Counting Down The Top Twenty: Albums (Part 2 of 4)

Keeping up how I said I would, here is part two of “the best albums of 2009”.

#15. Oh My God, Charlie Darwin – The Low Anthem
A very folksy album, ‘Oh My God, Charlie Darwin’ is a collection of tracks that are deeply ruminative about life, love and even slightly religion. By opening on the aptly entitled ‘Charlie Darwin’, Ben Knox Miller sets his voice on a hymn-like scale. From there on out, his voice slowly deteriorates into that of a wiser, less wistful man. On a more complimentary note, listen to track #5 if you want the most heartfelt piece of music of the year. (BEST OFF OF THE ALBUM: Ticket Taker)

Only Revolutions – Biffy Clyro
Certainly unique, but justifiably so? Certainly. After an auspicious opening that gives you reason to believe that this will be a poor attempt at clashing a death metal sound with a pop one, Biffy Clyro lays out a groovy little melody, snappy vocals and interesting lyrics to jump start the album. Sure, it’s a tad inconsistent, but the entire package is ultimately repeatable because of a handful of creative/jovial tracks. There are even sprinkles of self-deprecation; most of which are found thanks to ‘God & Satan’. In addition, the song ‘Bubbles’ has one of the most enjoyable choruses of the year and you’ll find yourself singing along with it after your third listen. (BEST OFF OF THE ALBUM: Bubbles)

Upper Air – Bowerbirds
Do you like Elliott Smith? Do you like Bon Iver? Imagine if those two had a baby who took parts of both, putting together one of the most pragmatic evocations of a somber soul since Bon Iver’s debut LP last year. Is it perfect? Far from it. Is it an ode to greats that have shaped this generations sound? Hell yes. Its only issue is that each song is of high quality, but none immediately stick out as most fantastic albums do. It’s the low sound that keeps you from finding any singular track more recognizable than any other, but it’s a pure piece of art in this sense. Great lyrics being sung by saccharine vocals that are found colliding with harrowing strings? Easily amongst the best of the year. (BEST OFF OF THE ALBUM: Teeth)

Animals In The Dark – William Elliott Whitmore
Have you ever felt like reliving the sounds of the 60s, but haven’t been motivated enough to go back and re-re-re-re-relisten to your Johnny Cash albums? Well brush the dust off no further and pop this album in. As bluesy as it is soulful; as vocally strong as a tenor; as retro as parachute pants and trench warfare, ‘Animals in the Dark’ is the perfect music to travel cross-country to. A trait Mr. Whitmore possesses that most do not is a racially indistinguishable voice. Perhaps it isn’t something of great importance, but when you’re listening to this album you’re listening to this album. There’s no images that immediately pop into mind apart from the ones he’s painting with his great use of imagery and southern inspirations. To miss this is to miss one of the best of 2009. (BEST OFF OF THE ALBUM: Johnny Law)

Sainthood – Tegan and Sara
And the award for musical act who changed their sound most this year goes to… Yes, while this isn’t a compilation of tracks that fans of This Business of Art or So Jealous will find familiar, this is the duo’s most compelling release to date. Perhaps this is because I wasn’t in complete adoration of their previous work, but that is neither here nor there. It is because they sound more like the short lived band The Organ (another Canadian group) than Tegan and Sara of yesteryear that they’ve reignited the zeal they broke onto the scene with — not in sound, but in general enthusiasm. They’re more bitter, they’re more entrancing, they’re just more. And next to Merriweather Post Pavilion, this is the most quotable album of 2009. (BEST OFF OF THE ALBUM: Hell)

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