my top 50 albums of 2009...

Posted by Brad Schelden, December 15, 2009 01:20pm | Post a Comment

thieves like us play music
Thieves Like Us
- Play Music (Shelflife)

This was one of those albums that I was excited about before I even heard it. I knew I would be falling in love with this one from the review alone. And the love only got stronger as time went on. I couldn't get enough of this one! It may not seem like much at first, but it truly is fantastic. I still don't know too much about this band. All I know is that they are from Sweden and they like New Order. The album is that sort of dark and new wave style but it doesn't really fall into one genre alone. Favorite songs on the album are "Fass," "Miss You," and "Drugs in My Body." The label Shelflife has put out good albums before, but nothing as good as this. I had really big hopes for this band this year to catch on in America but I don't think they ever really got that big here, which is the fate of many bands that I have fallen in love with before. They might just be a bit too weird or dark and slow. The album does not hit you over the head at first but it does get under your skin and the songs are catchy in their own special way. I highly recommend it. They do remind me a bit of the album by The Teenagers that I fell in love with last year, just without the silliness. A fantastic little album.

listen to "Fass" by Thieves Like Us...


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the pains of being pure at heart
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart -
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart (Slumberland)

This album still gets me all happy and giggly -- even just looking at the album cover or saying the band's name out loud. The album cover reminds me of Strawberry Switchblade or My Bloody Valentine but The Pains of Being Pure at Heart sound more like Belle & Sebastian or Camera Obscura. This album is 100% pure twee pop, like nature intended it to be. The songs are cute and adorable but they are also so much more than that. They all tell a story and bring you into a different world, like watching your favorite movie when you are sad. This album can cure any bad mood...unless you hate twee music. Then it might make your mood a bit worse! But even then I think you might have a hard time not falling in love with this album. I saw them live at the Echo not too long after the album came out and it was a great show but I think they still had some stuff to work out. It was just hard to capture the brilliance of the album in a live setting. It is one of those records meant to be listened to in your own bedroom, music for those of us that grew up with The Cure and The Smiths; for those of those that fell in love with The Softies and The Aislers Set in the 90's. Slumberland was the perfect label for this band to end up on -- I really couldn't think of a better label for them. I have been a big fan of Slumberland for a while, since it brought us albums by The Softies, Boyracer, Velocity Girl, The Aislers Set, Henry's Dress, Lodger, Rocketship, and The Crystal Stilts. The Pains are one of my favorite discoveries of the year. I am happy to have them in my life.

listen to "Young Adult Friction" by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart...

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Telefon Tel Aviv
- Immolate Yourself (BPitch Control)

I didn't get into this album when it first came out. It took me a couple of months to find out about this one. I had heard of the band before and had always been intrigued by them but didn't really jump into the world of Telefon Tel Aviv until this year. My buddy Oliver introduced me to this one. It reminds me a bit of The Sun & the Neon Light by Booka Shade. That was one of my favorites from last year that sounded like a more electronic and more modern Depeche Mode. This is the kind of dark electronica that gets me all happy. The group is from Chicago and made up of Charles Cooper and Joshua Eustis. Charles died days after this album came out, which only makes this recording more dark and more important. I wish I had gotten into this band earlier but I am so happy that I finally found them!

listen to "M" by Telefon Tel Aviv...

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xx xx
- XX (XL Recordings)

I became a fan of this band the day I first heard the single "Teardrops." The next song I fell in love with was "Crystalised." I bought the 7" and listened to it every day. It just got me and I couldn't stop listening. I patiently awaited the release of the full length and loved it just as much. These kids were not even alive when Ian Curtis of Joy Division killed himself but they somehow have managed to capture the darkness and emotional intensity of a band that few have been able to come close to. I have not had a chance to see this band live yet but I am looking forward to that day. I am also glad this band is getting the recoginition they deserve. This album really is that good. You seriously need it in your collection. You should not live another day without this album! Just try to only listen to "Teardrops" only once!

listen to "Teardrops" by XX...

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the gossip music for men
The Gossip
- Music For Men (Columbia)

I have loved The Gossip for about 10 years now! They first came around with The Gossip EP on K Records in 1999. Beth Ditto has one of those amazing voices that is hard to resist. I fell in love immediately. The combination of her voice and the punk garage-y sounds of the band make some amazingly addictive songs. But The Gossip is really all about live shows. Those first early sets I saw them perform in the early 00's remain some of my favorite shows ever. Beth's amazing energy and sincerity is somehow transferred to everyone in the audience. You really feel like you are part of one big family when you go to a Gossip show. Beth really brings the songs to life and makes them sound better than the recording ever could. The Gossip really didn't start to get noticed until their amazing album from 2006, Standing in the Way of Control. This new album is their first on a major label and it was produced by Rick Rubin. It has a different, more polished sound than their previous work but I love it just the same. The songs are catchy and loud. This band is simply impossible to ignore anymore! The first single, "Heavy Cross," is fantastic, and the entire album is really full of great songs! The Gossip also played an instore in Hollywood this year -- check out the pictures here!

listen to "Love Long Distance" by The Gossip...

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fever ray
Fever Ray - Fever Ray (Mute)

Fever Ray is Karin Andersson from The Knife. This new project sounds pretty much the same as The Knife, which made me very happy! I really, really loved Silent Shout by The Knife, so was happy to find more brilliant songs by Karin on this album. The songs are weird and dark, electronic sounds with weird dark vocals. It is one of those albums that is messed up and beautiful at the same time. The songs are intense and will stay with you for a long while. Fever Ray was high on my list of the best shows of the year, just as The Knife show that I saw years ago was one of the best that I have ever seen. The album makes me cry and it makes me full of joy at the same time, just like any fantastic album should! The videos are also amazing for the songs on this album. They are worth your viewing time. I have many favorite songs from this album but I am giving you "Triangle Walks" to listen to. Like most of her songs, it doesn't get really good until about the middle of the song.

listen to "Triangle Walks" by Fever Ray...

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Silversun Pickups
- Swoon (Dangerbird)

Swoon is the band's second full length album, but I had somehow never heard their first album, Carnavas! Not sure how it passed me by, but I may have just avoided it. I totally had the wrong idea about this band. I think I just didn't like the name. I imagined them sounding like a mix of Dave Matthews Band and Fall Out Boy. In other words, I thought I would hate them. Still, I decided to give this new album a chance and realized I had been totally wrong. I really fell in love with the album and listened to it over and over again for months. This sort of became my album to listen to in the car, so I now associate it with the freeways of Los Angeles -- and somehow I still love it! The band is influenced by elements of shoegaze. They sound sort of like Smashing Pumpkins and My Bloody Valentine but also really have their own little unique sound, a sound that is not normally what you would expect from a band coming out of Silverlake. The album does not have a bad song on it! I love it and so should you.

listen to "The Royal We" by Silversun Pickups...

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a place to bury strangers exploding head
A Place to Bury Strangers
Exploding Head (Mute)

This is the band's second album -- their first album, which was
self titled, was my #1 album 2 years ago. I would have probably loved this album just as much if their first album had never existed. This band really does just hit me over the head every time I listen to them. They are basically a New York version of The Jesus & Mary Chain. The music is the loud kind of feedback laden shoegaze -- the music that I love. The album is dark and beautiful and full of one great song after the other. It really is impossible to top that first debut album but this album does come really close to achieving that. I don't know how I couldn't like this band. They are a band made just for me! This band is meant to be listened to loud.

listen to "In Your Heart" by A Place To Bury Strangers...

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dead man's bones
Dead Man's Bones
- Dead Man's Bones (Anti)

I didn't have very high hopes when I first found out that Ryan Gosling was in a band but I was intrigued when I started reading about the project. I really was pleasantly surprised the first time I heard the album. It features the Silverlake Conservatory of Music Children's Choir, which adds a bit of cute spookiness to the ablum. Dead Man's Bones really does make me think of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. Their sound is sort of what a band might sound like if it was stuck in one of the rooms on the ride. It is equal bits folky and spooky. "Pa Pa Power" and "Lose Your Soul" remain my favorite tracks on the album. I really loved Ryan Gosling in Lars and the Real Girl and am looking forward to the movies that might lie ahead for him, but I don't mind if he continues making albums either. The album is one of my favorites of the last part of this year. A perfect October album to begin your winter with!

listen to "Lose Your Soul" by Dead Man's Bones...

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picture plane dark rift
- Dark Rift (Lovepump United)

This album has a special place in my heart. Travis Egedy managed to make an album that is both easy to hate and easy to love. He somehow was able to jam every 90's dance track into one cohesive album. The album is a mix of trance, pop dance, dark wave, and 90's R&B and dance. He sort of revamped the sound made popular by bands like La Bouche, Snap!, C+C Music Factory, and The KLF. That might sound horrible to you, but he really does make it work! Dark Rift is really a lot of fun. The album is not an album of satire and irony. It is sincere and brilliant. It is for sure one of the most fun albums you will hear all year! It reminds me of a time when music was more fun. They just don't make bands like Deee-Lite and The B-52's anymore. It makes me happy to know there are people like this making music and hopeful that there will be more albums like this in the years to come. I like a bunch of tracks on this album but "Trance Doll" is probably my favorite.

listen to "Trance Doll" by Pictureplane...

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#11 - #50...

Cold Cave
- Love Comes Close (Matador)
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The Big Pink
- Brief History of Love (4AD)
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- Moondagger
(Ghostly International)

The Mary Onettes
- Islands (Labrador)

The Joy Formidable
A Balloon Called Moaning
(Pure Groove)

Yeah Yeah Yeahs
- It’s Blitz (Interscope)

White Lies
- To Lose My Life (Geffen)

Junior Boys
- Begone Dull Care (Domino)
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- Junior (Astralwerks)

The Horrors
- Primary Colors
(XL Recordings)
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- Complete Me (Island UK)

Antony & the Johnsons
- Crying Light (Secretly Canadian)
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Zoot Woman
Things Are What They Used To Be
(Citizen Records)

Patrick Wolf
- Bachelor
(Bloody Chamber Music) 
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Piano Magic
- Ovations (Darla)

For Against
- Never Been
(Words On Music)

James Blackshaw
- Glass Bead Game (Young God)
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Noisettes - Wild Young Hearts (Mercury)
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Bat For Lashes
- Two Suns (Astralwerks)
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- As Good As Gone (Kranky)


- Braveface (Transgressive Records)

Lily Allen
- It’s Not Me It’s You (Capitol)

The Juan Maclean
- Future Will Come (DFA)
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Tara Jane O'Neil
- Ways Away
(K Records)

We Were Promised Jetpacks
These Four Walls

Julian Casablancas
Phrazes For the Young

Asobi Seksu
- Hush (Polyvinyl)

Sebastien Tellier
- Sexuality
(Lucky Number)

- Ylajali (Ghostly International)

Richard Skelton
- Landings (Type)


- Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (Glass Note)
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Hope Sandoval
- Through the Devil Softly (RCA)

- Hymn To the Immortal Wind (Temporary Residence)

Little Boots
- Hands (Atlantic UK)

To Kill A Petty Bourgeoisie
- Marlone (Kranky)

- Labyrinthes (Dare To Care)

The Legends
- Over & Over (Labrador)

The Hidden Cameras
- Origin: Orphan
(Arts & Crafts)

Blue Roses
- Blue Roses (XL Recordings)

Blank Dogs - Under and Under
(In The Red)

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Relevant Tags

Top 50 Of 2009 (1), Fever Ray (5), Silversun Pickups (6), Telefon Tel Aviv (4), Pictureplane (3), Pains Of Being Pure At Heart (3), A Place To Bury Strangers (12), The Gossip (4), Xx (3), Best Albums Of 2009 (1), 2009 List (25), Susan Boyle (2), Dead Man's Bones (2), Thieves Like Us (3)