The time has finally arrived; here is the best of the best in music from 2009. These are the five albums that I loved the most, and when I say that it was hard to rank them, believe me; these are certainly the cream of the music crop from 2009.
1: A Camp – Colonia
Featured in the very first 5SF of the year, A Camp’s Stronger than Jesus was the song that I had been literally waiting on for years, and a song that would map out what I could expect from what turned out to be my favorite album of 2009. When I say I waited for it for years, what I mean, is that I was so hungry for something new from A Camp after falling so hard for their amazing self-titled debut album (which came out waaaaay back in 2001!), that I just couldn’t believe that my dream was coming true so early on in 2009; and what a wonderful dream it would turn out to be. The release of Colonia was like being embraced by a warm hug from a long-lost friend, or like snuggling under your favorite blanket on a cold winter’s day; it just feels good from beginning to end. Nina Persson is one of my all time favorite female vocalists and musicians, and what started out as a side project during hiatus time with the Cardigans, has clearly grown into something mature and amazing. Together with her husband and their fellow bandmate, A Camp has become something of a phenomenon for me, capturing my attention wholly and completely with their work. Their song writing ability is powerful and the imagery invoked is powerful. I knew very, very early on that it was going to take a lot to beat out this album for my top spot in 2009, and as you can clearly see, nothing did. For me, this is an album that should be talked about much more than it was/is, which is certainly a shame, because it is fantastic from beginning to end. There isn’t a single place where this album isn’t wonderful, and I am just so pleased that it turned out to be such a wonderful effort from A Camp; one that surprised me in how easily it surpasses the brilliance of their debut. While one of my favorite bands of all time, The Cardigans, may be on (seemingly indefinite) hiatus, I take comfort and joy in knowing that lead singer Nina Persson and A Camp soldier on, and are bringing me some of the best indie-pop music out there today. A Camp, please don’t wait so long to bring your brilliance to the table again, because after this incredible and delicious taste, it would just be cruel to leave us for so long again. Simply put; this album is incredibly amazing. Standout Tracks: Bear On The Beach, Stronger Than Jesus, Chinatown, Golden Teeth and Silver Medals, Love Has Left the Room, The Weed Got Here First, My America.
2: Antony and the Johnsons – The Crying Light
I have to say one thing first about Antony and the Johnsons before I get into their amazing album The Crying Light; you will either fall head over heels in love with them, or you will probably hate them completely. I will openly admit that I started off in the hate column with regards to Antony and the Johnsons, because honestly, I don’t think that I truly got it. It was curiosity that brought me to them, because of how many people were talking about them; but it took several listens to their previous album, I Am a Bird Now, before something changed within me, and I found myself strongly in the love column forevermore. I gave myself over to the truly emotive and fragile nature that is Antony and the Johnsons, and the process, I found something so nuanced and beautiful that I am thankful I allowed myself to enjoy it. With regards to their newest release, The Crying Light, I can say, with unwavering conviction that this album is purely, and utterly, perfect. From the amazingly vivid lyrics, to the achingly beautiful performances (both vocally and musically), there really isn’t anything that you could say negatively about this album; well, perhaps nothing other than it just isn’t long enough, because I just don’t want it to end. Listen after listen, I took in each tender, well crafted experience that each song created, and I found that this is definitely one of those albums that could be labeled as a true classic at some point in the future. This is how music SHOULD be made. It surprised me the first time I heard this album, because of just how amazing it really is. Another World, the pinnacle of the album, came in a first taste on the EP of the same name, and truly is an epic masterpiece of music. The rest of the album compliments it, and even builds upon its foundation of beauty, making this easily one of the best albums I heard in 2009. With The Crying Light, Antony and the Johnsons have honestly moved me with their music (and continue to do so with each listen); and that’s powerful stuff indeed. Standout Tracks: Another World, Epilepsy is Dancing, The Crying Light, Dust and Water, Kiss My Name, Everglade.
3: Gossip – Music For Men
I will admit that in the beginning, I had a love/hate relationship with the Gossip. I wanted to love everything that they did, and I hated myself because I didn’t. It wasn’t until I saw the amazing live performance of Standing In The Way of Control that I got what Gossip was all about. Beth Ditto’s incredible vocals, backed by the emotive and hard hitting rock and roll sounds of the Gossip literally had me shaking my head, wondering why in the hell it took me so long to get on board; but it wasn’t until Music For Men that I totally committed to the power of the Gossip. With this album, they channeled Beth Ditto’s iconic vocals onto track after track of well polished, down and dirty, and masterful rock and roll. It’s hard to imagine that these guys aren’t having a good time while they make music like this, because when I hear it, it makes want to get up and dance until my legs fall off. When I listen to this album, I want to fucking ROCK. Overall, this album captured me, threw me in the trunk, and refused to release ransom demands, because there was no way it was going to let me go; and I am glad that it didn’t. This album made a huge splash with me in 2009, and it is one that continues to grow on me more and more with each listen; I literally, just cannot get enough of the Gossip’s Music For Men. Standout Tracks: Pop Goes the World, 8th Wonder, Heavy Cross, Men In Love, Love Long Distance, 2012.
4: Miike Snow – Miike Snow
This was definitely “from out of left field” album discoveries for me. I was looking through recently released stuff on iTunes, and this crazy cover captured my attention, so I figured I’d give it a listen; and boy, I am glad I did. Miike Snow is comprised of Swedish MEGA producers Bloodshy and Avant (they did Britney’s Toxic, for one), along with American Andrew Wyatt; and together, I can definitely say, that they made one of the most brilliant albums of 2009. Slick production, catchy rhythms, and danceable beats made this one of my most enjoyable finds early on in 2009; and one that was so consistently good, that it stayed with me throughout the rest of the year. Miike Snow’s self titled debut is one of those albums that I was screaming about early on, and after a while it seemed like everyone started catching on to how amazing the album truly is. There truly isn’t a bad song on the album, and save one track (the more downtrodden Sylvia), I can say that I truly love every track on this record. This is a truly impressive debut album, but it should be no surprise; especially when you consider what these guys brought to the table to begin with. Standout Tracks: Animal, Horse is Not a Home, Song For No One, In Search Of, Burial.
5: The Saturdays – Wordshaker
While their first single lacked the oomph I was was looking for, and did give me quick worry that it was a lackluster sign of what would be too quick of a follow up to their impressive debut, it did manage to grow on me quite quickly. As it grew on me, my anticipation for the forthcoming album grew, and it would be what followed the opening track that would be nothing short of pop perfection; Here Standing is hands down, one of the best songs of not only 2009, but one of the best pop songs I have heard in many, many years. Thankfully, it doesn’t stop there; as the album goes on, track after track, the pure, deliciousness of well made pop songs just keep coming. Even though it initially seemed that they had churned out another album “too soon”, what happened instead, was the Saturdays moved in and took the spot left open by Girls Aloud and the now defunct Sugababes; and in doing so they have taken the reigns of girl-group pop, and driven us to the next level. This album is FULL of singles, and it is was definitely a welcome addition to my music collection for 2009. While this is an album that I fully expect to see many more singles from, and one that (if given the proper chance), COULD be a possible crossover to the US for them, sadly, it will probably not happen as has been the case for most that have come before The Saturdays. However, it does make me feel better, that at least I was able to discover this gem, and share my glee and sheer delight for the Saturdays’ amazing contribution to pop music with Wordshaker, because pop music this good shouldn’t be missed; and if you stick with me, I will do my best to spread the word to all of you. If this album is any signal as to where the Saturdays are headed next, I think we can safely say that we should have known all along, because they told us back with their second single; they were going UP! Standout Tracks: Here Standing, Open Up, Lose Control, Ego, No One, Not Good Enough.