My 10 Favorite Albums Released in 2009

After a couple of months of witting, tweaking, re-writing, re-arranging, re-tweaking - here it is. My favorite albums released in 2009.

Let's start with some "Honorable Mentions." Albums that were "pretty good," but were overshadowed by the ones that made the final cut.

  • Farm by Dinosaur Jr. - A good friend (and person I respect highly as my "musical soulmate") turned me onto this album and I can't put it down.
  • Far by Regina Spektor  - My girlfriend, Laura, turned me onto this fantastic soviet born pianist. She's like Sara Bareilles' evil little twin sister. Not in the sense that Ms. Spektor's music is "evil," but in the sense that this albums feels more biting and melancholy at times than Sara's.
  • Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King by Dave Matthews Band - A very solid effort from one of my all-time favorites. Their 1st release following the death of saxophonist LeRoi Moore.
  • The Eternal Return by Darkest Hour - Listening to this album is like having a well oiled machine pound your face in - repeatedly. It's driving, brutal, and yet so beautiful.
  • So Far Gone EP by Drake - A relative new-comer to the hip-hop/R&B scene with probably one of the best demo EP's I've ever heard. I expect big things from this former Canadian actor.
  • Axe To Fall by Converge - One of the most visceral albums I've heard in a very long time.
  • Constellations by August Burns Red - These young men are easily the most talented group of musicians in the metal scene much less the "Christian metal" scene. This album will beat you senseless and make you like it.
  • Brand New Eyes by Paramore - I honestly didn't think they would live up to their last album Riot! (2007) and they have proved me wrong. They are still as poppy and catchy as before, but still keeping it fresh and maturing their style at the same time.

My 10 Favorite Albums of 2009 in no particular order:

Uplifter by 311

As a LONG time fan - this is the 1st 311 album I've been truly excited about in 10 years. Not that From Chaos (2001), Evolver (2003), and Don't Tread On Me (2005) were "bad" - they just didn't envelope me the way Uplifter did. I couldn't take this album off repeat on my iPod - it's everything I love about 311 and it simply just makes me happy when I listen to it. (It probably helped that I had the privilege of experiencing them live for the 1st time at the 2009 Crawfish Boil in Birmingham, AL)

Swoon by The Silversun Pickups

I've always been a fan of the little-known alternative rock sub-genre "shoegazer." And it was during one of those kicks on that I happened upon The Silversun Pickups. Ever since I first heard "Panic Switch" I became obsessed. From start to finish this album is an emotional experience for me - every time. Every song carries a sense of urgency, with vocals and harmonies that haunt me to the point that I find myself turning to this album (like an addict to his drug of choice) to try and quell the melodies that get stuck in my head.

Ox/Ox EP by Coalesce

Coalesce was one of those bands that I stumbled across while I was still in Middle School (circa 1999). Even though my musical tastes were still maturing I knew 0:12 Revolution In Just Listening (1999) was one of the most important albums I had ever heard and I would compare almost every other metalcore band I came across to this masterpiece. Fast forward 10 years later - Coalesce has reunited for one more album+EP and a few shows. The result is a flawless display of everything I love about underground metal music - it's in your face, intelligent, unique, and relentless.

It Hates You by He Is Legend

He Is Legend have always held a special place in my heart. Their blend of southern rock, metalcore, & alternative has always set them apart from the rest and this album is no exception. This album flirts with their old metalcore roots while forging forward with a more mature, and hummable, "radio friendly" brand of metal.

It's All Crazy! It's All False! It's All a Dream! It's Alright by MeWithoutYou

I wont lie - I strongly disliked MeWithoutYou the 1st time I experienced them at Furnace Fest. It wasn't till [A→B] Life (2002) that I came around. [A→B] Life was life changing for me - very few albums out at the time shared the urgency and passion that bled from that record. Lyrically and musically that album is a post-hardcore masterpiece. While over the years their style has matured and calmed it has never really connected with me until this album. No - this album is not drenched in all the post-hardcore shouting that came with [A→B] Life (much to my younger brother's chagrin) but its lyrics are still poignant and the music now strangely melodic and catchy while still being refreshing and unique.

Blue Record by Baroness

Stoner metal isn't really my genre, never has been. I stick to the basics: Boris, ISIS, Jesu, & Pelican. But in this album I discovered an oasis of originality in a genre that can get very stale - very fast. Baroness somehow took a genre that has never interested me and made me take notice with actual layers of melodic structure, rhythms that will make you tap your feet, and vocals that are just abrasive enough when they need to be as well as calm and soothing on cue.


III by Maylene And The Sons of Disaster

I've followed this band since their inception and have enjoyed every minute watching them mature to where they are today. III is a very solid "southern metal" record that will have you banging your head one second and holding your lighter to the heavens the next.

The Century of Self by ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

Truly one of the most organic "indie rock" albums to be released in several years. This album ebbs, flows, swells, and comes crashing down. I find myself listening to it over and over again on repeat with no complaint.

Mudvayne by Mudvayne

I always said - the saddest part about Mudvayne is that most of their fans will never fully realize their extraordinary musical ability. They had the "pleasure" of being associated with Slipknot early on in their careers and I find that unfortunate. L.D. 50 (2000) was an exercise in experimentation and impressive rhythmic ability. This album expounds upon that formula once more, it starts of quick, ruthless, and never lets off the gas with rhythms and breakdowns that lean more towards speed/thrash metal than their "nu-metal" brethren.

Memento Mori by Flyleaf

I had high hopes for this album and it exceeded my expectations. Their gamble with dissonant harmonies and awkward chord progressions really paid off. This album stands out from their peers by having that "OoOoOoh! Why didn't I think of that melody/chord progression!?" factor. This is the kind of album that will inspire you to pick up your guitar, for the first time in months, and just experiment.


Biggest disappointments:

  • No new Glassjaw record.
  • The Used's new album.
  • Living Sacrifice's record got delayed till January 2010.

My Top 10 Albums of 2008:

by Ben Pike