Over at the New Yorker, John Donohue has posted a story called “The Year of the Songstress” in which he writes that “Dozens upon dozens of albums cross my desk every day. A few from this year that stand out share a common trait—they each have female vocalists.”
What is this, 1995? Have we just come down from our Liz Phair, early-Hole high and discovered that women can make music too? Sing to me Alanis, rock that guitar Meredith!
To me, Donohue’s post is as offensive as if he’d pointed out that several notable releases shared a common trait because they came from, you know, black people.
Moving cheerily along, I had a tough time coming up with my annual top 10 list this year and the one I threw together for the annual Pazz & Jop poll seems, in retrospect, a little half-assed and definitely half-hearted.
I’m not sure exactly where my apathy stems from. Perhaps I didn’t listen to as much new music this year — certainly leaving the Bee meant that less came my way. I felt as though I did make a point to seek out new artists or listen to new releases by old favorites but perhaps not as much in years past.
I think maybe it’s that as this year was so much about starting over that I simply found comfort in old music. There were old favorites by the likes of Whiskeytown, Yo La Tengo and Jeff Buckley.
There were plenty of decades-old tunes as well. I listened to a lot of Duke Ellington, Peggy Lee, Memphis Minnie, Etta Fitzgerald, Kay Starr, George Jones and Dolly Parton this year. That’s just what sounded right to my ears.
That said, here are my favorite albums of 2009, pared down from the Village Voice entry into a more enthusiastic Top 5 list
1. “Merriweather Post Pavilion” – Animal Collective
I’ve always been sort of on the fence with this group but this epic pop album sealed the deal.
2. “It’s Not You, It’s Me” – Lily Allen
I was worried Lily Allen would let me down after her debut album – a disc I thoroughly wore out with constant rotation – but this album is just as saucy, sassy and sarcastically fun.
3. “Wilco (The Album)” – Wilco
Another Wilco album, another favorite. What can I say? I like even their worst albums but thankfully this one proved to be a great one.
4. “Actor” – St. Vincent. Took me a long time to warm up to this one but once I did I was glad I gave it all those chances.
5. “Hazards of Love” – The Decemberists. Epic album that finally fulfilled this band’s potential.
I also really like the new Raveonettes album but I just got it a week ago so it seems premature to declare it a 2009 favorite.
It was easier to pick out songs that I loved …
- “My Girls” – Animal Collective
- “Heavy Cross” – The Gossip
- “Fuck You” – Lily Allen
- “I’ll Fight” – Wilco
- “Nothing to Hide” – Yo La Tengo
- “”What We Know” – Sonic Youth
- “Led to the Sea” – Jenny Owens Young
- “”High Horses” – the Swell Season
- “”Laughing with a Mouth of Blood” – St. Vincent
- “Everytime I’m With You” – Sparklehorse, featuring Jason Lytle
- “The Gold” – Sea of Bees
- “Dull Life” – the Yeah Yeah Yeahs
- “Palace of Bone” – Peter Doherty
- “Eager to Die” – Mike Hale
- “Hideaway” – Karen O. & the Kids
- “Voodoo” – Ganglians
- “Like a Hitman, Like a Dancer” – A.C. Newman
- “Primitive Man” – Fruit Bats
- “The Hazards of Love” – The Decemberists
- “Life’s a Dream” – Built to Spill
- “My Life Would Suck Without You” – Kelly Clarkson
I think Cory is secretly ashamed that I love Kelly Clarkson … oh well, he should be able to accept my love for sugary-sweet-on-the-outside, tough-in-the-center pop music by now…