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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ten favorite albums of 2009

"Tuned Into Pop Culture" guest contributor Nick Carrabine is a News-Herald staff writer.

I originally said that I was going to wait until the end of December to make this list because I was waiting on some of the releases near the holidays. However, I realized the only release that I'm looking forward to during the holidays is Lupe Fiasco's Lasers, and we all know that will crack everyone's top three and make a serious running for my number one album of the year. So, no need to wait on that.

Here goes my top ten favorite albums of the year in a rather unimpressive year for releases.

10. Ace Enders & A Million Different People - When I Hit the Ground: Enders, the former frontman of The Early November, released his third solo release but the result still sounds like The Early November, which is good news for me and TEN fans.

Best track

9. Taking Back Sunday - New Again: Easily the band’s worst album but in a year that didn’t create too many great releases, New Again is still a solid alternative rock album that showed a major change in direction following the addition of guitarist Matt Fazzi prior to this release. The lyrical content is much more mature as many of the songs deal with lead singer Adam Lazzara’s break-up with his fiance and revealing past personal demons.

Best track

8. Joe Budden - Padded Room: Joe Budden literally should be in a padded room. Budden remains one of the most honest and emotional rappers out there as he continuously discusses personal issues adding that he needs everyone to pray for him and he needs to find an angel in his life. After all the music industry hardships Budden has experienced over the past six years, it was nice to see him have such a strong 2009. He raps on Angel in my Life, “Thinking about death, wondering how I’m going to go/I can’t be insane for just wanting to know/In my head I die often/I used to think of suicide often/Good suit on and in a nice coffin/But that isn’t something I’d try myself/Still, they locked me in this room all by myself/I think I need an angel in my life.”

7. The Used - Artwork: Just when I was debating on whether or not to write this band off, they completely redeemed themselves with the release of Artwork. This is the album that brings them the closest to their hard pop rock roots that filled up their debut in 2002.

Best track

6. Silverstein - A Shipwreck in the Sand: Similar to the above scenario I didn’t think this band had much left in them and they completely surprised me with this release. Shipwreck is a concept album mostly about the recession that we are currently in and how it is affecting family life, especially marriages.

Best track

5. John Nolan - Height: Former Taking Back Sunday guitarist and current Straylight Run frontman, Nolan releases his first solo album and although just nine tracks, it is just as incredible as anything he has done with either of the bands he has been involved in. After the first few listens, I wasn’t as impressed as I am now after listening to it for more than a month. This is also the album he tries to come the closest to looking like Jesus Christ (as you'll see below.)

Best track

4. P.O.S. - Never Better: P.O.S. got his slight taste of mainstream earlier this year with his third release. P.O.S. style is almost impossible to explain as he is a rapper but his punk rock roots stay close to his heart as almost all the songs on the album are rapped over guitar riffs and drum loops.

Best track and a big fan of this video

3. Slaughterhouse - Self-titled: Four rappers left for dead, Royce da 5’9,” Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz and Crooked I, became so fed up with the music industry that they joined forces to create one big hip hop heavyweight album. Whether this is a one time thing or not, they almost released a classic album the first time around. These four lyricists are undeniably on par, if not better than, the very few hip hop elitists that remain out there today, lyrically speaking.

2. Brand New - Daisy: Their fourth release. Their fourth complete transition. The band admitted after making this record and listening to it, they had no idea what they did and lead singer Jesse Lacey has admitted the album is so exhausting, he can only listen to two or three songs at a time before turning it off. Nonetheless, this album is special as it combines a very post-grunge feel to their already established alternative melodic approach. I can't even fathom the thought of where they will go next.

Best track

1. Manchester Orchestra - Mean Everything to Nothing: Similar to Brand New, this band specializes in being able to put so many different musical styles into a release. Mean Everything to Nothing is filled with a few energetic rock songs that sound nothing similar to the quiet ones. From the first track “The Only One” to the last hidden track, “Jimmy, He Whispers,” this album ranges from classic rock, to alternative to just downright sad at times. This band has had a breakout year and I expect many big things to come from them in the future.

Best track


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