NOTE: I’m doing TWO posts today and two tomorrow, because I want to post my top ten of 2013 by Christmas, and I’ve got a post I always post on Christmas Eve that I don’t want to skip just to keep these things together. So make sure you read them both! Or don’t. I don’t know how it works with you.
I like my 2009 list. LIKE it. But what with that magnificent bastard hindsight, I don’t LOVE it. There’s some good stuff there, but clearly by the end, I just went, “…annnnnnd, I don’t know…Cheap Trick.” On further listens, my initial feelings on Mastodon’s “Crack the Skye” aren’t as strong anymore. It’s still a good record, and still on the revised list–but it’s not #1. They were a breath of fresh air in a metal-scene that largely sucked, and I stand by it being a good record, but I’m nowhere near it being my record of the year for that year anymore. 2009 was a great year for music, and I made some good choices…but it was SUCH a good year that I just plain missed a few things and badly ordered some others. I think the big problem is that a lot of the records I bought in 2009 were “growers” and they just hadn’t grown on me yet. (That and I was just unaware of a few things.) You can read my original post here, but here’s the breakdown of what I listed then and what I’m listing now.
What I listed at the time:
Mastodon – “Crack the Skye”
Wilco – “Wilco (the album)”
…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead – “The Century of Self”
The Reverend Horton Heat – “Laughin’ & Cryin’”
Patterson Hood – “Murdering Oscar (and Other Love Songs)”
Bruce Springsteen – “Working on a Dream”
Elvis Costello – “Secret, Profane & Sugarcane”
Them Crooked Vultures – “Them Crooked Vultures”
Pearl Jam – “Backspacer”
Cheap Trick – “The Latest”
REVISED Top Ten Records of 2009:
1. U2 – No Line on the Horizon
I can’t believe I didn’t even MENTION this record in my post. I can’t believe I didn’t buy it at the time, that I thought, “…really? …U2? …still?” and I didn’t even give it a chance. Mea culpa. A thousand times, mea culpa. This is quite probably U2’s finest work. It is at one somber and joyous. “Moment of Surrender” alone makes one feel completely isolated and afraid, while also making one realize none of us is ever alone in this thing. It deserved to be my record of the year that year, and I didn’t even LISTEN to it. We all make mistakes, and that was one of mine. My brother listed it as his #1 at the time, and I thought he was crazy. Time makes fools of us all.
Favorite Tracks: “Magnificent,” “Moment of Surrender,” and “Breathe”
2. Pearl Jam – Backspacer
At the time I stated that I was hoping for more out of this record… What more could I POSSIBLY have been looking for? This is one of the all-time GREAT Pearl Jam records. Might be the best one since Vitaolgy. I don’t know how I missed it at the time. I don’t think there’s a single miss on the record. I guess I just wasn’t in the right mood when I made the list or something. What an oversight! (It was on the list, but it was down WAY too low.)
Favorite Tracks: “Johnny Guitar,” “Just Breathe,” and “Amongst the Waves”
3. Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More
What can I say? I was late to the party on Mumford & Sons. I have no excuse except that I knew a bunch of people who loved it and based on what I knew of their musical tastes, I assumed I’d hate it. (That happens a lot.) Then I saw them on an episode of Austin City Limits and realized I’d been an idiot. You know all of the reasons this is a great album, so I won’t bother re-stating them.
Favorite Tracks: “The Cave,” “White Blank Page,” “Little Lion Man,” and “Awake My Soul”
4. …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead – The Century of Self
Trail of Dead is one of my favorite bands that’s working today. Every time they put out a new record, I get excited because I know it’s going to be something I’ve never heard before. It’s going to be strange, but still great rock music, and for about 45-60 minutes, I’m going to enjoy walking around in whatever specific world they’ve decided to create this time. The world of “The Century of Self” is almost overwhelming. Phil Spector coined the term “Wall of Sound” to describe his recording concept…well Trail of Dead created the Wall of NOISE. (They don’t call it that, but it’s apt.) It’s heavy (without becoming metal) and overpowering from the first note. Excellent listen. No idea why these guys aren’t more recognized by the type of fan who loves Coheed & Cambria and Circa Survive…that’s a good fit. In fact, any of those three bands is a great gateway into the other two–and maybe throw Billy Talent in there too…but I digress…as always… (Side note: That entire album cover was drawn by the band’s frontman with a blue PEN. Yeah.)
Favorite Tracks: “Isis Unveiled,” “Halcyon Days,” and “Fields of Coal”
5. Wilco – Wilco (The Album)
This album is perfectly named. It’s the most Wilco record Wilco has ever made. It’s a solid rock record that doesn’t lose its folky roots. Catchy and yet off the beaten path. Worth a listen every time. Not a lot else to say about it.
Favorite Tracks: “Wilco (The Song),” “One Wing,” “Bull Black Nova,” and “I’ll Fight”
6. Reverend Horton Heat – Laughin’ and Cryin’
This is the country/rockabilly record Heat fans had been looking for for a long while. Heat’s offerings in recent years had felt kind of half-assed or just throw-aways–I mean, when you’re not a household name, why the fuck would you do a CHRISTMAS record??? But “Laughin’ and Cryin'” hit just right. The band did the ballsiest thing I’ve seen this type of act do and played a mostly country set in support of this record while sandwiched between Nashville Pussy and Motorhead. That act alone gets this one listed. The fact that it’s also got some great songs on it is just gravy. 🙂
Favorite Tracks: “Drinkin’ and Smokin’ Cigarettes,” “Death Metal Guys,” “Please Don’t Take the Baby to the Liquor Store,” and “Crazy Ex-Boyfriend”
7. Elvis Costello – Secret, Profane, and Sugarcane
A recurring theme in my Top Ten Lists in this part of the 2000s seems to be Elvis Costello. He writes so much music and so much of it is excellent that it’s almost a no-brainer. “Secret, Profane, and Sugarcane” is a wonderful record. Recorded on all acoustic instruments the songs are stripped down to their simple, lyrical genius. It’s four years later, and this record still sees my player fairly regularly.
Favorite Tracks: “Down Among The Wines And Spirits,” “I Dreamed Of My Old Lover,” and “Sulphur To Sugarcane”
8. Bruce Springsteen – Working on a Dream
The Boss delivered again. Classic E Street sound that felt completely familiar, without just being a rehash. A natural outflow of the “Magic” record that preceded it, but with plenty of its own flavor to offer. And some of the last recordings that we’d ever get from The Big Man, Clarence Clemons. Great record.
Favorite Tracks: “My Lucky Day,” “This Life,” and “Surprise, Surprise”
9. Antony and the Johnsons – The Crying Light
I don’t recall exactly when I first heard the beautiful, haunting voice of Antony Hegarty, but I know it was because of Lou Reed, who frequently worked with Antony as one of his background singers. I don’t know how to describe Antony’s music… All that comes to mind it “transcendent.” I connect with his art on a level I don’t even fully understand and I am baffled by the fact that more people don’t know who he is. “The Crying Light” doesn’t have my favorite of his songs on it, but it has some really amazing ones. It’s a sad and wonderful record, and I’m disappointed that it took me so long to find it. I wish I’d known about Antony and the Johnsons since the very start…but at least I have them now. So should you.
Favorite Tracks: “Epilepsy is Dancing,” “Kiss My Name,” and “The Crying Light”
10. Mastodon – Crack the Skye
I already said all I needed to about this one in the intro to the post… It sunk to #10 because I’ve seriously gotten back into metal since its release and…well…Mastodon is a great band, but they have become kind of a “gateway” band for those who want to get into metal but don’t know where to look. And that’s okay. And we NEED that. And that doesn’t make this NOT a great record…but in hindsight (there’s that word again) it just should’ve been at #10 rather than #1. Hey…there’s still a 1 in it, right?
Favorite Tracks: “Oblivion,” “The Czar” and “Crack the Skye”
- Patterson Hood – Murdering Oscar (and Other Love Songs)
- Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures
- Cheap Trick – The Latest
- Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
- Billy Talent – III
- Lamb of God – Wrath
- Frank Turner – Poetry of the Dead
- …and the other stuff in the original post.
2010 coming up shortly…