Friday, July 3, 2009

Best of 2009 (So Far)

Six months are in the books, and the first half of the year in music has been fruitful. Here are my favorites. First, a few caveats about my list. If I heard it, the song qualifies... even if the record is not officially out yet but is expected to be released in 2009. Also, a band can only fill one spot. This keeps me from having one band in the Top 5 spots. I stopped at 30 because the list has to stop somewhere. That means singles by Vivian Girls, British Sea Power, The Sounds, Office and about a dozen others were considered but not included. Enjoy.

1. Phoenix - 1901 (mp3)
I have to side with the blogosphere on this one. 'Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix' is by far my favorite album of the year. If I didn't have rules, this is the band that would dominate my list like Michael Jackson did on the Billboard chart this week. Their previous, work, 'It's Never Been Like That', was my favorite album in 2006.

2. Neko Case - This Tornado Loves You (mp3)
Her voice is like an angel, but even I'm surprised she is the top New Pornographer on my list.

3. Coconut Records - Microphone (mp3)
Jason Schwartzman put together a beautiful piece of piano-driven pop. I love this album from beginning to end.

4. Robyn Hitchcock - I'm Falling (mp3)
'Goodnight Oslo' has become my favorite Hitchcock album. Thus, he makes my list for the first time in his long career.

5. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Stay Alive (mp3)
Pitchfork's most recent pet is fuzzy like Jesus and Mary Chain's 'Psychocandy'.

6. Casper & The Cookies - Little King (mp3)
Most critics were hard on their latest album because it was too long (70 minutes). It is too long, but you can edit it yourself and have a great record with about half the music. This song is one of my favorites.

7. The Crayon Fields - Mirror Ball (mp3)
This is the first song on my list from a record not yet released. These Aussies craft a gentle '60s vibe that's very catchy. I hope they can match 'Animal Bells'.

8. The Clean - In the Dreamlife You Need a Rubber Soul (mp3)
It's so exciting to have these New Zealand popsters back. This album will be out in September.

9. Boy Least Likely To - Saddle Up (mp3)
Childlike melodies set to layers of interesting instrumentation make the British duo's two records among my favorites this decade.

10. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Heads Will Roll (mp3)
Their sound has changed and become more accessible, and the new one as a whole is better than the last record.

11. M. Ward - Never Had Nobody Like You (mp3)
Zooey has joined him for this one. Enough said.

12. Those Darlins - Red Light Love (mp3)
When these three Tennessee gals do it, I almost like country.

13. Spiral Stairs - Maltese Terrier (mp3)
This is the first leaked song from the Pavement founder's upcoming record due this fall. Me likey.

14. 1990s - The Box (mp3)
There were at least four songs on their last album that were absolute keepers. This is the only song from their latest that comes even close to being an anthem.

15. Yo La Tengo - Periodically Double or Triple (mp3)
Fourteen albums in I finally get it.

16. God Help the Girl - Come Monday Night (mp3)
Belle & Sebastian's Suart Murdoch has been working on this side project for years, and it was worth the wait.

17. A.C. Newman - Like a Hitman, Like a Dancer (mp3)
'Slow Wonder' was in my Top 5 for 2004. His latest, 'Get Guilty', is not nearly as strong, but there are a few gems.

18. Jenny Owen Youngs - Led To The Sea (mp3)
Some of her work sounds too much like about 10 other gals (Feist, for example), but there are worse people to emulate.

19. The Breeders - Fate to Fatal (mp3)
Kim Deal has been relevant this whole time, but nobody seems to notice unless she is standing next to Frank Black. Too bad.

20. Camera Obscura - French Navy (mp3)
These Scots are getting better with each new record.

21. Roger Joseph Manning Jr. - Down In Front
He's still likes that over-production slickness like he did in Jellyfish, but it works for me.

22. Fruit Bats - My Unusual Friend (mp3)
I'm a sucker for anything that sounds like lo-fi Elephant 6.

23. Modest Mouse - Autumn Beds (mp3)
This list needs a lil' banjo.

24. Elvis Costello - Hidden Shame (mp3)
Declan does Americana for at least the third time in his prolific career.

25. Wilco - Wilco (The Song) (mp3)
I haven't loved a Wilco record since 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot'. I don't see this one making me year-end list either.

26. Marshall Crenshaw - Someone Told Me (mp3)
'Jaggedland' is his best album since 1996's 'Miracle of Science'.

27. Franz Ferdinand - No You Girls (mp3)
I haven't been into these Scots for quite a while, but this one reminds me of their stellar debut.

28. We Were Promised Jetpacks - Quiet Little Voices
Debut shows lots of promise. Better keep an eye on these Scots.

29. The Drums - Let's Go Surfing
Catchiest whistling since Peter, Bjorn & John. This song is from a six-song EP out in August called 'Summertime!'.

30. Modern Skirts - Soft Pedals (mp3)
Second-rate Air, but I don't have any new Air yet. So, this will have to do.

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