by / December 22nd, 2009 /

Best of Lists: State’s albums of 2009 – 40 to 31

This Christmas week we are counting down our top 50 albums of 2009 taken from the personal lists of 35 of the State writers and photographers. No doubt, there will be tears, spilled milk, outcry, acceptance and surprises along the way. We hope you find something you overlooked in the course of the year. Our 40 to 31 list sees the first and last appearance of a compilation, a revered indie rapper, an experimental English shape-shifting popster, Africa’s best Western-influenced band, an R&B legend, a “bored” US scuzzy-rocker and a forward-looking retro dance album.

Albums of 2009:
75-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-1

 Health - Get Color

40. Health – Get Colour

The second offering from L.A. caps lock worriers HEALTH sets about proving that the boys can sit still long enough to write something that lasts beyond the one minute mark and manage to keep things interesting, fusing HEALTH’s knack for young, dumb, noisy fun with a new mature focus making it a scruffy sneaker in the right direction. (Jennifer Gannon)

Dark Was The Night

39. Various Artists – Dark Was The Night

It may be cheating slightly to declare a compilation one of the best albums of the year, but any 31-track album that could be subtitled The Best Compilation of North America Indie Musicians In the World Ever! is likely to make an impression. The National-curated Dark Was the Night‘s impressive cast of Bon Iver, Grizzly Bear, Sufjan Stevens, Buck 65, Feist, Beirut, David Byrne, Dirty Projectors, Ben Gibbard, Arcade Fire, My Brightest Diamond, The Decemberists, Iron and Wine, Spoon, My Morning Jacket, Sharon Jones, Cat Power, Yo La Tengo, Yeasayer, Andrew Bird, Conor Oberst and more all provide stellar, mostly-new compositions. As well as raising money for AIDS and HIV awareness, it also serves as a reminder of how much the above artists are owning the music world right now. (Niall Byrne)

DM Stith - Heavy Ghost

38. DM Stith – Heavy Ghost

Heavy Ghost is like the dark side of the new folk-pop sound we’ve been hearing so much of this year. The entire first half of this record is weighed down with little fears and grim thoughts, meditations on loneliness and crises of faith, the sound of a man battling to understand his place in the world. But even with all this darkness, it’s damn beautiful. There’s moments of joy and understated happiness, tucked in with the gloom like stars in the darkness. There’s the string-laden splendour of ‘Fire of Birds’, and the revelation that is ‘Braid of Voices’. It may not be as accessible or danceable as some of the other top records of the summer, but if you want something that achieves beauty through breathtaking honesty, then Heavy Ghost is for you. (Shane Culloty)

The Duckworth Lewis Method

37. The Duckworth Lewis Method – The Duckworth Lewis Method

Five years ago, The Divine Comedy released an album that was almost entirely serious and spectacularly great. Absent Friends begged the question: is Neil growing up? Would we look back on Liberation, Promenade and -National Express’ the way we look on Woody Allen’s opening decade – as the early, funny works – and would the next twenty years be his attempt to be Ingmar Bergman? The Duckworth Lewis Method, a record shared with Pugwash’s Thomas Walsh and concerned entirely with cricket in all its absurd, incomprehensible glory, answers that question. Hannon is incapable of being straight-faced over the length of an entire album, and that’s how it is, and that’s fine; he’s still damn funny. The directly emotional moments on DLM mostly belong to Walsh, and -Flatten The Hay’ (cricket by the sea in Courtown as a kid) is a standout. Neil’s finest moment? You probably can’t go further than -Jiggery Pokery’, the story of Shane Warne’s ball of the century as told by Mike Gatting, the famously surly England captain bowled out by said ball: ‘What a delivery, I might as well have been holding a contra bassoon / Jiggery pokery, who is this nobody, making me look a buffoon?’ Not just any old bassoon, mind. Brilliant. (Niall Crumlish)

Tinariwen - Imidiwan: Companions

36. Tinariwen – Imidiwan: Companions

Imidiwan: Companions proved that the buzz around this band’s 2007 album Aman Iman was justified and not just an ephemeral wave of African positivity. Imidiwan is brimming with Saharan blues, rock and roll, funky rhythms and musicianship of the highest order. Thoroughly evocative of it’s birthplace and with a rich vein of Western influence, it cements Tinariwen as one of most captivating bands in the world (and not just in the “world music” category). (Niall Byrne)

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  • katyzing

    class – all the way! who is in the bodybag though….