Music blog, Almost Four Stars, asked me to write about my favorite albums of 2009. I’m posting it here as well but if you visit www.almostfourstars.com the version there also includes some streaming selections from each album.
I really hate to make any kind of top 10 list before the year is completely over—especially since December is such a great time to discover the music that somehow passed you by over the course of the year—but these 10 albums (in alphabetical order) are definitely some of my favorites from 2009.
Bad Veins – Bad Veins
It was a long wait for this Bad Veins album—the demo of “Fake Baby” was on my Favorite Songs of 2006 CD—but it was totally worth it to discover such a well-crafted final product.
Bear In Heaven – Beast Rest Forth Mouth
This album and particularly the song “Lovesick Teenagers” has been in constant rotation for me over the past few months. It’s hypnotic and has these moments that are sort of off but exactly right.
Beaujolais – Admirations
Born out of a broken relationship with his wife and former band mate, Beaujolais is Joe Ziemba’s follow-up band to The Like Young. I slightly prefer last year’s Love at Thirty but this follows well in its narrative footsteps.
Julian Casablancas – Phrazes for the Young
There didn’t seem to be a lot of love for this solo debut by Strokes frontman, Julian Casablancas but I found myself totally immersed in it’s idiosyncrasies.
Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
This one seems to be universally loved and rightly so. An album of beautiful pop perfection.
The Harlequins – Baron von Headless
Cincinnati has a lion’s share of great bands and I’ve included three local releases on this list but these aren’t consolation prizes—these bands are the real deal. Bad Veins and The Pomegranates are already well onto their way of crossing over to larger public consciousness and I hope The Harlequins aren’t far behind. This, their debut album, does a fine job of capturing some of the energy that makes them one of my favorite Cincinnati bands to see live over and over again.
Junior Boys – Begone Dull Care
The album art is kinda boring but the music isn’t. Junior Boys create a mood that I found myself wanting to revisit all year long.
LoveLikeFire – Tear Ourselves Away
I’ve been obsessed with San Francisco’s LoveLikeFire ever since Koala Fires played a show with them in October 2008. At that point they had released a few EPs and were still figuring out how they would be releasing their full-length debut. Heist or Hit Records gave it a UK release in August and I went ahead and purchased the import, knowing it would be worth the extra expense. From the opener “William” to tracks like “I’ve Pissed off My Friends” and “Boredom”, Ann Wu’s achingly beautiful vocals are backed by epic melodic rock that reminds me that I do actually have feelings.
Metric – Fantasies
Fantasies seems to get everything that I’ve ever liked about Metric right on the same album. A welcome surprise after what I considered to be the slightly disappointing Live it Out.
Pomegranates – Everybody Come Outside!
A recent live performance helped remind me why I love the Pomegranates so much—they are a perfect example of being so good at something that they make it look easy even though it’s not. Watching them, you get the impression that they’ve been playing their instruments and singing sweet melodies their entire lives. It’s like watching a magic trick and not caring what the secret is because you’re hypnotized by it’s flawless execution. I’m proud to have them represent Cincinnati as they travel the world with their music.