My Haphazard, Poorly Researched “Best Albums of 2009”

I was recently asked about my favorite record of 2009. (Thanks, Anonymous Asker.) 2009 was pretty slow for me music-wise. Kind of in a weird head space these past few… years?… so I haven’t really been out seeking too many new tunes to which to groove.  My bad. That said I’m going to be honest with you: I had to Google “albums released in 2009” to even begin to make comparisons for my reply. To be more honest still? I haven’t even heard all the round, spinny things that made the list below.


*meh* Who cares?

In order of release date, the following are albums that came out last year that I’ve either heard and know are great, or that I assume are great because the people who made ’em rock pretty hard. And shame on us all if we don’t go out and at least give them a quick listen.

Andrew Bird

1. Andrew Bird: Noble Beast (Released 01/09)

Andrew Bird got a nod on my Top 25 Most Influential Albums list, but not a slot of his own, which is really a shame and actually kind of surprising to me as the album of his I know best, Weather Systems, really is amazing and beautiful and lofty and plinky and all those other lovely things an Andrew Bird album should be. And what’s more influential than that lot? Regardless: I submit for your approval my peace offering of putting his latest endeavor on my list without even having heard it.

I’ve been checking out tracks from it on YouTube just to make sure I’m not just feeding you a line here, and so far every song I’ve heard really delivers. If you like one of them you’ll like all of them. And if you like all of them you’ll like his other albums as well. Go buy them and enjoy them. Or just leave them out on your coffee table to impress that smart girl who keeps turning you down for coffee. (Caramel Macchiato, 1%, no whip.)

(Click here to listen to “Masterswarm,” and here to listen to “Anonanimal.”)


Matt and Kim

2. Matt and Kim: Grand (Released 01/09)

I just know I’ve liked what I’ve heard from these guys, and there’s a more than fair chance if you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll dig ’em too. All I could tell you about these two, where they got their start, and what they’re currently up to is whatever you and I both would find if we Googled them, and what’s the point of just repeating what you’d read for yourself? At the very least let me do the leg work for you and direct you to an interview Red Fence conducted with the duo in March of ’09 shortly after this album debuted.

(Click here to listen to “Lessons Learned” and here to listen to “Don’t Slow Down,” your new favorite freeway-with-no-traffic driving song.)


Clem Snide

3. Clem Snide: Hungry Bird (Released 02/09)

After a few years apart doing their own thing, the boys are back and making more music, drinking more stage beers, and cracking more jokes with throngs of 32 year olds in cardigans. They were promoting the release of this album with a tour throughout the US and Elsewhere this past Spring and Summer and yours truly was totally guest-listed for their gig in Madison, WI. Blog? Video? The works right here.

It’s a different sound from their earlier stuff. I wouldn’t put it on the same level as The Ghost of Fashion or Your Favorite Music which are y’alt-rock masterpieces, but it’s so much like it’s another band with the same lead singer that I almost don’t think it’s fair to try matching it against their earlier records. So much time has passed. If it were the same they’d be dead artistically. I think the freshness is what made me like it so much.

And what’s this I hear about another album coming out shortly? Or– is it already out? Someone sent me a link which I promptly lost. Bail me out, people. I need to know what’s the haps.

(Click here to listen to “Me No,” and here to listen to “Hum.”)


The Mountain Goats

4. The Mountain Goats: The Life of the World To Come (Released 10/09)

I don’t think I’d even heard of the Mountain Goats until they were referenced in a Vlog Brothers video in some capacity. All I remember about that experience was three minutes of frantic Googling and OMG-ing as I conducted lyric searches to track down who I was hearing because I was so fanatically enthralled. What song was it? I can’t even remember.

I foresee ownership of Mountain Goats albums in my future, probably starting with their latest offering. In the meantime: What’s the deal, Red Fence? Where’s your Mountain Goats interview? Tick tock tick tock!

(Click here to listen to “Ezekiel 7 (And the Permanent Efficacy of Grace),” and here to listen to “I John 4:16.”)



5. Shakira: She Wolf (Released 11/09)

You haven’t really appreciated the video for the title track of this album until you’ve watched it with straight men or lesbians who lose all ability to speak coherently as soon as those boots go on. And the thing about Shakira is she is almost inhuman in how absolutely beautiful she is, but even in this distractingly provocative video there are moments where she’s laughing and you know the camera guy was just lucky enough to have caught her having a legitimately grand old time. I like that.

For a while I was stuck in Shakira- limbo; I enjoyed Laundry Service and Oral Fixation, but for my money neither held a candle to ¿Dónde Están Los Ladrones? The technical finesse definitely increased, and the number of beeping, clinking, electronic bits and bites certainly soared. I think I just missed her natural impressiveness. She Wolf is great  in that it bridges the gap between the English version of Laundry Service and Ladrones for me.

(Click here to listen to (and marvel at the choreography of) “Did It Again,” and here to listen to the slightly Nelly Furtado-esque “Give It Up To Me.”)

Lady Gaga

6. Lady Gaga: The Fame Monster (Released 11/09)

My introduction to Lady Gaga was a video of a group of comedians commenting on (read: mocking) her video for “Just Dance.” Not in a mean-spirited way; just for laughs. And the people dissecting her video, pointing out the weirdness, questioning the absurdity– they weren’t wrong. But what they were talking about also wasn’t the point.

I’m not going to attempt to justify Lady Gaga here. I’ve found people either love her or hate her and few seem willing to switch sides. Lord knows this post isn’t going to change any minds! So why bother defending somebody who doesn’t need it and hasn’t asked for it? I will say, though, that I think she’s fantastic. I think she’s refreshing and brilliant and fun, and that she provides a much needed respite from the likes of Britney Spears, the Pussycat Dolls, and all their ilk. Google her. Google a thousand reviews by better writers than I praising her merits and downplaying her faults. And, love her or hate her, appreciate the fact that thousands of reviews actually exist, which says something in and of itself.

I got this album from my sister for Christmas and there are so many tracks on it just begging to become the world’s next “OMG this is mah supah fave” song. Thanks my Rose. I love it.

(Click here to listen to “Bad Romance,” and here to listen to “Paparazi.”)

What albums from 2009 make your list?



  1. I roar with agreement (and shake my mane in enjoyment) regarding your inclusion of Shakira and Lady GaGa.

    And here’s some hope for the heathen: I once hated both of them. Now I love both of them.

  2. excellent!

    thanks for the RF shoutout–
    seriously, they were the loveliest people to chat with.

    and since i was gifted with many an itunes card for christmas, i will probably use them for much on this list.

    i miss sharing music with you.

  3. i tend to forget what a freakishly good dancer shakira is.

    she just…knows her body,
    and the rhythm of the music is a part of her blood.

    amazing, really and truly.

  4. unless I read wrong…..6? Nice random number. The year was weak with releases.

    The world seems to have just missed the release by Miike Snow.

    Also the the latest by the Basement Jaxx

    Maybe dancier/techno junk is just out for awhile.

    Chester French, Japandroids and Phoenix were worth a spin. I hope for betterness in 2010.

    BTW – I have Crimes(fighter) scheduled as my Mom’s annual Birthday trip to the theater!!!!

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