Material Things: My Favorite Albums of 2009, #40-31

In case you missed the first 10, you can catch up rather quickly before I move on to the next set of my favorite albums of the year…

Everybody neat n’ pretty?  Then on with the list!


40. FanfarloReservoir

Charming indie folk with a sea-chanty swoon, Fanfarlo‘s debut LP shows off their multi-instrumental talents as well as leader Simon Balthazar‘s awesome last name.

39. East HundredPassenger

Philadelphia’s co-ed combo sets their enigmatic-yet-personal lyrics against a distorted backdrop of guitar noise and woozy analog sequencers.  Beril Guceri‘s vocals veer between the playful coo of Kim Deal and the atonal bursts of Exene Cervenka, but the band always sounds united in an original groove.

38. Los StraitjacketsThe Further Adventures Of Los Straitjackets

The masked men of surf return with their first purely instrumental album since 2004.  With the return to form comes an instantly enjoyable set of tunes, with all the trademark character and virtuosity that fans of the quartet have come to expect.

37. Bat For Lashes Two Suns

Emulating such ethereal voices as Kate Bush and Annie Lennox, Natasha Khan ups the melodrama for her stunning second album.  As if to keep things from getting too morbid, she injects a slight amount of electronica, but just enough to keep from becoming a tasteless act of audience pandering.  This might not be an inviting record so much as it is a beguiling one.

36. WilcoWilco (The Album)

A solid, if not groundbreaking set from the alt-rock veterans.  Though I took issue with the album’s less-than-spectacular lyrics, the real star of Wilco (The Album) is the music.  With a lineup as strong as they have (for now, at least), that shouldn’t really come as a surprise.

35. The Brian Setzer OrchestraSongs From Lonely Avenue

Setzer‘s first all-original album in forever, Songs From Lonely Avenue is possibly the best album he’s done with the Orchestra.  Featuring everything you could want from a Setzer album (over-the-top arrangements, pyrotechnic guitar playing, homages to big band classics), Songs From Lonely Avenue is a much-needed jolt to the icon’s post-Stray Cats career.

34. Grizzly BearVeckatimest

It might not be as incredibly incredible as so many people think, but Veckatimest is a complicated and beautiful album.  For a band that started as one member’s bedroom project, Grizzly Bear‘s strength lies in its democratic songwriting and singing policy.  That variety gives the impression of many albums in one, yet those harmonies bring it all back together again.

33. The Juan MacLeanThe Future Will Come

John MacLean splits the spotlight with fellow robot Nancy Whang on this collection of new songs and smash dance singles.  The full 12 minute version of “Happy House” is included, likely for the express purpose of making you feel so damn excellent.

32. Girls Album

A record that’s as fun as it is painful, Album is such a deep set of jumpy songs that it’s easy to forget lead singer Christopher Owens‘ tough and traumatizing childhood.  Perhaps the peppiness is meant to uplift, in which case, mission most definitely accomplished.

31. Sonic YouthThe Eternal

Another veteran band returning with a strong set of tunes.  Veering away from the more mellow and melodic guitar rock of their past few albums, Sonic Youth get back to their art-punk roots with some of their most aggressive songs in years.  Though they’re mostly nearing 60 (Steve Shelley and Mark Ibold remain the youngsters at 47), the legends continue to prove their influence and importance.

Part 3 awaits!!

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~ by E. on December 22, 2009.

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