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.