So there was a lot of music I liked this year from a lot of bands that I care about. But between a busy schedule and a very hectic (and crummy) year of life, those new albums just didn't fill my soul this year. I could definitely come up with a top 10 albums of 2009, but it seems arbitrary and not really that accurate - I mean, I haven't heard the Grizzly Bear, am still digesting Embryonic, never got that new Tortoise I really wanted - how fair can such a list be?
I also was really struck by a column in the Reader (which sadly I can not find online to link) talking about the weird way that pretty much all top 10 lists have some degree of same-ness, and asking if such a thing is really needed. It struck a chord with me, and for me, the answer is no. I am more intrigued to check out the top 10 of a more well-rounded, educated listener like Tex than to basically throw out my own random list.
That said, there was indeed stuff that spoke to me this year, and spoke to me in a profound way. So, at the risk of seeming very arrogant and self-serving, I present my own highly personalized Top 5 Music Highlights of 2009:
1. Phish: March 6, 2009, Hampton Coliseum – This was the first show back for Phish after their huge hiatus, and really, for me, the year never gets any better than the “Fluffhead” that opens this show. There is this amazing energy in the crowd that you can hear even through the recording, and the band is just playing their hearts out. It’s obvious they felt they had something to prove here, and they did it. Rest of the show is amazing too.
2. Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion – At the risk of getting all Pitchfork-y here, yeah this thing is incredible. I only got into AC relatively recently, so this is their first new album I’ve bought (from eMusic, naturally!) and it really is everything I like about this band. I’m not so into them that I enjoy things like “Bees” or “Here Comes the Indian” but if they want to be all “sold out” and mainstream and make things like this, that’s just fine by me.
3. Phish: Exile on Main Street – Phish Halloween costume this year, and the first one in 10 years. Man is it great. Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings join them for the entire album, adding some great dynamics to an all around beautiful performance. Highlights are Phish staple “Loving Cup” along with “Torn and Frayed.”
4. Sunset Rubdown: Dragonslayer – My clear cut #2 album of the year, and just an all around good time. I get the dislike of Krug’s voice, but it doesn’t bother me, and the big, crazy guitars and all around epicness of the whole thing gets me in that sweet spot.
5. Chicago Symphony Orchestra: Pictures at an Exhibition – Not to get all snooty here, but Jen and I saw the CSO perform this fantastic piece of music early this year, and it was really beautiful. Tons of great segments to this that you know from all kinds of movies, TV shows, and more. I’m not such a classical music enthusiast that I love everything I see (we saw 2 other show this year that were fine but not remarkable) but this… THIS is the bomb.
Other traditional albums I really dug this year in no particular order (aka, the rest of my regular top 10): Flaming Lips - Embryonic; A.C. Newman - Get Guilty; Andrew Bird - Noble Beast; Sonic Youth - The Eternal; Zombi - Spirit Animal; Wilco - Wilco (The Album); Phish - Joy; The Pains of Being Pure at Heart; Sparklehorse & Danger Mouse - Dark Night of the Soul