Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What?!? She's Back?

Well, after a brief hiatus from the world of the blog, I'm back. And for a very good reason.

As you may know, the annual Barbara Walters' special aired recently (I didn't watch it, but just knowing the Wawa had to interview Lady "Pantsless Wonder" Gaga for it warms my little heart), which means it's time for my Top Ten Albums of the Year!

This year didn't feature many I'm-so-excited-I'm-going-to-crawl-out-of-my-skin-if-this-album-doesn't-drop-soon releases except for maybe Metric, Regina Spektor, and St. Vincent. (Although, lets be honest, nothing gets my heart a'racing quite like Rilo Kiley. Le' sigh.) BUT let me tell you, the list was an utter BLOOD BATH this year. Any one of the top five could have easily taken the proverbial cake, so really, they're all champions.

And now, the Honorable mentions:

13. Yeah Yeah Yeahs- It's Blitz! Oh Karen O. and co., you're so much fun, but sometimes you scare me a little. Yikes. Still, keep on keeping on you crazy kids.

12. Mates of State-Re-Arrange Us This is more of a revision to 2008's list-- shame on me for not picking up this stellar album last year! Easily their best effort, Re-Arrange Us manages to be simultaneously more grownup and more fun than their past efforts. And good grief I love it when they yell. Highlights:Get Better, The Re-Arranger, Help Help, Now.

11. Kate Nash- Made of Bricks Good old Kate gets an honorable mention this year because her album was released way back in 2007, which is lucky for the other folks on my list because this album blazed a serious trail through my speakers this year. She's quirky British piano-driven pop at its best (think Lily Allen with fewer issues), and I LOVE IT. If you haven't gotten on the Nash train yet it's time. Highlights: Pumpkin Soup, Mariella, Foundations, Merry Happy.

Now for the crazy good stuff, in sort of particular order.

10. Heartless Bastards- The Mountain- Earlier this summer I got to see Heartless Bastards WITH Jenny Lewis, which has very little to do with their album except that it was quite possibly the best concert EVER, and this album rocks even harder live. Seriously, Erika Wennerstrom does not mess around. Highlights: Early in the Morning, Out at Sea, Nothing Seems the Same.

9. Tegan and Sara- Sainthood - At first listen I was a little overwhelmed with the much darker and slightly more electronic vibe of this record, especially since the other Tegan and Sara album I've been listening to a lot, If it Was You, is a much simpler album. But, if you take it in progression with So Jealous and The Con, it makes sense that this is where they've ended up. Highlights: Hell, The Cure, Alligator.

8. Camera Obscura- My Maudlin Career- How I love the sweet sweet sound of Camera Obscura. It's familiar and distinctive, but these guys still manage to surprise me alb
um after album without stressing me out. Highlights: French Navy, Careless Love, My Maudlin Career.

7. Leslie and the Badgers- Roomful of Smoke- Take a listen to Los Angeles, the opening track from this album, and try not to tear up a little, then check out Don Juan and try to not to giggle. This album is a perfect of the melancholy, wistfulness, and tongue-in-cheek fun that most countryish folks tend to get wrong. Highlights: Los Angeles, Winter Fugue, It's Okay to Trip.

6. Neko Case-Middle Cyclone Neko, Neko, Neko. Guess how jealous I am of your voice? This is another in a line of fantastic albums from the crazy-awesome Ms. Case, only this time with even better cover art. Highlights: This Tornado Loves You, People Got A Lotta Nerve, Don't Forget Me.

5. A Fine Frenzy- Bomb in a Birdcage- So Allison Sudol & co.'s first album sold a lot of copies, and I thought it was pretty, but sort of boring. But then I heard Bomb's lead single, a little song called "Blow Away," which, well, kind of blew me away, so I decided to check out the whole album, and I'm sold. Highlights: What I Wouldn't Do, Electric Twist, Blow Away.

4. St. Vincent-Actor- Her first album, Marry Me was my album of the year in 2007, and is a fitting follow-up. With the same meticulous production, incredible guitar work, and flowing melodies of the debut,but a different tone, Actor is another carefully organized but chaotic work that gets my brain and my feet excited every time I play it. Highlights: The Strangers, Actor Out of Work, The Marrow.

3. Ingrid Michaelson-Everybody- If we're going on sheer play time, Ingrid Michaelson takes the cake for me this year. She's a fairly new discovery for me and all three of her albums have been on heavy rotation this year. A beautiful voice, witty lyrics, and plentiful backup vocals-- how could I not love this? Highlights: The Chain, Mountain and the Sea, Locked Up, Maybe.

2. Metric- Fantasies- I'm listening to Fantasies while typing this and I'm so distracted by how much I love it that I can't think of a single interesting thing to say. Seriously. SO. Cool. Highlights: Help I'm Alive, Gimme Sympathy.

1. Regina Spektor- Far- I'm not sure if this is my favorite of Regina's albums, but it has the feeling, more so than the other albums I love this year, of being au courante. From computers figuring our lives out for us, to thinking about God, and imagining an award for human of the year, Regina is tapped into the zeitgest big time. Plus these songs are a whole lot of fun. Highlights: The Calculation, Eet, Folding Chair, Dance Anthem of the 80s, One More Time With Feeling.