Best Albums of 2009

I don't really listen to "albums" so much as singles and remixes anymore, but it's always good to serve up the talent making standout records from start to finish. And I don't mean any of that 3 or 4 songs are listenable, crap. If I consider over 75% of the record good, you can bet it's on this list.

Kid Sister - Ultraviolet
2009 was the year all the hipsters agreed on something: Amanda Blank's remixability and Kid Sister's flow. I don't know what's in the water, but all the underground hip-hop girls threw down this year! I know people say to keep personal relationships separate from work, but with Melissa's boy A-Trak executive producing this fresh album (along with a shitload of other notable producers behind the helm), music might be the only place where romantic interests enhance the work outcome. It's unreal how well the vocals and beats complement each other in every track off this record. Sic.

Sub Focus - Sub Focus
Truth be told, drum & bass sometimes gets a little "samey" for me, so I didn't expect a dnb album to ever make my annual "best of." Don't get me wrong, I love the style's energy, and if you take any genre of music and add a drum & bass backend to it, the result is 200% better (see Steve Appleton). So I figured the sameness must be my personal failing of not searching deep enough. I looked harder and found Sub Focus. Nick is no newcomer to the scene, but his fusion production style is bound to take him to the masses on his self-titled debut. Let's just say the record is 100% dnb, 20% dubstep, 30% trance, 10% rock, 15% house, and 25% astral. Now that's over 200% of sound, but Sub Focus is anything but average.

Stereo:Type - What's That Noize!?
Sometimes pictures speak louder than words. And moving pictures? Well this one will shatter your world. TEAROUT BEATS TO THE FUCKING MAX!!!



Jupiter Rising - The Quiet Hype
Look up Jupiter Rising in UrbanDictionary and you ought to get an entry about diversity of sound. You won't. But you ought to. Pop is the common thread running through this album, but each song is tempered by a blend of other genre elements: r&b, rock, hip-hop, electro, funk. The boy/girl production/vocal team comes across remarkably balanced and my ears love the journey from male beats, to girl grinds, and boy rap, to lady verse. True to the album's title, this record missed the radar, remaining a quiet hype, but maybe they should name their next one "Platinum" to make up the difference?

Fear of Tigers - Cossus Snufsigalonica
I don't even know where a quarter of all the samples in this album come from, but there's so much to love anyway! And he gave the whole thing away for FREE! If you like electronic music with great melodic sensibility, dance-ability, repeatability, Cossus Snufsigalonica is your ticket to electropop heaven. I sometimes close my eyes while listening to these tracks and forget how industrialized, corrupt, and polluted our world is because the music puts me in another plane. I figure this is what optimism in its purest sense sounds like. Yes, it’s kinda generic, but Ben has become an insta-celeb in the mp3 blogosphere and you can’t fight the bloggers.

Steve Appleton - When The Sun Comes Up
John Mayer goes drum & bass with help from Bob Marley....and out pops Steve Appleton! He’s so young, it’s remarkable how refined and layered his sound is! Nevermind that he’s an obvious heartthrob - the boy knows how to pen a serious lyric the people remember! Honestly, Mr. Appleton is a guy whose career I’m super interesting in following because it behooves me to say I’ve never heard a self-produced debut as mature as When The Sun Comes Up. This guy is influenced by so many styles, I really have no clue what to expect for album two! Color me amazed. Anyway, I’ve already drooled over him too much, so go read that.

In Fear Of Faith - Your World On FireI realize this record is the sore thumb amongst all the pop in this list, but you have to remember that my underground roots are from the hardcore/screamo genre. When this leaked on the scene I remember every IRC channel kiddie creaming themselves over how good new IFOF was. Whatever. Five years ago I would have been pissing myself too. These days I'm all: "It's good, but it's samey," because I listen to too many genres and have musical ADHD. But I don't want to discredit this album - strong melodies, clear vocals, crazy riffs, good pacing, piano mix-ins. It's a good formula, but you know what to expect halfway through. Still it's up here because it's the genre's best showing of 2009.

Looking at this list, I'd say any multi-genre musician with more than 4 good tracks has fantastic odds of making my top albums next year.

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Meet the Author

Hi, I am Julie.
Sometimes Jules Juke.
This is where I ramble, reflect, and refocus.