Powerslave_85's Year-End Extravaganza!
Featured in this thread in the coming days (in whatever order I feel like):
-Top 10 albums of '09
-Top 10 songs of '09
-Other, older albums that rocked my world this year
-Best TV shows
[B]Top Ten Albums of 2009[/B]
[B]10. Tegan and Sara-[/B] [I]Sainthood[/I]
Ah, the band that helped turned the Metalsetlists year-end voting upside down. 2007's [I]The Con[/I] found the Canadian twins stepping out of cutesy pop-rock and heading towards a more experimental, dark and heart-wrenching sound. It's hands-down one of my favorite albums of the decade, so I had extremely high hopes for [I]Sainthood,[/I] and they were met. Mostly. There's even more musical experimentation on this album, especially with electronic beats and the like. As usual, I found myself enjoying Tegan's songs the most, with my favorite tracks being the insanely catchy "Hell" and album closer "Someday." The album drags a bit in the second half and there were a couple of songs I just couldn't get into at all, particularly "Paperback Head." Overall, though, it's another exceptional effort, and in a weaker year it would probably be near the top of my list.
[B]9. Polar Bear Club-[/B] [I]Chasing Hamburg[/I]
This Rochester, NY band first caught my attention when I heard their debut full length, [I]Sometimes Things Just Disappear[/I], and their stellar EP [I]The Redder, The Better[/I], and this album quickly became one of my most anticipated releases of the year. Their diminutive frontman bellows out a powerful-yet-melodic roar over well-crafted post-hardcore anthems like song of the year candidate "Living Saints" and "One Hit Back," a rallying cry against the band's detractors. Earnest punk rock bands with emotional lyrics might be a dime a dozen these days, but Polar Bear Club manage to rise to the top, and I'm looking forward to even more greatness from them.
[B]8. Converge-[/B] [I]Axe To Fall[/I]
This was another release that had me so anxious that I was foaming at the mouth. Ever since their masterpiece [I]Jane Doe[/I], Converge have become arguably the best and most exciting band in extreme music. Are they hardcore? Are they metal? Who gives a shit? They'll tear your throat out either way. Their ferocity is unmatched, as shown by 2006's [I]No Heroes[/I], and [I]Axe To Fall[/I] continues that tradition, but there is something about this album that keeps me from ranking it higher, and I can't quite put my finger on it. There are a few longer, slower songs that, while still great, bring the energy down a notch, and I'm not sure that's a good thing. I enjoy Converge the most when they're unrelenting. Still, with amazing tracks like "Dark Horse" and "Wishing Well," it's no slouch by any means, just a bit lacking compared to their last few albums.
[B]7. Brand New-[/B][I]Daisy[/I]
This was one of the biggest and best surprises of the year for me. Their previous album, [I]The Devil and God Are Raging Inside of Me[/I] took them even further away from their pop-punk roots, trading snarky break-up anthems for brooding, atmospheric rock. The opening track, "Vices," is so jarringly loud and ferocious that I literally thought my (pirated) copy was mislabled or fake. Things calm down significantly from there, but even if the songs slow down, the intensity is constant. It's a dark and nervous-sounding album, and would probably make a good soundtrack to going insane. Some other standout tracks are "Bought a Bride" (with the great line "She's walking down the aisle while the horns play taps"), the title track, and "Noro."
[B]6. Baroness-[/B][I]Blue Record[/I]
Back when everyone was wetting their pants over [I]The Red Album,[/I] I was still a bit hesitant about this band. Maybe I was feeling burnt out on similar-sounding bands or something, but it just didn't fully click with me. Well, they must have sensed my apprehension, because [I]Blue Record[/I] is a much more fully-realized and confident record. The riffs are bigger, the vocals are better, and there are even a few hooks here and there. That, and it has "A Horse Called Golgotha," which is one of the best metal songs I've heard in years. I can't help but headbang and sing along every time the chorus comes up. This album really made me a believer in this band, and I can't wait to see what they do next. Oh, and I'm still not sick of John Baizley's artwork.
[B]5. Mastodon-[/B][I]Crack the Skye[/I]
Oh how I love Mastodon. Even while some people are tiring of them, I'm not. It was inevitable that after [I]Blood Mountain[/I] they would get even more proggy, and sure enough that's what happened. The prog influences come at an increased cost to heaviness, but it feels organic and not forced. Initially, I was skeptical about another obviously drug-fueled concept from Brent, but the Rasputin and mysticism theme ends up working pretty well. "Divinations" is classic Mastodon, and although I think "The Czar" is a bit plodding, the album picks right up after that with the excellent "Ghost of Karelia." And I'm sorry Brad, but "The Last Baron" is the best epic Mastodon song, not the worst. It's one of the few 10 minute plus songs I can listen to over and over again. It's flat-out awesome, and that goes for the rest of the album as well.
[B]4. Gallows-[/B][I]Grey Britain[/I]
Hands-down the best surprise of the year, and my award for best "new" band. A lot of punk bands these days have gone a bit soft, and the piss and vinegar has mostly drained away. Not so with Gallows. These guys are fucking [I]pissed off[/I], and the target of their venom is mostly their homeland. This album reminds me a lot of the first two Maiden records. Not musically, but in the way it conjures up images of London as a labyrinth of dark, rain-soaked alleys where violence is always lurking in the shadows. Their dissatisfaction is readily apparent in the opening salvo of "The Riverbank" and "London Is the Reason." The songs manage to stay catchy even underneath the vicious guitar riffs and (heavily accented) vocals, as evidenced by the apocalyptic "Death Voices" and "The Vulture Pts. I and II." These guys probably scared the shit out of the 14 year old Hot Topic crowd that saw them open for AFI earlier this fall, but I'm sure they won over a lot of people with little bit of the good ol' fashioned British ultraviolence.
[B]3. Banner Pilot-[/B][I]Collapser[/I]
If there's one genre of music I have a huge weakness for, it's pop-punk. The age of juvenile bands like Sum-41 and Blink 182 are over, and the genre is much more underground now, and better than ever. Banner Pilot are nothing new or groundbreaking at all, but I've listened to this album more times than any other this year by a wide margin. They took something that dozens of bands are already doing and somehow made it memorable and goddamn [I]fun[/I]. The lyrics are standard fare (unrequited love, touring, that Springsteenian ideal of just hitting the road without looking back), but they're honest and heartfelt. Songs like "Central Standard," "Northern Skyline," and "Drains To the Mississippi" are some of my favorites to blast in the car and sing along to at the top of my lungs. These guys certainly won't win any awards for originality, but they get a perfect score for execution.
[B]2. Bob Mould-[/B][I]Life and Times[/I]
I've been a Husker Du fan for quite a while, but this year I've delved deeper into their catalog and discovered Bob Mould's extensive discography of solo albums and side projects. He's quickly become one of my favorite songwriters of all time, and this album shows that he's not losing his touch with age. The opening title track is sung with such heartbreaking emotion that I get goosebumps every time. As usual, his love life is the main topic, for better or worse (usually worse), and the fact that he is a gay man adds another level of complexity to his words. "Baby, You Can't Stand In My Light Anymore" is the perfect soundtrack to any failing relationship, and the bittersweet "Lifetime" closes the album on an exceptional note.
[B]1. Propagandhi-[/B][I]Supporting Caste[/I]
Propangandhi are the best punk band around right now. There, I said it. No one can even come close to their musicianship, songwriting, and lyrical complexity. I always go through two phases when I hear a new Propagandhi album: the first go around is just to enjoy the music, but I'll hear lines here and there that pique my interest, and after that I delve deeper into the lyrics, and that's where their greatness truely shines. I still think they wrote the greatest political punk song of all time with "Die Jugend Marschiert (America's Army)," from their album [I]Potemkin City Limits[/I]. It's an absolutely scathing treatise on the military's use of video games as propaganda tools to target children, drawing parallels to [I]Ender's Game[/I] in the process. It's a quintessential Propagandhi song: the lyrics make no sense until you get off your ass and do some research into the topic. This trend continues on [I]Supporting Caste[/I] (great title, BTW), especially on "Dear Coaches' Corner." "What? Why are there guys talking about hockey at the beginning? Why do the lyrics compare hockey games to the Nuremburg trials?" Not a lot of bands have the balls to connect the dots on such obscure topics, but these Canucks do it on a regular basis. Less obtuse are songs like "Tertium Non Datur," which is one of the most eloquent anti-religion songs I've ever heard. "Potemkin City Limits" tells the story of a pig (no, really) that escaped from a Canadian slaughterhouse. Militantly pro-animal rights, the band naturally hail this as a story of heroism. In "Human(e) Meat (The Flensing of Sandor Katz)," the band fantasizes about cooking and eating a food critic notorious for his defense of meat. These viewpoints may not appeal to everyone (including me), but you can't deny their conviction and passion for their causes. Unlike even the most "radical" punk bands, they are absolutely fearless about expressing the opinions. I suppose I should also mention the music. The aforementioned "Dear Coaches' Corner" starts off with a thrash riff that's more awesome than any I've heard from an actual metal band in years, and the guitar playing throughout is stellar. Bottom line: If you haven't checked this band out, get off your ass. If you don't get it on the first try, give it another chance. Most of their albums are growers, so don't give up or you'll miss out on one of the most talented bands of the decade.
[QUOTE=powerslave_85;243630][B]Top Ten Albums of 2009[/B]
[B]5. Mastodon-[/B][I]Crack the Skye[/I]
And I'm sorry Brad, but "The Last Baron" is the best epic Mastodon song, not the worst. It's one of the few 10 minute plus songs I can listen to over and over again. It's flat-out awesome, and that goes for the rest of the album as well.
Also, holy crap, somebody actually likes Ghost of Karelia.
11. Dinosaur Jr.- Farm
An amazing release by early 90's grunge pioneers. It has some of the best guitar playing I've heard in a long time, and it's a nice laid back rock album to listen to on a summer drive. Standout tracks: "Plans, "Over It," "See You," "I Don't Wanna Go There"
12. Broadway Calls- Good Views, Bad News
A great new pop-punk band who blew me away with their debut album last year. It's not quite as good as that record, but it's still one of the most fun records of the year. Standout tracks: "To The Sheets," "Be All You Can't Be," "Midnight Hour," "Give Up the Ghost"
13. Dear Landlord- Dream Homes
Oh look, more pop-punk. A very solid album that probably would have made the top 10, but Banner Pilot was a little better. Standout tracks- "I Live In Hell," "Park Bench," "Whiskey and Records."
14. Regina Spektor- Far
The quirky and adorable singer/songwriter/pianist returned with another excellent album. Her voice is stunning, and her songs are always fun and heartfelt. Standout tracks: "The Calculation," "Blue," "Human of the Year."
15. American Steel- Dear Friends, Gentle Hearts
I'd heard these guys before, but it didn't really click until I heard this album. Now they're one of my favorite punk rock bands. Standout tracks: "Tear the Place Apart," "Emergency House Party," "From Here To Hell"
The rest, which I didn't feel like writing about:
16. Agoraphobic Nosebleed- Agorapocalypse
17. Chuck Ragan- Gold Country
18. Cobra Skulls- American Rubicon
19. Napalm Death- Time Waits for No Slave
20. Nothington- Roads, Bridges and Ruins
[B]Best EPs: [/B]
Paint It Black- Amnesia
The Menzingers- Hold On, Dodge
The Lawrence Arms- Buttsweat and Tears
Green Day- 21st Century Breakdown
I really loved [I]American Idiot[/I], despite its inconsistencies, but this was total garbage. They took all the worst parts of that record and essentially made a whole album of songs like "Wake Me Up When September Ends." Blech. There were a few decent songs, but nothing spectacular to redeem it. This band is pretty much dead to me now, as far as new music is concerned.
AFI- Crash Love
Ugh, where to start? First of all, the band said it's a concept album about how shitty celebrity culture is, despite the fact that Davey Havok has his own clothing line and is friends with Myspace degenerates like Jefree Star, so that tells you a lot right there. The whole album is just uninspired and boring at best, and downright embarassing at worst. The first single, "Medicate," is pretty good, but otherwise it's utterly disposable. Interestingly, they also released some bonus tracks and b-sides from the recording of this album, and they were ten times better than anything else on it. Go figure.
[B]Amazing Non-2009 Albums I Discovered This Year[/B]
Sugar- Copper Blue
After hearing Bob Mould's new solo album, I find out about his former side project, Sugar. They're 90's indie rock perfection. Catchy as hell, good lyrics, and even some awesome guitar solos.
Pixies- Surfer Rosa
I don't know why I'd never listened to these indie rock legends before, but when I finally got around to it I found out what I'd been missing all this time. This album is so delightfully strange and jittery, but still absolutely infectious. Everyone's heard "Where Is My Mind?" thanks to Fight Club, but you're cheating yourself if you don't listen to their other stuff. Even though this is my favorite album by them, [I]Doolittle[/I] is great too, and has "Debaser," which is one of my favorite songs of all time.
Uncle Tupelo- 89/93: An Anthology
I'd heard Scott talk a lot about these guys, and as usual he was right about how awesome they are. If you like old-school country and folk, this band is right up your alley. I can also appreciate the constant theme of whiskey that is present throughout their work.
She & Him- Volume One
I already knew that Zooey Deschanel is one of the hottest women on the planet, but I didn't know she could sing, too. This project with M. Ward showcases her quirky-yet-beautiful voice, and the styles of music range from indie-pop to country to 50's girl group style tunes. A couple of songs border on being too cutesy (especially "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?"), but overall this album just makes me really happy when I listen to it. Who knew Zooey had as much talent as beauty?
[B]Best Movies of '09 [/B]
1. The Hurt Locker
A war movie without the usual war movie cliches. It's about a bomb squad serving in Iraq, so the entire movie is one white-knuckle scene after another. The main character's swagger and detachment from his deadly serious job is extremely entertaining, and the whole movie is very well acted. This one flew under a lot of people's radar because it wasn't widely released, but if you haven't seen it yet, you should.
2. District 9
It's been a while since there's been a really good, original sci-fi flick, but this movie was a wonderful surprise. I think the reason I enjoyed it so much is because I knew almost nothing about it going in, so the whole first half of the movie was very intense, since I had no clue what was going to happen next. For a movie with a low budget and no stars, it really could not be any better.
Easily the best Pixar movie since Toy Story. The beginning nearly had me sobbing, but from then on it's a hilarious action-packed film with great characters, and it made me laugh more than any other Pixar movie.
4. Star Trek
Before seeing this movie, I had never seen a single Star Trek episode, and everything I knew about the franchise was what I'd put together from references on Futurama and other shows. Nonetheless, I thought it was a fantastic movie with a good plot and good actors (Chris Pine knocked it out of the park as Kirk). Can't wait for a sequel.
This was another obscure film that wasn't widely released. It stars Sam Rockwell as a corporate astronaut who works alone on a lunar station. Just as he's ready to end his tour and head back to Earth, a clone of himself appears in the station. Rockwell does a great job, and he has to because he's one of only about 6 or 7 actors in the entire movie. A very interesting and original film.
(500) Days of Summer
[B]Best TV of '09 [/B]
The Venture Bros.
I still think this is the best show on TV. The sprawling story and cast of characters might be daunting for people first getting into it, but it's so worth it. If you're not familiar, it's like Johnny Quest on acid: Dr. Venture and his sons are constantly under siege from hilariously inept supervillians like The Monarch. It's violent, profane, and goddamned funny.
This probably would have taken the top spot, but this season has been a little uneven. Still, it's much better than virtually everything else on TV.
Another show that's seen better days, but is still very funny. The wedding episode exceeded my expectations, and although it seems like it's just killing time until Pam has the baby, there's still a lot of intrigue surrounding the future of Dunder Mifflin as a company, and as to whether Dwight will actually succeed in bringing down Jim.
Parks and Recreation
I was ready to write this show off after the boring first season, but it's really come into its own this year. Now that Amy Pohler's character isn't trying to be a female Michael Scott anymore, it's really found its rhythm. The supporting characters are really starting to shine too, especially my personal favorite, Ron Swanson.
Oh boy, I know I'm gonna get shit for this. I really shouldn't like a musical about a high school glee club this much, but I can't help it. The satire is rich, there are lots of funny characters (especially Jane Lynch's evil cheerleading coach, Sue Sylvester), and even the music is pretty good most of the time. You can't help but laugh at a bunch of football players stopping in the middle of a game to dance to Beyonce's "Single Ladies."
You stole my thread title!
Comments on my first read:
1. "The Last Baron" cracked my top ten songs of the year, so I definitely don't have a problem with it, but I still think "Hearts Alive" is better. But I also think Leviathan is one of the five or so best albums ever, so maybe I'm a little biased.
2. Propagandhi's album cracked my top ten (spoiler) in a year when I listened to metal 90% of the year. It's DAMN good, and if I had tastes more like yours, I would almost declare it a "best album ever" candidate.
3. Most of your favorite movies of the year are on my "wish I saw it/plan to rent it" list for the year.
4. "I'm Ron Fucking Swanson." That is all.
[B]Top Fifteen Songs of 2009[/B]
1. Propagandhi- "Night Letters"
2. Bob Mould- "Life and Times"
3. Baroness- "A Horse Called Golgotha"
4. Regina Spektor- "Human of the Year"
5. The Menzingers- "They Speak of My Drinking, But Never of My Thirst"
6. Cobra Skulls- "Problems With Preconceptions"
7. Behemoth- "Diamonos"
8. Gallows- "Death Voices"
9. Paint It Black- "Salem"
10. Tegan and Sara- "Someday"
11. Nothington- "A Mistake"
12. Banner Pilot- "Northern Skyline"
13. Converge- "Dark Horse"
14. Mastodon- "The Last Baron"
15. Polar Bear Club- "Living Saints"
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