Is there anything worse than "Best Albums Of" lists? Especially a personal list, and especially a personal list from an amateur (i.e. not a professional music reviewer).
But even those are pretty terrible. You might have heard me say before that music criticism is the lowest form of writing. I believe this. As in, lower than sex toy instruction booklet writing. I hate it. Why? Because most music criticism is simply a game of trying to come up with the wildest metaphor that could possibly still be thought of as describing something audible. For instance (and I'm making this up) "The Pencil Cup's new album, Erasered Our Lives Away, is filled with synth-dreamy riffs of pop ice cream cones melted over the rusted train tracks of Johnnie Eisenhower's twice distorted vocals." Bluagh! Blaugh! Blaugh! [Me vomiting.] If you've read indie music reviews, you know that's not far from the truth.
Anyway... all that is said just to properly relate to you, the reader, that I acknowledge that my opinion is worth nothing, and that the following list is merely of my favorites, and by no means implies that these were the best albums of '09. How could anyone make that claim? I could name for you ten consensus favorites of the year right now that I haven't heard (and so aren't on this list), but even if you have the time and money to listen to every noteworthy CD that comes out, the more music you listen to, the less time you have to let each album gestate. And it seems to me that the best songs of any album don't usually reveal themselves until around ten listens. I also read quite a few lists this year that were basically any ten albums from Pitchfork's Best New Music page. Great albums to be sure, and I'll admit that I found my #10 and #1 albums on that very site, but if you don't have one CD in your top 10 that's not on this list, what is the point of making the list in the first place? Just link to that page and let the people decide!
Oh man, I'm a pompous ass. Here are my FAVORITE albums of 2009:
10. Tie - Bitte Orca by The Dirty Projectors*, Vecktamist by Grizzly Bear, and Hospice by The Antlers
9. Time To Die by The Dodos
8. Music For Men by Gossip
amazingly hot. No, I'm not being ironic. Yes, I do have a huge crush on her. In fact, that's a lot of the reason I first started listening to their music. Too bad she's a lesbian! :(
7. Bright Works and Baton EP by Cast Spells
6. Hold Time by M. Ward
5. Merriweather Post Pavilion by Animal Collective
amazing live video. (Why I have I not seen them live yet!? They've come to LA like three times since I've been out here, and I always find out too late like some tool.)
4. Songs In the Night by Samantha Crain & The Midnight Shivers
this previous post to hear a new song that will hopefully be on her next album, which I believe comes out in April.
3. Set 'em Wild, Set 'em Free by Akron/Family
2. Jewellery by Micachu and The Shapes
1. Bromst by Dan Deacon
Whew! If you've read this whole thing, then thank you very much for your time and attention, and I sincerely hope you enjoyed it. For more interesting reading (or humbly, "For interesting reading") take a look at Pitchfork's Reader's Poll. Democracy! And unlike my list, it has reason for coming out well into the new year.
*One more proof that end of the year "Best of" lists are garbage, is the fact that Bitte Orca appeared more highly on many "Best of the decade" lists than it did on many "Best of '09" lists. Merriweather Post Pavilion likewise had a good showing on many decade lists, but went on to appear as highly or higher on most "Best of '09" lists. Of course this could be chalked up to simple discrepancies between different publications, but what I think actually happened is that people saw Bitte Orca so high on decade lists, knew that those lists did so in search of attention, and decided to dock it accordingly.