Sunday, January 03, 2010

Our Favorite Albums of 2009

Ah, yes. The old "Year in Review" list. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what the best records of the past 365 days were, and now, so do we. Without further ado...

The Lonely Note Presents: Our Favorite Albums of 2009 (Part I)

The Swell Season - Strict Joy

Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová earned a heartfelt Academy Award in 2008 for their song, "Falling Slowly," from the film Once (in which they both starred and performed the soundtrack). Their follow-up, Strict Joy, is as cathartic, focused and intimate as the struggling musicians in Once, while allowing their success to shine through in confident, climactic swells.

Watch the video to: The Swell Season - "Low Rising"

Florence + the Machine - Lungs

When I first heard "Girl With One Eye" nearly two years ago, I had a feeling it wouldn't be the last I'd hear of F+M. Lungs is an apt title for this debut, because Florence Welch has got 'em. She croons and wails in a Kate Bush-meets-Grace Slick style. Welch's dramatic vocals are backed by delicate harp pluckings and thunderous war drums, yet always manage to soar above the fray. Florence is a machine - a voice to be reckoned with in the new decade.

Florence + the Machine - "Blinding"

Silversun Pickups - Swoon

Swoon takes the band's dreamy pop shoegaze to a new level, pushing for grandiose layers of distortion without taking away from the hooks. Waves of guitar fuzz build a wall as hypnotically steady drums crash against it. Singer/guitarist Brian Aubert's whisper-to-a-scream vocals resonate perfectly with those of bassist Nikki Monninger. Swoon is a more progressive, yet accessible side of the band.

Watch the video to: Silversun Pickups - "Panic Switch"

The xx - xx

Undoubtedly, the indie breakthrough band of the year. The xx play coy, night music for the Zoloft-popping hipster generation. It's dark and pensive, yet sweet and refreshing. The boy/girl vocal trade-offs are those of isolated romantics. Influences from The Cure to Chris Isaak can be heard swirling throughout. It's a debut with enough raw innocence to be strikingly beautiful. This is a rare effort for any band.

The xx - "Infinity"

Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest

Acute studio precision. Sonic craftwork. Superior artistry. Veckatimest is an almost perfect record. Shedding the lo-fi, shortform structure of many of their indie colleagues, Grizzly Bear birthed something of an acoustic dazzle in 2009. Veckatimest is so flawless, so tight, that the band’s dexterity may be rivaled only by classics Pink Floyd, Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer, The Beach Boys and, notably, contemporaries Animal Collective. Many Baby Boomers claim they can recall the exact time and place they first heard Sgt. Pepper. Where were you when you first heard Veckatimest?

Grizzly Bear - "Two Weeks"

Check back soon for Part II of Our Favorite Albums of 2009 list!

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