[ While I’m busy debating what my own Best of 2009 list will be comprised of, enjoy this guest post. It’s a little different in the department of musical fare than you’ll usually see offered by me. -S ]
So before you wonder if Sarah has gone all schizophrenic or just decided to listen to drastically different music than her normal mix of Andrew Bird and any number of Wainwrights, this is, in fact a guest post. My name is Mike, I’m a friend of Sarah’s from way back, and am bullying my way onto her blog ’cause it gets a whole lot more traffic than my own site, found at www.landofabsurdity.com. Most people around this time of year release their “Best Of” lists, but as I feel that I don’t listen to enough music to determine what is “Best” (other than crushing your enemies, having them driven before you, and hearing the lamentations of the women). So without further introductions and shameless plugs, I give you, in no particular order, the:
Seven Albums That Came Out in 2009 That Mike Listened To and Enjoyed the Most
Tonight: Franz Ferdinand
When I first heard that Franz Ferdinand was writing a “disco” album, I was preparing for the worst. I mean anytime a band sets out to make a certain type of album, it usually is a flop. What I didn’t realize was that Franz Ferdinand’s brand of garage rock set to a new wave beat works perfectly if you just throw in a few more keyboards. Also, as if Tonight: Franz Ferdinand wasn’t a great enough album, they decided to rework the entire thing into a Dub album as well. There was never a Sgt Pepper Dub album.
The Prodigy – Invaders Must Die
I used to think that The Fat of the Land was the best electronic album ever made, but then The Prodigy decided to all get back together and put out Invaders Must Die, and now The Fat of the Land seems dated and almost unlistenable. Invaders Must Die is the best thing to come out of the world of electronica in a very long time (or at least since Does It Offend You, Yeah? came on the scene).
Paper Route – Absence
Now when you think of a musical act from Nashville, whats the first thing that comes to your head? Exactly: ambient electro post rock. These newcomers mix vocal harmonies with keyboard noise to make huge music. They put the Awesome in Progressive Emo. Well, they would if there was an A in Progressive Emo, I guess that segue doesn’t really work. In any case, you should check out Paper Route, they have the balls to put on acoustic sets right out on the street after their shows, whether the cops are called, babies are awakened or not. Also, they love pancakes.
Miike Snow – Miike Snow
So what do you get when you mix up some piano driven rock, add some reggae beats, and crank up those synthesizers? You get Miike Snow. No, that’s not a typo. It’s a band from Sweden. And we all know how much I love Swedish bands… especially Swedish Bands who make reggae influenced electronic music. But Miike Snow is leagues beyond Ace of Base and Dr. Alban. Also, they have excellent DJ bobs.
Devin Townsend Project – Ki/Addicted
Ziltoid The Omniscient made this list a two years ago, so it’s no surprise Devin makes it again. These albums are the first half of a four album series, each one completely different but I’m counting them as one. Ki hits you with ambient music, much more prog than his traditional noise and screaming. Trainfire is also a neat track, along with Quiet Riot which harkens to the band of that name. Addicted is less prog and more europop, but with Devy’s fingerprints all over it. Think Vengaboys with a lot more screaming! Plus there is a souped up version of Hyperdrive! from Ziltoid. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why DTP makes the list.
K’Naan – Troubadour
When I saw K’Naan at Lollapalooza in ’08 he was great, but a niche act. Rhythmic Angry Black Man Rapping over top of a stripped down band does not appeal to everyone. But then Troubadour came out and polished his style into something even better. In an age where rap seems to be about drinking Crystal in the hotel room, it’s nice to hear messages again.
The Bravery – Stir the Blood
Dancing on the dark side of the disco ball is never an easy thing to pull off, but the Bravery continue their streak of awesome with their third album. The album is nowhere near as depressing as The Sun and the Moon and may in fact rival Exciter as the soundtrack to my sex life.
Honorable Mentions Go To:
Dream Theater – Black Clouds and Silver Linings
The jury is still out on whether Dream Theater is back or if this was just a flash in the pan.
The Lonely Island – Incredibad
Comedy albums will always be novelty music, but I’m On a Boat is pretty much just a rap song with no novelty about it.
[And proving that the Grammys continue to try to be relevant but only succeed in unintentional hilarity, “I’m On a Boat” just got a Grammy nod for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. I’m rooting for this one, all the way. -S]
Black Eyed Peas – The E.N.D.
This album is super catchy, and samples the best part of Rob Base, but I just don’t think it has lasting power.
Also, I’m not going to leave you without a pick for worst album of the year. That honor goes toTrans-Siberan Orchestra for Night Castle. Cheesy orchestrations may work for yuppies who buy Christmas music, but when that formula is put to use on a Non-Christmas album, you get absolute crap. Even the inclusion of Believe is trite. They would have been better off making a suite of When the Crowds are Gone, Believe and Alone You Breathe, I think that’s what every Sava-fan wants anyways. I was hoping this album was going to be more Savatage and less cheese, but I guess they’re too old to rock and roll. Their idea of giving a more Sava-feel to the album is just putting instrumentals from other Savatage albums onto this one, albeit under new names. Gone is 5 part counter melody and in its place is “Childhood Childhood Childhood Childhood Childhood.” It truly is an audio train wreck!