Music Memoirs: Looking Back on 2009

Today’s Music Memoirs post asks you to look back on 2009.  Feel free to play along.

The albums that you love the most
While I’m still working on getting my Best of 2009 list up and running, I’ll give you a sneak peak at it now, I suppose. Fortunately for all of us, I wrote my list out at home, and I’m typing this up at work, so I don’t really remember what order I had my list in. So here are three 2009 albums that I know I’ve been loving.

  • Andrew Bird, Noble Beast. There are enough Bird fans out there who felt let down by this album that I almost feel like I shouldn’t love it as much as I do, like there’s some memo I missed out on getting. Sure, the record is no Armchair Apocrypha, but Armchair was no Mysterious Production of Eggs, either. I remember fans being similarly disgruntled whenever Armchair came out, saying that it didn’t live up to Eggs. Not to get into some music nerd discussion about it (ugh, this was supposed to be like, one sentence about why I love the album, not a dissertation) but I really feel like each album has its own motif, both in sound and in concept, and that it’s kind of difficult to compare the three, which are drastically different from one another. When Bird releases an album that I feel falls short of the mark, I’ll call it out, but for me, Noble Beast is not that album (in my opinion, blah blah disclaimer, you’re entitled to your own opinion and I won’t hate you for it).
  • Florence and the Machine, Lungs. The verdict is still out on Florence, mostly because I haven’t been wowed by her live performance (the recordings/videos that I’ve seen), and because I’m just not sure what she’ll follow up her debut album with.  There are some fantastic songs on this album, though, and I’m hoping that she continues to bring it in 2010.
  • The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love.  I have a love/hate relationship with the concept album nature of this one.  I love and appreciate the fact that there are still artists out there who are creating albums that are pieces of art, that are meant to be taken in as a whole.  But because it’s a concept piece and is meant to  be listened to from start to finish, it makes for some abrupt changes when tracks change on the shuffle of my Not iPod.

Any new artists you discovered
2009 was an awesome year for discovering new artists (both new to music and new to me), but I’ll go with two similar-ish acts: The Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons. I’d heard a few songs by The Avett Brothers before this year, but hadn’t really delved too much into their back catalog or anything. They got a lot of buzz with the release of I and Love and You, so I decided to check them out, and I’m really enjoying what I’ve heard. Mumford & Sons, I got into because I saw them pop up on the Best Of lists of some fellow bloggers whose opinions I trust, and I was totally blown away. Their music is fantastic, gritty folk rock, and “Little Lion Man” is pretty much one of the best songs I’ve heard all year. 

Best concert you attended or watched
Andrew Bird and Alpha Consumer at Schubas. It wasn’t the tightest show I’ve seen from him, but the energy and vibe and feeling of community in that packed room was intense. It was one of those shows where you know you may never have an experience like that again, and so you appreciate every last moment of it.  Plus, there was the added bonus of being pressed right up against the stage.  Fangirl moment, what what?

The song that best defines 2009 for you
I don’t know that I can pick one song, but I’d say my 2009 Mix would be defined by delightful yet mostly meaningless pop music. Kelly Clarkson, Lady Gaga, Adam Lambert, anything with a good beat that would get me dancing around. 2009 had its fair share of crappy moments, but I also had a lot of fun, and a lot of that fun was had while flailing around on disgustingly dirty dance floors.  And during those crappy moments, The Mountain Goats’ “This Year” has and always will be one of those songs that gets you through.  “I’m going to make it through this year if it kills me,” indeed.