2009: Jupiter and Beyond! (aka Paul’s faves)


Toronto – So 2009 was kind of a weird year for me.  While a lot of great music came out this year, it was also the year I became more apathetic about music for some reason.  It’s because of this that I actually had a bit of a hard time remembering what I heard and actually liked this year.  That said, here’s the stuff I liked the most this year, organized in the most arbitrary and illogical manner possible.


Grizzly Bear featuring Michael McDonald – “While You Wait For The Others”

 Veckatimest as a whole was a really great album that I dug a whole lot, but it was this version, released as a single, that really blew me away.  Grizzly Bear’s tune is made even more sublime with the addition of the king of smooth and yacht rock legend McDonald on vocals.  Maybe you think the original version with Ed Droste singing lead is the better song.  That’s what a fool believes, my friends … that’s what a fool believes.

 The Dirty Projectors – “Stillness Is The Move”

 One of the catchiest songs I heard all year, the folks at Breakfast At Sulimay’s describe it best.  Probably totally inaccurate, but it’s the best review I’ve seen.  Also, it’s fun to say singer Angel Deradoorian’s name out loud.

Franz Nicolay – “Jeff Penalty”

The Hold Steady keyboardist (and king of moustaches) tells us the story of Jello Biafra’s replacement in The Dead Kennedys, who depite just being “that one guy from Philly” or “Jeff Whatsisname”  manages to get the punks singing along anyways.  It’s a song about the power of songs and the underdog getting his moment to shine. 


Jason Lytle – Yours Truly, The Commuter

Despite having really dodgy and questionable cover artwork, this is a really solid album. I’ve been a big fan of Lytle’s ever since the release of Grandaddy’s The Sophtware Slump … which I still can’t believe came out in 2000.  Man, I’m getting old.  Anyways, Lytle doesn’t break any real new ground here, sticking to his familiar bag of tricks (Neil Young-ian vocals, ELO-ish synths, lyrics about enjoying the weekend) but it works.  It’s more or less a Grandaddy album released under his own name, but I’m OK with that.

Converge – Axe To Fall

 Back in my younger days, I used to listen to lot of metal and hardcore.  I don’t listen to nearly as much as I used to, but I occasionally like the heavy stuff still, and hardcore legends Converge certainly bring the heavy on this, their seventh full length album.  A blend of blistering riffs (probably the catchiest Kurt Ballou has ever written), slower, sludgier tunes, the slow burning Tom Waits homage “Cruel Bloom,” and more guest musicians than you can shake a stick at (including members of Cave In, Neurosis and Genghis Tron), this is Converge’s most accessible album (relatively speaking … ’cause, y’know, it’s still full of screaming and really heavy guitars) and definitely one of their best.  Also, unlike Jason Lytle, Converge always has excellent album covers.

 Pink Mountaintops – Outside Love

The softer yin to Black Mountain’s heavy yang, Stephen McBean’s Pink Mountaintops project kick out the hazy psych/shoegaze/folk/pop jams.  On “Axis: Thrones of Love,” they swipe the Bee Gees line, “how deep is your love” and recontextualize it, making it seem a bit more like a challenge than a question. 

 Steve Earle – Townes

One of the best songwriters around pays tribute to his late friend and mentor Townes Van Zant and ends up making one of his best records.

 Joel Plaskett – Three

Another great songwriter, Plaskett was shortlisted for the Polaris prize this year but lost out to the more au courant (yet also really good) Fucked Up.  I think part of why he got passed over is because Plaskett has been consistently good over his last several albums.  But his new triple (!) album is excellent, full of his usual clever, rootsy songs.  He even incorporates some Celtic influence, which actually works well here.  I guess growing up on the east coast, all those flutes and stuff are part of your DNA or something.

Art Brut – Art Brut vs. Satan

Eddie Argos is a brilliant songwriter.  There, I’ve said it.  Like a British version of Craig Finn, Argos talks his way through his songs, filling in all sorts of details that I can really relate to – DC Comics And Chocolate Milkshake could have been written about me.  Alcoholics Unanimous not so much about me (at least I hope not), but I think many of us have been in the state Argos describes there too (“I’ve been up all night/I’ve been making mistakes/I’m hiding it well/But I don’t feel great”)

The Thermals – Now We Can See

Hutch Harris and his bandmates have brought another collection of brilliant, punky power pop.  While not quite as good as The Body, The Blood, The Machine, Now We Can See is full of instantly catchy tunes (try not to sing along with the “oh way oh ohs” in the title track)  Plus they always look like they’re having a lot of fun in their videos.

Wilco – Wilco(The Album)

Jeff Tweedy’s songs.  Nels Cline’s guitar.  The other guys’ general greatness.  ‘Nuff said.  Wilco are one of the greatest bands around.  Wilco will love you, baby.  They will love you long time.

Posted on by Paul in Everything, Year End Reviews

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