Top 5 Albums of 2009: The Contenders

I'm not necessarily saying Grizzly Bear's gonna win this year, but... well... infer what you will.I know I’m getting ahead of myself announcing contenders for this year’s top albums. After all, in some past years I haven’t even gotten around to this until July of the following year. There may be a few more best-of-the-year quality albums coming in the remaining two-and-a-half months of 2009, in which case I’ll post a hyphen-heavy-contenders-addendum follow-up entry.

But I was inspired to write this today as I fired up TV on the Radio’s Dear Science, an album I granted honorable mention in last year’s list since I hadn’t actually heard it at that point. I did eventually buy it this summer, and it is definitely good enough to have made the list last year.

And so, on that note, I present the year-to-date contenders for my Top 5 Albums of 2009. And once again, I’m presenting the current top four contenders (since I can’t decided on a fifth at this point) in bold. Last year, all of the preliminary contenders made the final list. Will that hold true this year as well? Time will tell.

  • Air: Love 2
  • The Bird and the Bee: Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future
  • Crystal Method: Divided by Night
  • The Decemberists: The Hazards of Love
  • Dream Theater: Black Clouds & Silver Linings
  • El Grupo Nuevo de Omar Rodriguez Lopez: Cryptomnesia
  • The Flaming Lips: Embryonic
  • Green Day: 21st Century Breakdown
  • Grizzly Bear: Veckatimest
  • Heartless Bastards: The Mountain
  • Hypnotic Brass Ensemble: Hypnotic Brass Ensemble
  • Jet: Shaka Rock
  • Dylan Leeds: Bit by Bit
  • The Mars Volta: Octahedron
  • Phish: Joy
  • Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
  • Pomplamoose: Videosongs
  • Tortoise: Beacons of Ancestorship
  • U2: No Line on the Horizon
  • Umphrey’s McGee: Mantis
  • Various Artists: Kind of Bloop
  • Zero 7: Yeah Ghost

For the first time, there are a couple of unsigned indies in the list here: Dylan Leeds and Pomplamoose. The Dylan Leeds album is excellent, certainly worthy of consideration alongside any commercial release this year. It’s available on Joshua Wentz’s Sidedown Audio boutique label. And Pomplamoose… well, I’ve already discussed them here. Their album is available on iTunes and elsewhere.

Last year in my contenders post I also provided some fun (?) statistics about the list. Let’s do it again!

22: albums in the list (last year: 28)

14: artists I had heard of before 2009 (last year: 18)

13: artists I already owned music from before 2009 (last year: 13)

4: purchased on CD (last year: 14)

4: purchased on iTunes (last year: 3 2/3)

14: purchased on Amazon MP3 (last year: 10 1/3)

2: unsigned independent artists (last year: 0)

Update: Oops, there are three indies in here. How could I forget about Kind of Bloop?

Update #2: Just realized I also forgot to mention Wilco (the album) in this list. I had some technical difficulties a couple of weeks ago and I needed to reformat my hard drive without being able to salvage some of the music on there — specifically, CDs I had ripped within the past 3 or 4 months. This was one of the few CDs I had bought in that time. I think it says a lot that it took me 5 days after originally writing this post to even remember it existed. Don’t expect it to make the cut.

Update #3: Here’s a new one: Flight of the Conchords’ I Told You I Was Freaky.