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Old 12-12-2009, 02:35 AM  
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Reaper's Top 10, Nay, Top 25 Albums of 2009.

For years I've posted my 10 favorite albums of the year on this very subforum. 2009 was such a strong year in music that I thought I'd expand my list by 15 entries. Plus, I'll be adding YouTube embeds to a good song (not necessarily representative) from each album. So bear with me as I add each entry. Character limits and all.

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Old 12-12-2009, 02:37 AM   #2
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Honorable Mentions:
Lady Gaga – The Fame Monster
: To be fair this is an 8-track EP of new material bundled with Gaga’s 2008 stroke of genius The Fame. It would make my Top 25 if not for this compilation status. Lady Gaga is genius. She takes the daring, sexually adventurous (and ambiguous) style of Madonna and mixes it with the aesthetic qualities of Bjork. Beyond the danceable electronic sounds and killer hooks there are some sly lyrics. The songs may be waterlogged from red wine but it doesn’t slow down the dancing.






Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Live Anthology: Another compilation that I don’t think should count towards the actual top 25. It is, however, the best musical release of the entire year. 4 discs (5 if you get the ultra-deluxe version) of live Heartbreakers material (and plenty of interesting cover songs). That’s the hard sell and its all you need but I’ll go on for the Hell of it. The songs are scattered from all throughout the 35 year history of the band yet the release feels smooth. The flow from each track works wonders even as the years skip forwards or backwards by decades. The Heartbreakers are the best live act I’ve ever seen. This release proves why.




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Old 12-12-2009, 02:43 AM   #3
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25.) Celesty – Vendetta: 2009 was another down year for quality power metal… but don’t tell that to Celesty. Their potent mix of vocal melodies ala Rhapsody of Fire, operatic backing vocals, galloping, hard-edged guitar riffs and orchestral instrumentation finally hit upon that elusive missing piece – songwriting. Songs like “Fading Away” and especially “Autumn Leaves” evoke an epic, medieval atmosphere in a lovely and unironic way. Plenty of bands do that but no other band on 2009 did so with the songwriting success apparent on Vendetta. Tight songs, fun times.



24.) The Mars Volta – Octahedron: This was being billed as The Mars Volta’s “acoustic” album but it’s not acoustic at all. What it is however is something tighter and less balls-out-insane than previous Volta albums. The songs are shorter, tighter, and feature far fewer bizarre instrumental passages of varying guitar effects. The highlight is “Cotopaxi,” a short burst of energy that is the spiritual successor to TMV’s Grammy-winning song “Wax Simulacra.” You know what to expect though; if you dig the Volta then you’ll dig this album. (Curious note: TMV’s last album was #2 over all on my list of 2008 albums. Is Octahedron really that much of a step down or is 2009 just a way stronger year for music? The answer is some of both.)



23.) Katatonia – Night Is The New Day: Ever since the early-to-mid part of the decade, Katatonia have not been a metal band. They’ve been playing a doom metal inspired brand of gothic/hard rock and they’ve been making beautiful music doing so. This new album is no exception. Jonas Renkse’s sparse, thin vocal melodies will absolutely entrance you has the crushing tone of the doomy guitars collapses the melancholy of the songs on top of you. This album is more keyboard-driven than Katatonia’s prior two albums; this works in places and falls somewhat flat in the songs where the guitars are playing the B-role. Overall, the album is very solid. If the songs were more memorable then this album would be much higher than it is. As is, its super-enjoyable and perfect for these winter nights.



22.) Amorphis – Skyforger: Amorphis is a band who, like Katatonia, started playing mostly hard rock since 2005. Their melodic death metal inspired brand of rock is also very successful. I defy you to listen to the first two tracks, “Sampo” and “Silver Bride,” and not get swept up in the hooky guitar lines and catchy choruses. The atmosphere generated from the keys is tastefully restrained and only serves the material. This is a great album for the car – its energetic, catchy, fun and not an intellectual exercise to appreciate like some of the other albums on this list. This beats the dicks off of whatever new hard rock is playing on your local rock radio station.

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Old 12-12-2009, 02:51 AM   #4
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21.) Guilt Machine – On This Perfect Day: Arjen Anthony Luccassen, mastermind of Ayreon, has made yet another successful side-project. Guilt Machine features Arjen’s familiar guitar stylings, mixes it with the brash lead playing of Lori Linstruth and somehow they make something slower, brooding and doomy. Arjen provides backing vocals for relative unknown Jasper Steverlinck, who sings for a Dutch pop-rock band. His clear timbre, lack of vibrato and surprising range makes for vocals that are beautiful but sort of unsettling at the same time. It both accentuates and gives contrast to the dark lyrics of this album about humanity’s psychological ills. One of the better prog releases of the year.



20.) Chali 2na – Fish Outta Water: Anyone remember Jurassic 5? That was an awesome hip hop group, though sadly short lived. Everyone’s favorite emcee from that group was Chali 2na. His long-anticipated solo debut took almost 8 years but it was all worth it. His laid-back, easygoing flow and casual wordplay sounds even better than it actually is because of Chali’s deep-ass baritone voice. If you hear him rap once then you’ll never forget it. The beats are nothing to write home about; this album is good solely because of Chali 2na’s charisma and skill. And that’s OK.



19.) Persefone - Shin-Ken: Persefone is one of those rare death metal bands that can blend all sorts of genres and crazy-ass sounds together and make something that is both chaotic and organic. I adore those bands who can pull it off well. This was one of my most anticipated albums of the whole year, and maybe I set it up to fail with lofty expectations. It’s a step-down from their other work. The first two tracks are rote, simplistic discard. The rest of the album, though, is ****ing killer. The riffs are schizophrenic , the melodies complex, the brutality brutal and the keyboards are used to excellent effect. They change moods and atmospheres at the drop of a hat but almost never in a way that feels forced. Persefone at their most ‘meh’ is still a lot better than most bands.



18.) Tech N9ne – K.O.D.: The first real shocker of my list; it’s a really strong album that many of you will feel should be rated higher. This album marks Tech getting back into the darkest recesses of his imagination for an entirely grim album that borders on horrorcore at times. Tech and Krizz Kaliko are their usual stellar selves. The guests mostly do a decent job trying to keep up. It’s a Tech N9ne album people; it’s gonna’ be good. What keeps it out of the top 10 is the lack of super-memorable songs. I don’t think that any of the tracks here are going to be all-time Tech classics. Killer, for all its fluff, had some standout tracks. K.O.D.’s best moments don’t shine as brightly as Killer’s, but this albums consistency is to be commended.

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Old 12-12-2009, 02:58 AM   #5
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17.) BLK JKS – After Robots: BLK JKS are from Africa. They play a style of rock that is raging and artful, carefully constructed yet brimming with kinetic energy. There is a perfect comparison to be made: they sound like TV On The Radio mixed with The Mars Volta. Doesn’t that sound awesome? It really ****ing is. I know that this album got some attention in U.S. mags but not enough. It is a debut that sparkles with promise. They know how to blend genres so well and demonstrate a musical maturity beyond their years.



16.) Riverside – Anno Domini High Definition: Straight-up, no-frills progressive metal. Its Riverside’s heaviest album to date but that is tempered with the brilliant use of horn instruments and a bluesy lead guitar tone to temper the heavy, off-time rhythms. There aren’t egregious solo passages, long-winded jam sessions, or masturbatory bridges. The songs are plenty progressive without affecting their ability to be good songs. Dream Theater (who incidentally released a good album this year called Black Clouds and Silver Linings, their best since Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory) should take notice.



15.) P.O.S. – Never Better: this album isn’t the future of hip hop but it comes damn close. P.O.S. is one of the best rappers you’ve never heard of. The Minneapolis MC is a part of the Doomtree collective (they are the best hip hop group you’ve never heard of. “****ing Brillant” doesn’t begin to cover the collective Doomtree material) but releases albums through the innovative label Rhymesayers. Unlike most rappers out there, P.O.S. loves punk and hardcore punk as much as he does rap (he even plays bass in a punk band on the side). That punk sensibility and sound is all over this album. The grating guitars and frenetic drums give Never Better a sonic quality that stands apart from the rest of the hip hop world. It is exciting, innovative stuff; P.O.S. even eschews the conventions of verse-chorus-verse song structure for most of the album. I want to love this album even more but I’m no big fan of punk or hardcore. That said this album is a stroke of genius. If you like either rap or punk (and especially both) you owe it to yourself to have your mind blown by this album.



14.) Baroness – Blue Record: Baroness hail from Athens, Ga, the same town as Mastodon. And indeed that band’s sludgy, groovy kind of metal heavily informs Baroness’ work. But they’ve got their own thing going on, and it’s frankly exciting. I tend to get suspicious when such magazines as Spin talk up a metal band (or any band, really) but Baroness deserves whatever hype it gets. The guitar tone on this album is bananas. One guitar is distorted, doomy, and heavy as ****. The lead guitar is full of treble and plays these weird minor harmonies and generally sounds “happy.” You will legitimately freak out over how fresh and original the solos sound. Then you will be stampeded to death by the heaviness. This is southern-fried and proud of it, but an altogether new recipe on an old favorite.

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Old 12-12-2009, 03:02 AM   #6
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13.) Mos Def – The Ecstatic: Mos Def is one of the very best rappers on Earth when he wants to be. Most of the time, since his seminal album Black on Both Sides, he’s been too wrapped up in his immeasurable creativity to stick to basics. On much of this album, Mos returns to form. The songs have been kept short and do only what they need to do. Mos kills it over the whole damn album. That said, as a complete album it falls a little bit short of greatness. However, you absolutely cannot miss three songs: “Quiet Dog Bite Hard,” “Life In Marvelous Times” and Mos' magnum opus, “Casa Bey,” are some of the best songs he’s ever recorded. They are hip hop music at its very best.



12.) Rudra - Brahmavidya: Transcendental I: Rudra is an Indian death metal band. Like the country India. The majestic rhythms and vocal melodies from that huge country are used to full effect on what is otherwise a punishing, corrosive album of death metal brutality. This album, Rudra’s fourth, features the band’s tightest songwriting and best incorporation of native music into a death metal framework. This album just ****ing slays. It’s metal as all-Hell yet thrilling in its exoticness.



11.) The Lord Weird Slough Feg – Ape Uprising: One of America’s two best bands (the other being Agalloch. Suck it, Wilco fans) finally releases an album that can be called their worst. It still rules. It starts slowly with two slow, bumpy songs (Slough Feg albums usually start with a Goddamned bang), but quickly corrects itself by returning to the uptempo, folk-inflected dual-guitar blast of pure metal glory. Also, this is a concept album about a world revolt of monkeys. This album is irresistible and it grooves along with that patented blend of being-better-at-music-than-every-other-band thing that Slough Feg does so well.



10.) Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion: Yeah, yeah, this is one of those much-hyped indie rock bands/albums that I’m supposed to hate. But I can’t; this is tremendous. Just listen to the pure joy that is the album highlight “My Girls.” Infectious, celebratory keyboards lead the charge for the exuberant twin-lead vocals to wax happy on the desire to provide a house for wife and daughter. This noisepop outfit makes all manner of disparate electronic sounds come together in such human songs. Big heart and big talent are two things that Animal Collective have in spades and this is probably their career-defining album.

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Old 12-12-2009, 03:08 AM   #7
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09.) Florence + The Machine – Lungs: Holy shit this is great. I can’t help but think that every single time I listen to this record, which is all the damned time now. Big, boisterous female vocals, crafty and witty female vocals, actually pretty much any kind of awesome female vocal that matters apart from Broadway musical lead is on this record. It’s smart and thoroughly engaging; indie pop at its most enjoyable. I’ll let the AMAZING song “Drumming Song” speak for itself.



08.) Wolf – Ravenous: Straight-up, no-frills Heavy ****ing Metal is not dead. Wolf keeps it alive quite nicely. This is Wolf’s best album, which makes it one of the best heavy metal albums of the whole decade. Don’t you miss Judas Priest at their finest? Spin this album and headbang your balls off. The vocals aren’t perfect but they’ll do; the guitar attack and skillful drumming are more than enough to tickle your metallic sensibilities. The songs are great. Seriously, I can’t even write very much about this because “straight-up, no-frills Heavy ****ing Metal” says all that needs to be said.



07.) Mastodon – Crack the Skye: Mastodon finally decided to fully-embrace their progressive side and the result is this masterpiece. Hell, this album is so good that it made #3 on Time Magazine’s album of the year list, and that critic generally thinks metal is for stupidheads. Yeah, there’s a 14-minute long song about Russain czars and shit but like all great progressive music you won’t know that a lot of time has passed. The songwriting is so clutch here. Check out the ethereal quality to the tri-lead vocals on album opener “Oblivion” or the eclectic use of banjo on “Divinations.” This album kicks ass, tells a ****ed-up story about dead people teleporting their souls into Russians through space portals and shit, and does so with progressive sensibilities.



06.) Brother Ali – The Truth Is Here (EP): Brother Ali blows away nearly every other rapper in existence. From every quantifiable standpoint he rules. Sick flow, sick lyrics, sick quality of voice, sick songs; he makes other MCs look sick-like-throwing-up by comparison. This EP was meant as a primer for his full-length 3rd album Us, but is perfectly content to be one of the best albums of the year by its own damn self. Songs range from topical (“Philistine David,” about a 16-year-old suicide bomber) to poetic (“Palm the Joker,” one of my two favorite songs of the year). Goddamn, this is good music.

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Old 12-12-2009, 03:15 AM   #8
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05.) Devin Townsend Project – Ki: Devin, sober for the first time in years, decided to make a 4-album concept album. The first two albums came out this year. The 2nd album, Addicted, was not-quite good enough to make my top 25 (its mix of industrial rock and pop-hard-rock ala Nickleback actually worked but outside the concept is only a 7.5/10 kind of album whereas everything on this list is at least an 8). The 3rd album will be the heaviest thing Devy has ever done (which is a ****ing statement considering his band Strapping Young Lad) and the 4th an atmospheric drone album. But it all starts with Ki, a mostly acoustic album that’s all about dealing with anger by throwing a fire blanket over it at the last minute. This album features many genius “blue balls” moments – places where the song builds up to the kind of energetic explosion typical of a Devin Townsend song only to not explode, delaying the emotional release until the 2nd album. The restraint, musically and emotionally, is evident of a Devin Townsend in control of his full mind for the first time in a long time.



04.) Brother Ali – Us: The best rap album of the year comes from the man behind the 2nd best – Brother Ali. This album, contrary to Ali’s previous two albums that were all about him, tells the stories of the other kinds of people in this world and life. There are songs about teen homosexuals, pained lovers, families fighting every day for table scraps and a nation still reeling from the psychological effects of the slave trade. It all starts off with an energetic, horn-and-guitar driven blast of unadulterated hip hop music called “The Preacher.” If you listen to this album and still don’t like rap then you can go get canceraids and die a miserable death because this shit is amazing.



03.) maudlin of the Well – Part the Second: the very cool true story behind this album from avant-garde masters maudlin of the Well (a band that has broken up, mind you) is that maudlin fans completely financed the recording of this album. The fans knew that there was an unrecorded album concept in the minds of the band; snippets had been performed live. Thanks to the wonders of PayPal we all get to enjoy this album (a free download at motW’s website) of post-rock splendor. Strings, weird vocals, stirring chord progressions and a whole lot of surprise and intrigue make for a unique listening experience. Unlike other maudlin material this is not a heavy, post-metal album. Its’ post-rock all the way, tailor-made for fans of Sigur Ros and Mogwai. It is uplifting and beautiful and altogether a must-listen, especially for the price.



02.) Kalisia – Cybion: Be forewarned – this album is certifiably insane. It is crazy as ****. It’s a two-disc concept album that took 14 years to write and fully record about a race of aliens come back to Earth to reap the harvest of life that they, not any kind of God, were responsible for planting on our blue planet. The aliens speak in a deep alien language that the band invented. Musically this album is just as ****ered. This is Persefone’s Shin-Ken on meth; warped guitar solos, crushing drums everywhere, harsh vocals playing with female clean vocals. This album is progressive to a degree that it will scare plenty of you off. I had an adventurous friend look at me appalled, wondering how I can enjoy something so ****ing heavy and difficult to listen to. I laughed in his face, threw up the horns and turned up the volume. Best part is that the album has incredible replay value. The songs are broken up into small sections, so no one YouTube clip is going to capture the album. This is because the album is really one whole, complete song just broken up into different tracks.

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Old 12-12-2009, 03:18 AM   #9
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01.) Porcupine Tree – The Incident: this is another album that is made up of one long-ass song just broken up into different tracks. Disc 2 has 4 separate songs but disc 1 is a 55 minute long song called “The Incident” that showcases Stephen Wilson’s brilliance for writing music. Everything you love about Porcupine Tree is present here: neo-Floyd progginess, Opeth-inspired heavy passages, wry lyrics. This isn’t PT’s best album but PT’s ‘above-average’ is often good enough to dominate other albums, and that is the case for 2009.












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Old 12-12-2009, 03:39 AM   #10
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Good stuff. I had never heard of Slough Feg, commencing downlo... er uh purchasing.
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Old 12-12-2009, 03:54 AM   #11
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Also, what did you think of BlakRoc? I liked it, especially Mos' solo track On the Vista.
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Old 12-12-2009, 04:35 AM   #12
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Old 12-12-2009, 05:47 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by TrickyNicky View Post
Also, what did you think of BlakRoc? I liked it, especially Mos' solo track On the Vista.
BlackRoc was good. Black Keys + rap = win

No Phoenix, no Wilco, no Grizzly Bear, no Yeah Yeah Yeahs, no Muse, no Them Crooked Vultures?

Methinks our tastes don't quite align. I'll have to come up with mine in the next couple of days.
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Last edited by MoreLemonPledge; 12-12-2009 at 06:08 AM..
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MoreLemonPledge Forgot to Remove His Claytex and Got Toxic Shock Syndrome.MoreLemonPledge Forgot to Remove His Claytex and Got Toxic Shock Syndrome.MoreLemonPledge Forgot to Remove His Claytex and Got Toxic Shock Syndrome.MoreLemonPledge Forgot to Remove His Claytex and Got Toxic Shock Syndrome.MoreLemonPledge Forgot to Remove His Claytex and Got Toxic Shock Syndrome.MoreLemonPledge Forgot to Remove His Claytex and Got Toxic Shock Syndrome.MoreLemonPledge Forgot to Remove His Claytex and Got Toxic Shock Syndrome.MoreLemonPledge Forgot to Remove His Claytex and Got Toxic Shock Syndrome.MoreLemonPledge Forgot to Remove His Claytex and Got Toxic Shock Syndrome.MoreLemonPledge Forgot to Remove His Claytex and Got Toxic Shock Syndrome.MoreLemonPledge Forgot to Remove His Claytex and Got Toxic Shock Syndrome.
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Old 12-12-2009, 07:11 AM   #14
BigMeatballDave BigMeatballDave is offline
That's a cancerous meatball!
 
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Persefone - Instrumentally, that freakin rocks. Love their sound, however they get a huge, massive FAIL vocally! WTF?
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BigMeatballDave is obviously part of the inner Circle.BigMeatballDave is obviously part of the inner Circle.BigMeatballDave is obviously part of the inner Circle.BigMeatballDave is obviously part of the inner Circle.BigMeatballDave is obviously part of the inner Circle.BigMeatballDave is obviously part of the inner Circle.BigMeatballDave is obviously part of the inner Circle.BigMeatballDave is obviously part of the inner Circle.BigMeatballDave is obviously part of the inner Circle.BigMeatballDave is obviously part of the inner Circle.BigMeatballDave is obviously part of the inner Circle.
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Old 12-12-2009, 10:25 AM   #15
Reaper16 Reaper16 is offline
Eat/Sleep/Procrastinate/Repeat
 
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Pardon the typos and lackluster writing in those descriptions; I didn't feel like editing or polishing at 3:00 in the morning.
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