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Ground Control’s 2009 Best Of

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Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Ah, what a year 2009 was for music. By all accounts, the climate was a delicate one as the music industry sought to streamline itself in accommodation of a new, digital generation which meant re-tooling services, re-thinking promotional strategies and working out the finer points of how a multi-million-dollar endeavor was going to sustain itself. In some circles, it was a harrowing time that called for the making of hard decisions but, if looking at the selection of great albums that appeared over the year is any indicator, the bands and artists at work in 2009 weren't feeling it.

2009 turned out to be characterized by greatness as established bands and artists like Green Day, Bob Dylan, Neko Case and Dinosaur Jr. released albums that reiterated why they occupy the place in the music canon that they do, but new bands (like Animal Collective, Silversun Pickups and Phoenix) also broke through and established unique places of their own in the popular consciousness that could not be ignored or overshadowed. Further still, in their ongoing endeavor to re-coup old debts and losses, many labels initiated enormous projects to reissue and re-present classic albums by The Beatles, The Vaselines, Beck, Hawksley Workman, Bad Religion, Kraftwerk, Nirvana and Jane's Addiction to name only the smallest imaginable number; perhaps without meaning to, the reissues enriched the year by presenting a foil between the quality of old works and values against the quality of new ones that found neither lacking, but presented both a rich history and bright outlook to the future. Taking it as a whole, 2009 could be looked at as a fantastic timeline that ran the span of forty years – all within the amount of time it took to complete one.

Of course, we here at Ground Control are a critical bunch and critics do have their favorites. Below readers will find individual lists of the ten best albums released this year as dictated by each writer. Taken together, it covers a pretty significant amount of ground but, even so, there are some recurring entries. Could it be that those are the albums with the greatest staying power and cross-taste appeal? Perhaps – only time will tell – but one thing's for certain: in listening to them, there's no doubt that each of the albums listed in this poll absolutely deserves to be here. They were the best of 2009.

Bill Adams

1. Frank Turner – Poetry Of The Deed (Xtra Mile/Epitaph)
2. The Low Anthem – Oh My God, Charlie Darwin (Nonesuch/Warner Bros.)
3. Dinosaur Jr. – Farm (Jagjaguwar)
4. Strike Anywhere – The Iron Front (Bridge Nine)
5. The Dead Weather – Horehound (Thirdman/Warner Brothers)
6. Care Bears On Fire – Get Over It! (S-Curve)
7. Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown (Reprise/Warner Brothers)
8. Moneen – The World I Want To Leave Behind (Dine Alone)
9. Bob Dylan – Together Through Life (Columbia)
10. Tom Waits – Glitter & Doom Live (Anti-)

Mark Ziemke
1. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (Glass Note)
2. Lamb of God – Wrath (Sony)
3. Logan Lynn – From Pillar to Post (Beat the World)
4. Ola Podrida – Belly of the Lion (Western Vinyl)
5.The Prairie Cartel – Where Did All My People Go (n/a)
6. Silversun Pickups – Swoon (Dangerbird)
7. Ceu – Vagarosa (Six Degrees)
8. Red Fang – Red Fang (Sargent House)
9. Mars Volta – Octahedron (Warner)
10. Filthy Dukes – Fabric Live 48 (Fabric)

Raymond Ahner
1. Gallows – Grey Britain (Warner Brothers)
2. Orchid – Through The Devil's Doorway (The Church Within Records)
3. Slayer – World Painted Blood (American)
4. Saviours – Accelerated Living (Kemado)
5. Kylesa – Static Tensions (Prosthetic)
6. The Grannies – Hot Flashes (Wondertaker)
7. Marduk – Wormwood (Regain Records)
8. Bloody Panda – Summon (Profound Lore)
9. Skelotonwitch – Breathing The Fire (Prosthetic)
10. Deströyer 666 – Defiance (Season Of Mist)

Tracy Nunnery
1. Sigur Ros – Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust(XL)
2. The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love (Capitol)
3. Mastodon – Crack the Skye (Reprise)
4. Silversun Pickups – Swoon (Dangerbird)
5. The xx – xx (Young Turks)
6. Doves – Kingdom of Rust (Astralwerks)
7. Company of Thieves – Ordinary Riches (Wind-Up)
8. Great Northern – Remind Me Where the Light Is (Eenie Meenie)
9. Bat For Lashes – Two Suns (Astralwerks)
10. White Lies – To Lose My Life (Geffen)

Ollie Mikse
1. Marked Men – Ghosts (Dirtnap)
2. Riverboat Gamblers – Underneath the Owl (Volcom)
3. Propagandhi – Supporting Caste (G7 Welcoming Committee)
4. Sonic Youth – The Eternal (Matador)
5. Mastodon – Crack the Skye (Reprise)
6. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion (Domino)
7. Neko Case – Middle Cyclone (Anti)
8. The Avett Brothers – I and Love and You (Columbia)
9. Teenage Bottlerocket – They Came From the Shadows (Fat Wreck)
10. Dinosaur Jr – Farm (Jagjaguwar)

Honorable Mentions:
Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds – Dracula Tooth (In The Red)
The Spitz – IV (Recess)
The Bronx – Mariachi El Bronx (White Drugs/Swami)

Blair Waltman
1. Neko Case – Middle Cyclone (Anti-)
2. The Rural Alberta Advantage – Hometowns (Saddle Creek)
3. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest (Warp)
4. The Heartless Bastards – The Mountian (Fat Possum Records)
5. The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love (Capitol Records)
6. Franz Ferdinand – Tonight: Franz Ferdinand (Domino)
7. Monsters of Folk – Monsters of Folk (Shangri-La)
8. Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career (4AD)
9. Death Cab for Cutie – The Open Door EP (Atlantic)
10. Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown (Warner Bros.)

Nikki Roddy
1. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino)
2. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (Glass Note)
3. Wild Beasts – Two Dancers (Domino)
4. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest (Warp Records)
5. Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career (4AD)
6. The Whitest Boy Alive – Rules (Asound/Bubbles)
7. Antony and the Johnsons – The Crying Light (Secretly Canadian)
8. The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love (Capitol)
9. Dananananaykroyd – Hey Everyone (Best Before)
10. Sufjan Stevens – The BQE (Asthmatic Kitty)

Scott Schulz
1. Raveonettes – In and Out of Love (Vice)
2. Crocodiles Summer Of Hate(Fat Possum)
3. A Place To Bury Strangers – Exploding Head(Mute)
4. Arecibo – Trans Plutonian Transmission (Solielmoon Recordings)Reissue
5. Pains of Being Pure at Heart – S/T (Slumberland Records)
6. Siouxsie and the Banshees – Siouxsie and the Banshees at the BBC (Polydor) box
7. Big Pink – A Brief History of Love (4AD)
8. Dead Weather – Horehound (Thirdman Records)
9. Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions – Through the Devil Softly (Nettwerk Records)
10. Melvins – Chicken Switch (Ipecac Recordings)

Tatiana Simonian
1. The Big Pink – A Brief History of Love (4AD)
2. Florence and the Machine – Lungs (Island)
3. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (Glass Note)
4. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino)
5. And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Century Of Self (Richter Scale)
6. White Lies – To Lose My Life (Geffen)
7. U2 – No Line On The Horizon (Interscope)
8. A Place To Bury Strangers – Exploding Head (Mute)
9. Placebo – Battle for the Sun (Vagrant)
10. IAMX – Kingdom of Welcome Addiction (61Seconds)
11. Amazing Baby – Rewild (Shangri-La)

Terri Loewenthal
1. Grizzly Bear –Veckatimest (Warp)
2. Whitest Boy Alive – Rules(Bubbles)
3. Kings of Convenience – Declaration of Dependence (Mawlaw 388)
4. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (Sony)
5. Sorcerer – Neon Leon (Tirk)
6. Vetiver – Tight Knit (Sub Pop)
7. El Perro del Mar – Love is Not Pop (Control Group)
8. Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career (4AD)
9. Jonathan Johansson –En Hand i Himlen( Hybris)
10. Mocky –Saskamodie (Crammed Discs)

Chase Domergue
1. DOOM – Born Like This (Lex Records)
2. Blakroc – Blakroc (blakroc)
3. Arctic Monkeys – Humbug (Domino Records)
4. Franz Ferdinand – Tonight (Domino Records)
5. Neon Indian – Psychic Chasms (Lefse Records)
6. Girls – Album (True Panther Sounds)
7. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (Glass Note)
8. Japandroids – Post-Nothing (Polyvinyl)
9. Wavves – Wavvves (Fat Possum)
10. Royksopp – Junior (Wall of Sound)

John Barundia
1. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino)
2. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest (Warp)
3. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (V2 Records)
4. the xx – XX (Young Turks)
5. Girls – Album (True Panther)
6. The Pains of being Pure at Heart – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (Slumberland)
7. Japandroids – Post-Nothing (Unfamiliar)
8. Dinosaur Jr. – Farm (Jagjaguwar)
9. Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca (Domino)
10. Woods – Songs of Shame (Woodsist)

Jenny Wittman
1. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (V2 Records)
2. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It's Blitz! (Interscope)
3. Metric – Fantasies (Metric Music International)
4. Silversun Pickups – Swoon (Dangerbird)
5. IAMX – Kingdom of Welcome Addiction (Metropolis Records)
6. Heartless Bastards – The Mountain (Fat Possum Records)
7. The Crystal Method – Divided by Night (Tiny e Records)
8. Neko Case – Middle Cyclone (ANTI-)
9. Modest Mouse – No One's First and You're Next (Epic)
10.The Flaming Lips – Embyonic (Warner Bros.)

Emily Yoder
1. Neko Case – Middle Cyclone (ANTI-)
2. Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career (4AD)
3. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (V2 Records)
4. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (Slumberland Records)
5. M. Ward – Hold Time (Merge Records)
6. The Avett Brothers – I and Love and You (American Recordings)
7. St. Vincent – Actor (4AD)
8. Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca (Domino)
9. Passion Pit – Manners (Frenchkiss Records)
10. David Bazan – Curse Your Branches (Barsuk)

Honorable Mentions:
Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino)
Decemberists – The Hazards of Love (Capitol Records)
Rain Machine (Kyp Malone) – Rain Machine (ANTI-)
Wilco – Wilco (The Album) (Nonesuch)
Heartless Bastards – The Mountain (Fat Possum)

Daryl Darko
1. Devin Townsend – Ki (Inside Out)
2. U2 – The Unforgettable Fire (rerelease) (U2/Island Catalog)
3. Gong – 2032 (101 Distribution)
4. Mastadon – Crack the Skye (Reprise)
5. Teeth Of The Sea – Orphaned By The Sea (Rocket Recordings)
6. The Antlers – Hospice (Frenchkiss Records)
7. Sonic Youth – The Eternal (Matador)
8. Cormorant – Metazoa (Saturnine Records)
9. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino Recording Co.)
10. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest (Warp Records)

Dana Blacklock
1. …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – The Century of Self (Merge)
2. Yeah Yeah Yeah's – It's Blitz! (Interscope)
3. Metric – Fantasies (Last Gang)
4. Silversun Pickups – Swoon (Dangerbird)
5. Kasabian – West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum (RCA)
6. The Mars Volta – Octahedron (Warner Bros.)
7. As Tall As Lions – You Can't Take It With You (East West/ TCR)
8. Built To Spill – There Is No Enemy (Warner Bros.)
9. Editors – In This Light and On This Evening (Kitchenware)
10. Tegan & Sara – Sainthood (Sire/Vapor)


Further Reading:
The 2009 Thursday 30 (in tribute to Martin Streek)

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