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Mudcub's Top 50 CDs of 2009
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mudcub


Here is my list of the top 50 CDs of 2009. This year, I noticed that my favorites were naturally divided into various groups: CDs I liked, CDs I liked but didn't expect to like, CDs I *thought* I'd like, but found out that I hated. I wonder if the artist's "backstory" influences me unduly. That is, instead of judging the music on it's own merit, I take into consideration where they've been, and most importantly, the direction *I* personally think they should be taking. On my list, it's not enough to put out a good record - I want to see brilliant newcomers, or at least an evolution of an existing sound. Or maybe, I think and judge too much and I should shut up and dance.

1. Amanda Palmer "Who Killed Amanda Palmer?"

Wow! Seeing her at the Coachella Music Festival was a highlight of my year. I liked her music with the Dresden Dolls, but with this Ben Folds-produced album, she took her songwriting to a new level. Throw in a tie-in book and DVD with a conceptual theme, and you have the definition of a true artist. There were some wonderful new songs that she performed in concert, so I'm looking forward to more and more Amanda Fucking Palmer. (Note: I know this CD came out officially in 2009, but I didn't hear it until the spring, and it's my list so I can bend the rules {grin})

2. Florence and the Machine "Lungs"

Sometimes there are CDs that everybody likes. When I was working during college at a local CD store, Paul Simon's "Graceland" came out. I have to confess that I was shameless - I would give that one an in-store a dozen times a day, and each time, people would come up and ask what was playing. I must have sold a thousand copies of that CD on my recommendation. This CD feels the same way. it's tuneful, it's fun, they are good in concert. Even the cover art is great. What more could you ask for?

3. Jill Sobule "California Years"

All of my top three picks were women. I find that odd, because usually I'm a sucker for moody boys. But Denver native Jill Sobule is one of the best songwriters working today, regardless of gender. This CD was a memento of her move to California, and it came out just as I was adjusting to life in San Jose. It fit my thoughts perfectly: at times bitter funny and cynical, and at other times absolutely beautiful and shamelessly hopeful. Kid of like me.

4. The Bad Plus "For All I Care"

This CD should have been a trainwreck. This band was known for their avant-guard jazz takes on modern pop standards. This is nothing new - even Miles Davis covered Michael Jackson ("Human Nature"). But stuffy modern jazz artists like Winton Marsalis think it's better to trod out old twenties pop tunes than tackle anything modern. I loved The Bad Plus taking on Nirvana and Blondie, but how could they add a vocalist? They don't play in even time... how could an attractive female singer keep up with them? The answer is - just fine, thank you. Wendy Lewis doesn't try to out-weird the band. Instead, she acts like everything is completely normal, and it doing so, creates an amazing world that I didn't expect.

5. Chris Isaak "Mr. Lucky"

I *like* the guy. But I was expecting myself to hate this CD. Surely the pretty-boy surfer who plays MOR rockabilly has overstayed his welcome? I mean he even did a Showtime TV show. Well... don't count him out. This CD is full of amazing songs. There's a great pacing... sweet ballads are followed by funny country twang, and then he'll pull off a great duet. I have thirteen Chris Isaak CDs already, and even though they all sound the same, I hope he makes a lot more.

Ten more CDs I loved:

6. The Decemberists "The Hazards Of Love"
7. A.C. Newman "Get Guilty"
8. Jason Faulkner "All Quiet On The Noise Floor" (as well as belatedly "I'm Ok... You're Ok" and the two TV Eyes CDs from Japan)
9. Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey "Here And Now"
10. Soundtrack "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog"
11. Phoenix "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix"
12. The Futureheads "This Is Not The World"
13. Los Lobos "Goes Disney"
14. Glasvegas "Glasvegas"
15. Noah And The Whale "Peaceful The World Lays Me Down"

Next are ten CDs that I expected to dislike, but I ended up playing over and over again:

16. Grizzly Bear "Vecktimest"
17. Animal Collective "Merriweather Post Paviliion"
18. Muse "The Resistance"
19. Katy Perry "One Of The Boys"
20. Lady Gaga "The Fame" and "The Fame Monster"
21. Owl City "Ocean Eyes"
22. Friendly Fires "Friendly Fires"
23. The Fiery Furnaces "I'm Going Away"
24. Morrissey "Swords" and "Years Of Refusal"
25. Julian Casablancas "Phrazes For The Young" and Julian Plenti "Julian Plenti Is... Skyscraper"

Then, here are twenty CDs by established artists that were quite good, but didn't sound that different than their earlier stuff. That doesn't mean these CDs are great, it just suggests that they are inessential. But I'll still listen to them many times in the future.

26. Bob Mould "Life And TImes"
27. Regina Spektor "Far"
28. Mika "The Boy Who Knew Too Much"
29. Bredan Benson "My Old, Familiar Friend"
30. Tegan And Sara "Sainthood"
31. The Dodos "Time To Die"
32. Gossip "Music For Men"
33. Kasabian "West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum"
34. Antony And The Johnsons "The Crying Light"
35. Sondre Lerche "Heartbeat Radio"
36. The Thermals "Now We Can See"
37. Rhett Miller "Rhett Miller"
38. Imogene Heap "Ellipse"
39. Arctic Monkeys "Humbug"
40. The Reverend Horton Heat "Laughin' & Cryin'"
41. Franz Ferdinand "Tonight: Franz Ferdinand"
42. Placebo "Battle For The Sun"
43. They Might Be Giants "Here Comes Science"
44. Andrew Bird "Noble Beast"
45. Ben Lee "The Rebirth Of Venus"
46. Monsters Of Folk "Monsters Of Folk"
47. Tinted Windows "Tinted Wondows"
48. David Byrne and Brian Eno "Everything That Happens Will Happen Today"
49. Pearl Jam "Monkeywrench"
50. Bruce Springsteen "Working On A Dream" and "Empire Of The Sun "Walking On A Dream"

Finally, here are some other CDs that I liked, but weren't good enough to make the list

Adam Lambert "For Your Entertainment"
Green Day "21st Century Breakdown"
Neko Case "Middle Cyclone"
Jarvis Cocker "Further Complications..."
Jeremy Enigk "OK Bear"
The Avett Brothers "I And Love And You"
Blitzen Trapper "Furr"
The Mars Volta "Octahedron"
She & Him "Volume One"
Art Brut "Art Brut vs. Satan"
The Apples In Stereo "#1 Hits Explosion!"
Jason Mraz "We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things"
Trembling Bells "Carbeth"
James Husband "A Parallax I"
The Bravery "Stir The Blood"
Mastodon "Crack The Skye"
Ben Kweller "How Ya Lookin' Southbound? Come In..."
Living Colour "The Chair In The Doorway"
The Dead Weather "Horehound"
Patrick Wolf "THe Bachelor"
The Ravonettes "In And Out Of Control"
The Vines "Melodica"

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I think Regina Spektor's "Far" is pretty disappointing myself. If I was her producer I'd ban her from a traditional recording studio and have her record her music the way she used to, since that pretty much forced her to come up with the eclectic solutions she employed before.

Yeah, bad cover art, too. But I know there's talent there... I'll just wait for the next one!

Actually, I really LOVED "Far." Just the right balance for me. And I love Jill Sobule, too.

(Deleted comment)
I don't have it yet! It's on my Christmas list {grin}. Though I love "Don't Be A Stranger" and "Runt".

Edited at 2009-12-21 02:48 am (UTC)

mm loved Hazards of Love!

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