Many outstanding end-of-year top album lists have been out there for a few weeks. I took it upon myself to come up with a list of my favorite music of the past year. 2009 was such a great year for music, and it was tough for me to come up with a list of just ten albums to share.
There were many great releases that didn’t make my own cut, and I want to highlight them here. Here’s part one of my list.
I knew I had hit come upon something special from the moment I heard its nine minute opener, Before the Beginning, but it was Frusciante’s cover of Tim Buckley’s Song to the Siren that made me fall in love with The Empyrean. Other highlights include the cheesy synthesized drums, groovy bassline, and ooh-ing chorus line of Dark/Light and Frusciate’s warbled but earnest vocals on Enough of Me.
I haven’t had a chance to listen to any of Peter Silberman’s solo work (also released under the name The Antlers), but if the full-band concept album Hospice is any indication, I need to get right on that. This album contains some of the saddest lyrics that I have ever heard, but, paired with some excellent song-writing, that’s a good thing.
Matt Greiner’s drumming skills are the first thing that strike you when opener Thirty and Seven first pounds through your head. Of course, every member of this band is a talented musician, as showcased on such standout tracks as Ocean of Apathy and Meddler. I must have listened to this album a thousand times while on my way to work over the summer, and it got me pumped every single day.
Part three of a continuing saga, Life and Death sees The Dear Hunter’s mixture of baroque pop and progressive rock flesh out into something even more grandiose than the previous two chapters. I only found out about Casey Crescenzo’s project a few weeks before the release of this album, but I quickly caught up on Acts I and II. This album has such an epic feeling, and that’s something that they bring to their live show, too. When I saw them in Raleigh, they opened with a rendition of Writing on a Wall that was indistinguishable from the album version, and later had The Fall of Troy vocalist and guitarist Thomas Erak join them for Red Hands (a track from Act II).
The Fall of Troy have one of the most intense and insane live shows around. Vocalist and guitarist Thomas Erak seems to enter his own world on stage, and you can’t help but be sucked into it. In the Unlikely Event does a pretty good job of capturing that energy. There are few more sections of clean vocals on this album than on previous efforts, and one can certainly detect an overall effort to broaden the group’s musical horizons. Panic Attack! and slower-than-usual Webs are two favorites.