Sunday, January 17, 2010

Albums of 2009

Albums of 2009

A bit late for this, but I just wanted to get it off my chest - my top 10 albums of 2009! Starting, unusually from number 1!

1 - Temper Trap - Conditions
This is the best album I've heard in ages! It really struck a chord with me. I first heard Sweet Disposition on a Big Brother montage (lol) and it really grabbed my attention, so I investigated a bit, but ultimately Q Mag just said they were a U2 rip-off (no way!). So sadly I ignored them for a while.... Until I stumbled across their amazing Science of Fear video and explored further!
Honestly, in a day and age where I no longer listen to albums from start to finish, it takes a good album to make me sit down and do exactly that - and I've listened to it over and over again many many times.
Just a fab album, some great tunes. The lyrics are quite simple really (although lyrics are the last reason for me to like an album). Love Lost is a great opener, I'll never tire of Sweet Dispostion, and Fools is a wonderful song. I love the video to Fader, such passion. When I first saw it, I thought it was a bit dull, but I really grew to like the intensity of the performance. I was a bit disappointed that there were only 10 songs on the album, and then thrilled to find out there were 2 more bonus tracks elsewhere (Little Boy is brilliant).
I can't wait for the 2nd album and I can't wait to see them live in April!

2 - Paramore - Brand New Eyes
Yes, not a dream, not a hoax, really - Paramore! I just really liked this album, it's got some fab epic songs on it. Yeah, they're all Emo, and maybe some of the lyrics are a bit too self-involved (of the 'thank goodness the band didn't split up' variety).
Ignorance is great and catchy, Brick By Boring Brick is EPIC, Misguided Ghosts is gorgeous, the acoustic versions are fab, and All I Wanted is a great, mental end to the album.
Avoid the live album though where singer Hayley puts on her terrible rock chick voice on before every song - 'ALRIGHT BOSTON, THIS IS OUR NEW SONG, IT ROCKS!@

3 - Nerina Pallot - The Graduate
A very good album from Nerina, and I'm so glad I saw her live at the ICA. She was amazing and even made me like Elton John songs. Real Late Starter was a terrible choice for first single - should have been the amazing Human - one of my ultimate fave tracks of the year. When Did I Become Such A Bitch is huge fun, and the extra tracks on the Junebug EP are gorgeous.

4 Neko Case - Middle Cyclone
Very powerful music, very sexy voice, very very nice album cover. A new redhead entered my life! What is it with me and redheads...

5 - Tori Amos - Midwinter Graces
Two albums from my wife this year - amazing! This one is a Christmas album - uh oh! I gotta say, when I first listened to this, I really thought she'd lost the plot. The woman who wrote Silent All These Years is now writing a song that starts with:
'The radio plays
My holiday faves...'
But of course it did grab me eventually! Tori takes some traditional songs and really takes them apart and gives them a new spin. Star of Wonder is really quite marvellous ('These Three Kings are...Coming', cheeky Tor), she duets beautifully with her daughter on Holy Ivy and Rose, her neice guest stars on Coventry Candle and my god she's got a good voice (I don't actually really like this song, but the neice really makes it for me), Snow Angel is really pretty, Pink and Glitter is balls to the wall fab-u-lous, but my absolute favourite is Our New Year, with the most incredible epic string sections, which make my heart stop every time (probably a bad thing?).
One thing I will say - Tori released an acoustic solo piano version of some of the songs - and the version of Jeanette, Isabella is absolutely wonderful. And this is the thing - on this version we can hear all the technique, all the pauses, all the breaths, all the playfulness, that's been so missing in some of Tori's most recent over-produced work. Get back to basics Tori - please!!

6 - Tori Amos - Abnormally Attracted to Sin
Tori's first album of the year. A real return to form after the fairly bad Beekeeper and the patchy American Doll Posse. Strong Black Vine is the sexiest song of the year, like a Bond theme, Maybe California is pure beauty, Police Me is the most original thing she's done in years, and Fast Horse is pure excitment. Go Tor - but hon, you gotta shorten the albums. You can't keep doing 18-track albums, we don't have time to listen to them!!!

7 - Sarah Slean - The Baroness
Sarah Slean was new to me this year, but what a find! She's kind of a more theatrical, ballady version of Tori. This is a beautiful album. Get Home is pure sadness, Notes from the Underground is a wonderful song and Please Be Good To Me makes me go all tingly.

8 Regina Spektor - Far
I have a love-hate relationship with Regina, partly because she's kind of the younger people's cool version of Tori, and partly because she goes a bit too kooky sometimes. This is a fab album though. Laughing With is a gorgeous little pop song, Machine is epic (and Ms Fantastic's theme song in Spandex), Human of the Year is gorgeous, Once More With Feeling is so lovely. Only negatives are The Wallet, which is just a bit dumb, and Folding Chair - Regina, you really shouldn't have done those dolphin impressions.

9 - Florence and the Machine - Lungs
I discovered FatM in 2008 and downloaded everything I possibly could!! I couldn't believe we had to wait so long for their first album but it eventually arrived. It's really good - very long - and my main problem with it, is that it's just a bit too SHOUTY. Calm down love! There's some great stuff on here though - Drumming Song is epic, Cosmic Love is beautiful, Swimming is gorgeous (reminds me of Kate Bush) and Bird Song intro - for a one-minute non-song, instrumental - has had loooads of listenings from me this year!

Well there isn't a 10, there's just really a list of albums that I bought and thought were good, but then they just ended up on my ipod and I will probably investigate them a lot more this year. These include:
Brandi Carlisle - Give up the Ghost
To be honest, with a couple more listens, this should probably have been in the top ten. There's some really storng stuff on here, especially the gentle folk of Touching the Ground.
Others include - Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Hysteric is amazing!); Lisa Mitchell - fun folk pop, a bit like a young Feist; Tegan and Sara - much more cohesive, strong pop; Catherine Feeney - People in the Hole (some great folk tunes); Veronicas (cool pop, but In Another Life is one of the most cringe-inducing ballads I've ever heard); Lady Gaga - really impressive mix of styles; Little Boots - strong pop.

And some disappointments this year:
Imogen Heap's Ellipsis was a bit of a damp squib; Martha Wainwright's Edith Piaf record isn't my cup of tea; Bats 4 lashes seems a little over-rated to me.


Rol said...

"although lyrics are the last reason for me to like an album"...

And in one sentence, you sum up why our tastes in music rarely agree! ;-)

Congrats on your latest brush with fame - tomorrow the world, eh?

Mart said...

ha ha yes! i don't know what it is, but i just listen to the song, not really the lyrics... Dunno if that makes sense.
Takes a special artist to make me sit up and actually listen properly!