So between now and the end of the year, I’ll be bringing you my 20 favorite albums of 2009. Â These 20 albums aren’t in any particular order, aside from the fact that I put them into four groupings of five albums each. Â There’s nothing scientific or measured about this, it’s mostly just an order based on which albums popped into my head first. Â The posts themselves are in alphabetical order. Â Because I hate ranking things, so there.
Without further ado, I bring you the first five albums.
Lady Gaga, The Fame Monster.
I guess this spot on the list really is more for Lady Gaga in general, not entirely for The Fame Monster, but whatever. Â It’s my blog, I do what I want. Â There is no good reason for me to love her music as much as I do. Â It’s not particularly original or deep or ground-breaking, but it is just some damn fun music. Â Time will tell as to whether or not she’s a flash in the pan or if she’ll be sticking around for a while, but I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts. With its inventive and catchy songs, The Fame MonsterÂ Â showed that hopefully it’s going to be the latter.Â She’sÂ definitely a talented woman, that’s for sure. Â Even if I am bitter that she’s younger than me.Â
If you don’t like folk/Americana/banjos/bluegrass, this probably isn’t the album for you. Â This release takes a look at the catalog of Charlie Poole, a banjo player and singer in the 1920s who drank himself to death. Â Listening to it, you feel as though Wainwright gets the material, both the original source material (Poole didn’t write any original songs) and Poole’s interpretations. Â In addition to the covers of old material, Wainwright and friends threw in a handful of fabulous original songs, which fit in so well that it would be difficult to guess which they were. Â This album would rate higher on my list if there simply wasn’t so much material – there are 30 tracks over 2 CDs, and it’s hard to get in-depth with something that lengthy. Â High Wide & Handsome was a great cap on the decade for Wainwright, who’s received a Grammy nomination for the project, which would be a well-deserved win.
Honestly, I sort of forgot about this album for a little while, despite the fact that I listened to it a whole lot after I first got it. Â I saw it pop up on a lot of other best-of lists and decided to give it another chance.Â I’m listening to it right now and am having a moment where I’m all, wow, how did I not listen to this all year? Â It would have been a great album to listen to on days where everything else is crappy. Â This is a really strong collection of pop-rock songs. Â They may not be the most memorable (see: the fact that I forgot about the release for a while) but it shows that Emily Haines and Metric still have it, four years after their last release.
This album is almost too precious for me.Â Â Everything about it is cute and adorable and I just want to squish it.Â She even makes “Shankhill Butchers”, a cover of a Decemberists song, sound cute.Â But seriously, this is a fantastic debut album from SarahÂ Jarosz, a bluegrass musician/singer-songwriter from Texas who is just eighteen.Â Please hold while I have one of those moments where I wonder just what in the world I’m doing with my life.Â Listening to this, you would never know that this is a girl who has just graduated high school.Â Her music is much older thanÂ her age would suggest.Â
Zee Avi, Zee Avi.
This is another album that’s just absolutely adorable.Â I have to be in the right frame of mind to handle adorable, though, which is probably why both this album and Sarah Jarosz’s don’t rank higher on my not-really-ranked list.Â With her ukulele and sweet-sounding vocals, Zee Avi’s created a great summertime record.Â Don’t let the cuteness fool you, though; this is a very grown-up record.Â Behind the upbeat vocals and instrumentation are terribly serious songs like “Poppy” (“My baby, he don’t act like himself no more … he spent his nights slapping his veins”) and a cover of Morrisey’s “First of the Gang to Die” (“You have never been in love until you’ve seen the sunlight thrown over smashed human bones”).