Monday, December 28, 2009

Best Music of 2009: Part 7

5. Monsters of Folk - Monsters of Folk
When I first heard My Morning Jacket's At Dawn in 2002, a year after its release, I was certain that Jim James was destined for future appearances in my top ten. Although his main band has yet to live up to that expectation, this year he more than gets by with a little help from his friends. Conor Oberst has turned out to be my favorite among the three creative forces that make up this super-group, but M. Ward also turns in a surprisingly strong performance as well, with utility man Mike Mogis rounding out the foursome. It's not quite Golden Smog's Down By the Old Mainstream, but an excellent album this is.

6. Modest Mouse - No One's First, and You're Next
Modest Mouse's third consecutive entry into the top ten is technically an EP, but at just over 33 minutes, it's just as long as many shorter full-lengths. One that comes to mind is The Shins' Chutes Too Narrow, my #2 album of 2003. Also, despite being a short collection of newly recorded songs from the sessions for their last two albums, it still plays cohesively straight through to the slightly disappointing album closer, "I've Got it All (Most)." Since I'm revealing the artist whose top ten streak remained alive this year, I should mention the two—in addition to Andrew Bird—whose runs ended. The Flaming Lips' Embryonic had a few promising moments, but those weren't enough to prevent it from earning the distinction of the most disappointing album of the year. Sufjan Stevens's The BQE was a stronger effort than Embryonic, but this classical album didn't really feel like a proper followup to his prior top ten efforts.

7. A.C. Newman - Get Guilty
Allan Carl Newman normally goes by his middle name, except in his solo career, where he's chosen to be referred to by his first and middle initials. He's one of two Canadian artists to land in this year's top ten, but the Vancouver-based leader of The New Pornographers is also part of a strong contingent of Pacific Northwest artists to rank near the top of the list. In fact, 4 1/2 of the top seven finishers are from that region of North America, the half representing one half of a duo. With Washington's Modest Mouse being included in that group, this leaves 2 1/2 still to be revealed in the top four.

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