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Best Albums of 2009 (In My Ever Humble Opinion)

  • Jan 4, 2010
  • by
Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
Where to begin? Possibly the best album since Radiohead's "OK Computer," "MPP" takes all the divergent elements of Animal Collective's sound and finds a way to make them all gel together beautifully. From the deep baselines to the immaculate harmonies this is a band that exceeds at combining all that has come before into something new and beautiful. Every track is a highlight, every moment pure bliss.
Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Rock and roll will never die, but it will, apparently, move to France. After a few so-so 00's albums the boys of Phoenix find their legs in a big way. Calling on all the best elements of post-punk, new romanticism and a bit of Bowie they have crafted an album with peak after peak. Had it been released as an EP of tracks 1-5 it may have been the best album of the decade.
Major Lazer - Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do!
My choice for best party album of the decade, Major Lazer is nothing but fun, fun, and more fun. Switch and Diplo have teamed up before (M.I.A., Santigold) but never before has their music had such an abundant love of life. By teaming with some of the best reggae and dancehall artists in Jamaica they push their trademarked sound in new and wonderful directions.
Peter, Bjorn & John - Living Thing
One of the most challenging albums of the year, "Living Thing" is the remarkable followup to a remarkable album, 06's "Writer's Block." Filled with bitterness, confusion, and a powerful sense of being lost, PB&J add darkness to their pop sound and it feels natural.
Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Part II
Who would've guessed that 16 years on from their revolutionary debut album we'd still be shouting Wu-Tang 4 Life? Well, anyone who's been listening to Ghostface for the last decade would have, which is one of the many genius aspects of this album, Raekwon again brings in the biggest ringer in hiphop, Ghostface. The hiphop equivilent of "Chinese Democracy," this album has seen dozens of delays and release dates, but none of that matters the second it starts. Filled with the sort of braggadocio and bravado that Rae and Ghost pull of remarkably well (especially together) this album is cocky, headstrong and brilliant. There is no need for gimmicks, no autotune, no groan inducing claims of being the greatest of all time (I'm looking at you Wanye & Kanye), just hardcore beats and hardcore rhymes. Is it a throwback album? Yes. Is it "old school?" Yes. But none of that matters when Ghost and Rae lay down incredibly tight rhyme-stories over immaculate production. Best Wu album of the decade? Resoundingly yes.
Passion Pit - Manners
On the surface Passion Pit would seem to have a lot going against them, from Michael Angelakos' chimpmunk-y falsetto to the pretentious indie pop preening, but that all goes out the window when the music starts. The voice fits the music perfectly, with its glitchy elctronica leanings and its deep baselines (2009 was the year Indie discovered the 808 apparently), somehow it all seems to fit exactly right. Rarely have songs of heartbreak and loss sounded this joyous, this blissful. The music has a distict summertime feel to it, but it sounds just as right, just as natural during any season.
NASA - Spirit of Apollo
Another duo of producers get talented friends to lay down vocals over their hiphop beats? Sure, when it's this engaging, I say absolutely. Not every track on "Spirit of Apollo" works, but the the ones that do are dynamite. From the brilliant pairing of Kool Keith and Tom Waits, to the best song David Byrne or Chuck D have done in a decade (let alone done together), to making this a virtual Wu-Tang reunion album (including ODB who gets teamed with Karen O, one of the only singers capable of matching his off the wall sensibilities) Sam Spiegel and Zé Gonzales know how to make divergent elements work together in harmony. Being too long and having too many throw away tracks keep it from being truly great, but it never stops being highly enjoyable.
Mos Def - the Ecstatic
Holy crap, Mos Def the rapper is still alive!? I thought he was killed off by Mos Def the decent but not spectacular actor! Turning in his best album since "Black on Both Sides" a decade ago Mos shows exactly why he has such a strong following, despite years in the wilderness he is capable of crafting captivating songs with complex rhymes that detail the events unfolding in the real world (looking at you again Wayne, 'Ye). He never beats the listener over the head with a political point, but lets his message of racial tension, longing for equality and hope for a better tomorrow sink in slowly over time. And none of that even considers that the album is fun to listen to, constantly engaging and contains the best Slick Rick rhyme since Snoop Dogg was in high school! This is what we've been waiting for Mos, please stop making forgetable movies like "Cadillac Records" and make more unforgetable albums like this.
Dan Deacon - Bromst
He makes modern symphonies, his songs push the boundaries of popular music, and he's an asshole in real life. Dan Deacon is a perfectionist, which makes his concerts unbearable but his albums flawless. On this album the budget matches his amitions for the first time and he uses technology, some of it created solely for this project, to craft a remarkable piece of art that is as dancable as it is intruiging.

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January 04, 2010
Cool list. I heard my first Major Lazer song on NYE and thought it was pretty awesome.

Glad to see Pasion Pit on here. They're friends from college so I love to see when fans talk about them. :)
January 04, 2010
This is a very good list with great reviews. Love your Mos Def takes. Thanks.
January 04, 2010
Whoooa, I've only listened to a couple of the albums on your list, but based on your explanations, it looks like I'm going to have a few more to check out.  Thanks for sharing, Justin!  The followers of the Music Community will sure appreciate this :)
About the list creator
Justin Freiberg ()
Ranked #526
I love art, all forms of art. Be they painting or film or literature or dance or scotch Ilove all the beauty that man has brought forth on this planet, from the earliest cave drawings to thepure blinding … more
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