Thursday, December 24, 2009

Best Music of 2009: Part 5

Of course, I like to reveal my year-end list in the countdown format. This year, though, I'm doing it a little differently, in case you haven't noticed. I'm still counting it down, but within each post, the rankings are in ascending order. The reason for this is I realized it reads better that way when the list is complete. 5-4-3-2-1 followed by 10-9-8-7-6, and then 15-14-13-12-11, etc. just seems a little awkward. But, don't you worry, the #1 album will be revealed last. While I'm on that subject, here's my tentative schedule for posts after this one:

#'s 8-10: December 26
#'s 5-7: December 28
#'s 2-4: December 30
#1: December 31

11. Andrew Bird - Noble Beast
Going into this year, two bands—The Hold Steady and Drive-By Truckers—hold current streaks of three consecutive releases in my top ten. Since the list used to be just a top ten, I still consider that to be a pretty significant honor. A third artist earned that distinction this year, but it wasn't Andrew Bird. I guess since I'm 100% responsible for putting this list together, I could have bumped him up one place, but I didn't. So, he and two other artists failed in their attempts for a third consecutive top ten release. Bird, obviously, came the closest, and by a long shot, as the other two didn't even place.

12. Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band - Outer South
Only four artists or individuals have made major contributions to two albums that have made my top ten in the same year: Jay Bennett (2002), Ryan Adams (2001), The Del McCoury Band (1999), and Jeff Tweedy (1996). As you can see, it used to be a fairly common occurrence, but hasn't happened in a while. Conor Oberst almost broke the drought this year, but fell a little short.

13. Anders Parker - Skyscraper Crow
Anders is a friend of mine, but that has zero influence on my opinion of his music. He's consistently made my year-end list since Varnaline's A Shot and a Beer in 1997. In fact, only one of seven studio albums he's released as a solo artist, or with his former band, hasn't ranked since I began doing the list in 1996. The only argument you could make regarding my personal bias is that I may have never heard of him if I didn't know him. However, on some level I feel that I would have eventually discovered his talents on my own. On the other hand, that could be a chicken-or-the-egg discussion, because if he hadn't turned me on to Uncle Tupelo back in the mid-90s, I'm not really sure in what direction my taste would have gone.

14. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Returning to the Grammy nomination theme, Phoenix's latest is up for Best Alternative Music Album. Their competition includes David Byrne & Brian Eno's Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, which was released in August 2008; Death Cab for Cutie's The Open Door, which is a 17-minute EP; and the latest albums from Depeche Mode and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I didn't hear either of the latter two, so I can't make comparisons, but it's probably not difficult to understand my preference for Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix over the former two.

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