Albums Of The Year 2009

Compiling this year’s best of was the usual gargantuan task. I had to whittle the 152 albums I bought this year down to a top forty. In the process, I’ve had to get rid of *loads* of albums that I thought were wonderful. So, just to be on here is to be a winner. The competition is heinous!

(EDIT! Lovely Robbie has made a Spotify playlist of available tracks. It’s not everything but it’s a fair chunk! Thanks, Robbie!)

This year, every band name is a link that goes to their page so you should be able to hear clips for free. A couple of the links don’t do that because the band was too obscure for However, this list isn’t me being hipper than thou: there are artists in it that have a few hundred listeners, some that have hundreds of thousands. I likes what I likes! 🙂

Also, my chart is not linked to adverts, who bought me what or who my mates are. That being said, I wish I was mates with every artist in there as they’ve all produced wonderful music which has sustained me through a very difficult year. Thank you for making my year brighter!

Ladies and gentlemen, the best albums of 2009!

40. The Lonely Forest – We Sing The Body Electric!

Singalong pop, reminds me of Sebadoh!

39. Kettel – Myam James 2

Part one was in last year’s best of and part two continues the hypermelodic electronic vibe. Soo poppy!

38. White Rabbits – It’s Frightening

Ahh, some great tunes and a bit of Burundi drumming too!

37. Settle – At Home We Are Tourists

Anthemic, singalong punkiness. Played it in my car loooads!

36. The Fresh & Onlys – The Fresh & Onlys

Psych/garage stupidness in the best way possible. NANANANANANANANANAAAAAH!

35. K-Os – Yes!

Lovely rhymes, funny as shit. Beautiful hip hop. We all love Natalie Portman, innit?

34. Nosaj Thing – Drift

When you need a bit of a glitch and perhaps to robot round your room, stick this on.

33. Taking Back Sunday – New Again

I’ve listened to ‘Sink Into Me’ so many times, it’s ridiculous. And the album is equally good.

32. Anti-Pop Consortium – Fluorescent Black

There’s a kind of SF vibe going on with a lot of hip hop now and this album has shitloads. Spooky, dancey fun!

31. Voks – Astra & Knyst

This is what probably got the most complaints when I DJed it this year. Because it sounds like mental mice playing out-of-tune egg slicers. Which is why I love it.

30. The Crayon Fields – All The Pleasures Of The World

Great sixties-ish pop songs coupled with an extensive over-use of spring reverbs – what’s not to like!?

29. Lusine – A Certain Distance

Flowing, dreamy but also slyly unsettling electronica. Lusine is ace.

28. Manchester Orchestra – Mean Everything To Nothing

A mixed album, from chugging rock anthems like ‘Tony The Tiger’ to tiny, reflective pieces. All good.

27. Tiga – Ciao!

What’s that sound? I like that sound! It’s the sound of Tiga. Batshit electro.

26. Austrian Death Machine – Double Brutal

And *another* entry for ADM. There’s a certain mood of metal stupid that only they can satisfy in me. COHAAGEN!

25. War From A Harlots Mouth – In Shoals

In places, this goes beyond progness into mad fucking jazz metal. I should therefore hate it but I love it!

24. The Gift of Gab – Escape 2 Mars

More SF hip hop, that’s SF as in sci-fi not San Fran. This album is a marvellous journey, let it take you there.

23. A Place to Bury Strangers – Exploding Head

Easily the best neo-shoegaze album this year. But not just MBV-cloning, APTBS have their own, dark edge.

22. Ochre – Like Dust of the Balance

Intricate and beautiful, electronic ticks, clicks and laments.

21. The Decemberists – The Hazards Of Love

As prog as you like but saved by popness!

20. Canadian Invasion – Three Cheers For The Invisible Hand

Elements of Teenage Fanclub, Buffalo Springfield and other singalong (indie)rock class. Supremely catchy and with great lyrics!

19. The Hidden Cameras – Origin:Orphan

More drum machiney, adds to the intimacy of this flowing, cinematic album. Great indiepop.

18. Freeland – Cope

Thrumming, scintillating electro pop.

17. Swollen Members – Armed to the Teeth

SM deliver a comeback to the form they displayed on Balance. Solid hip hop.

16. The Bear Quartet – 89

Twenty years after forming, still nasty, still making disturbing, catchy pop. Sweet beef?

15. Endwell – Consequences

This album makes me want to punch walls and head-butt tigers. Piledriving heaviness.

14. Metric – Fantasies

Metric continue to come up with startling, catchy indierock that’s actually about something. Lovely.

13. The Bloody Beetroots – Romborama

DJing TBB always makes me smile. It’s great to watch peeps just start jigging along. Undeniable booty shakingness.

12. Arise Horror – Sleeping Waters

My fave heavy album of the year, a great mix of anger, horror and Lovecraftian weird. A wonderful, unique album.

11. The Elephants – Take It!

Oh my god – such a super-poppy album! Instant hooks.

10. People Under The Stairs – Carried Away

I’ve loved these buggers for years and they just seem to get better and better! Surely ‘DQMOT’ is one of the top hip hop tunes of ’09? Fab album!

9. Moss – Never Be Scared / Don’t Be A Hero

Again, classic sixties-ish poppiness combined with more meandering bits. Reminds me of XTC!

8. Zombie Nation – Zombielicious

Pure fun. I defy you not to dance!

7. Mr. Lif – I Heard it Today

Sad there’s no new Perceptionists but HAPPY there’s a new Mr. Lif. Brilliant rapping, insightful, painful lyrics. What hip hop is all about.

6. Butcher Boy – React or Die

I was converted to BB after seeing them play a storming set at this year’s Indietracks. I went and got the album off Emusic and fell in love!

5. Recordkingz – Heavyweight

So many solid cuts off this one album. Apart from being a who’s-who of hip hop, it’s simply sublime.

4. Cats On Fire – Our Temperance Movement

Standard bias declaration: I was a guest keyboardist for Cats On Fire for one gig in the UK. And Ville (Cats’ guitarist) has helped me out when I’ve played in Scandinavia. But let me elaborate and say that I don’t tickle the ivories for just anyone. It was this way around: I got to know Cats On Fire because I love their music – I don’t love their music because they’re showbiz mates.


This album from CoF shows them maturing and progressing, I feel it’s deeper lyrically than their debut. ‘Borders Of This Land’ is a stunning song I’d be proud to have written. They can go from a Beatlesy crowd-pleaser like ‘Tears In Your Cup’ to the quietly vicious ‘Fabric’ without effort, there’s an enormous range here. It would have been my top indie album of ’09 but it was just pipped at the post by…

3. Burning Hearts – Aboa Sleeping

… Burning Hearts, which is Jessika and Henry (Cats On Fire’s drummer). What edges this album ahead for me is the soundscapes: listening, I feel like I’m on a train, watching the scenery go by. Which, incidentally, makes it a great train album. The mix of indiepop, synthpop and Scandi pop sensibility is perfect. And the lyrical imagery… oh my! ‘Iris’ never fails to remind me of the time I was a tiny Swedish girl, running to my parents’ lake house. 🙂

2. Wienzeile – Gestalten Gestalten

I am ashamed to say that I don’t own this album legally as I can’t seem to find it anywhere. It’s not on Amazon, iTunes or Emusic. Wienzeile, if you’re reading this – I want to give you money for making may fave hip hop album of 2009! Help me!

Now, my German isn’t great but I can follow the gist of what Austria’s Wienzeile are on about. And even if I couldn’t, how could I ignore the electric synergy between the beats and the rhymes? From the first second of the first track I heard, I knew I would love this record. ‘Geisterbahn’ is fucking relentless – trying to rap along with that one track has taught me more German than five years doing it at school! Please, please check this album out if you’ve ever liked any hip hop. And send them your money, if you can!

1. Vitalic – Flashmob

This is what I said about Vitalic when I made him my top track at Bzangy a while back:

I’m guessing it’s not inspired by Larry Niven but even so, it’s my fave electronic record of 2009 (so far!). It’s dancey, demented, dissonant deliciousness. The track ‘Flashmob’ itself sounds like Louis and Bebe Barron discovered the funk in a Krell basement somewhere, humping some fat Idmonsters. It’s such a good album, a perfect antidote to the reams of generic electrodancewhatnot out there.

‘Flashmob’ is my top album of 2009 because it’s connected with me at a cellular level. Walking to and from Uni, round town, wherever, I’ve listened to each and every track so many times that I know every second. I don’t need to skip any because they’re all that good. As a synthesist myself, the sound design makes me jizz with happiness. You have no idea how happy it makes me to hear electronic music and not be able to name every preset and every Garageband break.

Throughout this genre-corrupting classic, there is an organic, fleshy slithering of filters and oscillators, tortured into an S&M come-fest. Every time I listen to it, I hear new details, tiny grace-squawks and passing-howls. This record is *alive!* Buy it now and listen to it on infinite loop forever!

Thank you, Vitalic, for being a mad enough bastard to produce a work of art this powerful and seductive.