Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Best Goddamn Albums of 2009

10. Say Anything - Say Anything -- Like I said in the Disappointments post, I hated this album on my first few listens. After I read a few interviews with Max Bemis, though, I realized that the record is still very good, it's just not what I wanted. And "spiritual..." but still. "Mara and Me" is a great song, as is "Fed to Death." "Ahh... Men" isn't as epic as it could have been, but I'm damned if Max isn't at least one of the ten best songwriters I listen to. Even if he found God and happiness.

9. Frank Turner - Poetry of the Deed -- Every album this man releases is great. The music and the lyrics are simple, but he's saying some profound things. These punx-ternt-folk singers are making some damn good music. Something about "Live Fast, Die Old" just resonates. A house with high windows.

8. fun. - Aim and Ignite -- I was so sure that I would hate this album. I saw them open for Manchester Orchestra in April and the music was just so damn cheesy live. There's still a little cheesiness in "Light a Roman Candle With Me," and "Walking the Dog" still sounds like a High School Musical song, but there's no denying that "Be Calm" is one of the best songs to come out this year. It's no Dog Problems, but it's a lot closer than I thought it would be.

7. Weatherbox - The Cosmic Drama - No one writes a song like Brian Warren. Great riffs and lyrics equal parts simple, powerful, and weird. Every song needs to be where it is. It's cohesive and complete. Mmmmm harshmellow. "Don't Say Nice Things" and "No Hands" are both great.

6. Andrew Jackson Jihad - Can't Maintain -- AJJ put on the best show I went to this year. They also released one of the best albums. They're earnest and honest and uncompromising. Plus the album is named after a Biggie line. It doesn't matter if it's with an electrified full band ("Heartilation"), a string section ("Love in the Time of the Human Papiloma Virus"), or just regular old acoustic folk punx. Every song is great.

5. Why? - Eskimo Snow -- When Pitchfork posted "This Blackest Purse" this summer I listened to it over and over again. To this day it's one of my favorite Why? songs. The rest of this album took a little longer to click, but once it did, it really clicked. The stark honesty of "Even the Good Wood Gone" and the more obvious "Into the Shadow of My Embrace" are great examples of Yoni Wolf's incredible songwriting.

4. Kevin Devine - Brother's Blood - If there's a more emotional song this year than "Brother's Blood," I don't think I want to hear it. The first true full band entry in Kevin's catalog is full of variety. "All of Everything Erased" is as simple and powerful as anything he's written, while songs like "Carnival" and "I Could Be With Anyone" showcase the different ways a group of talented people can make great music even better.

3. The Mountain Goats - The Life of the World to Come - 1,842 Mountain Goats scrobbles this year. This album only came out in October, but it's responsible for a fair amount of those. The only "loud" song on the album is "Psalms 40:2," so it takes a more active listen to really grasp the quality of songwriting in tracks like "1 Samuel 15:23." "Matthew 25:21" hits fucking hard. John Darnielle. Dayum.

2. Manchester Orchestra - Mean Everything to Nothing - I got a promo copy of this back in February (thanks Jen!) and listened to it nonstop. I kind of still do. Andy Hull wrote an incredibly powerful 11 songs (I'm including the bonus track here, to the exclusion of "100 Dollars"). Their new rock band direction may have alienated some people, but there's no denying "Shake it Out" or "In My Teeth," and "The River" is the best closer to an album I may have ever heard. "I Can Feel a Hot One" shows that he hasn't lost his penchant for slow emotional powerhouses.

1. Bomb the Music Industry! - Scrambles - Jeff Rosenstock wrote the 13 best songs he has ever written on this album. Each one is just goddamn amazing. From "Cold Chillin' Cold Chillin'" to "25" to "Saddr Weirdr" to closer "Sort of Like Being Pumped," he captures the human condition of the twenty-something like no one else can. All set against a background of some of the most complex and interesting music he's put on an album yet. Best of 2009. No doubt about it.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

End of the Year: Most Disappointing Albums of 2009

In keeping with my general disposition (lol) I decided the first entry in my year end roundup would be the ten albums I found most disappointing. In descending order, of course!

10. Cursive - Mama, I'm Swollen - It wasn't bad by any means, it just wasn't on the level of Domestica, The Ugly Organ, or even Happy Hollow. Evolution! Monkeys! CRAZY MONKEYS!

9. Fake Problems - It's Great to Be Alive - How Far Our Bodies Go was fantastic. Like, made up for New Wave fantastic. A lot of the instrumentation on this record reminded me of New Wave. A lot of people really liked this album, so maybe I'm the crazy one.

8. John Nolan - Height - The musical direction on this one was a little weird. There was some awkward electronic stuff and some better straight ahead stuff. In any case, this album seemed kind of tired lyrically. Same with the Straylight EP that came out this year.

7. Monsters of Folk - Monsters of Folk - Supergroup fail. "Dear God" is awful. Every other song is pretty much just OK. Not capitalizing on enormous potential.

6. Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band - Outer South - What I wouldn't give to be part of a musical community where everybody is constantly writing awesome songs... I get that Conor thinks that's what's going on here, but "Air Mattress" is just terrible. There's some good stuff on here, but it's hard to take it at face value, given what Conor has proven himself capable of.

5. mewithoutYou - It's All Crazy! It's All False! It's All a Dream! It's Alright - If I had made a best of list in 2006, Brother, Sister would have been damn near close to the top. I understand what they were going for here and I guess it's cute, but I think this is the kind of thing you save for a side project that goes on Yo Gabba Gabba.

4. Two Tongues - Two Tongues - "Crawl" was just so goddamn good. Everything else wasn't at all. Supergroup fail pt 2.

3. Wale - Attention Deficit - Wale made a lot of hard-to-keep promises on his various mixtapes, mostly about how his major label debut wouldn't be watered down and lyrically weak. Guess what happened? He has maybe two good verses on the whole album. Consequently, it sold quite poorly.

2. Clipse - Til the Casket Drops - Ask any one of my white and jewish friends what the best rap album of the last five years was and we'll all say Clipse's Hell Hath No Fury. They had their work cut out for them and they fell a little short on this one. There are some incredible songs on here, but the middle of the album really falters. There wasn't a single weak track on Hell Hath there are plenty here.

1. Say Anything - Say Anything - When this album came out, I was talking shit about it to anyone who would listen. Is A Real Boy was so profound to me (and just about any other kid in the umbrella we call "the scene") and with every album Max releases that doesn't live up to its legacy, it's a personal hurt. I've since reconciled a lot of my initial problems with the record--SPOILERZ: it appears in my best-of list as well--but there's definitely still some filler. "Death for My Birthday" just sucks. Nothing more to say. And don't get me started on some of the religious/spiritual preachiness... In a few days I'll have nice things to say.

Next up, best EPs of the year. So exciting!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The contents of three hard drives I found in my room:

Maxtor SATA 160GB: 2GB of data. Daily Show/Colbert Report from 11/16/06 and 11/29/06, 1gb worth of music (Bad Astronaut, 2pac, Moneen), an application called Ipod Access for Windows. Boring.

Maxtor IDE 120GB: 100GB of data. The OS drive for my old desktop. My Documents contains: Old schoolwork, the WoW Burning Crusade installer, college applications, a bunch of old CD reviews. There's a miserably organized Recording folder, out of which I appear to still have everything, just organized better. Also pretty boring, although I don't know what I was hoping to find.

Seagate SATA 500gb: One Jack's Mannequin CD. BORING.

Turns out I've lead a boring life.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A second blog.

I had an idea, so I made it a blog:

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

I fucking love the Mountain Goats.