The very best music of 2009 (part 2) – the top 10

Now things get serious...we get to the top 10.

Bombay Bicycle Club are a bunch of kids from North London who don’t sound like a bunch of kids. “I had the blues but I shook them loose” was a very mature first album for indie fans, with ‘Dust on the ground’ the top track.  Hopes of greater things to come...

Now Metric with ‘Fantasies’ at number 9.  There are a handful of absolute killer tracks on this album, of which ‘Sick Muse is one.  Electro-pop with attitude, a little like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs  (see below..)

At 8, the Big Pink with ‘A brief history of love’.  It is a slightly inconsistent album, but 'Dominos' is my track of the year, and destined to be used on adverts / backing for sports and other TV shows for years.  Gets into your head and stays there!  Big songs.

I’ve never got into the Yeah Yeah Yeahs until this year, but ‘It’s Blitz’ at number 7 changed all that.  From the first charge of energy on “Zero” there is hardly a weak track; tunes, beats, lyrics, atmosphere...what more could we want.

We’ve mentioned Florence and the Machine already.  We saw her first big gig 18 months ago, as a one-woman (no band) support to MGMT at the London Astoria. She was far better than MGMT but we didn’t imagine she would have one of the top selling albums of the year in 2009, appear on David Letterman etc. all within a year or so.  But sometimes, talent will out....the whole album is strong, but ‘Dog Days are Over is my favourite.

At my number 5, Mumford and Sons were a huge and pleasant surprise this year.  Good looking young men playing ‘nu-folk’, with references to older folk traditions but a ‘rock attitude’; sounds a bit rubbish really doesn’t it? But it isn’t, their album ‘Sigh No More’ is brilliant, powerful, dramatic music; ‘Roll Away Your Stone is one of several stand out tracks.

The Maccabees were just another indie hopeful at the beginning of the year.  But after ‘Wall of arms’ where they brought to mind Arcade Fire, Kings of Leon, Blur..and themselves ... and some great gigs, including playing to a heaving NME tent at Reading with 15,000 kids going mad, the Maccabees stepped up to the Premier League.  ‘Young lions is a track that also sums up their year.

Now the top 3.....and  even better than the Maccabees on the day ....the Joy Formidable at Reading were my ‘small gig’ (well, it was in the smallest tent) of the year.  I love them.  Touches of My Bloody Valentine, the Pixies, Jesus and Mary Chain, but with better tunes, great videos and a boy-girl line up...they released a short self-released album this year; ‘A balloon called moaning’ which is my number 3 of the year; Whirring is my favourite track.   And they have a free download at the moment with the unbelievably great title of “My beerdrunk soul is sadder than a hundred dead Christmas trees” on their website.  And it is great too.  Do you get the feeling I like them? (Not on Spotify unfortunately).

Until the last few weeks, Sweet Billy Pilgrim’s ‘Twice Born Men’ was going to be my album of the year. I don’t suppose they will worry about dropping to no. 2 after getting onto the Mercury Prize shortlist; their songwriter and vocalist was ‘installing a toilet in Farnham’ when he heard!  For an album recorded by a part-time band literally in a shed-cum-recording studio it is an astonishing piece of work; do listen more than once though, it is a grower.  If you like Elbow, intelligent rock with a touch of folk, jazz and the kitchen sink (well, the dishwasher actually, which provides a sound effect on one track...) you will love this.

But late in the year, ‘Two Dancers’ by the Wild Beasts crept through into pole position.  “All the kings men’ is just one of half a dozen brilliant tracks here.  They sound like...nothing else really.  As I said here some weeks ago, perhaps coming from Cumbria has helped then keep this individuality...songs that don’t go quite where you think they will, mad falsetto vocals, yet with hooks that grab you by the neck...you can dance to it, you can sing along to it, you can think about it...what more could we want!

Merry Christmas, Happy Listening!

Peter Smith

Voices (4)

  1. Adam H:

    Great stuff as usual Peter. I agree entirely about YYYs. I never really saw what the fuss was about before but Zero is a fantastic track and Its Blitz is practically a constant on the iPod at the mo (other MP3 players are available).

  2. Leo Dando-Ladenis:

    Thanks for this. I work with Alison Curtis who sent me a link and i’m very pleased she did. You clearly know you’re stuff, said as someone who likes to think he knows a thing or two. I’ll no doubt be chasing up some of you’re recommendations. Leo

  3. Alan:

    Great selection as usual. I have been meaning to catch Bombay BC live at some point – how about it? Mind you, having seen the vid I would happily swop for Metric. hmmmmmmmmmm. Maccabees are definitely getting there and I am sure once they have, then seeing thejm live will cost at least a 2010 price if not 2012.

    Very happy with the top two. Sweet Billy is better on Spotify than seen on bad video. The Beasts sound as if they are well worth hunting down.

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