Amplified: Best Albums of ’09

By David Wharton

Dec 28, 2009 1:21pm

I'm not sure if it's because I'm getting old and cranky or if it's because I'm innately suspicious of the reigning consensus, but the following list will not contain albums by Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear or Animal Collective. It's not that I don't respect and like these bands. I do. They're clearly enormously talented (if a little precious at times). What's more, I'll admit to genuinely loving songs like "Stillness Is The Move", "My Girls" and "Two Weeks." My list, however, is restricted to the albums that were the most enjoyable to me – not necessarily the ones that were the most challenging. These are the albums I kept coming back to, the ones I'd come home to find my wife blasting, the ones from which I harvested the most songs to go running to. (Dan Harris)


Best Albums of 2009:

1. Phoenix, "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix": A quantum leap from anything this band of Frenchies had ever done before. Great songs, bathed in burbles and bleeps.

2. Passion Pit, "Manners": I was not enthusiastic about frontman Michael Angelakos's initial bedroom EP, but this album blew me away. I still can't get over the fact that the man barely post-pubescent.

3. Islands, "Vapours": My producer and intern had to talk me into listening this album because I associated these guys with their more experimental early stuff. Turns out, this album is a huge winner.

4. Harlem Shakes, "Technicolor Health": Sadly, this band broke up months after unleashing this insanely catchy album on the world. You can listen to guitarist Todd Goldstein's excellent new band Arms.

5. Metric, "Fantasies": I like pretty much anything Emily Haines does.

6. Andrew Bird, "Noble Beast": Ditto for Andrew Bird and his Olympic-level whistle. (Why is this album on so few top ten lists? Maybe because it was released in January?)

7. Bad Veins, (self titled): This album was criminally overlooked. It didn't even get reviewed by many major sites. It's utterly fantastic, though. We shot an Amplified with the boys from Cincinnati, which will air sometime in 2010.

8. Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, "Know Better Learn Faster": Pulls off the neat trick of being fun without being stupid.

9. Matt and Kim, "Grand": Catchy as heck. Which I appreciate. Despite their ubiquity in '09, this couple never got annoying.

10. Built to Spill, "There is No Enemy": A return to form for one of the best bands of the last two decades. Doug Martsch = velvet hammer.

11. Delorean, "Ayrton Senna": These Spaniards know how to make a hook. Even though they told us they were dissatisfied with this EP, I think it's phenomenal.

12. Avett Brothers, "I and Love and You": I learned a lesson on this one. A middling Pitchfork review caused me to set this album aside. When I finally checked it out, I was pleasantly surprised.

13. The Thermals, "Now We Can See": Their poppiest yet, without losing their edge.

14. Julian Casablancas, "Phrazes for the Young": I miss the Strokes, but this album will tide me over nicely.

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