My Top 10 Albums of 2009 - Idol Threat: Warning Shots at the Mainstream


Friday, January 15, 2010

My Top 10 Albums of 2009

(There’s no particular order to these, and I just picked the covers I liked the best to post instead of posting all 10 album covers.)

Napalm Death – Time Waits for No Slave

While most bands tend to lose their edge as they age it seems that Napalm Death only sharpens theirs. Ever since “Enemy of the Music Business” they’ve seem to have been stepping up their “grind” and returning to their old roots while still keeping a forward-thinking mentality. There were plenty of amazing grind/death albums this year, but “Time Waits for No Slave” proves why these guys are called “The Godfathers of Grind.” There are bands half their age that can’t match Napalm’s intensity on wax or on stage.

Slaughterhouse – Slaughterhouse

While not an instant classic, this is still an impressive debut. In a time where lyrics are taking a backseat in Hip Hop and some veterans are lazily resting on their reputation instead of improving on their craft, Slaughterhouse is a refreshing wake up call and a challenge to MCs who claims they’re the best. It’s a miracle that four MCs of this caliber can even set aside their egos to make an album, the fact that they’re all on different labels alone could have even been enough to stop this project from fruition (see Golden State Warriors.) With the huge amount of hype leading up to this album Slaughterhouse managed to not disappoint and they aren’t showing any signs of slowing, and at the rate they’re going a classic album might be in their future yet.

The Flaming Lips – Embryonic

I know this may be a weird pick for me but trust me; this isn’t “At War with the Mystics.” I admittedly haven’t checked out “Christmas on Mars” but this album may make me take a step back and give it a shot. This is a return to “rawness” for The Lips and while it may not garner them more commercial appeal, it has certainly changed my opinion of them greatly. This album is funky, noisy & way more psychedelic than their albums of late – it’s almost a perfect balance of experimental and pop sensibilities. The fact that they were able to keep up the quality for 2 discs is impressive as well, but I can’t help but think if they combined the best of the two they would have another classic on their hands. Nevertheless this is an amazing album.

Matthew Shipp - Harmonic Disorder

It’s been awhile since I’ve put a jazz album in my top, let alone a piano trio session, but Matthew Shipp and Vijay Iyer’s recent trio outings have ignited a new enthusiasm for acoustic piano trios for me. Shipp has gained notoriety outside of Jazz circles as an electronic music and Hip Hop collaborator, but it’s his return to the “basics” that has gotten me really excited as of late. This album shows how Shipp can balance the “avant-garde” and traditional more “boppish” jazz, and his strength as a composer is evident whenever he reels his bandmates in just at the right moment before they get too “out” there. This album is a perfect example of how to masterfully combine an accessible spirit without restricting the freedom to explore.

Raekwon – Only Built for Cuban Linx 2

Now this is a pleasant surprise, after almost 5 years of anticipation and being the sequel to an undisputed Hip Hop classic, you would think that this album would be a huge disappointment. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, not only did Raekwon live up to expectations; he damn near created another classic. I’ve always said albums sound better with one producer, but Raekwon has shown that you can still make a cohesive-sounding album with multiple producers. The fact that this was made possible with different producers, tons of guests and 24 tracks is a testament to the vision of Raekwon and the executive producer. Along with Fishscale this is the best Wu album I’ve heard in a long time.

Megadeth – Endgame

Say what you want about Megadeth, this album fucking SHREDS! Yeah the vocals suck and everyone hates Dave blah blah blah, but you can’t hear the riffs in the two opening songs "Dialectic Chaos" & “This Day We Fight” and think that this band is washed up. This album blows all the “thrash revival” albums out of the water and it’s their best one since “Rust in Peace.” When they released the advanced single "Headcrusher" I was super stoked & I hoped that the album wouldn't disapoint, and it's good to hear that they delivered. Few bands can release an album that thrashes this hard after 25 years, and no “Death Magnetic” doesn’t count.

Mono – Hymn to the Immortal Wind

Although not my favorite Mono album, this release has still shown that Mono can deliver dynamic, beautifully noisy instrumental music without simply re-hashing their past outings. They were able to include a full orchestra while still keeping the essence of their band intact, and they still manage to make me excited for every album they release.

Converge – Axe to Fall

What more can I really say about Converge that hasn't been said already? Almost every publication out there are praising their latest effort, and a number of magazines are even calling them the best band of the decade! They never disappoint and they only seem to get better with every album, which is quite a feat for a band that’s been around almost 20 years. They manage to push the envelope of what is considered hardcore music with every release, yet still maintain a sound that is inherently punk and unmistakably Converge.

J Dilla – Jay Stay Paid
DILLA! This is a much more enjoyable release than “The Shining” in my opinion and shows that even after death his music sounds classic and futuristic (to release old music that is so forward-sounding is proof that this man was indeed ahead of his time.) This cd was masterminded by Pete Rock and Ma Dukes herself so that alone should be proof that this wouldn’t merely be a collection of throw-aways. Dilla will always have the best drums in my opinion, and this release only reminds me of how much he will be missed.

YOB – The Great Cessation

This album is fucking HEAVY. There were tons of doom/sludge releases this year but nothing hit me harder than YOB’s reunion album. Leave it to YOB to reunite and release their best album yet, and it’s amazing that Mike even had the energy to complete this after all that Middian/Age Eternal mess. It still has the “cosmic” essence of their past releases but manages to temper it with a sinister more grounding, earthy rawness. DOOM!

Best EP:
Crooked I – Mr. Pigface Weapon Waist

Best Series:
Merzbow – 13 Japanese Birds Series

Best Covers Album:
Nadja - When I See the Sun Always Shines on TV

Best Demo:
Like Rats – Like Rats (Chicago)

Best Song:
Vijay Iyer "Galang" (from Historicity)

Best Music moments of 2009:
Mono’s 10 Year Anniversary show at NY Society for Ethical Culture performing with a full orchestra & Judas Priest performing the entire British Steel album at Milwaukee Summerfest.

Honorable mentions:
Shrinebuilder – S/T, Hatred Surge - Deconstruct, Wino – Punctuated Equilibrium, Royce da 5’9” – Street Hop, Tombs – Winter Hours, Sweet Cobra - Bottom Feeder EP, Blakroc - S/T, Mastodon - Crack the Skye, Gnaw - This Face, Eagle Twin - The Unkindness Of Crows
And big ups to Kinky Notti, they haven’t officially released the fully mastered version of their album “Succumb” yet but it was definitely in heavy rotation for me this year!

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