Favorite Albums of 2009

For the last few years, we’ve given our favorite albums to friends as Christmas gifts. We’re sharing what we like and hopefully helping others to find a song or two that they like, or if they already have it or find out what they don’t like it they can gift the CDs to someone else.

I realized while writing this up that four of these CDs are very light and almost ambient music. I mostly listen to music these days while at my desk as background music so maybe this is why I like these albums. Or I’ve just gotten older.

Air Love 2

We discovered Air’s Moon Safari album many years ago when we first started dating and it was on the stereo a lot. I’ve been buying their albums ever since and all are good. Nobody seems to agree with me on this, but I swear the singer sounds like Michael Jackson sometimes — Michael Jackson the pop star, not Michael Jackson the beer guy. I like it anyway. It’s electronic music and sounds very European to me, in a good way, which makes sense since they’re French. They did the soundtrack to the movie Virgin Suicides, which I really like and is more somber than their other albums, but kinda creepy if you’ve seen the movie.

My favorites on this album are “Do The Joy”, “So Light Is Her Footfall”, “Be A Bee”, “Tropical Disease” and “Heaven’s Light”. “Missing the Light Of Day” reminds me of early Depeche Mode.

Jason Lytle Yours Truly, The Commuter

Jason Lytle was in a band called Grandaddy. They’re no more and he’s gone solo but you wouldn’t know it; the music sounds the same as do most of the songs: a droning guitar with Jason’s airy voice. If you like this, you’ll like Grandaddy’s albums too. My favorite of theirs is Sumday.

My favorites: “Yours Truly, The Commuter”, “Brand New Sun”, “Ghost Of My Old Dog” (makes me think of Ouzo every time I hear it), “Birds Encouraged Him”, “Fürget It”, “This Song Is the Mute Button”, “You’re Too Gone”, “Flying Thru Canyons” and “Here For Good”. That’s practically the whole album because they all sound the same. 🙂

Kings Of Convenience Declaration Of Dependence

Very wussy, but pleasant. All guitar, no drums at all. The cover makes you think it’s calypso music or something, doesn’t it? It’s not. Just two Norwegian guys playing guitar and, I think, trying to sound like Simon & Garfunkel. They became famous in alternative circles when their first album Quiet is the New Loud came out in 2001. Their two previous albums are also very good. If you like this, you’ll definitely like those. The album is supposed to be very political, anti-Bush (remember that guy?) and the album title is obviously a pun on the title of the US’ founding document. But I don’t pay much attention to lyrics these days and the songs don’t sound overtly political to me.

Favorites: “24-25”, “Mrs. Cold” (could have come off either of their previous albums), “Rule My World”, “Peacetime Resistance” and “Riot on an Empty Street” (the name of a previous album).

Monsters of Folk Monsters of Folk

I’m naturally resistant to the idea of folk music, although some music I like is considered folk music. I don’t know why this is considered folk. Maybe I don’t know what folk music is. Anyway, it’s made by 4 guys from various bands, including Conor Oberst, which is why I bought it in the first place, and another guy from his band Bright Eyes, some guy from My Morning Jacket and some other guy from She & Him, a.k.a., the band with actress Zooey Deschanel. Lots of catchy stuff, I think. This is the one album that is not so wussy, but I guess it kinda is too.

Favorites: “Dear God”, “Whole Lotta Losin'”, Temazcal (Conor Oberst sings this), “Ahead of the Curve” (another Conor Oberst one), “Magic Marker”, “Map of the World” (Conor Oberst), “The Sandman, the Brakeman and Me” and “His Master’s Voice”. I like a couple others I didn’t list because they’re so country-sounding I don’t want to admit to myself that I like them.

St. Vincent Actor

Gay heard a song by someone named “St. Vincent” while running one day and told me to get the album. So I did and this is it. It turns out that she was in the band The Polyphonic Spree and was in Sufjan Stevens’ (two moderately famous alternative bands) touring band for a while. It kinda reminds me of some  Arcade Fire songs.

Favorites: “The Strangers” (the song Gay heard), “Save Me From What I Want”, “Actor Out Of Work”, “Laughing With a Mouth Of Blood”, “The Bed”, “The Party”, “Just The Same But Brand New” and “Bicycle”. I don’t know if the CD has the song “Bicycle” on it, it might be just on the download version, but if you like the rest of this album let me know and I’ll give you a copy of it.

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