Craig’s Lists 2009 – My Albums of the Year

An article not too dissimilar to this one appeared in The Sunday Business Post on 19th December.  Yes, that was a long time ago and this is now way too late to fascinate anyone but I went to the trouble of making a crap montage for it – so here it is.

2009 will undoubtedly be remembered for the emergence of a new generation of bankable female talents – not simply manufactured, flash in-the-pan commercial successes, but genuine artists who released albums of enduring influence and integrity.

Foremost was, of course, Florence and the Machine, with the eponymous Ms Welch’s debut, Lungs, exceeding many expectations in terms of quality and sales.

But bubbling under were many works with perhaps less commercial appeal but at least equal resonance: prodigious Austrian teenager Anja Plaschg, under the name Soap & Skin, gave us her spooky, gothic opus Lovetune For Vacuum; mucky rapper Amanda Blank’s I Love You persuaded me she’s one for the future as well as the present; Brooklyn duo Telepathe’s debut Dance Mother gave Animal Collective’s avant-garde dance niche some serious competition; and St Vincent‘s beautiful and joyfully inventive second album Actor pipped everyone else to be my album of the year.

Elsewhere, Brooklyn’s critically untouchable Grizzly Bear gave us perhaps the indie-cool revelation of the year with their masterwork, Veckatimest, while electro noise rock experimentalists Health regaled us with their thoroughly rewarding second long player, Get Color.  Denmark’s Mew also continued their relentless pursuit of near-perfection with the magnificent No More Stories Are Told Today.

In slightly more mainstream territory, erstwhile Raconteur Brendan Benson got back to what he does better than anyone on his magical collection of power-pop nuggets, My Old Familiar Friend, while, taking a break from Belle & Sebastian, Stuart Murdoch’s God Help The Girl was an excellent exercise in cutesy-pop majesty.

Domestically, 2009 was a bumper year for Irish albums, with some works of true greatness.

The utterly cosmic Twinkranes gave us the dazzling Spektrum Theatre Snakes, 8Ball rolled out the astonishingly brilliant With All Your Friends, while Legion of Two created industrial noise and magic with Riffs.

Honourable mentions go to Dublin/Kildare duo Carosel for their pristine collection of sweet, summery pop, Kaleidoscope, and the self titled, cricket-themed debut from super-duo Neil Hannon and Thomas Walsh as The Duckworth Lewis Method.

Best of all, though, was the masterfully atmospheric electro-pop of Dark Room Notes‘ We Love You Dark Matter – an album that might well see the Dublin based quartet’s influence deservedly spread worldwide in 2010.

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4 Responses to “Craig’s Lists 2009 – My Albums of the Year”

  1. Jeez, only have one of those albums on my shelf.

    I used to be with it. But then they changed what ‘it’ was. Now what I’m with isn’t ‘it’, and what is ‘it’ is strange and terrifying to me….

  2. I agree, Markham, it’s quite frightening. But the trick is not to worry – like fashion, there is no ‘it’. Just so long as you don’t let yourself go into elastic-waistband radio-listening and start to tolerate, or even enjoy, what most certainly ‘isn’t it’, you’ll be fine.

  3. What Johnnie said, there’s no It, only yourself. That’s what makes reading these lists enjoyable: folks choose their favourites, not the Its. Thanks be. It’d be all Miley Cyrus and La Roux. Though if there was an It, I’d say you’re bang up there, J. Pretty much applauding all your choices, even though I found it really hard to agree with Flo, that’s where Bat For Lashes steps in for me. Good call on the Irish nods too, wonder which (if any) will make the Choice? Here’s hoping!

  4. Nay – For me, Flo is a collossal, bubbling talent whose best years are ahead of her. Like a lot of people, I thought her album was a little over-polished compared to some of the early stuff I’d heard but, again personally, it didn’t detract from my adoring admiration of what she’s capable of. I think her live performances bear this out. Production, production, production.

    As for Bat For Lashes – it’s frustrating but I have to admit, that one passed me by. Like a lot of stuff on the deluge of 2009 lists, I simply didn’t have a chance to absorb it, and I’ve no doubt it would’ve been a firm favourite. But that’s one of the joys too, finding out what other people enjoyed.

    As for the Choice, I think the actual choice of albums this year’s judges have at their disposal is better than ever. Some albums which would’ve made the cut in previous years simply won’t this year – shame, but at least it suggests that the talent, creativity and imagination of the nation’s musicians are blossoming in spite of the mainstream media’s obsession with the tacky and tawdry elements of TV game show non-entity. It won’t stop the Choice shortlist from upsetting people but that’s all part of local showbiz, isn’t it?

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