Six months in and 2009 is looking like a great year for new albums, with so many coming out right now that my wallet can’t quite keep up; new records from Frank Turner, Placebo and Taking Back Sunday* are all on the horizon.
As a result of this veritable musical glut, I pondered the idea of doing a top 10 of the year so far, after my tutor Jason praised my top 20 list for last year. Instead, I thought I’d branch out and list my five biggest surprises and five biggest let-downs of the year so far, as powered by Myspace and my favourite new application, Spotify. So here they are, in no particular order:
5 Surprise packages:
Brakes – Touchdown
A fantastically well-written album from a band who have grown beyond bizarre 1-minute tracks about porcupines and pineapples to produce some genuine indie-pop gems.
New Found Glory – Not Without A Fight
Florida’s finest return to what they do best; chugging riffs, massive choruses and enough energy to light up the national grid.
Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown
The jury is still out on this 18-track rock opera, but you have to admit (drab lead single aside) it certainly is surprising!
Fake Problems – It’s Great To Be Alive
An explosive third record from this Florida Quartet which makes you feel exactly what it promises. The thunderous vocals and uplifting melodies are simply irresistable.
Manchester Orchestra – Mean Everything To Nothing
I’m including this as a surprise, mainly because I’m astonished they they managed to top their fantastic debut, I’m Like A Virgin Losing A Child. METN is an astonishingly diverse record with crushing riffs and moving acoustic moments. I am giddy with excitement about seeing them at Reading Festival!
5 Serious let-downs:
Maxïmo Park – Quicken The Heart
Not a patch on their first record, with the synth-led approach failing to deliver any big hitting tunes, but may prove to be a grower. See my live review on inthenews.co.uk here.
Hundred Reasons – Quick The Word, Sharp The Action
This turgid effort from HR is inexplicably getting a re-issue, albeit with B-sides as bonus tracks. Admit it boys, this was not your finest moment; move on and write some new material!
Thursday – Common Existence
After talk of an ambitious triple-record, for Thursday to come out with this samey record is quite a let-down. Chunky riffs abound, along with the odd flourish of inspiration, but it’s not quite up to their usual high standards.
Flight of the Conchords – Series 2
Something of an inevitability, given how long they had to write material for the first series. I’ve Got Hurt Feelings and You Don’t Have To Be A Prostitute are particular highlights, but there is nothing to rival Business Time or The Most Beautiful Girl (In The Room).
Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band – Outer South
A muddled second solo record from the former Bright Eyes man, who seems to have lost his sense of quality control. The MVB are afforded seven of the 16 tracks to exercise their vocal talents and none of them are particularly memorable.
As always, any thoughts/recommendations on any of the above are most welcome.
*I know New Again is out today, but I haven’t got it just yet. Steady on!