Let's begin with the greatest rock band of all time. Think I'm exaggerating? Then you've obviously never experienced Muse. I discovered Muse 10 years ago when John and I were dating in San Marcos. A little song called "Muscle Museum" was played mostly just on the college radio station, and I fell in love. Their music is epic; a little bit Queen, a little bit Depeche Mode, a whole lot of awesome. So my pick for the best album of 2009 is Muse's "The Resistance." From start to finish, the listener is in their world, a dystopia of Orwellian fascism and revolution. And apparently, teddy bears.
And in no particular order b/c it's impossible, the rest of the best.
Florence and the Machine. What's not to love? Kickass redhead. Check. Voice so powerful it could drive you to tears. Check. Lyrics so beautiful it makes it hard to breathe. Check. Her album, "Lungs" is one of those albums you put on repeat on a bad day, a good day, during sex, during a fight. You get the point. I've said "Cosmic Love" is probably the most painfully beautiful songs I've ever heard, and I stand by that statement. Judge for yourself.
Bat for Lashes. If you, like me, like science fantasy books, love "Lord of the Rings" and just in general wish magic was real and sometimes want to escape into a fairy tale, then "Two Suns" is the album for you. Ethereal, whimsical, enchanting, haunting, this is an album about lost love, a love torn apart by distance and is split between Natasha and her alter ego, Pearl. It sounds a little weird, but it worked for me and other whimsical fairy-tale loving geeks like me. My favorite - "Glass." It's just very sexy and striking.
Gossip. "Men in Love" No list of the best of anything would be complete without my darling Beth Ditto. In my richest fantasies I could never be as badass as Beth. Watching her sing live was one of the highlights of my year. Her voice has a lioness power to it, and listening to this album makes me miss my old club kid days where I could drink and dance until 4am, go to work, and then repeat as needed. Best songs are "Heavy Cross," "Vertical Rhythm," and "2012." If you like a good bassline, glitter, glam, and excess in every way, please do enjoy.
There are a lot of decent honorable mentions that are still far superior to most of the crap out there.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs "It's Blitz" It's good, not great. They're still one of my favorite bands, and I'm tickled pink by Karen O's adorable "Where the Wild Things Are" soundtrack, but this album was kind of a disappointment. Again, still better than most. "Runaway" "Heads Will Roll" "Zero" - all highly recommended.
Tori Amos "Abnormally Addicted To Sin" Hate to say this, but again, not great. There are some gorgeous tracks here like "Give" and "Ophelia" but for the most part, it's just okay. She hasn't been able to touch "Scarlet's Walk" and likely never will. She's still a goddess and should be worshipped accordingly
Imogen Heap "Ellipse" I was really looking forward to this one b/c her last album was breathtaking, but this one I just haven't been able to get into as much.
Next year is looking to be great in music. Interpol and Sia both have albums coming out in the next few months, and I hear rumor of a Maynard James Keenan project - probably Puscifer.