Best Albums of 2009: #1, Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest

Rank: #1
Album: Veckatimest
Artist: Grizzly Bear
Label: Warp

And then there was one. Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest was an accomplishment unlike any other in 2009. Bright, haunting and stunningly beautiful at every turn, the album took a band mostly known for experimental folk and put them on the map for good. Even after leaking a full two months prior to its official release, Veckatimest still charted at #8 on Billboard's U.S. charts for the week of May 26th. After that, the accolades just kept on coming for a record that people expected to be good, yet never saw as the masterpiece it would end up being considered as.

What sets Veckatimest apart from the rest of Grizzly Bear's career is its easily-accessible, yet extremely complex musical approach. Taking on chamber pop in a way no one has since its 1960s origins, the band blended folk, indie and psychedelia to form its profound collection of catchy, albeit reserved tunes. Standouts like "Two Weeks" and "White You Wait for the Others" grab listeners without them even knowing it, using Daniel Rossen and Ed Droste's voices and its pseudo-pop delivery to hook you immediately. Each track contains an overwhelming amount of sound, most of which is crammed into a space no larger than five minutes. Still, even with so much activity, it's easy to simply lose yourself in the cerebral sonic landscape Grizzly Bear has created-- a one-of-a-kind experience to be remembered for years.

Best Track: "Two Weeks"

Best of 2009: Honorable Mention

We've reached the end of our Best Albums of 2009 countdown. Still, it's also worth noting the top 10 albums that unfortunately did not make it to our list. All of these efforts were of a high quality, yet just barely missed, so to end off our year here at Animal Noises, please feel free to peruse the list below. We hope everyone has a happy new year, and we'll see you in 2010.

[Previously on Animal Noises: Best of 2009: Most Anticipated Albums of 2010]

Best Albums of 2009: A Recap

Below is the full list of albums we covered this December as our best of the year. If you missed any of these, feel free to just follow the links over, for a full review.

Animal Noises' Best Albums of 2009

10. Album -- Girls


Best Albums of 2009: #2, Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion

Rank: #2
Album: Merriweather Post Pavilion
Artist: Animal Collective
Label: Domino Records

Once an underground indie mainstay, Animal Collective effectively blew up in 2009, taking the world by storm with Merriweather Post Pavilion. Always on the cusp of innovation, the band reached new, dizzying heights with the effort-- the likes of which the band's oldest fans, nor any onlookers, every thought possible. The album was brash, exciting and electrifying. It was danceable, catchy and fun, functioning as the group's career masterpiece though the existential pop collection resembled nothing they'd ever put together before.

Merriweather Post Pavilion didn't redefine music, but it did blur the lines of what could be acceptable in the realm of mainstream pop. In a year full of electronic experimentation all across the board, this was the opening shot-- a tone-setting moment that started the ball rolling on a landmark year for indie acts. Songs like the hit "My Girls" and "Summertime Clothes" gained radio play and traction across the board, yet the band's reputation as the unique innovators they are never waned. If anything, Animal Collective is seen in a more positive light by their longtime fans now than they were beforehand. How the music world responds to their arrival from here on however, will be the true indicator of MPP's lasting importance.

Best Track: "My Girls"

[Previously on Animal Noises: Best Albums of 2009: #3, Dinosaur Jr.'s Farm]

Best of 2009: Most Anticipated Albums of 2010

Once again, another list that's not necessarily the best of 2009, but in this case, we're looking at the most anticipated of 2010's releases. Obviously, none of these are completely guaranteed to come out next year. However, they've been at least hinted at, if not confirmed by the artists or labels, so I'd say that's about as reliable a source as we can get at this point. Enjoy the list below.

10. TBA, Interpol (Early 2010)

9. Congratulations, MGMT (Spring 2010)

8. Transference, Spoon (January 26, 2010)

7. TBA, The Strokes (Late 2010)

6. TBA, Arcade Fire (May 2010)

5. TBA, Bright Eyes (Fall 2010)

4. TBA, OutKast (Late 2010)

3. TBA, TBoldhe Walkmen (Spring 2010)

2. Contra, Vampire Weekend (January 12, 2010)

1. Thank Me Later, Drake (March 2010)

[Previously on Animal Noises: Best of 2009: Biggest Disappointments]


Best Albums of 2009: #3, Dinosaur Jr.'s Farm

Rank: #3
Album: Farm
Artist: Dinosaur Jr.
Label: Jagjaguwar

Dinosaur Jr.'s second album since their reformation, Farm, was an explosion of dirgy, melodic sound unlike anything they've ever put together. A soaring, bold statement to the band's continued longevity, the amount of power behind Farm's emphatic guitar work is staggering. Each and every song contains shredding, destructive solos that harken back to the band's earlier days. It's a true noise rock album, exquisite in its execution and ambition to defy age at every turn.

From singles "I Want You to Know" and "Over It," to the more sprawling "I Don't Wanna Go There," the emotion and energy is palpable throughout the album. Judging by the cover art alone, one can tell that J Mascis & Co. were looking to create a sonic world all its own. Lucky for its listeners, Farm succeeds mightily in this regard. The record climbs to heights never reached by the band-- a true testament to the band's expert ability to ignore their age and experience, and chart new territory for their career. Quite an achievement for the rock veterans this late in the game.

Best Track: "I Want You To Know"


Best of 2009: Biggest Disappointments

This list isn't necessarily the "best of" 2009-- we're talking about the year's biggest disappointments (albums only)-- but nonetheless, it's another important top 10 topic. This isn't meant to patronize these artists either. On the contrary, we still respect many of these individuals or groups, however we expected a better showing out of them this year. They all still have chances at redemption, some even with albums slated for 2010. So check out our list of 2009's Biggest Disappointments below.

[Previously on Animal Noises: Best of 2009: Best Mixtapes]


Best of 2009: Mixtapes

Recently, the buzz surrounding mixtape releases has almost surpassed that of albums themselves. This seems like a lot to make out of a promotional variety-pack of original and recycled beats, topped with off-the-cuff rhymes. Yet, in the past year or so, we've seen more and more examples of artists who blur these lines. Emcees have put increasing amounts of time energy into these releases, sometimes even landing top radio hits like Kid Cudi with last year's "Day 'N' Nite", and "Best I Ever Had" off of this year's number one, Drake's So Far Gone. Check out our picks for Best of 2009 below.

10. Gucci Land, Gucci Mane

9. The Warm Up, J. Cole

8. Flight School, Wiz Khalifa

7. Dat Kid From Cleveland, Kid Cudi

6. Gone Fishing, The Cool Kids

5. Back to the Feature, Wale

4. No Ceilings, Lil' Wayne

3. B.o.B. vs. Bobby Ray, B.o.B.

2. UKnowBigSean Vol. 2, Big Sean

1. So Far Gone, Drake

Best Albums of 2009: #4, The Rural Alberta Advantage's Hometowns

Rank: #4
Album: Hometowns
Artist: The Rural Alberta Advantage
Label: Saddle Creek

In a year that was met with ridiculous amounts of hype for hundreds of acts all across the web, perhaps no band met or exceeded expectations better than The Rural Alberta Advantage. The Canadians' debut effort Hometowns accomplished quite a bit for any album, freshman or otherwise-- dancing through a myriad of influences, some obvious, others less so. From Neutral Milk Hotel to The Shins to The Decemberists (and others), the young band seemingly hits on everything and the results make for an entertaining and captivating adventure into the Great White North.

Combining nostalgia with a cozy amount familiarity, Hometowns allows you to drift off and dream of a place you've never been, or never left. Tracks like "The Dethbridge in Lethbridge" and "Edmonton" harken to the band's upbringing and childhood, yet it feels like your own. And that's the album's greatest asset. As you meander about the scenery of their memories, you can't help but be enthralled by the raw emotion encased within it all. The record bases itself purely on this pride in their origins, and it shows in the flawless execution. The longing in singer Nils Edenloff's voice, the movement from low to high instrumental intensity-- everything creates the perfect mood for an effort well beyond the band's short existence.

Best Track: "Drain the Blood"


Best Albums of 2009: #5, Andrew Bird's Noble Beast

Rank: #5
Album: Noble Beast
Artist: Andrew Bird
Label: Fat Possum

Andrew Bird's baroque indie masterpiece, Noble Beast, took his already classically-infused sound and completely redefined it. Usually employing the conventions of indie rock with a touch of violin, Noble Beast is a noticeable departure for Bird. The album functions as a vivid portrait of the scenery around him, painted with a classical, albeit southwestern instrumentation. It's a smart, calm and welcoming record, rich in sound and enthusiasm, and a comforting amount of familiarity. Bird has seemingly reached a new height in his skill set, and won't be coming down anytime soon.

Devoid of many conscious track changes, Noble Beast can easily flow as one continuous piece of work, with separate, original movements. Dynamic and engaging songs like "Not a Robot, But a Ghost" melt perfectly into quieter interludes such as "Unfolding Fans," while his wit and attention to detail shines through each and every selection. The album is fun, yet relaxing. Intricate, yet loose. From song to song you are taken on a ride that never exudes too much, but somehow achieves the perfect balance of structure of volume. These characteristics make the possibilities for Noble Beast completely never-ending-- an amazing accomplishment for any album, and what makes this one such a treat to hear.

Best Track: "Not a Robot, But a Ghost"