This particular list is based entirely on my personal taste. Some of it is a result of how much I've listened to an album, but I think there's some objectivity going on as well. In my vanity, I believe that the music I listen to is unarguably "good". But that doesn't mean I've got the best list on the block. If you think I'm wrong or forgetful, let me know (and why). Sometimes I make mistakes, but they can usually be corrected.
Anyway, the best albums of 2009 (according to Dylan Peterson):
25. Sufjan Stevens - The BQE
Points for effort. In Sufjan's discography, this is one of his weakest releases. But The BQE still contains enough impressive moments to make my list. It's good when Sufjan goes instrumental. Let's hope it's even better next time.
24. Dead Man's Bones
Halloween bands don't come around often enough, but Dead Man's Bones makes up for our deficiency of creepy organ rock. This album also takes Ryan Gosling up a big notch on the "cool guy" list. I kinda want to hang out with him.
23. Vitalic - Flashmob
I think this might be the most "synthetic" 'top 25' list I've ever made. A lot of electronic, instrumental stuff on this list. Vitalic makes me feel okay about it all though. Flashmob drives hard with intensity, I'd have to be an asshole if I didn't include it in my 2009 synthesizer party.
22. Telefon Tel Aviv - Immolate Yourself
Telefon Tel Aviv wins the 'Most Unassumingly Exasperating' award. Immolate Yourself is soft, but loaded with depth. Listening to this music is meditative and engaging, so you can listen to it while working out, studying, or falling asleep. It miraculously works on every level.
21. The Flaming Lips - Embryonic
The Flaming Lips are masters of the psychedelic, so it's a good thing they released this album during the second half of 2009 just before the return of grunge comes and smashes all of our precious reverb to smithereens. Embryonic is a trip that doesn't require any drugs. Sound like fun? Absolutely, it is.
Shutter Release. Who the hell really knows how artists create sounds anymore, but it sounds like they've brought in a lot more players for this one. At least more strings. But the best part is that they haven't started singing. It's still devastatingly perfect drumwork and warming melodies from the Bell bros.
19. Andrew Bird - Noble Beast
Oh yeah, this did come out in 2009, didn't it? It's not Andrew Bird's personal best, but when he's not at the top of his game it's still usually going to out-talent most indie bands out there. This album won't make or break Andrew Bird, but it'll keep his fans happy and hold any naysayers at bay.
18. Lightning Bolt - Earthly Delights
I don't think I've ever put Lightning Bolt on one of my year-end lists before (probably because I didn't always give noise a chance). But these guys are still intense. Chippendale is as brutal as ever, and still kinda scares me. All of the hardcore kids should just listen to these guys and get over that "phase" that's become so tired. Come on kids. Just get into Lightning Bolt already.
17. Mew - No More Stories, Are Told Today...
The singer of Mew is the most pathetic excuse of a man I've ever seen. Even though the girly emotional version of Emo died quite a few years ago, this dude still seems to think he can harness the power of tight jeans and tangled bangs in eyelashes. But his pathetic frailty aside, Mew is still excellent. Some of the most surprisingly catchy melodies come out of this band. They're absolutely pretentious, but it works to their own strange grandiose advantage.
16. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
This is one of those albums I didn't want to put on the list just because everybody assumes that it must be on every AOTY list. Fuck that. Getting on this list occurs solely as a result of how much I enjoyed it on an individual level. So that's why the hype band of the year is here. Veckatimest was an album I found myself throwing on when I didn't know what else to listen to (first sign of a great record). It sounds like indie rock in 2009. But, I guess that's not necessarily a bad thing.
15. Saxon Shore - It Doesn't Matter
Post-rock Chicagoan, that's me I guess. Saxon Shore isn't from Chicago, but they should probably move here. They're one of the most 'cinematic' bands I've ever heard. It's time for them to broaden their scope and start composing some film scores. It worked for EitS, and (in my ridiculous opinion), I'll take these guys over Explosions any day.
14. Volcano Choir - Unmap
Our friend in Bon Iver found himself a quirky little indie rock band to play with, how darling! Seriously though, hearing Justin Vernon's voice used in a slightly larger musical context is exciting. Volcano Choir isn't as heartwrenching as Bon Iver, but it's an album that signals a potential evolution for Vernon. And 'Island Is' is a good enough song to put Unmap on my AOTY list even if it were the only track on the album.
13. Wilco - Wilco the Album
I've never heard Wilco so comfortable. I guess their stupid album title is apt. This band has been surprising, unsurprising, disappointing, confusing, and amazing depending on the album you're talking about AND depending on who you're talking to. But Wilco the Album wasn't any of those things, it was just... Wilco the Album. And, apparently, that works.
12. Built to Spill - There is No Enemy
So this return to the 90s' we've experienced in music this year, this is a pretty weird thing, right? Well not for Built to Spill it isn't. Because they've always been there. The 90s' never left them! Upbeat tunes and simple lyrics aren't as bad as we all thought. It's just that they were overdone by a lot of really bad bands. But BtS was never bad. And they're still not. Who cares if they're stuck in the 90s'? Good music is good music, and that's what we have on There is No Enemy.
11. Fuck Buttons - Tarot Sport
In a way, this is my favorite album of the year. I guess I didn't put it in the top 10 because I haven't listened to it as much as everything else. That's one of the problems of making a list so early. But if somebody asked me right now "so Dylan, what new music should I check out?" The answer, without hesitation, is Fuck Buttons, Tarot Sport. So go get it now if you haven't yet. And if you don't like it, Fuck you.
[Top 10 will be posted next Monday]