Best Albums of 2009: 40-31

23 Dec

Well, even though I’m still unwell, I opted for some Taco Bell tonight.  What a mistake.  They’ve discontinued all of my favorite foods, and the chicken on this taco is hard as a rock.  Despair.  Anyways, we’re not here to talk about my dinner, we’re here to talk about music, so let’s do that, shall we?  Some notes about this list from here on out, I could easily have placed 40-21 in alphabetical order and felt justified in doing so, I love all of these albums pretty equally. Onwards!

40. Fever Ray – Fever Ray

I first got a taste of Karin Andersson (the voice and talent behind Fever Ray) earlier this summer with Royksopp’s Junior.  Had I known she was Fever Ray, I may have avoided this album altogether, I just was that much put off by her voice.  Times, however, have changed.  For some reason all of these people singing with shrill vocals this year (Dirty Projectors, Passion Pit, Fever Ray, etc.) are beginning to grow on me, so as a result, Fever Ray had a way into my heart.  The album starts off incredibly strongly, and would rank higher if only it didn’t turn into background music about halfway through.  I love good background music, as Andrew Bird and Grizzly Bear can attest, so this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially with strong songs to kick things off.

39. Kelly Clarkson – All I Ever Wanted

Probably the most out-of-place album in my top 40, or even top 50, I realize, but Kelly and I go way back.  Her last release, My December, had me certain that the magic of Clarkson-world was over, and then I heard “My Life Would Suck Without You”.  Ok, yeah, it’s a terrible title/hook, but the music is ace, and I have a kick-ass time listening to it.  There’s really only one problem with this album: Regardless of the fact that I enjoy almost every song on it, it’s just too long.  This is the problem with a lot of pop albums, it seems.  Limits are a good thing, and honestly, I’d be glad to go on record saying that no album should ever be longer than 45 minutes.  Sorry, Axver.

38. Dan Deacon – Bromst

This is the craziest album I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing in my entire life, I’m pretty sure.  With Alvin & The Chipmunkesque vocals, and sequencer melodies that go in every direction at once, it’s hard to believe this album is as good as it is.  In fact, what’s even more surprising is how well it translates live.  In fact, I haven’t even been able to listen to this album since I saw Dan Deacon at Lollapalooza this summer, because the performance was just that good, and the album doesn’t really live up to it.  I know that sounds strange, and I will return to it eventually, I’m just not ready yet.

37. Doves – Kingdom of Rust

Every time I listen to this album I find more and more to love about it.  In time I hope to really enjoy it on as high a level as some others, but I can’t put aside any album with the song “Kingdom of Rust” on it.  It might very well be my favorite song of the entire year, and in fact, I enjoy it so much, I’m gonna go ahead and embed a youtube video of it.  Enjoy:

36. The Dodos – Time to Die

While nowhere near as strong as Visiter (It would be hard to top that album anyways), there is much to be said of Time to Die.  Unfortunately, I can’t seem to remember anything about the album once it’s over.  While I’m listening to it, I’m enamored, but it just doesn’t have anything that sticks with you once it’s over.

35. Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career

I don’t have a lot to say about this album, unfortunately.  I just can’t think of anything, honestly, except that this is a terribly fun album, and if I only could prove that with one song, it would be “The Sweetest Thing”.  After U2, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to like a song with that title.  I was wrong.  Since I’ve embedded one video already, I’ll just link you to this one ;).  Camera Obscura – The Sweetest Thing

And because I didn’t do this “review” justice, I’m letting Travis weigh in here: “It’s a whimsical cornucopia of diabeetus-engaging folk, peppered with reverb-soaked vocals and joyous horns.”

34. Bob Dylan – Together Through Life

I haven’t heard a lot of Dylan’s recent music, so, I have no idea how this stacks up against any of it.  As for comparing it to what I have heard? It’s no Highway 61 obviously, but it is incredibly loose and fun.  At this point, I’m beginning to rattle off my favorite songs of the year, and I want to save that for another entry in a few days, so I’ll refrain from saying what it is, but suffice it to say that this is album is something I would be proud to have a copy of, just to listen to on one of those warm afternoons when I just want to chill out on the patio.  This is kind of the strangest thing I’ve ever said.

33. Wilco – Wilco (The Album)

Like Embryonic, I mostly wish I hadn’t heard this album, as, it is the one and only album by Wilco I’ve heard.  On the other hand, I was incredibly enticed by it, and have every desire to continue through their catalog.  In fact, I’m not sure why I haven’t yet…

ETA: I have just been informed that I have, in fact, heard Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. And now that I think about it, yes, yes I have.  Don’t know why I forgot about that.

32. Bruce Springsteen – Working on a Dream

Hah, I didn’t even notice this had finally fallen out of my top 30.  Good, this makes me feel less like a mega-fan that only had this ranked so highly because of how much I love Bruce.  I wanted to like this album, and I’m glad that it gave me at least 5 songs worth the time.  The album itself was entirely one big excuse to go on tour again, and anything that equals a Springsteen tour I can get behind.  Maybe, maybe if he’d just released an EP he could have gotten away with it, I’d be all for that, since there’s about an EPs worth of great Bruce music here.  “Life Itself”, “The Last Carnival”, “My Lucky Day”, “Outlaw Pete”, and sure, “The Wrestler” are all worth your time.  However, the rest of the album? I hate to say it, but it’s garbage.

31. Yo La Tengo – Popular Songs

This is another recent come-around.  I will never understand why the last three tracks are there, or at least there in the order they’re in.  And the final track on the album is completely unnecessary.  Had I listened to it without “And the Glitter Is Gone” sooner, I think Popular Songs and I would have had more time for a good relationship to have grown.  As it is, this is one “stellar” album of music, and I’m glad I gave it a few extra spins.

30 more albums to go, what lies around the corner?

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