By Michelle Hart, Staff Writer
10. "Post-Nothing" by Japandroids
With only two members, newcomers Japandroids may have constructed the most fun, most unadulterated album of this year. Their debut album, easily marks Japandroids as an artist to watch in the coming years. Check this: "Young Hearts Spark Fire"
9. "Manners" by Passion Pit
After playing last summer's Bonnaroo and appearing on various commercials and on MTV's Woodie Awards, Passion Pit have made quite the name for themselves, and rightfully so. Try listening to "The Reeling" and resisting the urge to get up and dance. It's not possible. Check this: "The Reeling"
8. "Merriweather Post Pavillion" by Animal Collective
Even though Merriweather Post Pavilion is one of the most overrated albums of 2009, that does not mean that it isn't great. Animal Collective has crafted its most radio-friendly album to date. Check this: "My Girls"
7. "Monsters of Folk" by Monsters of Folk
Let's face it; super-groups seldom produce music that transcends each member's various influences. Monsters of Folk, on the other hand, becomes the exception to the rule on their debut. Comprised of Connor Oberst of Bright Eyes fame, Jim James from My Morning Jacket, and M. Ward (one-half of She & Him), Monsters of Folk show why each of its members are some of the most prolific songwriters of our generation. Check this: "Baby Boomer"
6. "Farm" by Dinosaur Jr.
One of the most prolific bands of the 90s alternative scene, Dinosaur Jr., has released an album that came about 10 years too late. That sounds like a criticism, but it's not. Farm combines all of the grungy, guitar-laden goodness of the previous decade and manages to make it feel as new and as fresh as ever. Check this: "Pieces"
5. "Middle Cyclone" by Neko Case
Neko Case may not have the pipes of some of the more popular sirens, but she sure knows how to craft beautiful and haunting pop songs. Middle Cyclone sees Case, who is also a member of The New Pornographers, expanding her range into more country- and folk-tinged compositions. Check this: "People Got A Lotta Nerve"
4. "Bitte Orca" by Dirty Projectors
An outwardly bizarre album, Bitte Orca is the Dirty Projectors most accessible album by far, which still is not saying much. Best described as Jimmy Page meets Brooklyn hipster culture, the sheer originality of this album makes it incredibly difficult to play spot-the-influences. You may say that there is nothing new under the sun, but then, you probably haven't heard "Bitte Orca." Check this: "Temecula Sunrise"
3. "Humbug" by Arctic Monkeys
"Humbug" doesn't quite recapture the unadulterated sound of the debut, but maybe that's precisely the point. It's not as if they have abandoned their old sound entirely, they have just learned to gradually expand their blend of garage rock to include other styles. The result is certainly shocking at first, but upon repeat listens, all of the album's nuances coalesce to reveal one of the year's strongest efforts.
2. "Wilco: The Album" by Wilco
The name of this album implies a summation of Wilco's career and, as such, the band could not have picked a more apt title. Everything great that has ever been attributed to Wilco as a band appears on this album. "Bull Black Nova," an expansive noise-rock piece harkens back to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot-era Wilco, while songs like "I'll Fight" and "Sonny Feeling" dutifully represent the band at their alt-country best.
1. "Veckatimest" by Grizzly Bear
Every subsequent listen to "Veckatimest" reveals more and more of the subtle magic and dedication to their craft that has become synonymous with Grizzly Bear. Combining influences from almost all eras of rock and pop music, singer Ed Droste and crew show exactly why the future of music lies in its past. Absolutely brilliant. Check these: "Two Weeks" and "While You Wait for the Others"