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10 out of 10
So it has come to an end finally. There will be many who would have been glad to have seen the back of 2009, a worldwide recession, continuing wars and inaction on global warming. But it's not my place to talk about any of that. The New Year has seen the end of my first calendar year as an amateur music reviewer, so I figured I would attempt and amateur round-up of 2009. Here we go.
In my first year as a reviewer for this site I managed a meagre 40 reviews, but as a fan of music I enjoyed much, much more. But would it really be fun to talk about things I liked? Effusive praise is all well and good, and rest assured at the end of this I will mention some highlights (I feel I will need to to cheer myself up), but it would be much more enjoyable for me, and suited to my personality, to give out some awards, shit awards. Focusing not only on things I have reviewed, but on things that I have listened to throughout this year.
Let's start with a biggie: Worst Album of the Year.
Anarbor - Free Your Mind
Sparks The Rescue - Eyes To The Sun
A Rocket To The Moon - On Your Side
Needless to say there are many contenders for this unenviable prize. Anarbor's "Free Your Mind" was a pretty spectacular example of crap pop-rock. At times embarrassingly bad, at others merely just bad, Anarbor nevertheless have grown in popularity throughout the year and, as it was only an EP, there were albums that were, track for track, worse than this.
Sparks the Rescue threw their hat into the ring with "Eyes To The Sun", an album so very bland that it deserved a spoken word introduction from Ken Barlow. STR, I felt, were guilty of a terrible crime: a lack of ambition. I don't understand how a band could have been happy with releasing that. To sound like a poor Mayday Parade cover band and to have lyrics that clichéd, means STR's place in this shortlist is richly deserved.
But our winner, if you can call them that, is without doubt A Rocket to the Moon. Sweet mother of God this was a flat-out, ball-wrenchingly abysmal album. It made other bands on this list look positively fantastic in comparison. This album summed up the worst part of my job. I had to listen to it multiple times to check if it was a grower. Surprisingly it wasn't. I could have summed it up with a dismissive, one word review; I think 'shit' would have sufficed. But deep down I realised I needed longer to dissect its awfulness, especially the fucking terrible lyrics.
Crap in almost every way possible, congratulations ARTTM the coveted Worst Album of the Year award belongs to you.
Most Disappointing Album of 2009
Weatherbox - The Cosmic Drama
Brand New - Daisy
The Swellers - Ups and Downsizing
They say good things come to those who wait, but for Weatherbox fans, this rang a bit hollow. In fact, it was more the case of disappointingly average things come to those who wait, and wait, and wait.
"The Cosmic Drama" should have been great, I mean, it's by Weatherbox. They wrote "American Art" for fucks sake, that is a masterpiece. But "The Cosmic Drama" just meandered along, going nowhere slowly, especially in the first half of the album. All the elements that made their debut album were there, but so hidden beneath increasingly pompous arrangements and deliberately abstract lyrics, that it made listening to "The Cosmic Drama" an overwhelmingly frustrating affair.
Ahh, Brand New. Am I just a disgruntled fan-boy? Am I one of those people who can't accept that a band has to mature? Is this just an attempt to jump on a band wagon? Or was your latest album, "Daisy", simply disappointing?
Well some of them are true, but most certainly true is the last statement. "Daisy" was a break from what Brand New had done before, but yet was not wholly unexpected. Anyone who had heard Gasoline or Bought a Bride live knew that these changes were coming, and, to be fair, "Daisy" is not a bad album, in fact it's a good album. But the most disappointing thing is that "Daisy" isn't a great album, and it's the first time in their careers that Brand New have put out an album that wasn't great and that was the most disappointing thing of all.
Is there a greater feeling than listening to a song for the first time and knowing, I mean really knowing, that it is a great song. Well, thank-you The Swellers "2009" was that song to me. I literally couldn't contain my girlish excitement when I was given this to review. I flat out loved "2009" and I was flat out ambivalent about their album "Ups and Downsizing". Because you know that great feeling? It's got an evil twin. It's the feeling when you realise that you have bought an album on the strength of one song and the rest of the album has not only failed to live up to that song, but has in fact failed to be good.
"Ups and Downsizing" was majorly disappointing, but it wasn't the most disappointing album of the year. Step forward Weatherbox, "The Cosmic Drama" was not only disappointing in that it didn't live up to "American Art", it was also, for large patches, simply a crap album. Damn you!
Most Unintentionally Hilarious Music Video of the Year
The most closely contested award in this year's ceremonies. In fact, so close, that I have decided to give it as a joint award. Because me describing a video you can watch yourself seems vacuously pointless I have simply settled for picking out some things to watch out for to enhance your viewing experience.
Stick Stickly by Attack Attack See it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5886Nb_psg
What can I say that hasn't been said before? Arguably nothing, so just sit back and enjoy. Here's a fun game I like to play when I watch it, it's pretty simple; try and guess how many band members there are. Sounds disarmingly easy, but don't forget to account for the fact that they all look exactly the same. For bonus fun, think up amusing nicknames for them.
Just to get this on record as well, I truly believe that this was the moment when music died in 2009.
I Gave Her My Heart, She Gave Me a Pen by My Hidden Track See it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odYEU6ub0CU
While Attack Attack are flabbergastingly shit, I actually quite like My Hidden Track, and I do enjoy this track. However, the video is a charming affair of slip ups and moments that will make you smile. Just sit back and watch how much the drummer is enjoying himself (also there's a section where he looks like a blind man attempting to play the drums), try and spot the moment when the bespectacled guitar player has to readjust his glasses before "rocking out", and feel smug when you spot the continuity errors involving the bass players tie.
So there we have it, a very brief review, and just for the sake of completion I will list my top 5 albums and songs of the year.
Top 5 Albums of '09
1) Reach For the Sun - The Dangerous Summer
2) Say Anything - Say Anything
3) Stay Home EP - Transit
4) Feel the Steel - Steel Panther
5) Somebody's Going To Miss Us [Live] - The Starting Line
Top 5 Songs of '09
1) Stay Home - Transit
2) Cemetery - Say Anything
3) Where I Want To Be - The Dangerous Summer
4) Bubbles - Biffy Clyro
5) Last Parade - Matthew Good
A big thank-you to anyone who read my reviews, and an apology to those I undoubtedly annoyed with my sweeping statements and liberal swearing.