Strangeglue Writer's Best Of 2009: The Top 10

 Sex, drugs 'n' on the dole, some men rise, some men fall, I hear ya call, stand tall now, Has it come to this? Original legally-downloaded material, you're reading the Strange Glue top ten!

By now you've probably read a fair few of these charts, even seen some in-depth analyses of the median result. Most point to Animal Collective as being the de-facto album of the year, yet if you've been paying attention you'll know that it didn't even make our top ten. "Why not?" no one in particular shouts from the rooftops. Because our friends, it is the safe bet, it is the Radiohead. The album which does everything right because it doesn't take any risks. True greatness is a fine line between genius and Kanye West.

Thus you'll find our ten choices which skirt dangerously on the periphery which marks the chasm of failure, but which never teeter, never once stick out their nose and take a breath of fear but precariously reside on the fence of greatness.

For those wanting to play catch-up, be sure to visit the story so far using the following links:

Now you should be all prepared, so play the sound clip, feign suspense and read on MacDuff.

As Good As Gone

10 Nudge - As Good As Gone

A record that makes as little effort to be categorised as it does to impress.

One gets the feeling that each track grew organically without attempts to manage the sounds according to genre or style.

Whether it began with a trip-hop bassline, an electric guitar shivering in reverb or a pristine beat (somehow sounding entirely mechanical and organic at the same time), the results were uniformly surprising and intuitively satisfying.

Damaged psych solo’s pull none of their slow punches, woozy vocal samples court the ear further into the kingdom, and subtle activity takes over from then on. An underappreciated record that has united the imaginations of some disparate tastes here at Strange Glue.

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The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

9 Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - S/T

Armed with one of the most endearing albums of the year, new kids on the block The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have merited the right to bear skinny jeans and overgrown haircuts without the incessant mocking of 'hipster' being necessary.

Any band which draws allusion to My Bloody Valentine is clearly on the right track, when that is combined with a reminiscence of Jesus & Mary Chain and The Smith, well, there ain't a power in the 'verse that can stop them.

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Hazards Of Love

8 The Decemberists - The Hazards Of Love

We used to think that the Decemberists could sprinkle their magic over a techno remix of The Rosary, and still create an end of year topping album.

The Hazards of Love shows the band taking on a tougher proposition, that of the concept album and a rock opera at that. The band mostly succeed in their exploration of a new space though this doesn't touch the heights of their previous two outings.

However in bringing us the story of a woman named Margaret who falls in love with a shape-shifting boreal forest dweller named William we do have one of the most intriguing album releases of recent years and a concept that few other bands would ever dare to attempt.

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Mean Everything To Nothing

7 Manchester Orchestra - Mean Everything To Nothing

Manchester Orchestra's self-styled attempt to get the 'emo' label lifted resulted in a phone call to Joe Chiccarelli and a harder alt-rock sound.

Mean Everything... packs one of the best opening punches of any albums this year and whilst this is not as nuanced and textured as their impeccable previous album it serves as a reminder of the pure talent that's locked away in this band.

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No More Stories

6 Mew - No More Stories...

Denmark dwelling major-label prog-rocking mentalists Mew came back after four years of silence with their newest slice of awesome, this years No More Stories...

It possesses a title longer than any record we've heard before and is filled with fourteen fantastically crafted songs that once again shrug off the boundaries of time-signatures and structural conformity with ease.

Both grandiose in size and ethereal in nature, it's may not be their best but it gets pretty damn close.

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Sing Along To Songs You Know

5 múm - Sing Along to Songs You Don't Know

We can count the albums which have received 10/10 by us on one Norfolk hand, yet múm (pronounced moom, if you didn't know already) have been such a recipient, not for this album, but it should still give you an indicator of the level of talent involved.

To some Sing Along was a disappointment, to others it was a revelation. Both sides do agree though that the band's experimental approach to music is second-to-few, eliciting all sorts of other-worldly tones and packaging them in a seal which is distinctly human, fragile and yet ethereal.

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Hymn To The Immortal Wind

4 Mono - Hymn to the Immortal Wind

Epic is one of the most overused words in music journalism. Yet how do you describe Mono's Hymn To The Immortal World without the use of epic.

HttIW is their most cinematic score to date chocked full of subtle, but beautiful guitar lines and a heart puncturing 28 piece orchestra.

Yes, Mono are the embodiment of the word epic and with this record they've set an almost unreachable benchmark for all future post-rock albums.

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Two Dancers

3 Wild Beasts - Two Dancers

Complete with two equally as talented singers, one with a penchant for falsetto, the other with a deep and soulful croon, Wild Beasts are honestly one of the best British bands to come along in a good few years.

Two Dancers marked just their second LP together and yet somehow came across like the band were a decade into their musical careers, with organic textures born from the gentlest of melodies and passionate shrieks adding an edge to the softer material.

It's deep, atmospheric and unabashedly one of the years best.

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2 Rural Alberta Advantage - Hometowns

There are a few occasions when an album lands out of nowhere, with the fine aged sound of a mature classic.

Hometowns owes a lot to Neutral Milk Hotel's masterpiece In An Aeroplane Over The Sea but it paints a fine lacquer of tuneful gloss on top giving us an album that grows beyond its initial stand out songs.

From start to finish there's a finely honed musical genius at every turn. In the same way that fellow Canadians Arcade Fire sprung a masterpiece on us, RAA have shown that they're more than willing to assume the mantle - a real 10/10 great album.


1 The XX - The XX

The XX album really did mark the spot when it came to proving their cross-genre appeal.

Their silky-smooth goth-R&B engrossed all of us here at Strange Glue with its stripped down minimalistic songs.

If you're not quite sure what the fuss is about then we advise you to stick the album on LOUD, listen to the pounding bass on 'Fantasy' which will make your soul and house tremble in equal measure, the staccato guitars on 'Crystalised' that would make Interpol blush with envy.

From the very Intro this record will put a spell on you. Whether the departure of Baria will force these twenty-somethings to pursue new tangents remains to be seen, but this record will be played over and over again, that's for sure.

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