musicOMH’s Top 50 Best Albums Of 2009: 50-41

The 16th album by the Daydream Nation creators was their first in three years after a label change.

Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore remain the driving forces in a band for whom straightforward guitar rock never seemed an option.

WHAT WE SAID: “There’s melody, noise, desire and reflection, but it never over-indulges in any of its vices. Sonic Youth are now a band we can love, and not merely admire.” – Gideon Brody

review | buy | myspace49: Girls – AlbumFantasy TrashcanGirls - AlbumWith a backstory of cults, pills, prostitution and death, singer Christopher Owens’ major aim with this debut album was to get his music heard over the hullabaloo.

Together with bandmate Chet White he’s created the perfect vehicle for doing just that and justified the hype surrounding this one-off duo’s debut.

WHAT WE SAID: “It’s easy to be cynical about Girls, but it’s testament to how good their debut is that all the hype and blog chatter is lost as soon as the opening bars of Lust For Life kick in.” – Michael Cragg

review | buy | myspace48: Shakira – She WolfRCAShakira - She WolfHer hips are still not lieing, but Colombia’s biggest export since coffee went wolverine this time out.

Along with Lady Gaga and Annie, Shakira demonstrated how to put together a pop album, roping in The Neptunes, Amanda Ghost and Sam Endicott on writing and production duties.

WHAT WE SAID: “A primal, carnal album of songs focusing on the opposite sex and, well, having sex with the opposite sex. It’s amazing, barmy, hilarious and mildly frightening, much like its creator.” – Michael Cragg

review | buy | myspace47: Kasabian – West Ryder Pauper Lunatic AsylumColumbiaKasabian - West Ryder Pauper Lunatic AsylumTo some they’re the natural heirs to Oasis but, with their third album, the axis of Serge Pizzorno and Tom Meighan are looking like they have more to offer than lad rock.

A Mercury nomination for this tonguetwistingly-titled opus brought them to an audience hitherto blithely benign to their charms. The involvement of Dan The Automator can only have opened aural possibilities.

WHAT WE SAID: “This is Kasabian the cosmopolitan. They pull it off convincingly, often thrillingly; the sound of past and future uniting to good effect, and Kasabian’s strongest statement yet that they’re in this for the long haul.” – Ben Hogwood

review | interview (2006) | buy | myspace46: Super Furry Animals – Dark Days/Light YearsWarnerSuper Furry Animals - Dark Days/Light YearsOn their umpteenth album the Super Furries sound reinvigorated, perhaps by front man Gruff Rhys’s solo projects, including side dish Neon Neon.

Opening with a track called Crazy Naked Girls, this was the sound of a band having fun again.

WHAT WE SAID: “After 16 years a band should be putting their feet up. But Super Furry Animals are not just any band, and the fact that they still love making music and challenging convention should be a cause for national celebration. In Cardiff, of course.” – Nic Oliver

review | buy | myspace45: Julian Casablancas – Phrazes For The YoungRough TradeJulian Casablancas - Phrazes For The YoungFollowing his various bandmates in releasing a solo album, The Strokes front man unveiled this project in a burst of hype quite typical of how the band have been received since their inception.

Use of a drum machine caused the words “new disco direction” to be whispered, but Phrazes For The Young is not such a departure as all that.

WHAT WE SAID: “While Casablancas is hardly the first of The Strokes to release a solo project, his perhaps rings truest to the sense of what their music was about.” – Andrew Burgess

review | buy | myspace44: Bill Callahan – Sometimes I Wish We Were An EagleDrag CityBill Callahan - Sometimes I Wish We Were An EagleSeveral of our writers wanted to see this album reach the Top 50 despite its original three-star review; whether through loyalty to past glories as Smog or through love of this album, Callahan still maintains a fanbase.

Maybe it was that soaraway title. Or maybe it’s just one of those albums that needs repeat listens to appreciate – preferably without the audio spoilers this promo came with.

WHAT WE SAID: “It’s hard to think of an artist that has matured as much over the years as Bill Callahan, aka Smog. You don’t carve out a 19-year recording career without being determined, if not stubborn as a mule.” – Scott Sinclair

review | buy | myspace43: Miike Snow – Miike SnowColumbiaMiike Snow - Miike SnowThey had a hand in Britney’s Toxic, which polarised opinion about this eponymous debut from the Swedish-American three-piece. By their first live shows, had doubled in size and acquired spooky white masks.

Animal and Cult Logic alone make sure of its place in the Top 50, but there’s depth to the rest of this immediate electronica.

WHAT WE SAID: “Miike Snow make weirdly wonderful music, not without its strange lyrical dark side, but with an overall vibe that raises you to your feet and makes you gaze at the blue sky.” – Ben Hogwood

review | interview | buy | myspace42: Gus Gus – 24/7KompaktGus Gus - 24/7It’s not on Spotify and we weren’t sent a promo; it’s almost as though these Icelanders, led by President Bongo, don’t want the world to know they have an album out.

Following yet another line-up change – this time dispensing with vocalist Earth – and yet another record label change, they somehow still have the capacity to surprise, dovetailed with ever surer production touches that mesmerise time and again. Worth discovering, if they’ll let you.

WHAT WE SAID: “In dance music few can sustain interest over the best part of 10 minutes, but Gus Gus pull that trick out of the hat every time with some really epic productions. One of their best albums of an increasingly impressive and formidable career.” – Ben Hogwood

review | interview (2002) | buy | myspace41: Noisettes – Wild Young HeartsMercuryNoisettes - Wild Young HeartsDon’t Upset The Rhythm was a monster hit and lent itself to sync deals immediately. Yet even while the sometime Transgressive-signed Londoners jumped to Mercury they remained strangely anonymous and unstarry.

Shingai Shoniwa’s voice is still their shining asset, but it was difficult to ignore a definite musical progression over their debut album too.

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