I don't know why this year was such a tough one from which to cull a top-ten album list.
Oh wait, yes, I do know. It's the fault of that damn Amazon MP3 store and all the discounts and freebies they offer. I've discovered that about 2/3 of the music in my iTunes player actually was purchased or ripped this calendar year and a disproportionate amount of it came from Amazon... I bless and curse you!
I pared my list down from about 2,100 songs released this year to just 10 albums, and it was a bitch to say the least. So without further ado, I present you with the Kapgar Top 10 Albums of 2009 starting from the bottom of the list and moving to the top. So, um, that means the bottom of the list will show up at the top and the top of the list shows up at the bottom and, well, screw it. If you don't get it...
Oh, and "Track It" is just my cutesy way of recommending a single track on the album. Just click one of the album links at the top of the listing and you can go to either Amazon or iTunes to listen to the "Track It" single.
10. Flo Rida - R.O.O.T.S. (Route Of Overcoming The Struggle) - Amazon
It took about three months before I finally discovered that first album of 2009 that moved me and that album was R.O.O.T.S. This marked my first time listening to Flo Rida even though I'd heard of him long before this album was released. I do believe I made the jump due to some deal on Amazon that was just too good to pass up. I'm glad I jumped.
Track It - "Be On You" featuring Ne-Yo
For a second there, I was almost afraid that my favorite live act of the year wasn't going to make the top album list. I might have actually felt bad about it, but this is a strange album even by Lips standards. It's a very moody, binaural cacophony of experimental noise that really allows the musicianship of Michael Ivins, Steven Drozd, and Kliph Scurlock to shine.
Track It - "Silver Trembling Hands"
8. Pearl Jam - Backspacer - No longer available in Amazon's MP3 Store | iTunes
I remember reading another review of this album that said something along the lines of how Backspacer is the first album in years to come from Pearl Jam where they actually sound like they enjoy writing music again. I'd have to agree. This is one of the most upbeat works to come from PJ in years and my favorite since Vitalogy.
Track It - "Johnny Guitar"
7. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Amazon
I have a lot of trouble describing this album to people or comparing it to anything else. It was recommended to me by the music editors at Amazon and I've loved it ever since. Simply put, you should just give a listen to this NYC outfit.
Track It - "The Tenure Itch"
6. Pomplamoose - Pomplamoose Videosongs - Amazon
I do believe it was my buddy, Iron Fist, who guided this parched horse to the water that is Pomplamoose. They are an NYC duo, she the vocals and he the multi-instrumentalist. They've firmly lodged their foot in the YouTube door with interesting spins on Beyonce's "All the Single Ladies" and Michael Jackson's "Beat It," but this eight-track EP proves that they are not just cover wonders. How did an EP make a top album list? Well, when your eight tracks constitute a much more solid overall album than most others, why the heck not?
Track It - "Beat the Horse"
5. Stardeath and White Dwarfs - The Birth - Amazon
In a case of the student besting the teacher, Stardeath and White Dwarfs, consisting of members of The Flaming Lips' road crew and Wayne Coyne's own nephew, have put together one of my favorite pieces of eclectica (not a word... yet) that I've heard in some time. It's a fun mix of sounds and vocals and I really hope to hear how they sound live. And, yes, I did spell it right. They call themselves "Dwarfs" not "Dwarves." Merriam and Webster are rolling in their graves.
Track It - "New Heat"
4. Matt & Kim - Grand - Amazon
Special Note: this album is only $5 through the end of December 2009!
Punk is a misunderstood genre anymore. Many artists claim to be punk who clearly are not. Matt and Kim claim to be punk and, thankfully, are. They are a New York duo (geez, what the hell is it with NYC this year???) who were classmates in college and decided to start a band, learning their instruments on the fly. They learned quick and so are we as fans. In their few short years of existence, they've rocked the stages at Lollapalooza, Bumbershoot, and Pitchfork just to name a few. Sadly, I missed out on their Pitchfork performance. I didn't get tickets for that day. Dammitalltohell! I will not make that mistake again.
Track It - "Lessons Learned"
3. Jay-Z - The Blueprint 3 - Amazon
If my recollection is correct, I listened to this album straight through something like three times consecutively. I'm sorry, but Jay-Z knows how to write a damn fine album and bring into the studio a laundry list of artists to perform with him including Pharrell, Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Kid Cudi and many more.
Track It - "Empire State of Mind" with Alicia Keys
2. Modest Mouse - No One's First and You're Next - Amazon
This EP was only meant to be a way to placate fans until their next full-length album due out in 2010 (I hope) and it has become, in my opinion, one of their better collections of works. The buzz kicked in with "The Whale Song," the video for which was conceived by the late actor and video director Heath Ledger. It continued with the band actually bringing his vision to life with the help of Monty Pythoner Terry Gilliam. It's a fantastic video and an even better album.
Track It - "Guilty Cocker Spaniel"
1. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix - Amazon
For the longest time, this album was one that I kept returning to, listening over and over again. Then the songs started showing up in multiple TV shows and on commercials and, I think, even on Muzak. Usually, this equates to musical death for me. Somehow, though, that didn't happen here. Sure, my listening slowed down a bit, but it picked right back up after introducing my wife to them and discovering that they were one of the acts performing at XRT's Big Holiday Concert (even though it turned out to only be a five-song set due to a family emergency with their drummer back home in France). And I'm still listening and turning more and more people on to them. I love it. The album is just damn good electronic-rock and picking out a single song to recommend is not easy, but here goes...
Track It - "Lasso"
Well, that's all she wrote. Sure, there are a bunch of albums I never had the chance to listen to this year. It's tough on a limited budget, but I try.