIAL TRACKS: Songs Remind Me Of You, Loco, Don’t Stop

5) THE FAME [MONSTER] (Lady Gaga)
It’s by no means a perfect album (it’s far too long and certainly has its fair share of filler) but there probably isn’t a record this year that’s had as many genuine, ahem, monster hits in its midst’s as this one has. And given that at least 5 of the 8 “bonus” tracks on the Fame Monster version are winners, this certainly deserves its top 5 spot in my rankings. ESSENTIAL TRACKS: Just Dance, Poker Face, Bad Romance, Alejandro

4) WE HAD A THING (Lisa Donnelly)
I’ve still no real idea how I “discovered” this album, but within one play of it on Spotify (genuinely a great invention) I was online (Aimee Street – a great place for this kind of “unknown” stuff) downloading the album. Such is the wide range of sounds on this album, it’s a difficult one to sum up in terms of style but don’t imagine that an attempt at a different sound on almost every track means that the album doesn’t hang as a cohesive whole. It does. In fact, it’s a stunning album. ESSENTIAL TRACKS: End Of Time, Laugh

3) YES (Pet Shop Boys)
Yes was the proper “return to form” that Fundamental ultimately proved not to be. Yes saw PSB sounding as fresh as they have done in years, gave a trio of cracking singles (Love Etc., Did You See Me Coming and All Around The World) and had plenty more to recommend within it too. Pandemonium, in particular, is probably their best non-single for a decade or more. ESSENTIAL TRACKS: All Around The World, Pandemonium, The Way It Used To Be, More Than A Dream

2) HANDS (Little Boots)
Ok, so the backlash began before the album had even hit the shops, and there is no getting around the fact that I am in love with Miss Hesketh, but Hands is a brilliant pop record. The singles (as good as Remedy was) don’t really tell the whole story. The likes of Symmetry, When Hearts Collide and Click are better than the singles and if justice played a part in the music business, would be huge hits. ESSENTIAL TRACKS: Remedy, Symmetry, When Hearts Collide, Meddle

1) ACTOR (St. Vincent) Never content to limit herself to a particular style, Actor is an album that constantly surprises you. From the opening haunting choir on The Strangers to the last strings on the album closer The Sequel you will listen to this never quite knowing what's coming next. One particular case in point would be Black Rainbow whose pop symphony opening gives way to disturbing scuzzed up guitars reminiscent of some Horror film soundtrack. It’s obvious to say it, but this was easily my album of the year. I thought it when I first heard it, and time has proved me right. ESSENTIAL TRACKS: Actor Out Of Work, Marrow, Black Rainbow

11 comments:

Maroussia said...

It will be great to watch A Little Night Music, i have bought tickets from http://ticketfront.com/event/A_Little_Night_Music-tickets looking forward to it.

Stefanie said...

It would be cool to see a music list for 2010.

romanya vizesi said...

It will be great to watch A Little Night Music

ericva said...

And maybe a list for 2011? (a)

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Buddhism in the Modern Society said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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arkadaş said...

And maybe a list for 2011? (a)

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