Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Best Music of the Year

If there's one thing I learned recently, it's that in order to be a real blog, I need some sort of "Top ____ of 2009" or "Top _____ of the Decade" list. While Top Whatever of the Decade would certainly pull me further up the cool blogger scale, let's be honest. I was 12 when this decade started, and I can barely remember what I did a month ago. Best of the Decade isn't happening, nor is Best Movies of Anything, because if you know me (and I assume you do), you know I see a lot of movies. I don't really feel like trying to remember all the movies I saw this year.

Which leaves me with the best music of the year. I started with what I thought would be the easy one: best albums. Apparently I was wrong. Now, I think most people who know me think I'm reasonably hip. I read Pitchfork (once in a while), like bands a lot of my friends have never heard of, think I have better taste in everything than most people, etc. While those things may all be true, the conclusion is a lie. I am not really hip, a point that was truly driven home when I realized that most albums I listened to this year that I considered "new" music (generally given to me by one of 3 people...) actually came out sometime in the last few years. So my favorite albums that came out this year (that I actually really liked and listened to, not just ones that were kinda better than other things)? Here's the three I could come up with: Andrew Bird- Noble Beast, Pete Doherty- Grace/Wastelands, and The Thermal- Now We Can See. To be fair, I really loved these three, especially Noble Beast, but still a pathetic showing.

So here's what you get instead: The Top 10 Albums I Listened to A Lot in 2009 (that weren't necessarily released this year), in no particular order. Coming soon will be the top songs of 2009.

- Andrew Bird, Noble Beast: Like I said, I really loved this one, and really, all Andrew Bird (so let's add those other albums to this entry). He's an incredibly talented musician, and his songs were perfect for both intense listening and background noise while I spent hours in the library. Bonus: they're folkish and quiet without being depressing, which is not something I can say for a lot of my folkish and quite music.

- The Thermals, Now We Can See: Apparently I had seen The Thermals open for Ted Leo a few years ago, but I guess they didn't make a huge impression. This year, at Pitchfork, they really did, especially their cover of Green Day's Basket Case, because seeing lots of hipsters sing that was pretty funny. But anyway, this kind of reminds me of middle school, but in the absolute best way (seriously, my music was the best part of middle school). And with all the stress of senior year, that's just what I needed sometimes.

- Rilo Kiley, everything: Seriously, everything. I'm sure I've said this about 100 different bands throughout my life, but I could probably listen to Rilo Kiley forever and never get tired of them. Sure, Jenny Lewis disappointed me a little with her solo albums, but I could never hold a grudge against her. Rilo Kiley just always seems perfect for whatever I'm feeling, whether it's happy or depressed or whatever.

- Jay Reatard, Matador Singles '08: For some reason this worked really well as driving music. And I did a lot of driving over the summer.

- Rolling Stones, 40 Licks: Also excellent driving music. And generally great summer music. Fuck the Beatles (jk, don't worry).

- Liam Finn, I'll Be Lightning: Really beautiful, and perfect for dreary days, which we've seemed to have a lot of this year.

(Notice how the explanations are getting shorter? Favorites are hard! Plus, this is obviously the best of the last 6 months. Remembering is hard too!)

- Peter Bjorn and John, Writer's Block: Amsterdam was continually stuck in my head for about a month straight. I know nothing can be hip once it was on Gossip Girl, but all the songs are super-catchy, and there's few things I love more than (sometimes) moody lyrics with catchy music.

- Wolf Parade, both their CDs because I listen to artists on shuffle and don't know the difference: I really don't know what to say. I started this project about 6 hours ago (and took a long break). I like it. The end.

- Sufjan Steven, Illinois: First of all, I spent a lot of time in Illinois this year, so it seems appropriate. But mostly, this is a great CD (Paste even picked it as their best of the decade). Besides being catchy/emotional/whatever to listen to, I think this CD, and perhaps the project as a whole, despite the fact that it was never finished, captures something fundamental about the relationship between place and music. Do I sound like an indie blogger asshole yet? Oh, and the song titles are awesome.

- Lupe Fiasco, The Cool: It's honestly a toss-up between this and Food and Liquor, but I probably listened to this one more. I love Paris, Tokyo, and why wouldn't I love rap by a self-proclaimed nerd?

So stayed tuned for Top Songs of 2009, which I promise will be better, and most likely longer. And I may even do the top movies, since I had a request for it...

P.S. I swear I didn't miss Wilco (the Album). Honestly, I just haven't quite listened to it enough to make any list, although I do really like Wilco (the Song).

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