The Best Albums Of 2009

wayne…so far. 
So, is it that time of year already? Yup, I believe it is. Time for the mid year round-up of the best albums of the year…so far. I’ve had time to digest these picks, listened to each at least 5 times, and I think I’m ready. Of course this is subjective and more than a little conceited, thinking that anyone other than myself actually cares what music I like. But here’s the thing: I myself love mid and end of the year lists because it forces me to do research on bands that people I admire like, and that I have yet to discover, and more often than not I find a real gem or two. So there. Ridicule away you readers of Rolling Stone. Thumb yer noses in my general direction, for I care not. For those of you who I actually like and respect, I encourage you to go ahead and leave your comments and perhaps more importantly your suggestions on items of interest I may have overlooked. The following is not in order from best to worst, as a matter of fact it’s in no specific order whatsoever other than alphabetically. We’ll keep that Herculean chore for December. Also this year, because I was berated by Phil Fountain so, I am not going to differentiate between re-issues, brand new releases and compilations. They had to be released (or, again, re-released) during 2009, the only qualifier.
The best albums of 2009, so far:
ANIMAL COLLECTIVE, Merriweather Post Pavilion: The sonic dischord is growing on me.
BEASTIE BOYS, Paul’s Boutique Re-mastered: Come on, it’s a cut’n’paste masterwork!

BIG STAR, #1 Record/Radio City Re-mastered: All modern power pop starts here.

BOB DYLAN, Together Through Life: Sounds like Bob’s having a little fun here.

DUKES OF STRATOSPHERE, 25 ‘O Clock expanded Re-issue: A lost mid-60’s classic by XTC.

EELS, Hombre Lobo: E (no relation) has created another solid effort.

FRANZ FERDINAND, Tonight: Back on track after the sub-par “You Could Have It So Much Better”, and you can dance to it!

THE HORRORS, Primary Colours: The most unexpected release of the year, and pretty damn good, especially the track “Sea Within A Sea”.

JARVIS COCKER, Further Complications: He’s horny and bitter and simply magnificent here. Forget Daman Whats-his-face, Jarvis is the REAL Ray Davies of the brit-pop era.

M WARD, Hold Time: More back porch songwriting from this tuneful Oregonian.

THE MARS VOLTA, Octahedron: The “Unplugged” album, and my favorite one yet. Less wig outs and more tunes.

MILES DAVIS, Kind Of Blue Legacy Edition: Oh, just the greatest jazz album ever and sounding better than it has in years.

NICK LOWE, Quiet Please…The New Best Of Nick Lowe: A greally strong selection of tunes with a strong focus on the later half of Nick’s discography.

PET SHOP BOYS, Yes: Better than the last one, not up to par with their best (Introspective), but solid PSB’s.

ROBYN HITCHCOCK, Goodnight Oslo: Love it, love it, love it! He’s the post punk version of Bob Dylan and Syd Barrett.

JOHN DOE AND THE SADIES, Country Club: A great pairing that should land in the top 5 albums of the year when all’s said and done.

SUPER FURRY ANIMALS, Dark Days/Light Years: This just might edge out the Flaming Lips for Album Of The Year, but we’ll have to wait and see. The Furries have got their groove back, my friends. Rejoice!

THOMAS DOLBY, The Golden Age Of Wireless Re-issue: A lost classic from the 80’s. Dolby never got his due, and that’s a damn shame because this album (along with The Flat Earth–see below) are two of the most intelligent and catchy albums of that decade.

THOMAS DOLBY, The Flat Earth Re-issue: See above.

VAN MORRISON, Astral Weeks: Live At The Hollywood Bowl: A wonderful live album of a wonderful album. Great sound quality.

WILCO, Wilco (The Album): After some supreme dissapointment at their last one (Sky Blue Sky), the boys in Wilco are bringing me back to the fold with this collection of songs which takes the best from previous albums and stirs ’em around some.

And now, the albums that I haven’t heard yet but I’m just sure they’re excellent:

ELVIS COSTELLO, Secret, Profane and Sugarcane: Come on, it’s Elvis! Actually I’ve heard mixed reviews, but I’m still looking forward to hearing it.

SON VOLT, American Central Dust: Jeff Tweedy’s nemesis and former bandmate in Uncle Tupelo, and I think perhaps a better somgwriter? This ought to be good.

Thirdly, the 2009 album I’m looking most forward to hearing:

THE FLAMING LIPS, Embryonic: A double album. A DOUBLE FRICKIN’ ALBUM!! As I’ve said before, it’s gonna be a wonderful mess…

And lastly the albums I re-discovered (or just plain discovered) so far this year:

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA, Eldorado: Their first true classic.

THE DEVILS, Dark Circles: Take one tragically underrated songwriter (Stephen Duffy) and one member from Duran Duran and you get a fantastic collection of lost 80’s classics that should have been HUGE.

SONS OF FREEDOM, Self titled: Newly found, not soon forgotten gem from the late 80’s.

BRINSLEY SCHWARZ, Collection: Good to hear where Nick Lowe came from and earned his chops.

THE AUTEURS, New Wave: Better than Suede but didn’t get the hype so died on the vine. Tragic.

AZTEC CAMERA, High Land Hard Rain: Like Duffy, tragically underrated. Listen to the heartbreaking “The Birth Of The True” and tell me I’m wrong.

BADFINGER, Best Of: Great tunes, man, great tunes.

THE BLUE NILE, Hats: Sparce synth classic that doesn’t sound like a synth classic. This one gives me shivers everytime I listen to it.

BLUE RODEO, Greatest Hits: Canadian songsmith’s that kick-started the whole “alt country” movement.

THE BYRDS, The Notorious Byrd Brothers: These guys don’t get enough credit.

THE CRAMPS, A Date With Elvis: Lux died, dudes.

THE FORGOTTEN REBELS, In Love With The System: Childish late 70’s punkers from near my adopted Canadian home town. I even knew the singer…a little bit.

FUNKADELIC, America Eats It’s Young: This Clinton should be running our country. Spliffs for every man, woman and child!

FUZZTONES, Lysergic Emanations: Fuzztastic garage rock.

THE ORB, Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld: Ambient space rock that you can, occasionally, dance to. A classic of the genre.

THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS, Talk Talk Talk: Another underrated classic, before their song “Pretty In Pink” was used in a John Hughes movie and their world went to shit.

SIMPLE MINDS, New Gold Dream: See above. Except instead of “Pretty In Pink” it was “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”

SNIFF ‘N’ THE TEARS, Fickle Heart: Driver’s Seat, a perfect single if there ever was one, is here. The rest is pretty good, too.

SQUEEZE, Argybargy: Love these guys. They were compared to The Beatles, which was extremely unfair, but their pop songs on this album stand up wonderfully. Better than 99% of the shit being released right this very minute.

THE LILAC TIME, Keep Going: See The Devils above. Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy should get a knighthood.

STEVE MILLER BAND, Fly Like An Eagle: A guilty pleasure. Gotta love those 70’s laser sound effects and Doorsian overtones in the title track. 70’s excess.

THE STOOGES, Fun House: Their best, but these guys didn’t release a bad album in their time. The 1st time, anyway. Anarchy before the British turned the phrase into a cartoon.

THE STRANGLERS, La Folie: Never punk but always lumped in with the mohawk set, The Stranglers were a weirdly melodic act with talent up the ying-yang. La Folie is an excellent example of the bands later period, complete with some really great songwriting (see Golden Brown for an example).

THE THE, Mind Bomb: says it best: “It’s serious, dance-influenced rock of the highest order.”

WATERBOYS, Fisherman’s Blues: Love the rustic vibe this album gives out. And, while you’re at it, check out the fantastic movie “Waking Ned Devine”, which uses the title track to great effect.