Entries in Best Albums of 2009 (1)

Monday
Dec212009

AiMT 2009: Best Albums

Amanda Blank
Here's my obligatory recurring disclaimer that AiMT basically covers dance-pop, hip-hop and certain strains of dance music. This list reflects that coverage. It's not a comprehensive list, so no AnCo or Antony. (Sorry...) Enjoy!


#25
Woolfy - If You Know What's Good for Ya!! [Rong/DFA]
DOWNLOAD "LOOKING GLASS" / BUY: AMAZON ($9.99), EMUSIC (12 CREDITS), iTUNES ($9.99), OTHER MUSIC ($9.99)

#24
2562 - Unbalanced [Tectonic]
DOWNLOAD "LOVE IN OUTER SPACE" / BUY: AMAZON ($9.99), EMUSIC (12 CREDITS), iTUNES ($9.99)

#23
Tinchy Stryder - Catch 22 [Universal Island]
DOWNLOAD "TRYNA BE ME" / BUY: iTUNES UK (£5.99)

#22
Lindstrøm & Christabelle - Real Life Is No Cool [Feedelity]
DOWNLOAD "KEEP IT UP" / BUY: AMAZON ($8.99), EMUSIC (10 CREDITS), iTUNES ($9.90)

#21
Basement Jaxx - Scars [XL]
DOWNLOAD "SCARS" / BUY: AMAZON ($7.99), iTUNES ($9.99)

#20
Matias Aguayo - Ay Ay Ay [Kompakt]
DOWNLOAD "MUCHO VIENTO" / BUY: iTUNES ($9.99), OTHER MUSIC ($12.99)

#19
Kid Sister - Ultraviolet [Fool's Gold/Downtown]
DOWNLOAD "STEP" NSFW / BUY: AMAZON ($5.00), iTUNES ($7.99)

#18
Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas - II [Eskimo]
DOWNLOAD "RETT PÅ" / BUY: EMUSIC (8 CREDITS), iTUNES ($9.99)

#17
Desire - II [Italians Do It Better]
DOWNLOAD "DANS MES RÊVES" / BUY: AMAZON ($7.92), EMUSIC (8 CREDITS), iTUNES ($7.92), OTHER MUSIC ($7.99)

#16
Annie - Don't Stop [Smalltown Supersound]
DOWNLOAD "WHEN THE NIGHT" / BUY: AMAZON ($7.99), EMUSIC (12 CREDITS), iTUNES ($10.99)

#15
Bodycode - Immune [Spectral]
DOWNLOAD "I'LL HOLD YOUR HAND" / BUY: AMAZON ($8.91), EMUSIC (9 CREDITS), iTUNES ($8.91), OTHER MUSIC ($9.99)

#14
FaltyDL - Love Is a Liability [Planet Mu]
DOWNLOAD "TRUTH" / BUY: AMAZON ($9.99), iTUNES ($9.99), OTHER MUSIC ($9.99)

#13
Ghostface Killah - Ghostdini: Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City [Def Jam]
DOWNLOAD "DO OVER" NSFW / BUY: AMAZON ($8.99), iTUNES ($11.99)

#12
Little Boots - Hands [679]
DOWNLOAD "MEDDLE" / BUY: iTUNES UK (£4.99)

#11
Dizzee Rascal - Tongue 'n Cheek [Dirtee Stank/Liberation]
DOWNLOAD "ROAD RAGE" NSFW / BUY: iTUNES UK (£5.99)


#10
Memory Tapes - Seek Magic [S/R]
DOWNLOAD "GRAPHICS" / BUY: AMAZON ($7.92), EMUSIC (8 CREDITS), iTUNES ($7.92)

Dayve Hawk (aka Memory Tapes, aka Memory Cassette, aka Weird Tapes) fit snugly into the GvsB-christened new wave of lo-fi pop this year with this self-released album. Normally this sound would be considered off-topic here at AiMT, but this record has some great upbeat dance choons, like the above-linked "Graphics," which comes off like a post-punk-savvy DFA A-side. Seek Magic is a well rounded album with lots of variety, so don't sleep on it.


#9
Frankmusik - Complete Me [Island]
DOWNLOAD "WHEN YOU'RE AROUND" / BUY: AMAZON ($9.49), iTUNES ($9.99)

Produced entirely by UK dance-pop bigwig Stuart Price (the man behind Les Rythmes Digitales), Frankmusik's debut hits all the right notes on the gay pop scale. Frankmusik has a classic pop voice and song structure—something like a halfway point between Elton John and Dave Gahan, only much sassier and poppier than either. Frank's songwriting chops become even more apparent on Complete Me's sister album, Completely Me, which features solo piano performances of the album's tracks.


#8
Amanda Blank - I Love You [Downtown]
DOWNLOAD "LEMME GET SOME" NSFW / BUY: AMAZON ($7.99), EMUSIC (11 CREDITS), iTUNES ($7.99)

This entry could single-handedly invalidate this entire list in the eyes of many Pitchfork fanboys, and that's just how it'll have to be. Good riddance! What several of the sacred cows failed to acknowledge is that Amanda Blank made the album she was supposed to make. It's an X-rated pop-rap record that showcases her rock-solid Rakim-esque throwback flow, features slick, of-the-moment production by Diplo, Switch and XXXchange, and cements her as a big talent and a major player in the blossoming hipster rap movement. At under 34 minutes, I Love You is bite-sized, to-the-point, light on filler and totally worth hearing despite the harsh internet booty chatter.


#7
Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II [IceH20]
DOWNLOAD "SURGICAL GLOVES" NSFW / BUY: AMAZON ($7.99), iTUNES ($9.99)

OB4CL2 was easily the year's most hyped album on my radar, and the hype turned out to be largely justified. While the record was a bit too much of a nostalgia piece to be a bonafied classic, it recalled the vintage Wu aesthetic with a level of quality I figured would never again be possible. Rae's projects in recent years have been forgettable and even downright bad (namely 2007's Polluted Water comp), but all is forgiven with OB4CL2. If all Wu members were still putting out albums of this quality, the outfit's legacy would be beyond colossal.


#6
Kid Cudi - Man on the Moon: The End of Day [G.O.O.D./Dream On/Universal]
DOWNLOAD "SOUNDTRACK 2 MY LIFE" NSFW / BUY: AMAZON ($5.00), iTUNES ($9.99)

Underground rappers have been making careers out of criticizing their own genre's mainstream for years and years, especially in the post-Diddy era. Cudi is among a select few who have done so competently and successfully. Man on the Moon is a mellow, moody and contemplative concept record that finds the Cleveland sort-of-rapper turn rap's conventions on their head all while impacting the industry on a level rivaling a Soulja Boy or a post-incarceration Gucci Mane.


#5
Major Lazer - Guns Don't Kill People...Lazers Do [Downtown]
DOWNLOAD "WHEN YOU HEAR THE BASSLINE" NSFW / BUY: AMAZON ($5.00), EMUSIC (13 CREDITS), iTUNES ($6.99)

It's difficult to gauge exactly, but it seems like Major Lazer, the dream team dancehall project of Diplo and Switch, first started being buzzed about back in 2006 or perhaps even earlier. In any case, Guns Don't Kill People is a long-awaited and highly anticipated release, and the wait has definitely paid off. Beyond the excellent and punctually absurdist Eric Warehime-directed music videos, this surprisingly poppy project has proven to be wildly quirky but still carries enough thud power to set most adventurous dancefloors ablaze.


#4
Dâm-Funk - Toeachizown [Stones Throw]
DOWNLOAD "TOEACHIZOWN" / BUY: AMAZON ($8.99), EMUSIC (24 CREDITS), iTUNES ($11.99), OTHER MUSIC ($9.99)

The new funk ambassador of Los Angeles has arrived. In 2009, not only did Dâm-Funk introduce us his completely unique and alien brand of electro/funk, he dropped this mini anthology of his work, a five-LP/double-CD opus that clocks in at 140 minutes but costs as much as a single album at most digital music retailers. You probably wouldn't want to listen to all 140 minutes at once—Toeachizown is best consumed in small doses, but it functions as a real album, a single creative ideal.


#3
The Very Best - Warm Heart of Africa [Green Owl]
DOWNLOAD "CHALO" / BUY: AMAZON ($8.99), iTUNES ($9.99)

Considering the ever-increasing interest in African music within the reissues circuit, 2009 proved to be impeccably good timing for the debut of The Very Best, the African-pop-meets-cool-kid-Western-production venture of Esau Mwamwaya and Radioclit. Still enjoying the success of last year's self-titled mixtape, the odd pair won over indie, dance and world music circles alike with Warm Heart of Africa, a masterful melding of two sounds that ends up sounding wholly natural and meant to be.


#2
La Roux - S/T [Polydor]
DOWNLOAD "COVER MY EYES" / BUY: AMAZON ($5.99), iTUNES ($7.99)

A handful of great singles, flashy retro music videos, extensive touring and UK chart-topping made for an amazingly successful year for Elly Jackson and company. This debut is chock-full of of personality, infectious hooks and all-around solid pop songwriting. And just like any other great pop record, there are even a few ballads (even despite the record's upbeat electro flare). There are only one or two songs on La Roux that aren't single worthy, but even those are at least good. The real treasures of this album are its singles, but don't let that stop you from hearing the whole thing, especially if you're serious about pop music.


#1
Fever Ray - S/T [Rabid/Mute]
DOWNLOAD "NOW'S THE ONLY TIME I KNOW" / BUY: AMAZON ($7.99), iTUNES ($7.99)

The shear oddity of Fever Ray, the beautifully unnerving solo project of The Knife's Karin Dreijer Andersson, almost casts this record into off-topic territory for AiMT. But rules are made to be broken, especially rules of silly music blogs with questionable senses of identity. Fever Ray is basically an electronic pop record, but it's one that is lightyears ahead of 97% its competition conceptually. This album embodies a constant sense of childhood wonderment and everything that comes with it: playfulness, fascination, a surrealist imagination, all of which are good things. But there's also a perpetually lurking fear of the unknown, which colors even the sunniest of experiences. Notions of witchcraft and the occult recur here and there, furthering this childlike state of vulnerability, which is painted with a very basic-yet-expertly-selected palette of breathy synths, pads and drums that recall the early days of Warp Records. Beyond that, there isn't a single sleeper on Fever Ray, so all things considered, it's the most fun to listen to.


Related:
AiMT 2009: Best Non-Single Songs (w/ Bonus Phony Cover Art)


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