More great albums!
20: Fanfarlo - Reservoir
Newcomers Fanfarlo are off to a very hot start with Reservoir, an epic indie-rock album that I think was criminally overlooked this year by most everyone. Between the strings, the horns, and the anthematic choruses, it's about impossible to find something to dislike in the well-crafted songs on their debut. (More from me)
Mp3s via Obscure Sound
19: Sissy Wish - Beauties Never Die
Norwegian singer Siri Ålberg, or Sissy Wish, is another of those artists I feel has been criminally overlooked in 2009. Beauties Never Die showcases her inventive pop style, covering a variety of territory over ten tracks that add up to one of the best pure pop records released this year. (More from me)
18: Cymbals Eat Guitars - Why There Are Mountains
Though sometimes reminiscent of groups like Pavement and Built to Spill, Cymbals Eat Guitars have established their own remarkable identity on their debut, Why There Are Mountains. It's an indie rock record like they used to make 'em, but with a decidedly modern twist - and it's great. (More from me)
17: Romona Falls - Intuit
I didn't hear this until late in the year, but Intuit, the first effort from Ramona Falls (the side project from Menomena member Brent Knopf) is an absolute stunner. The exquisite arrangements and spectacular melodies show Knopf has plenty to offer both with and without his bandmates.
16: Miranda Lambert - Revolution
So I'm not typically much of a country fan, but it's impossible to deny that Miranda Lambert's Revolution is anything but an outstanding record. Her gorgeous voice and strong songwriting makes this 15-track sprawl of her latest work (and work very well) in all its excess and eclecticism.
15: fun. - Aim and Ignite
Ex-Format member Nate Ruess' new band is one I suspected I'd like just fine, but I'm now certain that Aim and Ignite is the best work Ruess has yet done. The orchestral indie music comprising this debut more than lives up to the goofy band name, with ten unabashedly sunny pop tunes. (More from me)
14: Will Stratton - No Wonder
Singer/songwriter Will Stratton has released his second great album in a row at the age of only 22, establishing himself as a genuine and bright new talent. His writing is superb, his delivery mature and poised, and his musical talent quite apparent on the beautiful No Wonder (More from me)
Who Will (MP3)
13: Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
I still think I prefer Phoenix's previous effort, It's Never Been Like That, but the many strengths of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix makes that difficult to say definitively. Besides sporting a couple of this year's biggest singles, the entire album fits together smoothly for one great pop-rock record. (More from me)
12: Mos Def - The Ecstatic
Mos Def's The Ecstatic is a wealth of ideas and styles, but in many ways it seems to be without many distractions, a pure rap album with a clear sense of purpose. Sure it has 16 tracks, but it's still lean, mean and wholly absorbing - a near masterpiece as far as I'm concerned.
11: Neko Case - Middle Cyclone
Neko Case has been so solid this decade, and Middle Cyclone is yet another example of her genuine talent and inimitable style. With an impressive supporting cast, Case offers a varied and consistently enthralling set of folk-r0ck tunes that compare well with her best work. (More from me)