Looking back just a few years, before we entered into the new decade that is the 2010s (Still sounds funny to me), there was almost this sense of urgency in the music world. So many bands and artists were scurrying around trying relentlessly to put out one last great album before the decade closed. Personally, I believe we witnessed one of the best month’s in the history of album releases (September, 2009), but overall the year was packed with heavy-hitters. Sit back, relax – and enjoy some of the groundbreaking/earth-shattering records to pass through our speakers from 2009 forward.
Jarrod Church‘s #1 Album: Stand Up And Scream by Asking Alexandria
I am more than likely going to catch some serious shit for this. However, looking back and seeing Paramore, AFI, The Devil Wears Prada, 30 Seconds To Mars, Set Your Goals, Needtobreathe – it is tough to imagine a gimmicky british metalcore act shining through. Tracking play count since even 2006, Stand Up And Scream is miles ahead of the number two record during that stretch. Now does that entail that it should stick firmly in my top spot? Not exactly – but going through the 13 tracks once again, it brings me back to the joyous feeling I get while fueling my speakers. Danny Worsnop, as notorious as he is, stuns me to this day with his vocal ability. And while this feeling is most definitely not shared by other normal humans (outside of teenage girls, and scene boys – wait, I said normal), the album and the band, in general, just seem to remain brilliant in my opinion. Should I apologize for that? You can find me wearing my skinny pants, cutoff obnoxious band tee, Neff hat and Osiris hi-tops (all lime green and purple preferably).
Jacob Testa‘s #1 Album: No One’s First, And You’re Next by Modest Mouse
It took me a long time to decide what my choice would be for this year’s rankings, and a big part of that was the fact that I didn’t want to pick an EP as the best “album” of 2009, let alone one that consists entirely of b-sides. Whatever, YOLO, Too Big To Fail, this is it. No One’s First, And You’re Next is nearly everything I love about Modest Mouse in a mere eight songs, from Isaac Brock’s fantastic lyricism in “Guilty Cocker Spaniels” to the densely layered and expansive “Whale Song” to the old familiarity of “I’ve Got It All(Most)’s” overall attitude and feel. Almost all of these songs are in the top third or half of the band’s career output, which says a lot when that career was already fifteen years long when this EP came out. I’ve been waiting more than six years for a proper follow-up to We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank (and I fully expect to get one this year, just like I have every other year), but No One’s First, And You’re Next is a tremendous release that holds its own against Modest Mouse’s best full-lengths – let alone everything else released in 2009 – and I’m more than okay with it being the most recent step the band’s taken.
Zac Lomas‘s #1 Album: New Junk Aesthetic by Every Time I Die
Putting out an album 11 years after you first became a band is always an arduous task and staying around that long is a testament in and of itself. But putting out a relevant album 11 years later is arguably impossible. And yet that’s exactly what Every Time I Die did with 2009’s New Junk Aesthetic combining the best of their math-core and southern metal tendencies into what can be viewed as a synthesis of 2003’s Hot Damn! And 2007’s The Big Dirty. Regardless of where one places this amongst their discography, New Junk Aesthetic easily outshines any other endeavor of 2009.
Johnny Frazier‘s #1 Album: Merriweather Post Pavillion by Animal Collective
If there was one album that I jammed the summer of 2009 it was this. A friend of mine that lived down the hall seemed to think I would like it and he was right. Something about songs like “Summertime Clothes,” “My Girls,” and “Brother Sport” that I just loved driving to, especially on a bright sunny day. This music is an even more impressive thing to behold live. These tunes sparked a love of music that did things differently. While I can’t say my phase with experimental music lasted long, I find myself putting this album on every summer.
Andy Maroon‘s #1 Album: By The Throat by Eyedea And Abilities
While it was only #3 on my End of the Year list in 2009, By The Throat by Eyedea and Abilities has held up the strongest since then. I was never a huge fan of rap, but after listening to By The Throat for the first time I’ve been hooked ever since. To this day it still finds itself on a regular rotation in my iTunes. The songs have a bit of rock/metal vibe to them, and Eyedea attempts some clean singing which was far from perfect, but the roughness of his voice is what made it all the more interesting; I can fully thank E&A for being my bridge into the genre. Highlights are “Burn Fetish”, “Junk” and “By The Throat”.
Landon Defever‘s #1 Album: Brand New Eyes by Paramore
Brand New Eyes is a magnum opus in every sense of the word – a record that will forever be proclaimed as an artist’s best release. Though Paramore has fought and survived more-so than other bands have ever gone through, it’s safe to say that the group has yet to produce a bad record. While all have their own unique blend of secret herbs and spices that have made their material great, they really shine on Brand New Eyes. From the one-two punch of “Careful” and “Ignorance” to the soft, radio-friendly glow of “The Only Exception,” Brand New Eyes shows that the band refuses to fall through the cracks into potential obscurity. The attitude of RIOT! is combined with a slick, focused production that hadn’t been explored until on Brand New Eyes. And while their latest self-titled effort stands on its own merits for versatility, it will always be BNE that stands as my favorite Paramore record, and my favorite record of 2009.
Jason Gardner‘s #1 Album: Homesick by A Day To Remember
2009 saw the release of Homesick, the primer for A Day to Remember’s breakthrough via songs like “The Downfall of Us All” and “Have Faith in Me”. Homesick isn’t perhaps as special as those who love it make it out to be – the mixture of heavy and light via metalcore and pop-punk has been done plenty enough – but ADTR’s execution on the matter is both cathartic and seamless in switching between high-flying choruses and punishing rhythmic roundhouses. We can argue all day over the album’s rank in the band’s discography, but such a discussion only further cements Homesick‘s pedigree and enjoyability at the end of the day.
Tim Dodderidge‘s #1 Album: Homesick by A Day To Remember
Before I really delved into the metal genre, I grew accustomed to A Day To Remember’s metalcore-meets-punk style. While nowadays they’re a mainstream success, it was because of their 2009 full-length, Homesick, that the band fully broke into the scene. The reason why this record is such a monumental release is because it’s one of the most memorable metal records I’ve ever heard. At the same time, it’s probably the heaviest pop-punk album I’ve ever heard. To think that both of these could exist within one well-written, well-composed collection of songs is astounding. Homesick is accessible and fun, and at the same time, very thorough, honest and mindful. The hooks are excellent and the breakdowns are superb, and most of all, the record is a straight-up jam. It’s tough to determine whether or not Homesick got me into metal, but regardless, it’s easily my favorite album of 2009, and one of my favorite albums of all-time.
Megan Ammer‘s #1 Album: Aim And Ignite by fun.
Aim And Ignite seemed the reasonable choice for my favorite album of 2009. Despite thinking it’s the better of fun.’s albums, it has impacted me in so many positive ways. I love the charisma and charm of the songs created, and the overall melodramatic tone. It covers a range of emotions, making the album useful for a variety of situations. Plus, the general mystery behind most of the songs, or the ones equipped with open-meanings, allow for a challenged listening. It makes you think, or feel, or believe. You’re active and involved. fun. has created a comfortable environment; it’s beautiful. Plus, some of the greatest, and most clever, lyrics come from this album. “I’m not a prophet, but I’m here to profit,” and “I don’t fall in love, I just fake it,” are undeniable sassy, while “light a roman candle with me,” is just the most, awkward romantic gesture ever. It’s fantastic.
Alexandra Brueckner‘s #1 Album: Hospice by The Antlers
Sometimes it’s the albums that break your heart that prove to be the best. That’s definitely the case for The Antlers, Hospice. The concept album tells the story of the love between a hospice worker and a terminal cancer patient, and it’s every bit as tragic as it seems. Hospice is probably one of my favorite albums of all time, not just 2009. I love every single bit of it, start to finish, verses to choruses, drums to bass. That being said, though, I can’t break it out all that often. Listening to this album is masochistic; it’s visceral and painful. You feel every bit of pain that the narrator does. This is not an album to sing along to with the windows down on a summer day’s drive. No, this is an album that soundtracks the dark, lonely times. Even the more upbeat tracks have an underlying sadness. But the fact that an album as sad as this keeps calling me back speaks to just how drop-dead gorgeous it is. It’s haunting, eerie, beautiful — all the things than an album needs to be in order to burrow itself within you and stay there for good.
Nick Niedzielski‘s #1 Album: Swoon by Silversun Pickups
As the follow-up to the fantastic 2006 debut Carnavas, Swoon had some big shoes to fill. And boy, did it not disappoint. The album is a dark and brooding affair, with vocalist Brian Aubert’s lyrics chronicling a nervous breakdown. The band combines these dark lyrics with swirling atmospheric ambiance and walls of distortion and it all morphs into a behemoth of an album. Each track has a definitively unique sound, but they all work together to create a certain sound. The intense strings on franticly paranoid “The Royal We” and the punchy drums of “Sort Of” bring the up tempo energy, while tracks like “Growing Old Is Getting Old” and “Catch And Release” are slow burning and eerie. With Swoon, Silversun Pickups have expertly crafted a truly haunting album.
Kaitlin Nichols‘ #1 Album: The Satanic Satanist by Portugal The Man
The first I ever heard of Portugal. The Man was upon “The Sun” gracing my ears. The psychedelic indie rock was a new sound altogether to me, and immediately filled me with the urge to sway and smile. This is just one of the glorious tracks from 2009’s The Satanic Satanist. Their fourth studio album, The Satanic Satanist’s album artwork is just as funky as the songs enclosed within. From “People Say” to “Lovers in Love” to “Everyone Is Golden” and everything in between, there is no weak track on this album. Portugal. The Man is an Alaskan indie-experimental-pop-rock act who has since released other excellent albums, such as American Ghetto and In The Mountain In The Cloud. I’d be lying if I said that The Satanic Satanist is my favorite of not only the PTM discography, but also of all 2009 albums. This summer’s Evil Friends has a high bar set for it, but somehow I know it won’t disappoint.