2009 was a solid (if unspectacular) year for music, marked by two masterful (if not transcendent) albums and a whole slew of decent-to-good records. For some reason unbeknownst to me, nearly every band that released an album in 2009 released some variety of pop-album, even bands that had never before ventured into those sugary waters (As Cities Burn, for instance), and – for the most part – this approach worked for the majority of the artists who tried it. In fact, a few albums with high expectations ended up falling flat because of the absence of pop-sensibilites. Does this mean experimentation and originality are dying? Far from it. They just weren’t front and center this year, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
After the year’s pop-centrality, perhaps the most striking trend that kept cropping up as I reviewed the albums of 2009 was that most albums had moments of excellence and corresponding moments of lamentable music-making; indeed, only a couple of albums (at any level of quality) felt truly consistent throughout their duration1. But while only a few albums stood out as being consistently great, a large number had at least one great song2, which does not constitute a great album, but is at least (usually) an indicator of a good one.
That in mind, what I found most fascinating about this year in music was that, of all the entries in the huge body of ‘good’ albums, none really pulled away from the crowd. Most of the albums that I’ll be talking about this year (with a few noted exceptions) are about as good as any other: some great songs here, some poor songs here; it’s a very level playing field with most qualitative differences arising from the listener’s stylistic choices on any given day. With so many albums of indistinct quality, it was very tough to choose only ten for this list, so a handful of honorable mentions will get a brief space once the List proper has finished.
As always, no one will agree with me on all fronts and some will inevitably agree on none, but regardless of your stance, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Without further ado (footnotes excluded, of course), The List…
1. I’m not suggesting that every album should be the same throughout in order to achieve ‘consistency’, but rather that the albums of 2009 were marked by their noteworthy highs and lows. For example, if you asked me to pick the best song from Gatsbys American Dream’s Ribbons & Sugar (2003), I’d stare at you blankly for a while as I thought it over and would probably tell you that “We’re Not Orphans” gets the nod, and then I’d amend that to “Cut the Strings” before claiming that the best track is actually “Apparition”. The point is: every song on that album is great; if you asked me to pick the worst song from that same album, I’d tell you that there were no candidates because (what’s that sound? Oh, it’s the sound of my beating this dead horse) every song on the album was good. If you asked the same questions about fun.’s Aim & Ignite (2009), I’d tell you that “Take Your Time (Coming Home)” was the strongest track and that “Benson Hedges” was the worst, and if I debated either one of those choices in my head, I’d take equally long to debate the other. Ribbons & Sugar and Aim & Ignite both had great songs, but only one had notably poor songs. That’s the point I’m driving at (possibly in circles).
2. I would be remiss if I didn’t add my belief that this inability for bands to have continued quality over the course of a full-length is almost directly the result of the iTunes/single-track-a-time age. As consumers (and it’s worth noting that artists are consumers of music, too), it’s become too easy and – frankly – too expected that we’ll only listen to the single tracks, that we’ll be making playlists, and that we won’t be listening to full albums anymore. It was inevitable that this musical culture would complete the cycle and stop being just our reaction to music and rather become a part of the creation of music. More bands are writing great songs than ever before. But fewer are writing great albums. It is a double edged sword, but I admit that I miss having new albums that completely enthrall me, and I don’t think I’m alone in that sentiment.
THE TOP TEN
10. Daisy by Brand New The first few times I listened to Daisy I was confused (well, I was confused after I recovered from the surprising and face-shattering opening chords of “Vices”). Where were the slow-moving, powerful songs lamenting a world gone awry and the self-referential, sharper-than-a-knife witticisms from The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me (2006) and Deja Entendu (2003)? Hell, where were the gorgeous, flowing melodies of 2007’s “(Fork and Knife)” single? This was certainly not the Brand New that I thought I knew and, at first, I was disappointed. But over time Daisy started to make sense to me; the unrelenting moodiness, the subtle musical and lyrical intricacies, the brash wailings of guitar and voice3 – they all seemed to fit together somehow, even if I didn’t seem to fit in among them. This is surely Brand New’s heaviest (or most consistently heavy) album to date; that stylistic choice, combined with lyrics that rarely resonated in a profound way (it was – for me, at least – very strange to hear Jesse Lacey screaming, “where is…my marriage license?”), left me wanting. More specifically: wanting a sequel to The Devil and God. But that’s not what Daisy is. And though it’s not the Brand New album that I would have wanted, it is undoubtedly a strong album in its own right. Amongst the raucous screaming and wailing are great guitar licks (“Be Gone”), great melodies (“Noro”), occasionally great lyrics (“You Stole”), and one hauntingly compelling song (“Daisy”). All the elements are there, just not as I would have arranged them, but still: I couldn’t bring myself to leave this album off this list.
Key Tracks: “Daisy”, “Sink”, “In A Jar”
3. People (myself included) made a big deal about the ‘screaming’ on this record, but it turns out that the vocal presentation is not such a big change for Brand New after all. Each of their prior albums (well, I’m not sure about Your Favorite Weapon but I don’t care for that album anyway) has at least a few minor instances of Lacey’s screaming/shouting and, after further inspection, it’s really only slightly more prevalent on Daisy than it has been in the past.
9. (M)orning by Mae This may be the single most surprising entry on this list (I was, at least, very surprised that this album turned out to be so good) as Mae’s last effort, Singularity (2007), was so horrific that any hopes of the band releasing solid material once again were thrown out the window. But (M)orning is a uniquely great pop album. It’s still Mae, so everything is somewhat light and cheery, but there is an undeniable depth to this album that past Mae releases have lacked. “The Fisherman Song (We All Need Love)” is a three part opus of a prog-pop song complete with a full narrative arc in the lyrics, “Two Birds” is a beautiful instrumental track led by a flute solo (yes, you read that correctly), and “A Melody, The Memory” might be the best straight-forward love song of the year. Mae has always had a slight affinity for the concept album (see 2005’s The Everglow) but only with (M)orning is their ability to create a rock-solid concept realized. The album’s tracks flow into one another, often carrying lyrical and musical themes from track to track, giving a sense of completeness of which I would never have suspected Mae to be capable. If you’re a fan of major-key pop-rock then you should absolutely check out (M)orning and, most likely, keep an eye out for the upcoming (A)fternoon and (E)vening releases (why all the parentheticals on first letters, you ask? Because those first letters spell “MAE” – not an astonishing play on words, but just subtle and clever enough for me to enjoy it).
Key Tracks: “A Melody, The Memory”, “Two Birds”, “The Fisherman Song (We All Need Love)”
8. Birds & Cages by Deas Vail First things first: this album was only released digitally in 2009 and is scheduled to be released in early 2010 in hard copy. To use a horrible colloquialism, this bums me out. Not only will I end up buying the album twice, but one of the best things about a new album (at least to me) is that first time you pop it in your car and get to drive around surrounded by the sound of new music, an experience that a digital release kind of denies you. But that’s really all the negativity that I could muster for this review. Picking up right where 2007’s All the Houses Look the Same and 2008’s Bright Lights EP left off, Birds & Cages is a beautiful pop-rock album. And I mean that literally. This album is truly beautiful. Deas Vail has a certain grace that is unlike any other band (Copeland was the closest, but even their sound was notably different – and darker – than Deas Vail’s); they live in major-key glory in a way that very few acts can pull off. As with their previous releases, Wes Blaylock’s soaring falsetto flies angelically above a rock solid band track filled with a healthy mix of various guitars and basses, a wide range of drum beats, and complementary keyboards. And just like on All the Houses Look the Same and Bright Lights, the lyrics are deceptively strong. Some progressive-concept-album tendencies even trickle into Birds & Cages with “Tell Me” being a beautiful vocal interlude that comes back for a reprise as the conclusion of “Dance In Perfect Time”, while slightly darker (darker for Deas Vail, that is) songs like “Birds”, “The Leaper”, and “Atlantis” give this release a good amount of depth. Really, if you like pop music, there’s a lot to love with Birds & Cages.
Key Tracks: “Atlantis”, “The Things You Were”, “Birds”
7. First Temple by Closure In Moscow The closest that I can come to a parallel album for First Temple is Saosin’s self-titled full length (2006). Both bands put forth EPs that pushed the progressive/hard-rock/pop genre into new places with distinctly unique sounds. While Saosin rode Anthony Green’s soaring vocal range and screaming ability along with harmonized riffs and powerful chugging (Translating the Name, 2004), Closure In Moscow’s The Penance and the Patience (2008 – No. 5 on my Top 10 of 2008) was carried by Christopher de Cinque’s soaring vocal melodies, his harmonies with guitarist Mansur Zennelli and their forward thinking, pop-affected, Mars Volta-influenced instrumentation. In both cases, the bands eventually released a full-length album (though more time passed for Saosin, who lost Green to a variety of projects) that met an array of responses, the mean of which could aptly be described as ‘lukewarm’. As for this humble writer’s opinion? I’m championing First Temple, just as I did with Saosin. The album is not a huge success on the progressive and foreward-thinking front – a side of the band that showed great promise – but, as was the case with Saosin, it is a huge success as a progressive-metal-pop album. The songs are monstrously catchy and the instrumentation, while not being groundbreaking, is still interesting with plenty of riffs and fills to hold your attention. As was the case with Closure’s debut EP, there’s still plenty that reminds of The Mars Volta (“Afterbirth”), but there’s also enough sugary-sweetness (“Sweet#Hart”) that you’ll find yourself humming a First Temple tune long after the album’s done. It’s also worth noting that “Kissing Cousins” is maybe the summer song of 2009 while “Deluge” follows in the footsteps of last year’s “Dulcinea” and provides one of the best choruses of the year.
Key Tracks: “Kissing Cousins”, “Deluge”, “Afterbirth”
6. Aim & Ignite by fun. The spiritual heir to The Format’s Dog Problems (2006), Aim & Ignite sees ex-Format vocalist Nate Ruess (alongside Jack Antonoff and Andrew Dost – of Steel Train and Anathallo, respectively) explore some of his more well-worn lyrical themes (be forewarned, I loved the lyrics on this album, so you’re about to read a lot about them): not being able to find love, feeling out of place, and generally being a witty and damn-clever malcontent all the way. But perhaps the best and most refreshing lyrics that Ruess has to offer are those that show him finding some actual happiness (gasp!) and satisfaction (no!) in his new life. The album’s sound is an eclectic pop amalgamation of everything that the fun. boys (and producer and ex-Jellyfish4 member Roger Manning, Jr.) love; the ultimate result being that the album plays as a stage musical of Ruess’s life. This is a good thing. The opening track, “Be Calm”, is as remarkable as it is Broadway-esque; it’s hard not to smile at the song’s self-reflexivity as Ruess sings, “the theremin will lead us to a chorus where we all rejoice and sing,” while that trademark B-Movie whir carries us back through the chorus and to a simply beautiful bridge (2:39-3:13). Songs like “At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be)” and “Barlights”5 are exceptional summer-jams, but the area where I find Aim & Ignite to be strongest are those that seem most unique to the album. With “The Gambler” and “Take Your Time (Coming Home)”, fun. takes a soothing and mellow approach to a subject rarely broached by The Format: happiness. A waltzing piano ballad, “The Gambler” looks at life through the eyes of Ruess’s happily married parents and is as beautiful lyrically as it is melodically. Which brings me to “Take Your Time (Coming Home)”, likely the strongest track on the album. This song succeeds on every major level, crushing it’s lyrical, melodic, and compositional goals right out of the park. An epic exploration of Ruess finding peace with the new life that he’s made for himself, this conclusive track is the picture of a happiness that is not all flowers and unicorns, but that has come on the heels of toil and hardship and is greater for the effort. Aim & Ignite is far from a perfect album though, as three or four tracks (“Benson Hedges” being the most egregious example) never seem to go anywhere and slog down an otherwise sensational collection of pop songs; but when three or four tracks of a ten-track album are weak, that doesn’t speak very well for the album as a whole and this ultimately drags Aim & Ignite down a few spots in my rankings. It’s not perfect, but the moments of brilliance that are scattered across Aim & Ignite’s ten tracks make it a necessary addition to any pop-music lover’s library.
Key Tracks: “Take Your Time (Coming Home)”, “Be Calm”, “At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be)”
4. I cannot say enough about Jellyfish’s 1992 album Bellybutton. It is simply one of the absolute finest pop albums ever recorded.
5. “Barlights” provides one of the year’s most clever lyrics as Ruess sings, “I can’t help but remember James Dean. See, we are part of the few who agree that, hey, he lived life fast, but he died. He died. He died. Me? I’m gonna live forever.” Brilliant.
5. Hell or High Water by As Cities Burn One of the more consistent albums of 2009, the only song that really stands apart from the rest of the album is the (highly unfortunate) closer, “Capo” – a song so antithetical to the idea of As Cities Burn that I’ve removed it from my iPod. It’s not a terrible song by any means (though it’s certainly not a markedly good one) but it just doesn’t belong on this particular record and, for a band as conceptual as ACB it’s surprising to even find it here. But that’s really the only negative point that I have to mention with this release. Sure, it’s not as heart-wrenching and soulful as Come Now Sleep (2007) but of all the bands who released what were essentially pop albums in 2009, none were as surprising as Hell or High Water and few were as successful. As Cities Burn has really distanced themselves from the metal/screamo sound of their (still wonderful) debut (2005’s Son, I Loved You At Your Darkest), and embraced a more relaxed, southern rock sound. Not all the tracks sound foreign though, as the opener, “’84 Sheepdog”, is reminiscent of some of the more up-tempo songs on Come Now Sleep; meanwhile the album alternately serenades the listener with the sweepingly beautiful “Daughter”6 and inspires them with the stirring march of “Pirate Blues” that follows. Such a stylistic change was surprising in and of itself, but it’s the grace and comfort with which ACB try such a new sound that really won me over. Always a band that suffered from below average vocals, Hell or High Water has some of the finer vocals of the year and certainly mark a high water mark (pun certainly intended) for the band (and the guest appearance of original ACB vocalist T.J. Bonnette is an excellent touch). It’s not as soul-stirring as some of their previous releases (“Timothy”, “Contact”, “The Widow”) but, to borrow descriptors from Aaron Marsh: if ACB’s first two releases were meant to move you, Hell or High Water seems meant to make you move. And it succeeds. Gone are the turbulent screams and harmonized guitar solos that were so distinct from their early works and in their places are tighter harmonies and grungier bass-grooves. It’s a release that could easily have borne another band’s name. It’s a release that deserves to be enjoyed in the early spring, on those first few days that you can drive with your windows down (trust me on this seemingly random recommendation). Sadly, As Cities Burn broke up shortly after this release, so this may be the last we hear from them and, if that is the case, they’ve left us with an album that should appeal to an audience much, much larger than any they could have hoped to have pleased before. As Cities Burn: requiescat in pace.
Key Tracks: “Petty”, “’84 Sheepdog”, “Pirate Blues”
6. If the idea of a major-key, mellow As Cities Burn song turns you off, you owe it to yourself to at least listen to this song for it’s incredible guitar solo which is brilliantly effective albeit simple.
4. Beggars by Thrice In the time it takes some artists (see: Gabriel, Peter) to write a handful of songs, Thrice have not only released 5 albums but in doing so have established themselves as some of the most versatile and crafty bands of this – or any – era. What strikes me about Thrice’s work over the last half-decade or so (The Artist In the Ambulance, Vheissu, The Alchemy Index, Beggars) is that instead of feeling like a band that gets bored and constantly ‘re-invents’ itself into an all-new organism completely unlike it’s former incarnation, each of Thrice’s releases have been distinctly Thrice-y, while being wholly different from one another. Beggars displays Thrice at their most stripped down and simplistic; gone are the whirlwind of production techniques and instrument changes found on their last few releases, instead leaving us with simply constructed songs (gone, too, are the multiple-time-signature-compositions of past records) that are chock full of emotional power and poignant arrangments. Rather than feeling empty from this voice-reduction, Beggars feels full in a different manner than previous Thrice records; it is, in many ways, a record that I would have expected more from Radiohead or Cold War Kids than from Thrice and yet it is clearly and distinctly a Thrice album. “The Weight” is one of the most viscerally intense love songs I’ve ever heard, “Wood & Wire” is one of the most soulful songs in recent memory, and “Beggars” is a raucous blues jam. Confused yet? Thrice have figured out that they are capable of writing and executing whatever type of music suits them and on Beggars they take full advantage. Lead singer and guitarist Dustin Kensrue has distinguished himself as perhaps the finest lyricist of our time7 and all of the other members of Thrice are equally adept at their trade (Ed Breckenridge provides an exceptional and noteworthy performance on bass). Every track is enthralling in its own manner and each song is unique from those around it; this is likely the Thrice album with the broadest appeal and should strike a proverbial chord with both long time fans and newcomers alike. If you are interested in soulful rock music, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice not familiarizing yourself with Beggars.
Key Tracks: “In Exile”, “Beggars”, “All the World Is Mad”
7. Every song on Beggars has at least one great lyric, but perhaps the finest total piece is “The Great Escape” a song that sonically seems like it could have sat next to “2+2=5” on Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief (2003) and is, on the surface, a brilliant story of a shipwrecked sailor with an even more brilliant Christian allegory beneath it all.
3. Mean Everything to Nothing by Manchester Orchestra If (M)orning was surprising because of Mae’s last release then Mean Everything to Nothing is surprising because of the stigma surrounding Manchester Orchestra: they were, by all accounts, an indie band – usually a tell tale sign of fuzzy guitars and vocals that would make Yoko Ono blanch. But Manchester Orchestra has proven all those stereotypes wrong with this release. Mean Everything to Nothing is powerful in every respect. The lyrics are excellent8, the melodies are memorable, and – perhaps most unexpectedly – the guitars come at you hard when the occasion calls for it (see “Pride” and “Shake It Out”). Starting out with probably the weakest track on the whole album (“The Only One”), Mean Everything to Nothing seems to build and build and build until it finally explodes over the conclusion of the eponymous “Mean Everything to Nothing” and the epic “The River”. Songs like “Shake It Out” and “Pride” bring the rock (so to speak), while tracks like “I’ve Got Friends” and “Tony the Tiger” are about as catchy as you could possibly ask any song to be (seriously, good luck listening to “Tony the Tiger” and not having it stuck in your head all day). In the end, I had a very difficult time ranking this album ahead of Beggars, and in a couple of drafts, their positions were switched, but in the end I had to go with Mean Everything to Nothing in the Three Spot because even though both albums are great throughout, Manchester Orchestra delivers the highest highs of the two. Both albums defy genres and if you enjoy rocking guitar riffs and catchy-but-thoughtful lyrics and melodies, you have to listen to Mean Everything to Nothing. Sometimes it’s that simple.
Key Tracks: “Mean Everything to Nothing”, “I Can Feel A Hot One”, “Shake It Out”
8. If not the finest, then the most darkly poetic lyric of the year can be found in “I Can Feel A Hot One”: “I prayed for what I thought were angels…ended up being ambulances.”
2. The Hazards of Love by The Decemberists I have never doubted that Colin Meloy is a fantastic songwriter and a fabulous lyricist, what I did doubt, however, was that – having signed up with a major label prior to the release of 2006’s The Crane Wife – he would ever have the freedom truly necessary to explore his gifts. Well, that was stupid of me, wasn’t it? Along with the rest of The Decemberists, Meloy has put together the outfit’s finest release to date, The Hazards of Love. The fairy-tale story of true, and ultimately doomed, love in a fantasy world replete with forest queens, shapeshifting boys, and malicious rivers, the narrative of The Hazards of Love is told in both wonderfully crafty lyrics9 and beautifully moving music. With all due respect to The Dear Hunter’s Act III: Life and Death, this truly is the concept album of the year: the story is spelled out in brilliant prose, the music fits each scene, and all the while musical themes make multiple reprises for their respective characters, being modified at each new appearance to fit the new circumstances of the narrative. Given the fully poetic and story-advancing lyrics, as well as guest appearances that flush out multiple character-voices, it’s hard to think of any aspect of concept-album-construction where The Hazards of Love could have been improved. It’s a Greek tragedy in album form. Between the perfectly executed construction, incredible lyrics, melodies, and instrumentation – not too mention Shara Worden’s mind-blowing guest appearance as the Queen – this album is stunning throughout.
Key Tracks: “The Wanting Comes In Waves/Repaid”, “The Hazards of Love 4 (The Drowned)”, “The Rake’s Song”
9. Proof that Colin Meloy is a superbly intellectual individual: when he sings “here we died our little deaths” in the song “Isn’t It A Lovely Night?” Meloy references the French phrase “la petite mort”. That’s a far reaching reference for a lyric – and I love it.
1. Act III: Life and Death by The Dear Hunter Odds are, if you knew me then you guessed that this would be Number One. It turns out that I had a pretty difficult time giving Act III the Number One spot ahead of Hazards but in the end I came to this realization: even The Decemberists’ breakthrough album, the one that may go down as their masterpiece, was not as incredible as a very, very good (but not once-in-a-lifetime) The Dear Hunter album. TDH is just too well equipped to be beat. They are in their musical prime, with all cylinders firing. Act III is admittedly not as earth-shattering as Act II (2007) was, but the main reason for this ‘disappointment’ is that…well, we already have heard Act II. Smoother and more continuous than its predecessor, Act III is the first full-length The Dear Hunter album that was composed with the intent of being a full-length album10 and it shows. There is a continuous mood on this album that was somewhat absent on the prior TDH releases and the album really establishes an identity that its forefathers did not. That is not to say that the genre-mixing styles of prior TDH releases are gone: they are not. A wide array of styles are still employed on Act III, but they are more gracefully (and subtly) combined this time around. The progressive elements of this album are also much more subtle than on previous releases. Instead of clearly echoing movements from song to song, the thematic ties between tracks are almost hidden on Act III, but they’re still there: the piano outro of “Life and Death” fits over the same chord progression as “Father” while mirroring the melody of “The River North” (Act I, 2006), “Father” begins with the melody from “Vital Vessels Vindicate” (Act II), and the central riff of “In Cauda Venenum” is essentially the main riff of “City Escape” (Act I) played backwards. That’s impressive. And the progressive-pop-rock base that made me love TDH so much in the first place? It’s still there, too: “Mustard Gas” is the most epic song of the year, the snare drum in “The Tank” rattles like the machine gun fire described in the song, “Go Get Your Gun” is as bubble-gum-sweet as “Smiling Swine” (Act II) if more adult, the outro of “The Poison Woman” has an incredible free-wheeling vocal line, “Saved” is a textbook-perfect harmonized ballad, and “In Cauda Venenum” may just be the finest song of the year. Again: that’s impressive11. And that’s the thing about Act III: it’s so subtle that, on first listen, you might not realize how truly great it is, but it’s that subtle brilliance that begins to stand out over time, leaving no doubt in my mind as to which album was the finest that 2009 had to offer.
Key Tracks: “In Cauda Venenum”, “The Tank”, “Mustard Gas”
10. Act I was an eight-song EP and a third of Act II had been released (in some form) with the Dear Ms. Leading demos (2005).
11. This isn’t even taking into account the bonus track “Untitled 1” from the Deluxe Edition of the album – an unparalleled summer-jam.
HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order)
Absence by Paper Route Not as dark as their EPs, which is a shame, but there are still some rock solid programmed-pop songs on here. A dancier, darker Give Up (The Postal Service, 2003).
Brand New Eyes by Paramore A poor man’s Bleed American (Jimmy Eat World, 2001), with “The Only Exception” even playing the “Hear You Me” part to (lesser-)perfection.
Common Existence by Thursday Their most imaginative work yet; hindered by atrocious production.
Cycles by Cartel It’s not Chroma but it’s a fun pop album.
Grammatics by Grammatics The breakdown in “Relentless Fours” is one of the finest of the year with a beautiful harmony, a “Stockholm Syndrome”-esque (from Muse’s 2004 release Absolution) punch, and Daniel Johns’-esque (Silverchair) screaming/singing. A handful of other great songs (“Murderer” which could have fit in on Paper Route’s incredible Are We All Forgotten EP , “Inkjet Lakes”, and “Polar Swelling” come to mind) made this a tough exemption from the list.
Mandala by RX Bandits It was tough for me to leave a Bandits album off of my list, but the hooks are ostensibly missing from this album which sounds more like a highly structured jam session (I don’t love this album, but – my God – can these guys play instruments; they might be the most talented band alive).
Octahedron by The Mars Volta An acoustic Mars Volta album? Well, it works somehow. A nice reboot for Omar and Cedric.
You Can’t Take It With You by As Tall As Lions The musicianship on this album (like Mandala) is incredible, but Dan Nigro’s incredible voice isn’t maximized and the melodies leave me wanting something more.
DISHONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order)
The Resistance by Muse A horrifically bland album by one of the more talented (live and in the studio) bands around; a group that, sadly, seems to be becoming more overwhelmed by expectations with each and every release.
Two Tongues by Two Tongues A seemingly brilliant combination of songwriters (Saves the Day’s Chris Conley and Say Anything’s Max Bemis) join forces to make…nothing worth remembering.
That’s it for this year, folks. I’m sure you disagreed with me for most of this, so I’d love to hear what you’ve got to say and I’ll see you next year to break down the best of 2010 (though I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say before then).