10 BEST ALBUMS IN 2009

PHOENIX: WOLFGANG AMADEUS PHOENIX
Their approach to 20-something-American-style alternative funk tunes sound authentic despite their French origins. Armed with spacey synth sounds, lush vocals and dueling acoustic and electric guitars, this release is an excellent mixture of dance, pop, rock and electronic music. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix has some of the catchiest beats around to go with approachable, sing-along lyrics, like in ‘Lisztomania’ and ‘Fences’. The French trio has succeeded in making an utterly danceable album that is highly recommended for your peppy nightout.
Standout tracks: Lisztomania, Fences, Lasso
GIRLS: ALBUM
Born into an extremist cult, Christopher Owen could have grown up to be a serial killer or a freak. But with his friend JR White, he decided to form a band that combines power pop with psychedelia twists and simple haunting lyrics about despair and hope with drug influences. From the first track, ‘Lust for Life’ in which Owen sings ‘I wish I had a father, and maybe then I would turned out right” to the next 11 tracks, Girls manage to maintain that glorious feeling that only classic pop albums can have. The best surprise of 2009.
Standout tracks: Lust For Life, Hellhole Ratrace, Laura

TORI AMOS : ABNORMALLY ATTRACTED TO SIN
America’s very own flame-haired kook (who claims to be a MILF) is still battling for a woman’s right to be spiritual while being sexual. Classic Amos’s religious themes and profound melodies are featured, though she’s become comfortable with incorporating digital sound effects, drum machines and, apparently, the idea of wearing high heels. In spite of being less bouncy than her previous record, the Cornflake Girl’s wave of emotions still springs freely from the poignant number ‘Maybe to California’ to the more eerie and jazzy tracks such as ‘Give’ and ‘Lady in Blue’. This latest offering is an excellent addition to her discography, and while her piano remains her weapon of choice, the electronic embellishments add welcome layers to her idiosyncratic repertoire.
Standout tracks: Curtain Call, Starling, Lady in Blue

CHAIRLIFT: DOES YOU INSPIRE YOU
Despite a glut of similar sounding rivals blossoming throughout this year, Brooklyn-based trio Chairlift managed to garner attention for their beautiful and hypnotic marriage of electro pop and indie rock. The combo makes for some impressively catchy tunes that are guaranteed to dig into your brain until you hum them on the bus. Revealing influences ranging from the atmospheric sounds of Joy Division to the rusticity of Emmylou Harris to the peculiar vocalisations of Bjork’s, this album clearly shows Chairlift is a force to be reckoned with.
Standout tracks: Bruises, I Don’t Give A Damn, Somewhere Around Here

REGINA SPEKTOR: FAR
The seeming lack of killer singles does not make this album any less brilliant. In fact ‘Far’ is a cohesive extension of the Russian-born chanteuse’s last effort, ‘Begin to Hope’ which nearly went on to become a full blown hit-maker. Her distinct brand of quirky vocals makes her memorable and is still very evidential in tracks like ‘The Folding Chair’ and ‘Dance Anthem of The 80’s’. The magnitude of her endeavour in maintaining her piano-playing in pop territory takes her advanced skill onto another level of song writing, and the result is an accessible record that takes higher account of being vibrant in both playfulness and wittiness.
Standout tracks: Blue Lips, Machine, Dance Anthem of the 80’s

ANDA: IN MEDIO
This eclectic package of music isn’t exactly a breath of fresh air, but it is perfectly done for what it is. Mainly revolving around pop and jazz, Anda’s strong vocals fortify this release, while his guitar style accents its excellence. Although acoustic guitar dominates most songs, some include pretty shocking treats such as 80’s iconic and influential keyboard sounds in ‘Sebuah Pesan’, a soft rock number in ‘Bias Senja’ and ‘Moi et Toi’ a hippy duet with Mian Meuthia wrapped up in reggae style. A slight comparison to Jeff Buckley and Lenny Kravitz could be made, but ‘In Medio’ is still quite an original. Overall it suggests that Anda is maintaining the right temper for the right day, creating an album is precisely what it wants to be.
Standout tracks: Dalam Suatu Masa, Biru, Full Moon Tonight, Asmara Sendu.
THE TREES AND THE WILD: RASUK
Languid is the ongoing theme of this 52-minute long experience, emotionally floating through imaginary peaks and valleys. The almost-flawless harmonization of the melodious acoustic guitars and John Mayer-ish vocals allows this whimsical series of soothing songs to flourish. Check out ‘Irish Girl’ and ‘Our Roots’, which prove to be rustic and peaceful, and the album’s culmination, ‘Derau dan Kesalahan’, which includes more beats. This album will gratify your ears with compellingly pristine music.
Standout tracks: Honeymoon On Ice, Our Roots, Derau dan Kesalahan

THE S.I.G.I.T: HERTZ DYSLEXIA
Despite only featuring seven tracks, ‘Hertz Dyslexia’ feel stuffed with adrenaline-pumping tunes that are likely to be 2009’s finest rock and roll local album. Their mind-bending guitar flickering and blistering heavy distortions are still the constituent core, while frontman Rekti’s strident vocals amp up the heat with more variety, ranging from outraged resonance in ‘Money Making’ to a masculine heart-breaking rendition of Neil Young’s ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’. A legitimate reason to bang your head in euphoria.
Standout tracks: Money Making, Only Love Can break Your Heart, Lost.
ENDAH N’ RHESA: NOWHERE TO GO
This dynamic duo knows exactly how to maximize their minimalist act. Fully girded by advanced strumming of the acoustic guitar and groovily guarding bass lines, ‘Nowhere To Go’ is a minimalist debut album that givea birth to a new genre for nu-folk music. Singer Endah’s voice is a wonder to behold: swiftly alluringly tender in ‘When You Love Someone’, andsoft and bluesy in ‘Living With Pirates’. This impeccable package is worthy enough to be called the most accessible record  2009.
Standout tracks: I Don’t Remember, When You Love Someone, Living With Pirates.

BALAWAN – SEE YOU SOON
Balawan is a heavenly guitarist and this latest offering positively resonates. The collection features profoundly clever compositions of thick jazz sounds which are perfectly matched to his internationally acclaimed guitar playing. Although the lyrics are planted firmly within the safety zone of being radio-friendly, the music is far beyond ordinary. From the soft strums of the introspective-love themed ‘Andai Ku Setia’ to the speeding electric tones in ‘Shred Ahead Jazz’, ‘See You Soon’ is an alluring record with accelerating chords that reflect the albums skilled, peaceful ambience .
Standout tracks: Andai Ku Setia, Your Love Is, See You Soon.

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