Ethan Swann: My Favorite Albums of 2009

, Staff Writer

We had our writers take a stab at picking their favorite albums from 2009. Here, in no particular order, are staff writer Ethan Swann’s picks.

Mastodon – Crack The Skye: Mastodon dominated the metal scene this year with Crack The Skye, a concept record telling stories of astral travel, Rasputin, wormholes, and reincarnation. The story may be hard to follow, but who cares when you’re getting your face melted by double bass and screaming guitar solos?

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears – Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is!: Black Joe Lewis manages to sound vintage and cutting-edge at the same time. Mixing old-school Motown Soul new-school snark, jams like “Sugarfoot” and “Get Yo Shit” are groovy gems.

Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures: Not every supergroup is an exercise in vanity. Dave Grohl, Josh Homme, and John Paul Jones crafted a superb, straightforward rock album, which is exactly what this year needed.

Blakroc – Blakroc: Take two skinny white bluesmen and mix ‘em up with the finest MC’s on the market and you get Blakroc. This unlikely formula combining the Black Keys with guests like Mos Def, NOE, Raekwon and Ol’ Dirty Bastard and illustrates the link between modern hip-hop and the blues.

Wilco – Wilco (The Album): Maturity and stability may not be Jeff Tweedy’s calling card, but this year’s release.

Mason Jennings – Blood Of Man: For some reason this album slipped under the radar, given the buzz around more poppy, electronic acts like Passion Pit and Phoenix, but Blood of Man is an excellent roots rock album with some folky tendencies.

Baroness – Blue Record: I like to call this “Renaissance Metal”. There’s something light and shimmering about this record that sets it apart from other metal acts. Like Mastodon, there’s a narrative to the songs, but it hardly matters compared to the music.

BLK JKS – After Robots: South African Prog Rock. Who knew?

Lucero – 1372 Overton Park: Post-punk meets soulful blues meets country twang. This album doesn’t sound like anything else released this year. “Sound of the City” is a horn-heavy rock anthem, while crooners like “Hey Darlin’ Do You Gamble” and “I Can’t Feel A Thing” could make a cowboy cry.

Japandroids – Post Nothing: Two-man garage rock about parties, girls, and alienation. Who said grunge was dead?

Honorable Mentions:

Passion Pit – Manners
Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
Pearl Jam – Backspacer

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