Best albums of 2009, best albums of the decade

As we reach the end of the decade, there is really only one question to ask – which were the best albums of the noughties? Truthfully, I’m far too lazy to fulfil that request. There have been some absolutely spectacular records and to ask me to choose would just be too much. However, choose I shall try. In order to make this a little easier on myself, I’m going to name my top five albums of this year first, and then move onto the top five of the decade. Disagree with my choices? Email me at ripper@twobeatsoff.co.uk with yours and I’ll put them all up for consideration!

Top 5 albums of 2009
There were some difficult choices to make this year. Firstly, I bought hardly anything that was actually released this year, and secondly, everything I did buy was pretty damn amazing. What can I say, I have discerning tastes! Anyway, if you haven’t picked up these releases, I highly recommend you do.

5) Chuck Ragan – Gold Country
Gold Country is Chuck’s foray into solo territory, and there really is only one word to describe this album – beautiful. It’s an absolutely incredible alt-country effort, featuring some of the most incredible melodies I’ve ever heard, all tied together with Chuck’s incredibly gruff voice at the centre. It also works fantastically live, and having seen Chuck at Reading Festival this year, all fears I had of it not being quite as good as Hot Water Music were removed. Plus, y’know, Tim McIllrath appeared and that makes everything doubly awesome anyway.

Recommended songs: Glory, Rotterdam, Don’t Say A Word

4) Kevin Devine – Brother’s Blood
I’m a pretty big KD fan as it is, but when I got my hands on Brother’s Blood, I was blown away. It’s got everything his albums have had before – pretty songs, angry songs, melancholy songs, optimistic songs – but the way that they’re presented on Brother’s Blood is entirely different and better, and it’s incredibly varied. First single, Another Bag Of Bones is dark, disturbing and hits you hard, whereas Fever Moon is a slow, almost drunken seduction, and I Could Be With Anyone is in grand old KD tradition – totally upbeat but lyrically devastating. If you listen to Brand New and you’ve never heard of this guy, make sure you change things. Not only because you’ll probably like him, but because he tours with them pretty much every year.

Recommended songs: Fever Moon, Yr Husband, All Of Everything Erased

3) Say Anything – Say Anything
Say Anything’s fourth effort (I am totally counting Baseball) is just… awesome. To be honest, while I liked In Defence of the Genre, I didn’t think it really lived up to what it could have been. Too many songs, too many guest stars, and it just didn’t work as well for me. This, however, brings SA back to top form. It’s not another …Is A Real Boy, it’s completely new and fresh, and yet still sounds familiar enough to add to its charm. Musically, it’s more experimental, as Bemis plays around with horns and strings, and lyrically, it’s utterly adorable. It’s a love story from start to finish, almost, and it’s sweet. And clever.

Recommended songs: Do Better, Eloise, Death For My Birthday

2) AFI – Crash Love
What?! I’m reviewing top albums and AFI aren’t on top?! Might be a bit of a shock, but to tell the truth, it just wasn’t the best album of the year. Of course, it was still pretty damn good. AFI have changed over the years, it’s true, and as a result, everything sounds fragmented as a result of them trying to find the right style. On Crash Love, they’ve found it. Admittedly, it’s incredibly 80s, but that’s okay, because it sounds great. All that experimenting has paid off. Davey is as melodramatic as ever, Jade’s guitar’s got even more pretentious and Hunter and Adam are still solid, so it’s all good. I also happen to like songs about death and breakups, so this is the album for me.

Recommended songs: End Transmission, Darling I Want To Destroy You, Too Shy To Scream

1) Frank Turner – Poetry Of The Deed
Well, what can I say? Since finding out about Frank in February, he has slowly been creeping up my Last.FM chart to take over some of my previous favourites, and with good reason – the man’s a genius. Poetry Of The Deed is testament to this statement, because there are barely words to describe it. It’s smart, it’s beautiful, it’s snarky, it’s dark, it’s happy – it’s fucking good music, to put it simply. It’s another album full of anthems, and it’s absolutely impossible to avoid his charm – all my friends fell in love with him on first listen. There is absolutely no bad part of Poetry Of The Deed. If you haven’t listened to it yet, may I recommend that this should be top of your Christmas list this year.

Recommended songs: Try This At Home, Richard Devine, The Road

Okay, so we’ve had my favourite albums of this year. However, there’s been a whole decade of incredible music! Attempting to narrow this down into five albums will be excessively difficult. However, I can but try. Here are my top five albums of the decade… however difficult and ridiculous this may be.

5) Midtown – Forget What You Know
Midtown’s final and best album, by far. This is the Gabe Saporta I idolised, not the sleazebag discowhore that he is today. FWYK is some serious stuff. It’s all heartbreak and politics and lyrics that grab you by the throat and make you pay attention. It’s inspirational, and hell, it sounds it. The thirteen minute epic at the end, So Long As We Keep Our Bodies Numb, is potentially one of the most caustic and similarily, most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. Midtown are definitely one of my favourite hidden gems and I curse the day they went on hiatus, because this needs to be heard and never forgotten.

Recommended songs: Empty Like The Ocean, Waiting For The News, Whole New World

4) Millencolin – Pennybridge Pioneers
I love Millencolin, as you may well know. This is the album that shot them to fame, with that incredible opener featured on THPS2, No Cigar. Whilst No Cigar is an absolutely amazing song, there is so much more on here to be enamoured with. Pennybridge bounces along, filled with enough pop-punk jollies to make you lose a few pounds jumping around with it. It’s the ultimate feel-good album and it’s fantastic. And who else can get away with comparing a car to a girlfriend? Best experienced loudly and obnoxiously.

Recommended tracks: Fox, No Cigar, The Ballad

3) The Lonely Island – Incredibad
Of all the albums I could have chosen… just hear me out, okay? Out of all the white boy rap albums out there, this one is actually good. And why? Because it isn’t trying to be. The brainchild of the comedy troupe of the same name, featuring SNL regular Andy Samberg, this album touches on such topics as impregnating aliens, being on a boat and making everyone dance/shag by slamming a boombox down. It’s so ridiculous that it’s fantastic. And surprisingly, the beats work so well. It also has the best guest stars I’ve ever heard on an album, including Julian Casablanca, Jack Black and Natalie Portman. You heard me.

Recommended tracks: I’m On A Boat, Punch You In The Jeans, Incredibad

2) Against Me! – As The Eternal Cowboy
Against Me!’s 2001 effort is definitely one of my favourite albums of all time, let alone this decade. Reinventing Axl Rose was great enough, but ATEC just took it to a new level. It’s not as raw, but still as poignant, still as hard hitting, still as entertaining. Gabel’s voice gets less shouty, more powerful and it totally works, and I can’t deny singing along loudly (and badly) to Sink.Florida.Sink at every opportunity I get, which generally means it’s a pretty amazing song. If there is an album for the summer, it is this – Floridians know how to do it best, after all.

Recommended songs: Sink.Florida.Sink, You Look Like I Need A Drink, Cavalier Eternal

1) AFI – The Art Of Drowning
This album is the album that founded my love of music, not just my love of AFI. It’s actually really difficult to say why, because I just love it, with no real explanation, but try I shall. This is the album where AFI were at their best – still punk, but with a bit more of an edge than they’d ever had before, due to utilising Jade correctly. Lyrically, it’s fantasy, pure and simple – Davey’s metaphors got out of hand and it was glorious. There’s something wonderfully passionate about this album which AFI’s albums have been lacking ever since, and the end of an era. I really can’t give this album enough praise. Without this album, I would not be the same person I am today.

Recommended tracks: Wester, Morningstar, The Nephilim… hell, all of it.

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