Zach Roth's 2009 Top Ten
1.Isis - Wavering Radiant
Fucking "Ghost Key".
2010 edit: I still adore this album, but it hasn't gotten very many spins this year, even though I did get to see ISIS during their farewell tour. I probably ranked this a little hyperbolically.
2.dredg - The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion
A transcendent, varied effort well worth the wait. dredg have diversified their sound yet again-- while it may not top El Cielo in your opinion, the socially conscious lyrics and talented musicianship slate this as a spectacular album.
2010 edit: This is a good listen every now and then, but a year later, songs like "Ireland" and "I Don't Know" don't hold nearly as much power over me as they used to.
3.Irepress - Sol Eye Sea I
2009 will be forever remembered as the year I gave myself entirely to post-rock after being so very bored by it for years. Irepress led the charge of engaging, challenging, enjoyable post-rock that made me realize that the genre isn't all Godspeed! knockoffs and arty sound clips from old movies.
2010 edit: This album rocks. I still spin it regularly when I need some instrumental stuff to be awesome in the background.
4.The Dear Hunter - Act III: Life And Death
Despite sounding markedly more mature and sonically unified, lacking some of Act II's incredible diversity, Act III more than makes up for it with masterful vocal lines and some really engaging midtempo songs.
2010 edit: I came around to this album even moreso than when I ranked it 4. This is easily one of my favorite bands and I will happily eat up anything they release.
5.RX Bandits - Mandala
I'm not sure Mandala will ever live up to 2006's ...And the Battle Begun. Mandala is certifiably more rock-tinged, and although the Bandits do it incredibly well, I miss the horns and the marked reggae influence too much. That being said, this album is still incredible.
2010 edit: I don't think I listened to this once this year. I have listened to ...And the Battle Begun about 100 times though. Sorry, Mandala...
6.Portugal. The Man - The Satanic Satanist
Face it. Portugal. The Man are just inherently better than most bands you like. The Satanic Satanist is incredibly diverse despite the redundant album title. Their sounds is as bluesy and eclectic as ever, and I hope next year's inevitable album will be just as good.
2010: Yeah, next year's inevitable album, American Ghetto, was on my Top Ten list for a few months, then got pushed to the honorables, then got pushed out entirely. The Satanic Satanist and The Majestic Majesty are probably my favorite album(s) by these guys though, with Church Mouth not far behind.
7.If These Trees Could Talk - Above the Earth, Below the Sky
A very solid album. Placid and ephemeral yet powerful and climactic when it needs to be.
2010 edit: I totally forgot this album even existed.
8.HORSE the band - Desperate Living
These guys are fucking idiots, but they write some awesome music. The keyboard parts alone on Desperate Living put entire bands to shame.
2010 edit: This needs to be moved further up into my list, definitely. I love this album with the power of a million exploding suns.
9.toe - For Long Tomorrow
This album just dropped, but goddamn if it isn't amazing. Between joyous instrumentals and chilled-out vocal tracks, it's incredibly diverse to the point of sonic schizophrenia, but it's a fun listen.
2010: This was a dumb choice. It's a good album, but it's like 20 minutes long, and I think it was a collection of b-sides. Though, everything's in Japanese, so I'm not sure.
10.Mastodon - Crack the Skye
Having never liked other Mastodon material, Crack the Skye surprised me. I'm sure it worked inversely for long time fans. The album is catchy as hell and has some decent technical chops. This album may get its spot simply because I listened to it so god damn much.
2010 edit: My affair with Mastodon ended fairly quickly after this. I tried listening to Crack the Skye again a few months ago and turned it off immediately.
Having finally gotten rid of their disastrous screamer, John Mess, Dance Gavin Dance wrote an album questionably quickly to get some material with him out there. Some people lump these guys in with bands that are killing music, but the effect-laden guitars are incredibly fun to listen to, the basslines are groovy as fuck, and the sing/scream interplay are great. There's not much more you could ask from them on this release save a few more songs.
2010: Not a terrible album, but nowhere near as good as their self-titled. RIP this incarnation of DGD.
If I pretend that "The Electric Twist" doesn't occupy this tracklist, A Bomb in a Birdcage is spectacular. The production is crisp and the full-band songs are lush as fuck. Put some headphones on and listen to "The World Without" and then piss your fucking pants.
2010 edit: I've even come to terms with Electric Twist. Stellar album.
Just listen to Forsaker. Go ahead. Do it. I'll wait here.
...Did you listen? How fucking awesome was that? Seriously.
2010 edit: This album still peters out for me after the first four tracks, but those are an amazing couple of tracks.
Paling in comparison to 2006's Laisser Vivre Les Squelettes, Y represents a departure from Daitro's sonically impressive, dense European screamo to a more vibrant, punky sound. While not nearly as good, it's still a solid effort.
2010: Nothing will ever compare to Laisser Vivre Les Squelettes, but I've grown to appreciate Y a lot more.
I know what you're thinking, and I say, "Fuck you." This album is a grower, but it's worthy. The songs invite singalongs while still incorporating The Fall of Troy technicality we all know and love. I don't care how baroque Thom's vocals are, the instrumentation is solid and the album is a fun listen.
2010: ....yeah I still like this album and I still listen to it. I am shameless.