"working on my faults and cracks..."


one list to rule them all: reduxx

Back when the rest of the internet was basking in the collective aroma of their own self-righteous farts, and writing "top ten" lists for the soon-to-be-passing 2009, I was still without a computer--stuck on my phone, and unable to add to the meaningless pile of one-through-ten drivel that typically fills the blogosphere from November to December of every year.
I'm well aware that it's now January, and the window of relevancy has long-since expired, however, that won't stop me from at least sharing a few of my most-listened from '09.

With the exception of the last five albums on the list, I damn sure can't be bothered with pictures or links, or to publish anything more than the first few thoughts that spilled onto the keyboard, seeping their unedited way to this page. You're welcome, in no particular order.

Honorable Mention:

New Best Friends
If Conor Oberst finally grew a pair, and spent less time writing songs for hipster judges to score, he'd sound a lot like Mansions. And be a hell of a lot more awesome.

Good Views, Bad News
I haven't enjoyed pop-punk this much since it was 1998 and called "Fenix TX" or "Mest."

The Bouncing Souls
Eschewing a traditional 12-track release and opting for a super-annoying one-track-per-month instead, it was tough to judge this as a whole until very recently. But maybe the slow-drip helped me appreciate each track more as they came. "Ghosts on the Boardwalk" is one of the best songs this band has ever written.

Now We Can See
Another concept album--real original story about the re-telling of one's own drowning, and living out, blah blah blah. Done to death, but come on--it's the Thermals for chrissakes!

Brand New
Jesse Lacey is probably a giant douchebag. I mean, hell--even on Douche-aenus; the planet inhabited entirely by douchebags of every shape and size, he may be still seen as a giant douche. Deserved or not, I don't think I care. His band could record a laundry hamper filled with sock-turds falling down a metal stairwell, and I'd still buy it. The band's incorporation of the old church hymn "On Life's Highway" throughout the record is both haunting and brilliant. A strange, and evocative trip down one such memory lane.

30 Seconds to Mars
This is War
If wanting to run shirtless through the woods, brandishing homemade weapons and yelling at the top of my lungs could be construed as enjoyment of an album, then yes, I have enjoyed the shit out of this album.
God, it almost feels like a typo, seeing 30StM on this list.

The Sounds
Crossing the Rubicon
I've crossed more than a few Rubicons in my lifetime, but I feel like this has most certainly been the most enjoyable. Shimmery, glossy, Nordic pop that feels like it's gone from the smoky dancefloor to springtime fields of green. Oh, and Maja Ivarsson is still hot.

Before Nightfall
Shortly after moving away for college, I was completely broke, and eating like most college students without a meal plan--which was never. But I still scraped together 12 dollars to buy Pete Yorn's Music for the Morning After, for what would soon be one of my favorite records of all time. Unfortunately while Pete hasn't been able to rekindle the magic of that album, Francis most definitely has, with smoky vocals, vintage distortion, and the memories of all those nights waiting by the phone.

The Avett Brothers
I and Love and You
The quintessential ballad for those damn three words "...that became so hard to say." Bold move, opening with a single this powerful, but it works, and the rest of the album follows, delivering in spades.

Passion Pit
I'd be totally remiss for without even a passing mention to the "in" band to know from 2009. Very enjoyable album.

Aim and Ignite
I'd imagine when the time came to name this ex-Format project, they thumbed through a Thesaurus for a bit, passing over "Jovial," "Merry," and "Gay," before finally stopping at "Fun." And if using an adjective to perfectly describe what happens when band/choir geeks spend less time being awkward, and more time writing delightful pop music is wrong, than lawdy, I don't want to be right.

Say Anything
Say Anything
Admittedly less edgy than their debut ...Is a Real Boy (being 'born again' will purportedly do that to you), but thankfully the now slightly censored bipolar showmanship of frontman Max Bemis still shines through. A duet with his newlywed muse--Sherri DuPree on "Cemetary" is easily the album's highlight.

Top Five:

Mean Everything to Everyone

In 20 years, I'll still remember the first time I heard "I Can Feel a Hot One," and I believe it will still give me goosebumps, even then.

1372 Overton Park

Like the perfect steak and baked potato, sometimes, not being surprised is the best treat of all. Cut the frills, and you're left with country rock and roll about shimmering Texan sunsets, drinking, gambling, and girls that dance with the figurative devil, but Lucero pulls that card with an earnesty and a swagger that easily rival the classics. "Home might scatter and fade..." Legit.

Ursa Minor

"Someone I swore I'd never be, who trades his dreams for security..." If you'd written off TeB because "Jumper" is still stuck in your head from 1997, I feel sorry for you, because Steven Jenkins has been saving some his career's best work for the Ursa albums, and it definitely shows on Minor. Two of my favorite songs of the year are on this album--but luckily, Minor is far more than just the sum of its parts.

Reach for the Sun

Ever get the feeling that you're being watched? That all these fuckups and failures are getting documented in some smoky room in some shady government complex in the sky? If retribution for a dump-truck load of CCTV tapes of my life had a soundtrack, it would be by the Dangerous Summer, and it would be called Reach for the Sun.

Sunny Side Up

This album caught me completely off-guard. I won't spoil anything for you--it simply must be heard as a collective whole, to be believed.
My favorite listening experience of 2009. Album of the year. Maybe. Probably.

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