#1 on the 2009 Musical Advent Calendar
Manners by Passion Pit
No band better defines 2009 than Passion Pit. After first hearing their song “Sleepyhead,” from their 2008 EP Chunk of Change, this Boston-area band has been at the top of my go-to list when people ask me, “What are you listening to these days?” I’ve pushed the band onto friends and family from all sorts of disparate circles, and they’ve been fairly well-received across the board. I even succeeded in dragging my wife to see them while on a family visit to Boston back in June and consquently converted her; she’s one of my toughest critics, and I consider this one of my shining moments as a music-pusher this year.
I’ve listened to Manners, the band’s full-length debut, at least once a week since it came out in the Spring. I even declared that “Sleepyhead” would become the Song of the Year, thinking it would rise to heights similar to Gnarl‘s Barkley’s “Crazy” or Outkast’s “Hey Ya!” While it hasn’t yet reached those heights, another song — “The Reeling,” featured in the video shown above — did reach #29 on Billboard’s Hot Alternative Songs list earlier this year. (I didn’t even know the “Alternative Songs” category still existed on Billboard. How quaint.)
But as I’ve covered earlier in the countdown, this is my list, and I don’t have to validate my selections by what other countdowns have arbitrarily determined to be the top albums of the year. But just because I only have myself to worry about when determining the order of the list, that doesn’t mean it’s been easy. Reviewing all the albums I’ve heard over the past year, assigning a level of importance to them across any number of criteria, and then trying to stick to that order while counting them down has been extremely difficult. (Full disclosure: I did reorder the top 2-15 a couple times while counting down the top half of the list.)
The only part that was easy about the list was picking Manners as #1. I always knew this would top the list. In the years to come, when I reflect back on 2009, I will think of Passion Pit as the soundtrack for the year. It’s been a difficult year for most everybody out there, and this collection of bouncy, dancey, high-energy pop songs has kept me afloat. Michael Angelakos’ extreme falsetto, singing over the top of the keyboard and synth sounds, just keeps my head bobbing as I go about my day. It’s a wonderful thing. You, too, can have them keep you bouncing in your seat: listen to the full album, as well as a few remixes, for free at the band’s website.
I saw Passion Pit perform twice this year, once in Boston at The Paradise and again at The Moore Theater here in Seattle. I wrote about their performance at The Moore for Click & Dagger — I recommend reading my review to get a sense of what it’s like to hear the band live. (Hint: they’re even better in person.) And then run out and buy the CD.
So there you have it, my top 31 albums of the year. This has been quite an experience, coming up with and writing about these great albums, and ultimately sharing it with the world. I don’t think I can or even should maintain a pace of writing something about music every day in 2010, but I’ll certainly be looking for opportunities to write about new albums as I discover them over the year. I’ve talked with a few of you about the list and how it’s being received, but I’d love to hear from even more of you. Leave a comment below by clicking on “Add a comment” or “Join the Discussion.” And do please continue to come back often to Bacon Review, or better yet, subscribe to the RSS feed to have the content come directly to you. I’ll still be posting non-music related findings to my Bacon Tumblr, as well as keeping up with the daily thoughts at my Twitter account. Lots of places to find me!
Given how 2009 has gone, it can only get better from here. See you in 2010!
2. The Hazards of Love by The Decemberists
3. Merriweather Post Pavilion by Animal Collective
4. The First Days of Spring by Noah and the Whale
5. These Four Walls by We Were Promised Jetpacks
6. Hometowns by the Rural Alberta Advantage
7. Velvet Underground & Nico: “Record Club” by Beck
8. March of the Zapotec/Holland by Beirut
9. There is no Enemy by Built to Spill
10. Dark Was The Night, a Red Hot Compilation
11. The Mountain by the Heartless Bastards
12. Creaturesque by Throw Me The Statue
13. Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band by Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band
14. Horehound by The Dead Weather
15. Promenade by Grand Hallway
16. Grand by Matt & Kim
17. Blood Bank EP by Bon Iver
18. Fever Ray by Fever Ray
19. Tell ’Em What Your Name Is by Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears
20. Mo Beauty by Alec Ounsworth
21. Here Comes Science by They Might Be Giants
22. Noble Beast by Andrew Bird
23. Hungry Bird by Clem Snide
24. Actor by St. Vincent
25. Elvis Perkins in Dearland by Elvis Perkins in Dearland
26. XX by the XX
27. Grrr… by Bishop Allen
28. Keep It Hid by Dan Auerbach
29. It’s Blitz! by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs
30. Beware by Bonnie “Prince” Billie
31. Veckatimest by Grizzly Bear