Monolith’s first ever choice pick albums list. 2009 was full of highlights, here’s just 25 of them.


This years best 25 albums.


We couldn’t decide on a literal order so have listed them in alphabetical order by the artist.

They are all equally worthy in one-way or another of your attention.

An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump – ‘Buy A Life’

(Featured in MC009) 

An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump – ‘Buy A life’

Proud purveyors of drone infused tribal indie, this all female power trio of dystopian seers have continued the good work lay down by Sonic Youth.

‘Buy A Life’ marries the sound of Bow Wow Wow and The Jesus And Mary Chain to a backdrop of songs that echo with envy and missed opportunity. 

Tim Burgess was on hand to produce this their second EP, hopefully it should do the trick and bring them some well-warranted attention.

(dv)

Animal Collective – ‘Merriweather Post Pavilion’

Animal Collective – ‘Merriweather Pavilion’

Eight albums in and the public finally clicked.

Animal Collective managed to combine the effortless sounding harmonies and teenage melodrama of the Beach Boys with the experimental beauty of Olivia Tremor Control, to provide the soundtrack to the summer of 2009. 

‘Merriweather Post Pavilion’ is our generations ‘Smile’.

(dv)

Atlas Sound – ‘Logos’

Atlas Sound – ‘Logos’

This is the second album from Deerhunter’s front man Bradford Cox solo project. Carrying on from 2007 debut, this record recalls blurry memories with its vague swirling instruments, slightly claustrophobic feel and repetition.

Could this be the direction Deerhunter take for their next LP?

Features Noah Lennox of Animal Collective fame for good measure.

(ra)

Bat For Lashes – ‘Two Suns’

Bat For Lashes – ‘Two Suns’

Natasha Khan may have missed out yet again at the Mercury awards but I’m sure it’s water off a ducks back for our young heroine.

‘Two Suns’ features a back-story of her alter ego Pearl, who emerges from the Joshua Tree desert to hang out with Brooklyn’s uber cool TV On The Radio and MGMT. 

Stand out single ‘Daniel’ could be the start of a female equivalent to the great Scott Walker, whilst ‘Pearls’ goes a long way to confirming just how adventurous our red Indian dressed troubadour can truly be.

(dv)

Dirty Projectors – ‘Bitte Orca’

Dirty Projectors – ‘Bitte Orca’

Delicate and fey are two words you could use to describe this album.In fact here are many words that could be further used.

The intricate guitar picking on many of the songs, ‘The Bride’, ‘Stillness Is The Move’ and ‘Temecular Sunrise’ combined with the clear harmonies and melodies of David Longstreath, Amber Cofmn and Angel Deradoorian along with the odd time signatures makes this one of the more interesting listens of 2009. 

(ra)

Esben And The Witch – ‘33’

(Featured in MC002) 

Esben And The Witch – ’33’

House band for a Spiritualist meeting held in Edgar Allen Poe’s Gothic envisaged dungeons, Esben evoke and channel the sounds of Siouxsie Sioux, Renate Knaupp, The Cocteau Twins and School Of Seven Bells.

The spirits of Arthur Conan Doyle and A S Byatt loom in the background as Brighton’s latest inheritors to moody dark indie release a debut EP of rich textures, long drawn out beauty and multiple build ups of tension. 

Watch out for these guys in the New Year, a break through is imminent.

(dv)

Faust – ‘C’est Com Com Complique’

Faust – ‘C’est Com Com Complique’

Old krautrockers who should know better return with one of the year’s finest albums, featuring both extreme experimentation and sublime beauty.

Industrial past glories mingle with chaotic sound collages and free form jams as our intrepid pensioners show the youngsters how to do. 

Faust continue to grow old disgracefully as they continue to throw all manner of electric tools into cement mixers or combine harvesters, whilst delivering some pretty emotionally charged songs to boot.

We salute you them for it.

(dv)

Fever Ray – ‘Fever Ray’

Fever Ray – ‘Fever Ray’

Otherwise known as that woman from The Knife, Karen Dreljer has continued on from where they left off.

On first listen the disassociated nature of the vocals leaves the listener cold but on further investigation the album reveals itself to be an intense dose of electro pop record.

A heavy influence of the 80’s can be found in abundance, particularly on ‘Triangular Walks’, but that shouldn’t put you off from this Scandinavian gem.

(ra)

Fiery Furnaces, The – ‘I’m Going Away’

(Featured in MC008) 

The Fiery Furnaces – ‘I’m Going Away’

Our brother and sister team return with their most commercial but complete album yet.

The theme to Seventies sitcoms via Jack Nicholson in ‘Five Easy Pieces’ or a perfect soundtrack for a Charlie Kaufmann movie, this effortlessly yet disjointed set of songs treads a fine line between pastiche and sublime. 

A step away from their more avant agrde aspirations on ‘Widow City’, this reference heavy and lyrically packed album is instantly rewarding.

The Friedbergers are an esoteric version of The Carpenters and for all of their art pretensions still write ingenious pop.

Hey even Ray Davies recently gave the LP his seal of approval; it reminded him of something he might write. If that isn’t a recommendation then I don’t know what is.

(dv)

Fuck Buttons – ‘Tarot Sport’

(Featured in MC009) 

Fuck Buttons – ‘Tarot Sport’

Who’d have thought that in the year 2009 someone would reinvent and resurrect Trance music for the mash up generation?

Fuck Buttons tip their hats to Sven Vath, Klaus Schulze and their producer Andrew Weatherall’s own 90’s project Sabres Of Paradise. 

The perfect theme to the astral travelling visitors from another plain books of Erich Von Daniken, his infamous ‘Chariots Of The Gods’ sits well amongst the electronic progressive fanfare of ‘Tarot Sport’.

This years most invocative album that has sent most critics into a frenzy of descriptive analogies, to be honest it’s just a great album that manages to stand head and shoulders above the more boring run of the mill electronic scene.

(dv)

Grizzly Bear – ‘Veckatimest’

Grizzly Bear – ‘Veckatimest’

Brooklyn’s Grizzly Bear have risen the bar considerably from 2006 ‘Yellow House’ brand of Americana. Sunshine pop interjected with occasional Elliot Smith-esque folk is par for the course now, not the Bon Ivor inspiring fare from before.

Glorious soaring vocals melt with the delicate arrangements on tracks like ‘All We Ask’ and ‘Ready, Able’. 

An enveloping and warm listen all the way through, lovely.

(ra)

Hecker, Tim – ‘An Imaginary Country’

Tim Hecker – ‘An Imaginary Country’

There are few musicans with the vision or scope of Tim Hecker.

This LP is one half electronic feedback and noise, found on the track ‘200 Years’, the other half is serene calmness and ambience, found to full effect on ‘Paragon Point’. 

There are few artists or composers on a similar plain to this guy, who happens to be Canadian, a sign of quality in it self over the last ten years.

(ra)

Hunches, The – ‘Exit Dreams’

The Hunches – ‘Exit Dreams’

Noisy teenage rumblings, which sound as though it could all disintegrate at any moment, show the likes of the Black Lips and No Age how dirty grimy music should sound.

Garage rock foundations via the lowest of the lo-fi recording techniques, The Hunches draw comparisons to fellow US terrors Health as they abandon the VU meter readings and crank everything to the max.

Like the best parts of Velvet Underground and The Stooges played by shoe gazers, Lester Bangs would have hated them but still written the equivalent to St.Pauls epistles to the Corinthians sized annunciations on why we need them.

(dv)

Kirby, Leyland – ‘Sadly The Future Is No Longer What It Was’

Leyland Kirby – ‘Sadly The Future Is Not What It Was’

Comprising of three CDs (or six LPs depending on your preference) and four hours of music, this is an epic grand opus.

Pessimistic ambient sounds about the decline of the world that surrounds us recalls the likes of Stars Of The Lid and the best bits of Brian Eno. 

The most ambitious piece of work released this year without a doubt.

(ra)

Mew – ‘No More Stories’

Mew – ‘No More Stories’

After what seemed an eternity, our Danish prog poppers return with their first album since the genius ‘And The Glass Handed Kites’ in 2005.

‘No More Stories’ takes a more pronounced and electronic direction; the metal of old has been ebbed away gradually though this is still a powerful sounding LP. 

Plenty of epic sweeping odes and polyrhythms coated with lush strings in an effort to create a multi-layered masterpiece.

It’s a sad indictment that fellow Danes Alphabeat seemed to have received such success whilst the name Mew is mentioned in hushed tones. Get over yourselves and buy this record now, the true future of pop.

(dv)

Rural Alberta Advantage (Saddle Creek), The – ‘Hometowns

The Rural Alberta Advantage – ‘Hometowns’

Originally released in 2008, Saddle Creek deemed this worthy of a European release earlier this year.

OK it may seem naïve on your first listen but that doesn’t mean it lacks a punch.

Reminiscent of Neutral Milk Hotel, The Mountain Goats and The Postal Service, this is a very fun listen.

Looking forward to their next offering, another Canadian band makes a seminal album; there must be something in the water.

(ra)

Shackleton – ‘Three EPs’

Shackleton – ‘Three EPs’

Minimal dubstep slash minimal techno slash minimal house, all the minimal’s are in there!

This Berlin based producer creates huge claustrophobic bass lines and monstrous drops, whilst creating a slow burning and involving sound. 

This collection of three EPs is a pretty decent effort, I have no prior dubstep knowledge but like this a hell of a lot.

(ra)

Speech Debelle – ‘Speech Therapy’

Speech Debelle – ‘Speech Therapy’

Since becoming a worthy winner at the Mercury awards Debelle has turned into more of a debacle, poor sales and a fall out with her label have replaced all the positive critiques that filled all the recent press and blogs.

Regardless of all the shit she’s having to deal with, ‘Speech Therapy’ is a fine example of a return to all the best elements in hip hop. The spirit of Cash Crew and comparisons to Roots Manuva, who appears as a guest on this album, are treated to well crafted poetic lyrics about all the tedium and mediocrity of modern life. This is an antidote to the glamour and mundanely excesses of recent times. Sobering in a good way. 

(dv)

Sunn O))) – ‘Monoliths & Dimensions’

Sunn O))) – ‘Monoliths & Dimensions’

The masters of doom or whatever it’s called nowadays return with their seventh effort of low-end bass and baritone.

This album moves as quickly as a glacier might, so patience is the key. Once immersed in the throbbing bass and low drones it feels as though you are rapped in the mind of a lunatic. 

The swirling discord of the strings and the very deep rumbling spoken word on ‘Argartha’ is testament to this.

They are even confident enough to speed up a doom classic, ‘Teeth Of The Lions Rule The Devine’ by Earth, on the track ‘Hunting & Gathering (Cydonia)’. This is a band at the peak of their powers.

(ra)

Sunset Rubdown – ‘Dragon Slayer’

Sunset Rubdown – ‘Dragon Slayer’

Not content with already being part of the seminal Wolf Parade, Spencer Krug also fronts the ridiculously talented Sunset Rubdown.

Each one of the eight tracks is a mini opera that runs the full gambit of emotions and creative outpourings that make this an instant classic. 

Clever chord structures, emotive sounds and highly infectious melodies abound, in the year 2100 they will be chanting this like a mantra. As Richie already stated, what is it that they put in the water in Canada? Our former colony leaves us behind in the indie stakes every time.

(dv)

Themselves – ‘Crowns Down’

(Featured in MC011) 

Themselves – ‘Crowns Down’

Dose One and Jel both have good track records with cLOUDDEAD and Subtle but it’s with their project Themselves that they really let loose and kick out the jams.

Hardcore mid 80’s beats via Graig G and the Ultramagnatics make way for the lyrical autism of words that Dose spits in continuous outpourings of rage. 

Experimental without compromising and at times almost serene this is 2009’s counter version of ‘Dear Science’.

(dv)

White Denim – ‘Fits’

(Featured in MC003) 

White Denim – ‘Fits’

The boys from Austin Texas follow up last year’s triumphant ‘Workout Holiday’ with a more refined but equally genre straddling behemoth of an LP.

White Denim amalgamate the The Jimi Hendrix Experience with the Minutemen in a stew of garage rock that throws up at times what can only be described as raga. 

Highly disjointed yet thoroughly infectious, ‘Fits’ never quite manages to surpass their roughly assembled debut but still hits the spot.

(dv)

Why? – ‘Eskimo Snow’

Why? – ‘Eskimo Snow’

The left field alternative hip hop beginnings of Why? have finally been eroded away and replaced with the purer pop leanings of recent years.

Strong elements of the very best on song writing wit and liberal dashings of disdain make this a worthy successor to Canada’s The Unicorns and even at times early Pavement. 

‘Eskimo Snow’ features much mundane despair yet pulls it off with certain flair and parodies of self-mockery.

(dv)

Wild Beasts – ‘Two Dancers’

(Featured in MC010) 

Wild Beasts – ‘Two Dancers’

Possibly the UK’s best indie band of late, Wild Beasts evoke the sound of the 80’s Postcard record label and the high falsetto of The Associates.

These throwback comparisons merely act as a basis from which our cleverly astute four-piece launch their Vorticist pronouncements and literary references from. Guitar led bands playing this brand of angular and engrossing brand of intelligent pop shouldn’t exist in the current synth obsessed climate, but somehow they do and with a gay abandon and flourish.

(dv)

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – ‘It’s Blitz’

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – ‘It’s Blitz’

The year that Karen O and her band finally go all out pop, yet don’t despair, as it seems they’ve found their natural comfort zone.

Zinner’s guitar maybe taking a back seat but the new material is not a million miles away from ‘Show Your Bones’. 

‘Zeros’ is like a liberal sprinkling of gold dust over the bleakness of our decaying society, it’s a pure infusion of glam and Moroder that brings a sexy smile to any cold-hearted soul.

YYY are truly on fire as they traverse the disco landscape with their ever cooler then cool ethos.

Could they be this generation’s equivalent to Blondie perhaps?

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