Brian S.’s Top Albums Of 2009


Immolate Yourself

1. Telefon Tel Aviv – Immolate Yourself
I downloaded Immolate Yourself on a whim somewhere back in early 09. I really haven’t been able to put it down since. It’s endlessly interesting, bleeding with an innate sadness that seems to mock the fleeting danceability inherent in the group’s IDM roots. The switch TTV made to analogue tapes and synths paid off, giving Immolate Yourself an organic feeling not found in most electronic music. It’s aching, nostalgic, bittersweet, whatever endless adjectives you could possibly give to music that conveys a gray sky so perfectly.

An Imaginary Country

2. Tim Hecker – An Imaginary Country
For regular readers of this blog, Hecker needs no introduction. The undisputed king of glitchy fuzz-drenched tone orgies never fails, and certainly hasn’t with his ’09 output. For music as detached as it is from conventional structure, it holds, for me at least, a tremendously conventional attachment. It’s beautiful. Tim Hecker is the man.

Seasons in Verse

3. My Heart To Joy – Seasons In Verse
As much as I enjoy finely crafted electronic sound, there’s something about punk rock and emotive hardcore that keeps me coming back. Connecticut’s My Heart To Joy are no exception, churning out the best album thereof of the year. Seasons In Verse gives me that same warm, contented feeling that I got from first listening to Thursday when I was probably twelve. It connects right to the heart. Behind gruff, melodic vocals, the lyrics don’t make much sense on first listen, but somehow open up and fill themselves with meaning once you’re compelled to sing along. And you will be.

Can't Maintain

4. Andrew Jackson Jihad – Can’t Maintain
I really don’t know shit about this whole ‘folk punk’ thing, but I am pretty confident in my knowledge that Andrew Jackson Jihad is kickass. Can’t Maintain is a fantastic pastiche of serious and hilarious, stripped down and raw, letting the lyrics carry the message. I think that rather appropriate, for as witty and sharp as it is, it speaks to rather simple themes we all know. Self-deprecation, insecurity about our work, people we used to know and forgot.

Axe To Fall

5. Converge – Axe To Fall
Converge needs no fucking introduction. After two decades they’ve shown they can still melt faces, kick asses, and take no prisoners, tearing out the most pissed off hardcore your ears will ever know. Their latest is no exception. From the trashy throwback solos, the relentless chaotic pounding of Ben Koller’s untraceable drumming, to Jake Bannon’s unholy screech, Axe To Fall lives up to what Converge is and always has been; the soundtrack to relentless rage. The barely intelligible punk rock one liners (“I need to learn to love me”) still hit just as hard after all these years.

What Happened

6. Emeralds – What Happened
What Happened‘s five tracks were instantly infectious for me. The Cleveland upstarts are already pros at what they do: heavily layered, textured electronic soundscapes. Endless synth melodies and voices drift in and out, back and forth, as noise and sound float subtly around them. Beyond any other pretense, it’s the most sonically interesting album to come out this year.

Eating Us

7. Black Moth Super Rainbow – Eating Us
The first thing I noticed about BMSR’s ’09 output is that it’s definitely an album, a departure for a band that’s consistently put out attention-deficit albums of lo-fi psychedelic synth riffs and beats. But the markedly song-oriented change has been a good one, full of catchy melodies and still retaining that kind of mystical-cult-playing-pagan-dance-songs-in-the-middle-of-the-woods aesthetic.

Open Up Finders Please

8. Age Sixteen – Open Up Finders, Please
Much of what I wrote about My Heart To Joy applies to Age Sixteen as well. They churn out raw, frantic screamo, a wall of complex drums, clean guitar, and ripped vocal chords. It’s urgent and hectic, barreling through one song and onto the other before you know it. As far as simple, passionate intensity goes, this is the emo record of the year.


9. Passion Pit – Manners
Fuck me if this isn’t the happiest, most dancy album in a long time. It took me a long time to warm up to Passion Pi,t but when I did I couldn’t stop it. Their brand of infectious synth-pop just gets to me every time. There are some tracks that really fall flat for me, but the pure pop genius of songs like Little Secrets and Folds In Your Hands carry it.

Opiate Sun

10. Jesu – Opiate Sun
Though this is a four song EP, it’s still five minutes longer than Open Up Finders, Please. Besides, Justin Broadrick never releases full length albums anyways. True to form in more than one way, this is Jesu by the books: slow, crunchy, syrupy shoegaze-metal, complete with effected guitar, simple, processed drums and JB’s soft, poignant vocal harmonies. That said, Jesu by the books is still great Jesu.

Overall a very fine year for music. Here are some runners up who are also quite good but didn’t quite crack the top ten for me:

Thursday Common Existence
Do Make Say ThinkThe Other Truths
TortoiseBeacons of Ancestorship
CursiveMama, I’m Swollen
If These Trees Could TalkAbove The Earth, Below The Sky
Fuck ButtonsTarot Sport
The Dear HunterAct III: Life and Death
Daïtro Y
Animal CollectiveMerriweather Post Pavilion

Brian S.


One Response to “Brian S.’s Top Albums Of 2009”

  1. RJ Says:

    none of these are Gucci Mane WTF??!!!

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