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Eric’s Favorites for 2009

December 31, 2009

What would a music blog be without an opinion about the past year in music? In the limited time we have left of this year, Morgan and I, as well as a new guest writer Clifton Gibbons, will post what we consider to be the best albums of the year that just happened. Enjoy!

Honorable Mentions: No More Stories…Mew, Grand Matt & Kim, Hello Hurricane Switchfoot, Forget and Not Slow DownRelient K, Curse Your BranchesDavid Bazan

5. Manchester Orchestra Mean Everything to Nothing

Are you tired of being alone, are you tired of being alone? – ‘Shake it Out’

Bitterness. Anger. Confusion. Longing. Questioning. Pleading. Testing. Feeling. Do you remember what it was like to grow up? Andy Hull does, and Manchester Orchestra’s sophomore album could be autobiographical for exactly how he feels. He rails against a father that he feels has abandoned him (‘Only One’); he sings of his bitterness toward people’s belief in God and whether or not prayer is actually necessary (‘In My Teeth’); he tells of the battle against his pride (‘Pride’). This is one of those albums that is so easy to connect to. These are universal feelings and this past year I have felt them all more than once. Manchester Orchestra lends words to the frustrations that one feels every day and still manages to make one of the best albums of the year.

4. Jars of ClayThe Long Fall Back to Earth

Heaven is not that far – ‘Heaven’

Jars of Clay was one of those bands that I grew up with, a benefit of growing up in a family that tends to prefer contemporary Christian music over everything else. While I left that type of thinking behind, I have not been able to leave Jars of Clay behind too. I have always enjoyed listening to them in many different times in my life and they seem to always have a certain song that speaks to what I am going through.  And then, in 2006, they released Good Monsters to critical acclaim. I disagreed, finding the album to have a newer sound without the lyrics that I had fallen in love with before. More and more I found myself not caring about anything related to Jars of Clay, writing them off as one of those bands I used to enjoy listening to, but not as much anymore. But, as you can clearly see, their new album currently sits at number four on my favorite albums of the year. It was with this album, an album I knew nothing about and didn’t really care about, that Jars of Clay captured my attention again. Here was the sharp songwriting that I missed and a new sound that was agreeable to my ears.

3. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amedaus Phoenix

Do you remember when 21 years was old? – ‘Countdown’

There are always those albums that you just discover and wonder why you never listened to the band before. Phoenix was that band for me and I’m sure it was that band for a lot of other people this year. With it’s lead single ‘1901’, Phoenix grabs you with it’s slick, danceable and fun pop. Other than the album’s slower songs, ‘Love Like a Sunset I and II’, the pace stays fast and, for lack of a better word, cool. I was able to go to one of their concerts this year and their live performance is just as fun and amazing as their album would lead you to believe. This was my summer album that held on past summer. This is an album and a band that has continued to hold my attention past the infectious single. I am really glad that I was able to listen to these guys.

2. Mute MathArmistice

Our goal is to embarrass the first record, that’s what we’re trying to do here, and I think we’re on point to pull it off. – Paul Meany

Mute Math has always had a special place in my music collection. Their debut EP Reset was a breath of fresh air to my ears when in first heard it, and their debut LP Mute Math continued much of the same style of music: musically engaging and innovative with vocals singing for something more. So why would I like their newest album, Armistice? For some it feels as if Mute Math has abadoned their old formula of music innovation and replaced it with bland pop music. But when one turns to the lyrics is when they find the innovation. This is one of the greatest break-up albums of all time. It doesn’t shy away from the subject and it doesn’t glorify it. It humanizes break up in a way that I have never heard before. Paul Meany sings of fights that won’t stop because neither party is strong enough to say that they are wrong (‘Armistice’). He sings about how every plan to save the relationship just continues to backfire in their faces (‘Backfire’). He sings about praying for change, praying for healing, crying out to the void and receiving no answer, no change, no healing (‘No Response’). This is an album that connects to you on the deepest level possible. This is an album about emotion that doesn’t come across as anything other than what it is: Human.

1. Brand NewDaisy

Those days are dead – ‘Vices’

One of the most challenging albums to come out this year from a band who’s fans have always clamored for the older songs, Daisy is Brand New’s way of telling everyone that they will do whatever they want. From the first song’s, Vices, shocking transition halfway through to ‘Be Gone’, a song intentionally made to be almost impossible to understand, this album effectively severs the links that the band had to their pop-punk debut: Your Favourite Weapon. What has divided fans almost directly down the middle has it’s rightful place at the top of the list for my favorite albums of 2009. A well-deserved praise for an album that is so perfect in it’s imperfections.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Clifton permalink
    January 3, 2010 12:30 PM

    nice list. i have a feeling this is gonna be an amazing year for music. just listening to the new Beach House and Broken Bells albums are giving me enough excitement to go around.

  2. January 3, 2010 11:23 PM

    I am happy to see that you’ve revisited Jars of Clay. I’ve followed their music for a long time, and I must agree that “The Long Fall Back to Earth” is epic. If you’re interested in other good listening, check out “Good Monsters” and “Who We Are Instead.” The former is a rock-and-roll type album filled with awesomeness, and the latter is a more folk/blues album that is probably their deepest work.

  3. January 9, 2010 4:12 PM

    Yeah! Eric and I are both big fans of Jars of Clay, and are very familiar with everything they’ve done.
    We even saw them this summer, and had this blog existed, I am sure we would have written about the concert, because it was a pretty good one.

    My two favourite albums happen to be their self titled debut from 1995 (which was also the first CD I ever owned) and If I left the Zoo.
    Though Good Monsters really impressed me too, it just took a while for me to get into it.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

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