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Posts Tagged ‘Mars Volta

Top 10 albums of 2009

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Top 10 albums of 2009

This year the music industry in 2009 continued to trend towards the digital download model making more music than ever before available to the masses. There were a number of standout albums, and promising bands that emerged this year. Below is a list of the top 10:

10) Rated O by Oneida

So dense, it almost takes an active, analytical listener to truly appreciate the breadth and depth of this album. Largely instrumental, the Brooklyn band spans a litany of mind-bending genres in this album. From psychedelic 20 minute jams to structured rhythmic rock, Oneida braves new musical territory with this gem.

9) Horehound by The Dead Weather

It seemed like 2009 was the resurgence of the “supergroup.” Jack White (The White Stripes and The Raconteurs), Alison Mosshart (The Kills and Discount), Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age) and Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs and Greenhomes) suddenly formed The Dead Weather this year and the result is nothing less than some of the best rock and roll produced in years. Horehound is simply sublime. Reports are the group is working on a follow up album.

8) Humbug by Arctic Monkeys

Humbug took the Arctic Monkeys in a new direction from their past work. Darker, more mature and developed, the music flows more deliberate and less sporadic than previous works. Song such as “Crying Lighting” and “Dangerous Animals” still seep the signature AM sound, but the guidance of Queens of the Stone Age’s frontman Josh Homme, who produced the album recorded in Joshua Tree, Calif. Is evident throughout. The result is a more deliberate, stoic and untimely cohesive album.

7) Octahedron by Mars Volta

Characterized by a smooth subdued pace, pined up more by Thomas Pridgen’s insane drumming than ever before,Octahedron steps towards a more “traditional” album than previous works. Still filled with spectacular guitar by Omar Rodriquez-Lopez and surreal screeching vocals by Cedric Bixler-Zavala, MV continues to advance music is a direction unexplored by any other artist. This is the kind of deep, dark and phenomenal album one has come to expect from MV.

6) Manners by Passion Pit

Following on 2008’s promising Chunk of Change, Manners is the ideal follow up full of everything one could ask for. Rhythmic beats, fun hooks, choppy synchs and airy lyrics that make up one of the year’s most pleasurable albums to listen to. It just one of those records that makes the listener feel good.

5) It’s Blitz by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Some might frown upon commercial success, and Karen O and the crew have seen the limelight this year more than ever before. It’s Blitz achieved that new degree of success by departing from its conventional formula. Still true to its roots, the YYY added a heavy amount of synthesizers and reverb to the album taking the band to the next level.

4) Old Money by Omar Rodriguez Lopez

Perhaps one of the most complex albums of 2009, Lopez, of Mars Volta, unleashed a juggernaut with Old Money that could be interpreted a million different ways. Much like MV, Old Money is an epic journey of disjointed sounds, rhythms and themes. Revolving around otherworldly themes of dreams and nightmares, the album is an intricate mix of instruments and textures making for a surreal listening experience.

3) Felt 3: A Tribute to Rosie Perez by Felt

In a time when hip-hop is pretty uninspired, primarily composed of guys ripping off each other’s beats and rapping about cliché’s, comes Felt’s new album produced by Aesop Rock.  Murs (Living Legends) and Slug (Atmosphere) compose an intelligent original piece of work in their latest tribute to b-list celebrities. Adding Aesop to the mix adds an edge to Felt 3 that the previous two albums didn’t have.

2) Them Crooked Vultures by Them Crooked Vultures

Another superband to make this year’s list and the members pretty much say it all: Dave Grohl, of the Foo Fighters and Nirvana, Josh Homme, of Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal, and John Paul Jones, Led Zeppelin. The combination creates a classic rock album that chock-full of heavy guitar riffs and thumping bass. The album sounds more like a QOTSA than anything, but that may be Homme’s predominance on vocals.

1) Cosmic Egg by Wolfmother

Who cares if Wolfmother frontman Andrew Stockdale wasn’t even alive when Robert Plant and Ozzy Osbourne were in their heyday. Nearly 40 years later he is blatantly ripping off their style with a precision that makes listeners have flashbacks to ZoSo. Stockdale takes his new band and breathes a second life into the notion of comprising an album around power chords thundering bass lines, reverb and wailing vocals.

See 2008’s list here.

Top ten albums of 2008

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Music in 2008, like the economy, was disappointing. 

It seems as if the last album to really warrant any acclaim was Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” released in Dec. 2007.  

In the past 12 months there have been some big names with high expectations to release some so so albums. 

Kayne West’s “808’s and Heartbreak” is the first to pop to mind. However, amid the reels and reels of rubbish released this year there were some bright spots that leave a sense of hope for creativity, progression and the art of music. 

Here are the top ten albums of 2008: 

10) When life gives you lemons you paint that sh@! Gold by Atmosphere

atmosphere-lemons1-1 The year of 2008 witnessed a new Slug; a happier lighter Slug, which earns Atmosphere a spot on the list. When life    gives you lemons… is just plain fun. The rhymes are still highly personal, but tracks like “You” add a stylized sweet  flavor to the masterful beats mixed by Ant. This album launched the duo into a new spotlight taking part in larger  shows like the Monolith festival.   

 

9) Viva la Vida by Coldplay

vivalavida Coldplay has a formula. They are very very good at it, and it works. Viva la Vida is no exception. The band put  together another powerful group of songs here including, “Violet Hill,” and “Viva la Vida” and “Cemeteries  of  London.” Polished as ever, Coldplay is still on top of their musical game five albums later, and show no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

 

8) Ghosts I-IV by Nine Inch Nails

nin_ghosts Ghosts is just that, a little glimpse into the mind of Trent Reznor. Following Radiohead’s template, Reznor gave away  Ghosts I for free and it was good enough to hook fans for II-IV. With no lyrics, Reznor is free to focus on his mixers,  stabilizers, faders, guitars, beats and a plethora of other toys that combine to make Ghosts an album to rival Burial.    

 

7) Third by Portishead

90_1020-portishead-third Brooding, dark, beautiful and powerful, Third is all of these and more. It was the album of 2008 that would surmise a  bad day, provide a soundtrack to a rainy night or simply numb everything. Its sound seeps into the pores, and  sweeps over the body.

 

 

6) Modern Guilt by Beck

beck-modern-guilt With the infusion of Dangermouse’s creative beats Beck’s still manages to brave new sonic ground on his 10th album.  Full of creative catchy songs, Modern guilt is a mix of Beck’s off the wall antics and social commentary on today’s  world. While short, the work is sure to stand the test of time as one of 2008’s brighter moments.

 

5) Only by the Night by Kings of Leon

51slzxntrl_ss500_1 Perhaps with Kings of Leon’s shift from hard southern rock to a more polished sound with this album, placing them  at No. 5 is generous. But, Only by the Night is a sound album from start to finish. It is filled with standout songs like  “Sex on Fire” and “Use Somebody.” Different, yes, but regardless the music speaks for itself.

 

4) Tha Carter III by Lil Wyane

lil_wayne_tha_carter_3 Obligated to make the list? Yes. However, it took years of collaboration, hard work and writing to create “Tha Carter III.” And it’s arrival signified a paradigm  shift in the world of hip-hop. Wyane is really ahead of his time with this. It will take years before the effects of this  album are really seen in the industry.   

 

 

3) Dear Science, by TV on the Radio

tv_on_the_radio-dear_science-cover This is a grandiose sweeping album for this Brooklyn band that shows a band really coming into its own here. TVOTR  set its sights high with this effort and connected on all targets. The music flows smoothly from one song to the next  painting a sonic soundscape for the listener that is both relaxing an intriguing at the same time. Perhaps the most  intriguing aspect of Dear Science is how effortlessly TVOTR makes this album appear.

 

2) Forth by The Verve

up-3verve1 After a 11 year hiatus The Verve seemed to seamlessly appear out of the clear blue sky depicted on Forth’s cover.  Since the band’s massive success with “Urban Hymns” there was a sense that this was a last ditch effort by a band  past its prime. For that reason it flew under the radar receiving little press. The truth is this album is a  masterpiece. It is composed with the utmost care to detail. Every note speaks to the listener on a personal level.  The intricacies of how the music is blended, takes a minimum of 10 listens to even begin to dissect. High point “Love is Noise.”  

1) The Bedlam in Goliath by The Mars Volta

bedlamcover This album is louder, faster and more composed than anything Mars Volta has released to date. And that is saying  something. These West Texas boys know how to let loose. From its first song, “Aberinkula” through “Wax Simulacra”  and the title track “Goliath” the pace leaves little room to breathe. Delving into new terrain, Mars Volta turns it up to  11 on Bedlam earning it this year’s No. 1 spot.

Written by David Young

December 21, 2008 at 2:32 pm