It really doesn’t get any easier. My perfectionist personality doesn’t help either, it makes me read through the entire list of the 2009 album releases, 5000 albums give or take, just to make sure I don’t overlook anything. Then comes the relistening, the scrapping, the adding, the positioning, the turmoil. But eventually I get to my destination, invariably feeling hopelessly incomplete and doubting my final list before it even hits this screen.

Ah well, sod it. Here are my top 10 albums of 2009. I will be soon posting the best single releases list too, just need to get a xanax refill first. 

10. Rock Plaza Central

…at the Moment of Our Most Needing, Or If Only They Could Turn Around, They Would Know They Weren’t Alone

No mechanical horses this time, but there’s still plenty of off beat story telling on Rock Plaza Central’s 2009 lengthy titled album. Arguably RPC singer, or often narrator, Chris Eaton’s voice is a bit of an acquired taste, but hey, so was your first beer. Do try and stick with him, because you will reap a great reward of orchestral Canadian quirkiness!

9. Fanfarlo

Reservoir

Fanfarlo’s album is an unassuming little number but it packs a multi instrumental punch. From the toe tapping crescendo of songs like I’m a Pilot and the amazing Howard T. Wilkins, driving piano chords and banjo strumsincluded, to the gentle meandering of Comets, this album is bursting at the seems with love for making music.

8. The Decemberists

The Hazards of Love

Say the words ‘concept album’ and most folks, brokenbranches included, usually won’t be overexcited. The risk of overworked, far fetched constructions looms dangerously. In a way Hazards of Love is indeed far fetched with it’s tales of fauns, forest queens, impossible love and wicked baby murdering rakes, but how wonderfully weird it is! 

7. Gossip

Music for Men

Beth Ditto does it again. She gives you a kick up the arse directed towards the dance floor and gives your hair an orange mohawk makeover in the process. Heavy Cross is without doubt one of the best singles of the year, but the rest of the album is not to be sniffed at. Yes it’s shaky in parts, no it isn’t very innovative, but this is ROCK ladies and gents. Not for wall flowers.

6. Patrick Watson

Wooden Arms

What a great idea of Patrick & co to record and tour with The Wooden Arms! They add such warmth to this album and lift their trademark cinematic compositions to new heights. Stand out track Beijing showcases Robbie Kuster’s status as percussion genius, the pretty Big Bird in a Small Cage superbly shows their radio friendly side and Man Like You is bound to be their new Great Escape

5. Fever Ray

Fever Ray

Karen Dreijer Andersson possesses the rare talent to explore the darker side of life without alienating you. When she sings If I had a heart I would love you, you feel her desperation. In When I grow up you simultaneaously experience the joy of being a child and the pain of still waiting to be acknowledged as a grown up. It is haunting and sincere, a thing of sheer beauty.

4. Grizzly Bear

Veckatimest

All of a sudden there it is, the album you know will see you through the year. Right from the magnificent opening composition Southern Point (preferred concert opener and rightly so), stunning lead single Two Weeks (the creepy video is a must see) all the way through to the fragile still-life closer that is Foreground. Harmonies that Brian Wilson would take notes from.  Repeat.

3. DM Stith

Heavy Ghost

Take Patrick Watson’s soundscapy experiments, add some falsetto Antony Hegarty come Jeff Buckey vocals, warm strings, electronic glitches blips and bells, a dash of slightly unsettling multi layered vocal arrangements and you might get an idea of what DM Stith’s debut album Heavy Ghost sounds like. I am entirely seduced. Possibly one of the most accomplished debuts ever.

2. Florence + The Machine

Lungs

When I first heard Florence I was intrigued; who is this Kate Bushy vixen? The album sucks you into every song, despite the potentially off-putting variation of styles. But what all the songs have in common, whether they discuss coffins, one eyed girls, fist fights or drums, is the unabashed and irrisistible celebration of love. I think the world could do with some more colour and heartfelt drama and I think Florence is the one to do it.

1. The Maccabees

Wall of Arms

What a sneaky little gem of an album took the lead! On first listen I didn’t really take that much notice, but enough to keep it in rotation. Then, slowly but very surely, it completely won me over. This is an album full of pent-up excitement, like wanting to tell your major crush you fancy the pants off them but only just managing to keep a lid on it. Practically every song on this album is single worthy, but Young Lions, Seventeen Hands, Can You Give It, William Powers and No Kind Words I just want to lock up in a box for safekeeping.

Incidentally I was lucky enough to see both my numbers 1 and 2 live at Lowlands this year and Florence admitted she had a massive crush on Maccabees singer Orlando Weeks and could later be seen jumping around and singing along to their gig at the side of the stage.

If anyone is remotely interested to see the debris of my album list turmoil, here are the runners up in alphabetical order:

Andrew Bird – Noble Beast

Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion

Antony and the Johnsons – The Crying Light

Arctic Monkeys – Humbug

Basement Jaxx – Scars

Bat for Lashes – Two Suns

Beirut / Realpeople – March of the Zapotec / Holland

Bowerbirds – Upper Air

Clues – Clues

Daniel Merriweather  – Love & War

Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca

Discovery – LP

Dodos – Time To Die

Editor – In This Light and on This Evening

Flight of the Conchords – I Told You I Was Freaky

Julian Casablancas – Phrazes for the Young

Metric – Fantasies

Portugal. The Man – The Satanic Satanist

St Vincent – Actor

The Hidden Cameras – Origin:Orphan

The Low Anthem – Oh My God, Charlie Darwin

The Raveonettes – In and Out of Control

The Swell Season – Strict Joy

The Veils – Sun Gangs

Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures

Wilco – Wilco 

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