Just as we did for the Top of the 2000s lists, myself and the Consequence of Sound staff assembled our personal top 20 albums and top 10 songs for 2009. In this instance, far more of my selections turned up in the top albums list (5), but not the songs list (none). Assembling the 2009 list was difficult. I didn’t actually have a full 20 at first glance.
Many of the new albums I grew to love this year actually came out in 2008, so in order to make a full list I had to listen to some albums I’d been hearing good things about. The top tiers of CoS’ list is filled with albums I’d never heard of and I’ve been really enjoying listening to them. Things like the #1 album, Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavillionprobably would’ve made it into my list as would have albums I’ve only recently realized came out this year, such as Marcy Playground’s Leaving Wonderland… in a fit of rage. Both of these examples would’ve easily bumped the last two albums off my list.
Imperfect as it is, here’s the list. The write-ups I ended up doing for the final CoS article are included and if you click (most of) the links you can listen to the album/ track on lala.com (you’ll need to sign up for an account, but it’s free).
In their sophomore effort, Party Dream truly live up to their name. Dreamscape is a luscious synth landscape of dreams and nightmares against hip-thumping beats. It’s no mistake that the album cover looks like something from an 80s math textbook – just one listen will send you soaring above ominous geometric shapes on the back of a winged, sexy cybernetic Stevie Nicks sphinx. There’s no better excuse to put on your spandex and work yourself up into a heavy sweat than jamming out to Dreamscapes.
Pixelh8 is not only the leading artist of the 8-bit-centric Chiptunes genre, but a cultural anthropologist for the electronic world. Obsolite? is a concept album of electronic music unlike any other, concieved by Pixelh8 and funded by the British National Museum of Computing and the Performing Rights Society Foundation. Every bleep, bloop and mechanical hum on the album comes from some of the earliest computing devices mankind ever devised, such as the Colossus Mark II – the world’s first programmable digital computing device, used for codebreaking in World War II. It’s a beautiful gesture for these forgotten machines and an amazing album of harmonies, rhythms, and secret messages in electronic tongues
The Protomen retell the story of Mega Man- but not the goofy blue robot, no, this Mega Man is humanity’s robot savior in a Cyber-Punk Western and it’s deadly serious. This second act, a prequel chronicling the advent of the mechanical man and humanity’s downfall, is overwhelming in its scope. The Father of Death has a sound so big it belongs on Broadway with songs so raw they could’ve come from the crumbling concrete of Asbury Park. It’s Mad Max rock ‘n’ roll - Blade Runner meets Bruce Sprinsteen. Just one listen and you’ll want to join the resistance.
The grand return of Synthpop is upon us, but Empire of the Sun isn’t looking to the past, with Walking on a Dream the genre rises to its former brilliance and, once again, looks to the future. 2009 was taken by storm from these travelers from another place- a place of wild colors and brilliant soundscapes that set the whole world dancing. On the iPod of a 16-year-old Edinburgh art student, echoing from the outdoor speakers of an Italian gas station… this was the summer of the Empire. Every field of sunflowers swayed to their beautiful melodies.
With Two Suns, Bat For Lashes (Natasha Kahn) has achieved a mystical level of musical artistry and storytelling. There’s a reason she’s compared to Kate Bush – she’s that good. Two Suns harnesses the same sort of emotionally-powered sonic shamanism that Bush, Peter Gabriel, and only a handful of other artists have been able to successfully wield. To top it all off, Two Suns is a concept album. Throughout the album Kahn pits herself against “Pearl” a character she devised to be her polar opposite creating a musical mirror maze of duality and fractured personas. Plus, like the aforementioned artists, she managed to work an astoundingly compelling pop song into the mix. “Daniel” makes you want to workout in a darkened room and sob as you spiritual consciousness is awakened – now that’s a hit single!