Year in review: 2009’s greatest albums

Asher Roth loved college, with arguably the most obnoxious single of the year in “I Love College.” Newcomers Kid Cudi and Drake established fan bases, with their differing branches of hip-hop (and varying levels of talent). Mos Def’s “The Ecstatic” garnered favorable reviews, Raekwon showed the newcomers up with the strongest Wu-Tang Clan affiliated release since Ghostface Killah’s 2006 release, “Fishscale.”

Animal Collective set the standard early in January, with “Merriweather Post Pavillion.” Veterans, Bruce Springsteen, Jay-Z, Eminem, Dinosaur Jr., and Sonic Youth all released albums. While Jay-Z’s “Blueprint 3” did not live up to its predecessors, Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth, with members well into their 40s, both proved they can still deliver a strong album. The super group saw a resurgence, with releases from Them Crooked Vultures (Foo Fighter’s Dave Grohl, Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones and Queens of the Stone Age’s Joshua Homme) and the Monsters of Folk (Conor Oberst, M. Ward, Mike Mogis, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James).

Jack White proved he is still one of the most incessant artists of our age, by contributing drums to his version of the super group, the Dead Weather (featuring members of the Kills, The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and Queens of the Stone Age). It wasn’t until summer, however, that the buzzworthy movement of 2009 began. While it eventually grew tiresome, the trend of hazy, nostalgic summer-inspired music, rather ridiculously coined by the blogosphere as chillwave, glo-fi, and beach pop, produced stellar albums from artists like Washed Out, Real Estate, Neon Indian and Best Coast.

Firmly rooted in the age of the digital download, 2009 was an interesting year for music. Save for the idolization of Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga, the pop star seemed almost obsolete. Here’s the rundown of the year’s albums. 1) Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion Yes, this album will most likely top many year-end lists, yes this album has been loved, hated and discussed on nearly every blog on the Internet, but let’s face it: “Merriweather Post Pavilion” is – if not the best, the most memorable album of the year.

Almost a year old, tracks like “My Girls” and “Summertime Clothes” feel timeless when revisited in December. The album displays Animal Collective at their most accessible, and their most humanistic. By replacing most of the freak-folk weirdness with euphoric dance hooks, “Merriweather Post Pavillion” is an album made for the fans. ? 2) Grizzly Bear – “Veckatimest” After recording one of the moodiest and most beautiful albums of the decade with “Yellow House,” Grizzly Bear’s follow-up establishes them as one of our generation’s most consistent pop bands.

The album is a huge step forward for the band. “Veckatimest” has its pretensions, mainly mangled in art-pop, but the overall feel of the album is earnest. The strength of “Veckatimest” is that it knows how to balance effortless pop hooks with subtle, sonic textures.  ? 3) Real Estate – Real Estate Hailing from the Jersey shoreline, Real Estate’s debut plays like the perfect summer mix. Some tracks stress lo-fi garage rock, while others, including the beautiful “Suburban Dogs” are perfectly reminiscent of a late-night bonfire by the beach.

The brilliant, lo-fi production sounds like it could have been recorded underwater, and the album shines like the perfect summer day. ? 4) Woods – “Songs of Shame” 5) Mount Eerie – “Wind’s Poem” 6) Cymbals Eat Guitars – “Why There Are Mountains” 7) Raekwon – “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II” 8) Girls – “Album” 9) Washed Out – “Life of Leisure EP/High Times” 10) Antony & the Johnsons – “The Crying Light” ?  Download (don’t steal) these singles: “Two Weeks” by Grizzly Bear “My Girls” by Animal Collective “Walkabout” by Atlas Sound (featuring Noah Lennox) “Feel It All Around” by Washed Out “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” by Mayer Hawthorne “Crown on the Ground” by Sleigh Bells “Sun Was High (So Was I)” by Best Coast “Party in the U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus “Deadbeat Summer” by Neon Indian “Sleepyhead” by Passion Pit

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