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Monday, November 30, 2009

Best of 2009: Top 5 Debut Albums

You know, I was just sitting here thinking about how 2009 was kind of a lame year for music. Well, that's not entirely true because as it turns out, 2009 was a great year for new artists. Whittling down this list from the list of potentials was difficult, and some really good albums got cut in the process. The list below is made up from what I feel are the Top 5 Debut albums of 2009. Enjoy!

#5. Monsters of Folk: Monsters of Folk - This is one of those albums that only come around once a decade or so. You get 4 powerhouses of indie music together and hit the record button. Voila! Instant magic! Chances are, Monsters of Folk will never record an album again and if they do, it won't be this solid. Jim James is glorious, Conor Oberst the same, M. Ward is fantastic, and Mogis…well, he's Mogis, you know? Any doubts I had about this album were cast away in the first few seconds of "Dear God." It's like The New Pornographers, but more folksy. That's the best complement I could possibly level on this album. So there.

#4. Clues: Clues - Man, I can't begin to explain to you how upset I was when The Unicorns disbanded half a decade ago. I was still new to the whole "indie rock" thing, and that band in particular was extremely influential in my life. Enter Clues, the newest band from ex-Unicorns singer Alden Penner. While not nearly as solid as The Unicorns (it is literally nothing like the band), Clues does hold its own quite well. There are songs on here that are slow slow and methodical, others that are fast and maniacal. It is a very well-rounded record, with hints of that old, zany Unicorns flare ("Remember Severed Head"). It's definitely worth repeat listens.

#3. Discovery: LP - LP shows many of the flaws of a debut album - the inconsistencies, the unfocused approach - but makes up for it with some crazy arrangements and catchy hooks. Today I've had "It's Not My Fauly (It's My Fault)" stuck in my head all day. Yesterday it was "Swing Tree." There! Proof that this is a great album. Cale out.

#2. Passion Pit: Manners - Well, not just yet I guess. Passion Pit's debut album is easily one of the top debut albums of 2009 (ok, just top, period) because it shows the musical maturity of an artist's fourth or fifth album. I mean, think about it. Look at Metric. Fantasies was the group's 4th album, and by almost all accounts, Manners blows it away on all fronts. Not to knock Metric because I've already established what a solid album Fantasies is, but Manners is pound for pound a better piece of music. So yeah, if an album THIS complete and THIS masterful comes out THIS early in a band's career, you better believe it's going to get a spot on this (THIS?) list.

#1. Wallpaper.: Doodoo Face - The date that I'm writing this piece is October 8th. Doodoo Face has barely been out a few weeks, but placing it at the top of this list (and the others) seems like a no-brainer for me. I just went on and on about the solidity of Passion Pit's debut, and Wallpaper has that and more. What more, you ask? Well, character, for one; but also, the best production I've heard in years, a sense of humor, and honestly, a lead singer that doesn't sound like a whiny girl. So yeah, that's how Ricky Reed locked down the top spot on this list.

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