It’s nearing the end of the year, which means End-of-the-Year Lists! Are they arbitrary? often! Are they relevant? not usually! Do I love them? absolutely!

Today, I took Best Music of 2009 polls at NPR’s All Songs Considered and Pitchfork. My first thought? “My god the year is over?” I’ve been so focused on Dec. 15 (day of my last final), that I haven’t even considered the other things that will end this year. Ugh, and soon we’ll all have to endure forced jokes about getting used to writing 2010. My god, a whole decade is ending! The aughts are no more! The tens/teens are upon us!

Anyway, what a great year for music. I think last year produced more standout albums, but this was an excellent year for me and music personally. I went to three music festivals: Harvest of Hope in St. Augustine, in March; Austin City Limits, in October; and FunFunFun Fest, in November. In addition, I’ve gotten to see a lot of live music here in Austin. My favorite local band? T-Bird and the Breaks, who put on an amazingly fun show. I admit readily that I have not taken full advantage of the music scene here (see: law school), but I can’t even explain how it incredible it is to know that I could, if I wanted to. To read tour schedules and see “Austin,TX” on the list.

So, in no particular order, albums of 2009 I enjoyed (and why):

  • Phosphorescent – To Willie.  What a simply beautiful album. It takes great songwriting and wraps it in a package that doesn’t offend my country-insensitive ears. It opens up simple, clear, poignant words to a whole new audience.
  • Bat For Lashes – Two Suns.  Weird and wonderful, Two Suns is like a fantasy novel of music. It’s all galactic space queens and epic journeys across time and space, wrapped in lush packaging with utterly memorable melodies. Makes me wish I could sing.
  • YeahYeahYeahs – Its Blitz.  Maps was my jam in high school and through college, and I’m glad to see it finally getting the recognition it deserves. I wasn’t a big fan of Show Your Bones, and I found Its Blitz to be a return to the Fever to Tell style of music that first made me get a big ol girl crush on Karen O. Seeing them live at ACL was the cherry on my music sundae this year, not only because it was a stellar performance, but because I’ve wanted to see them for so long. Anyway, back to the album, which I was prejudiced to like: My favorites are the dance tracks Heads Will Roll and Zero, and the slower ones Runaway and Hysteric.  Almost immediately after the album came out, I would hear Hysteric on the piped-in radio stations at horrible big-box stores, but I still love it.
  • The Avett Brothers – I and Love and You.  I’ve been aware of the Avett Bros for a few years, but never sat down to really listen to their stuff. Boy, was I missing out. If you don’t want to marry one of these boys after listening to this album, you’re missing a romance gene.
  • Neon Indian – Psychic Chasms.  Jam, jam, jamitty jam. Winding, evocative, and intriguing. Can’t wait to hear more.
  • Windsurf – Coastlines.  Perfectly mellow.
  • The Dead Weather – Horehound.  The band I most regret not seeing at ACL. Rock out.
  • OK, so it wasn’t an album that came out in 2009 – and I don’t think they’ve even recorded an album, but SLEIGH BELLS. I can’t recommend them enough. Crown on the Ground is dirty and raw in the best way.

What did you love? What was overrated?

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