Well this was actually much more tricky than anticipated. Since my heroin like addiction to Spotify developed, I’ve gone off the musical beaten track somewhat and end up taking swerving journeys through The Waterboys’ back catalog, Brian Eno’s experimental ambient albums and hideous amounts of French dance, most notably M83. In this age of mouth watering musical emancipation I don’t seem listen to many new releases unless I review them. So with these encouraging words in mind here’s my somewhat skewed list of 2009’s top releases (in no particular order):
Bats – Red in Tooth & Claw
Mouth watering math-core with clever metal riffs and excellent vocals from these lesser known Dubliners. Unique, textured and full of attitude, it’s an absolute all round winner.
Vladislav Delay – Tummaa
Eno-come-Aphex Twin style ambient stylings that are not quite music, and not quite abstract noise but together make a superb, sophisticated and emotional whole.
Diarmaid O’Meara – Structured Noise
A techno album that is less about cliché and more about solid, unforgiving hypnotic beats. A total energetic gem.
The XX – XX
Probably the most anticipated “indie” release this year that managed to hold it’s own despite the hype. This subtle and delicate record is barefaced in swimming against the current tide of it's peers. Fantastic.
Nirvava – Live At Reading
Yes, more raping Nirvana’s back catalog – But instead of shite demos we get a full recording of their legendary ’92 set which is out and out scrappy punk rock. Still worth dipping in and out of more than most albums.
U2 – No Line on the Horizon
More comebacks from rock dinosaurs, but this record is the best thing since The Joshua Tree. It might be cringe worthy but this reminds us why, despite reticence, we all have at least one U2 song we really like. Bloody Bono.
Gallows – Grey Britain
Incomprehensibly and relentlessly British, Gallows have classic punk running through their viens but manage to sound contemporary and exciting. Where the British metal scene should be heading.
Bat for Lashes – Two Suns
Stunning second offering from Natasha Khan that's so slick, spangly and well produced you just want to take a bite out of it. Deep, harmonious and adventurous.
Alan Wilkis – Pink & Purple EP
Yes, it’s not an album and yes I reviewed it for Music Liberation, but I’ve listened to it since. Phat, funky and more danceable that almost everything else, this is Prince’s real heir.
Alice in Chains – Black Gives Way to Blue
A brave comeback that may not be as heartfelt as their final Unplugged release with Layne, but nonetheless is a worthy rival against the somewhat tiresome eponymous third album. Worth including just for the band’s superb Lazarus style resurrection.
Other footnotes include:
Biggest Disappointment of 2009
This has to go to Stellastarr* with their third album 'Civilised' - A forgettable and exceedingly unremarkable outing from the New Yorkers who continue to decline in quality.
Look Out For in 2010:
The two albums that are within my targets for this year are iLiKETRAiNS new record, set to be more reverb soaked atmospherics and Errors new album, which is sure to be more spectacular angular rhythms.
However, I'm expecting a good few of the best of 2010 won't be on anyone's horizons as of yet…!