Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Favorite Albums of 2009


Thanks to a couple of good libraries in the area, I was actually able to hear quite a few albums released in 2009 (wonder how long it’ll be before the record companies crack down on that?).  I don’t think I quite hit triple digits, but I came close.  In the end, only a small portion of what I heard ended up being purchased for my permanent collection.  That’s essentially what you’ll find on this list, although there’s still a few I need to pick up.  It should go without saying that this list is only my opinion.  That opinion tends to be biased towards heavy metal, punk rock, and other hard rocking sounds,, but as my number one album shows, I do like other stuff. 

I’d also love to hear some of your favorite albums, especially if you know of any good punk/garage rock type stuff that came out this past year.   For whatever reason, I just didn’t come across many new releases in those styles, good or bad.  Anyway, on with the list.


  1. Neko Case – Middle Cyclone:  This is the kind of album from which music legends are born.  Neko has given us some great songs in the past, but her previous albums were frankly a bit spotty, usually boasting a few great songs amidst a lot of samey-sounding filler.  Not so Middle Cyclone, on which every track stands out.  Call it alt country, country noir, Americana, or whatever other handy label you think applies.  All I know is that this is a great collection of songs.

  1. Volbeat – Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood:  Who would have thought that Elvis, Johnny Cash, and thrash metal could go together so well?  More hooks than a tackle box, great vocals, and ass kicking riffs galore.  Hopefully this Danish band will finally break through in America now that they’ve had a chance to open for Metallica.

  1. Alice in Chains – Black Fades Into Blue:  The comeback album no one expected.  It’s a shame Layne Staley chose to piss his life away, but with this album the remaining members of Alice In Chains plus new vocalist/guitarist William Duvall deliver the new Back In Black

  1. The Mars VoltaOctahedron:  The Mars Volta can be frustratingly obtuse at times, as on their sophomore album Frances the Mute.  They’re also capable of amazing beauty and emotion, not to mention musicianship, as they show on their latest album.

  1. Superchrist – Defenders of the Filth:  Raunchy rock & roll the way it was meant to be.  Great songs, great playing, great album.  Ignore the picture, this song is from Defenders, not Headbanger.

  1. Zombi – Spirit Animal:  Throbbing synth, bass, and drum instrumentals that recall the seventies heyday of bands like Tangerine Dream and Goblin. 

  1. The Horrors – Primary Colors:  If The Jesus and Mary Chain jammed with Joy Division, it might sound something like this.  The sixties garage rock influences of their first album are still there, but much more in the background.  A dark pop masterpiece.

  1. The Hex Dispensers – Winchester Mystery House:  This Austin, TX band combines the same Devo meets The Ramones influences of The Spits and comes up with something even better.

  1. The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love:  Call it indie rock if that makes you feel better, but to me this sounds closer in spirit to bands like Yes, Genesis, and King Crimson.  Suck it up and admit that prog rock isn’t that bad.

  1. Slayer – World Painted Blood:  More than 25 years on, there are still few metal bands that can touch Slayer when they bring their “A” game.  And that’s exactly what they bring on this album.


Dan Auerbach - Keep It Hid
Baroness – Blue Album
Bat For Lashes – Two Suns
The Black Lips – Two Hundred Million Thousand
Chris Isaak – Mr. Lonely
Clutch – Strange Cousins From the West
Dethklock -  The Deth Album II
Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
Heaven and Hell – The Devil You Know
Kreator – Hordes of Chaos
Lords of the Highway – Die Monster, Die!
Mastodon – Crack The Skye
Megadeth – Endgame
Oblisk – Weather Patterns
Old Man’s Child – Slaves of the World
Rumble Daddy – Phantom 224
Sasquatch and the Sickabillies – Storming the Gates
W.A.S.P. – Babylon


Air – Love 2:  This reminds me of their similarly unfocused 10,000 khz Heroes album.  There are a few good tracks, but overall it’s mediocre.

Porcupine Tree – The Incident:  I know some fans of the band will be happy to see them return to their Pink Floyd inspired roots, but this is nowhere near as good as early albums like The Sky Moves Sideways.  It’s not bad, but it’s not anything special, either.


Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion:  I listened to just about all the albums that made most critics “best of” lists this year.  I may not care for Kanye West or Antony and the Johnsons, but I can at least understand why other people like them and take them seriously.  But Animal Collective is the one band that pops up on almost every “best of” list, usually at or near the top, that leaves me baffled as to what so many people evidently see in them.  It all just sounds so self conscious, calculated, and boring to my ears.  To each their own, though.

1 comment:

Dom Coccaro said...

Yeah, I don't like the new Porcupine Tree either. In my opinion, their last great record was Deadwing.

Interesting list. Good to see Alice up there.