Saturday, December 4, 2010

Best Songs Of 2010

Yes, the year is not over yet. Yes, it is a saturday night and I'm home making a list that nobody will ever read, but I like lists, so let's go:

10. Month Of May, Arcade Fire
I can go back in my head to Chicago, August, 8. Arcade Fire did put up one of best shows of my life, and this one started a killer sequence of final songs. Unforgettable.

9. Dancing On My Own, Robyn
This is pretty much how I feel about my life sometimes. Like I'm this person full of energy but that ends up in a party alone. It's a beautiful song but it made me cry once.

8. Flash Delirium, MGMT
Hours before Arcade Fire on Lollapalooza, I was fighting my way closer to the stage during MGMT's set. Most of the time it felt like I was just using their show to get a good spot for Arcade Fire, but I think there were few times in a show that I felt so alive. Like the crowd was pushing a lot, and at some point, I feared for my life, but I never felt so into something. And Flash Delirium was a huge highlight. I would totally do it again.

7. Punching In a Dream, The Naked And Famous
Another song that resonates with me in a more personal level. The pace is so upbeat, but the lyrics are kind of depressing. Everything about the beat says "happy indie band", but then the lyrics go "this is worse than it seems", "I don't ever want to be here". This is me, I might look happy and I often am, but the truth is: inside I am all messed up.

6. Ambling Alp, Yeasayer
The singalong hit of their album. This is no Kids, but it is the hell of a song.

5. Love The Way You Are, Eminem Feat Rihanna
I always liked Rihanna, Umbrella was pretty much the soundtrack of my 2007, but I was kind of turned off by Rated R. I had similar feelings for Eminem. Brilliant in his beginning, but Relapse wasn't that great. So it's kind of symbolic that they came back together in such a huge way. Love The Way You Lie is such a sentimental song It's so cool when you can feel that the artists relate to a song, instead of just singing someone else's hit.

4. Runaway, Kanye West & Pusha T.
Kanye playing this on the VMAs was definitely one of my favorite TV moments of the year. "Let's have a toast for the douchebags, let's have a toast for the assholes". It's hard to think of a better way of making a comeback. Still I don't think this song is about Taylor Swift. It sounds much more like something to Kanye's ex-girlfriend, maybe apologizing for all the 'nice' things he said about her in 808s Heartbreak. Or maybe it is a little about Taylor too. Honestly it doesn't matter. The level of emotional energy is so high the this song could be about a polar bear and I would still love it.

3. Black Sheep, Metric
Last year, Metric released Fantasies and at the time I was like: "yeah, it's kind of good". However, the album showed incredible staying power, and this year I was still blasting it like crazy. I wish I could redo my best of 2009 list... Anyway, this year they released this to the movie Scott Pilgrim Vs The World and it just blew my away. It's one of those things that everytime it starts playing I feel compelled to sing along to, and dance. And it never gets old.

2. Power, Kanye West
Kanye's comeback anthem. He's acknowledging that he is an asshole, but this is no apology. It feels much more like: I'm still here bitches, deal with it. The dude thinks he is a genius, and I think he has a point.

1. Rill Rill, Sleigh Bells
The soundtrack of my summer. For the most part of Treats, the pace is super fast, spreading a sense of urgency everywhere. Here things slow down a little bit and the result is one of the most memorable songs that I've heard.

Best albums of 2010

I'm not gonna lie. This wasn't a great year for me. But as always music made it a little bit more bearable. So without further comments, here are the 10 albums that rocked my world:

10. Contra, Vampire Weekend
This one came out in January, and I always forgot about it. I have a feeling I won't be remembering this record in 20 years. Don't get me wrong. I like Vampire Weekend a lot, but there's nothing risky or different about it. It's just their debut part 2. Still makes for the hell of an album, but...

9. Congratulations, MGMT
MGMT were very criticized because of this album, and it became a common thing on the internet to talk about their commercial suicide and stuff, but the truth is: this record is not that different from their debut. If you actually listened to Oracular Spectacular in its entirety, you probably realized that Congratulations makes sense as a natural continuation for the band. Flash Delirium, for example, reminds me a lot of The Handshake, and that's a huge compliment. This is the sort of album that may lead to disappointment at first (no Kids here) but it grows on you a lot. Still, it didn't have the same impact on me that Oracular Spectacular had (it was my album of the year way back in 2008). I value consistency and risk taking, but I still miss the epic feeling of the big hits.

8. Body Talk, Robyn
This one came in pieces over the year, but it really becomes impressive when the see the three parts together. It almost feels like a greatest hits collection. In short, this is the sort of thing that makes me like Sweden so much.

7. Crystal Castles, Crystal Castles
This band made the hell of an impression back in 2008, but I didn't expect them to get it right twice. It's one thing to improve over an average first album. But it's way more awesome to improve over a very good album. This is what they did. There is more personality on this one. Less 8-bit sounds and more singing (or some singing at least). If you don't like them (and I wouldn't blame you, I would probably not want to be their friends), do not hold your breath. They are not going anywhere. Crystal Castles are here to stay.

6. Odd Blood, Yeasayer
In some sense, this filled the gap left by MGMT. The super catchy hits that Congratulations didn't deliver are all here (can someone seriously not dance to Ambling Alp?). Kind of ironic since in 2008 the opposite happened. MGMT conquered the indie world, and nobody cared about Yeasayer's debut.

5. The Fool, Warpaint
I'm not supposed to like this one. It's depressing and not really a dance record. But it's a kind of depression that sucks you in, and I just cannot stop listening to the damn thing. It's dark, but it is a kind of dark that makes me feel happier.

4. The Suburbs, Arcade Fire
You are probably thinking "Oh, Arcade Fire, what a shock..." and I do not blame you. For a long time, I resisted this band. They were always the Radiohead of the 2000s, that kind of band that it becomes such a cliche to like that I want to hate it with a passion. But this record is just "wow". I give up Arcade Fire. You made a very good album and deserve all the hype.

3. Passive Me, Aggressive You, The Naked And Famous
This is one of those discoveries that I live for. This band is actually famous in their country, New Zealand. Their single, Young Blood, was number one in their country, but in the West, they are still nobodies. Which is really hard to understand, given how good their songs are. It all plays sort of like a dream, a combination of MGMT and The XX that is sometimes better than both bands. If you take one thing from this list, listen to this band. It might change your life.

2. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West
Kanye West is such a fascinating person. I always liked him, not so much for being an asshole, but for being honest and actually having the balls to say what he was thinking, even if it meant interrupting the cute blonde girl that everybody likes. I know a lot of people that are annoying because they think too highly of themselves, but when you actually back it up, I applaud. Technically, MBDTF is a great album. I am not a musician, but I can see when a lot of effort and attention to detail was put into something. But for me, the biggest thing about MBDTF is the story and the drama behind it. This is what pop music should be about. Putting your heart and soul into something.

1. Treats, Sleigh Bells
This is not a mature and reflexive album, like Arcade Fire's. And it does not a great back story, like Kanye's. It feels more like a teenage thing, fast and intense. It might trick you to think that you won't remember it after one summer, but I would be lying to myself if I made this anything other than number 1. From the explosive opening of Tell'Em, to the sugarcoat feeling of Rill Rill, and the thrill of Crown On The Ground and A/B Machines, Treats has some of the best 32 minutes of my musical life.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sleigh Bells, 'Treats' Review

On the surface, it is easy to dismiss this band as just the "band of the week", you know, the kind of act bloggers go crazy about during a few days, then forget about it. When you learn more about this band, the feeling of having seen this before becomes stronger: they are from Brooklyn, they make "noise pop" (whatever that means), they are a girl and a guy, obviously the girl sings and the guy does all the rest, etc.
But I really think there's something special about this one. And I'm not writing here because their songs are annoying and repetitive enough to prevent them from becoming Lady Gaga type famous, and thus uncool, or because Pitchfork and M.I.A love them. To be honest, their songs are at times too distorted to my ears, and most bands hyped by Pitchfork do, well, suck.
I'm writing here because, despite its flaws, Treats it the best album of the year so far, and because I've never been so impressed with a debut album since MGMT took over the indie world in 2008.
Treats is a weird album. One could describe it as part Crystal Castles, part Lady Gaga, part Animal Collective (does that make sense?), but the truth is: you never heard anything like it. There are a lot of bass sounds, laser sounds and distortions. It's loud and aggressive, deliberately trying to make you feel uncomfortable. But it's also fast and pop. Alexis's voice is ear candy.
The conflict between the loud instruments and the melodic voice is probably its strongest quality. In this sense, Sleigh Bells are this year's Crystal Castles but not really. If you want violence and distortion a la CC, it's there. Hear 'Straigh A's'.
But Sleigh Bells have the kind of pop potential to make them much more than a cult band (don't get me wrong, I love Crystal Castles, but let's face it, they are never going to be on the radio...). Rill Rill is the kind of track that might make them appeal beyond the indie crowds. Here the pace is slower (but not that slower...), and Alexis's beautiful voice wins over the loudness. It's the type of song that invites you to sing along to.
It's hard to pick the best song in an album this good. The first one to come to my attention was lead single Tell'Em. It pulsates with such confidence and energy that it is hard to believe that this is a new band that just released their first album.
Crown On The Ground is the song that made this band blog-famous last year and after hearing it, you can understand why. It could be a huge radio hit if it wasn't so distorted, but this actually makes it more enjoyable for hipsters.
Treats is not only a technical triumph, but also has true pop appeal and originality. In an era where most bands either sound like more of the same, or are simply too punishing to listen to, this is really a big deal.
Because this is such a good album, haters have to find something to criticize and much has been said about its supposed lack of staying power. "Nobody will remember it in three months", some say. I'd say, who cares? This week, it sounds like the best thing in the world.

Grade: 9.5

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sounds of 2010

Vampire Weekend's Contra is a good album. It has a couple of catchy singles (my favorite is definitely White Sky), but it's not an amazing album. I don't know. I just expected it to cause a bigger impact on me, but the truth is: I'm not really giving it so many listens. On the other hand, there is not a single track that I completely hate, and some songs like Holiday grew on me a little bit. So perhaps Contra will enjoy the same kind of staying power that Phoenix's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix had last year. Only time will tell...
I was taking a look at the BBC's artists of 2010. I remember last year when I fell in love with Little Boots because of this list. This year, all the bets are on Ellie Goulding, and I think that she totally deserves it. She has a very melodic voice, it reminds me of Bjork in a good way. Also, her songs are electro, but they don't sound like copies of La Roux or just "more of the same".
Marina & The Diamonds is also pretty good. The aggressive style of her music reminds me of La Roux and that probably explains why I listened to her so much, but I don't know. It's just not that different from so many other acts.
Delphic sounds good, but overall pretty generic. Like copy of a copy, you know what I mean? I miss Klaxons... Friendly Fires? Meh!
The new Hot Chip album is pretty good. Most songs are pretty decent. I was never their biggest fan, but I'm willing to try to like them more. Plus, a band with such a stellar single like Ready For The Floor will always have my respect.
Jesus, almost 4am. I better go to bed. I'll see you soon (hopefully, before 2011, hehe)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Metal Gear Solid 4: Almost perfect except for the happy ending

In case you care, I bought a Playstation 3 last semester. It helped to fill what otherwise would have been a pretty lame winter break. It's an awesome machine that let's you do lots of cool stuff, like playing blu ray movies and streaming Netflix. Oh, yeah, the games, right?
My first one was (not surprisingly) rock Band 2. In the past years, but biggest regret about not having a console was not being able to play music games. I mean, 2 of my biggest passions together, it can't go wrong right? And it didn't. RB2 rejuvenated the way I listen to music. Now I pay more attention to specific sounds like what is bass and what is guitar. It may sound silly, but I never thought it was really important to separate sounds. But of course it's VERY important. Also, it was pretty cool to get a little idea of how a guitar works.
It was made me go back to bands that I had forgotten like Alanis Morissette, The Cranberries and The Offspring.
For some time, I could hardly play anything else. RB2 was THE game. But then I suddenly got tired of it. I guess it demands too much exercise and I usually play at late nights when I'm tired after a long day. Of course since there is so much to this game, I'll certainly go back to it, I just don't know when.
My Playstation came with 2 games: LittleBigPlanet and Rachet and Clank's Future: A Crack In Time. The first one is considered one of the best games of this generation, so obviously I was very curious about it. It's a platform game that let's you create your own levels. The idea is pretty cool and you can many interesting things if you let your imagination run.
The creation of levels in LittleBigPlanet (LBP) lets you effectively be a programmer, creating your own fun, which has a particular appeal to me, since I'm really curious about these things. And yet I didn't play it much! I don't know. I guess I just didn't have the time (and energy) to dedicate that attention that a title like LBP deserves. But maybe I'll go back to it in the future. well, even if I don't, it makes me proud to have such a smart game in my library, specially when there is so much crap around (hello, Nintendo Wii).
Rachet and Clank is a game that surprised me. Being kind of a platform game with animals, I was expecting a cheap copy of Mario or Crash, but it's not not like that. It's almost a shooter. With many weird weapons. Also, there are levels with very smart puzzles. It's so much more than Mario.... Another good point is the humor. It has some very funny moments. It putted a smile in my face a lot of times. Oh, yes, and the graphics are phenomenal!
However R&C is not really memorable. Yes, there are many very good things about it, but nothing is memorable or legendary. I didn't finish the game yet and I don't know if I ever will...
Valkyria Chronicles is my favorite PS3 game. The fact that it looks like a dream might make you think that it is a superficial game but it nothing like that. It has a very original battle system (seriously, you never played anything like it...), a heartwarming story with excellent character development, and a great replay value. Maybe I will write about it later (this post is supposed to be about Metal Gear...), but for now let me say that this was the game that truly made me remember how much I loved video games in my teenage years. That made me feel the same way (more or less) that I felt about games like Final Fantasy VII and Resident Evil during the 90s... To cut the story short, VC is a masterpiece in its genre. If you ever liked RPGs and you have a PS3, you're committing a crime against yourself by not playing this game (no, Sega is not paying me to do the ads). I'd say more, only VC is worth a PS3. That's just how much I love it.
But today I'm talking about a much more popular game: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. If you're reading this, you probably know a lot about the game, so I won't bother explaining it to you. Instead, i'll just give my personal experience with it.
I had a hard time "getting" Metal Gear Solid 4 because of the very very long movies, but now I love it. It's extremely well done entertainment with a lot of references to the first Metal Gear Solid, one of my favourite games of all time.
SPOILER ALERT: If you didn't play Metal Gear Solid 4 yet, and you might play in the future, the next paragraphs may ruin your experience!
But obviously MGS4 is much more than that. The graphics are just "wow". It's almost unbelievable how good HD games look, and MGS4 is one of the best in that department. The gameplay has a bunch of cool new features, but it's in essence the same one from 12 years ago. And this is definitely not bad. I mean, the first Metal Gear Solid is, after Final Fantasy VII, my favorite game of all times! You can confront enemies if you want, but the real fun is in advancing without being noticed. It can be really hard this time because the enemies aren't completely stupid like the ones from other games..
The story is complex and pretty much everyone from the series appears in this final chapter. There is a very real effort from the creators to put all pieces together, but the final result is a little bit overwhelming: too much information. As a result, even after beating the game, I still don't know exactly what the hell was going on. But I love it!
There are so many emotional moments. Detailed references to previous games that only fans would notice. While playing I said more than once: "wow, this is so cool".
The cut scenes are LONG. But they are very interesting once you get into the story. And the story is nothing short of fascinating. It makes me feel a little bit like Lost with so many problems and so little concrete answers, but I just can't get enough of it. It took me almost 19 hours of "gameplay", about half of it was spent watching movies. This makes MSG4 a very long interactive movie.
To truly appreciate this "movie", you have to understand the creator's idea: to change people's perceptions of games and movies, and to surprise! Yes, there are a bunch of WTF moments here. At some point you just start playing MGS1. Not a MGS1 with HD graphics, but truly a scene of the Playstation game. It brought back memories from 1998. But the best part was that I wasn't really sure about what was going on. I thought it was probably a dream (I mean, Snake's dream and not my dream, hehe) but then I screwed up and died, and I had a 'continue' just like in the first MGS! In the end it was just a prank, but you gotta admit, a genius one. Try to find something like that in Super Mario!
In another scene, I was warned that I had to insert disc 2, with Otacon immediately remembering that since they were on PS3 and had blu rays, there was no need to multiple discs, a clear mocking of Sony rivals' Xbox360 and Nintendo Wii.
In a boss fight against an enemy with physical abilities, I was reminded that I couldn't use the MGS1's trick of plugging the controller on port 2. Ok, that wasn't really a WTF moment, but I was surprised by how rapidly I remembered the epic fight against Psycho Mantis 12 years ago.
MGS4 is divided in 5 acts. The first 3 are more gameplay-intensive and the last 2 are really an interactive movie, which could be kind of frustrating because the gameplay in the first three is really diverse and fun. Except that it's not. THe best boss fights of the game are in the last two acts.
But the real deal is the story. These last two acts are better than most movies that I saw last year! Very big moments and great twists create an atmosphere of chaos and depression. The characters are having such a hard time. Naomi, the friend-then enemy-then friend-then enemy again..., finally dies (kind of a shame because she was super hot, but I guess she kind of deserved it...). Raiden not only lost his girlfriend, but his two arms in a noble effort to save Snake. He pretty much believes that he has nothing to lose. Solid Snake, the once ultra cool super soldier, is very old. He will be a walking machine in a couple of months (I won't even try to explain why, go to wikipedia) and dead a little after that. This is definitely his last mission.
All keeps building up for a very tense atmosphere. I was playing a game to see characters that I learned to care about being defeated and then the climatic end to one of the most epic videogame sagas of all time comes. I was expecting not only Snake to die (I mean he was old, this was his final mission) but another big character to pass away. But it didn't happen! The ending was too happy for me!
I mean, I never asked to love a game that was about depression and dark themes, but after all that happened, how come everything was magically solved in the end? Snake didn't die. In fact, he looked healthy like a horse in the end. Raiden got the girl and his arms back (ok, his arms, I can understand, Konami needs to make money in the future and Raiden is arguably the future of the series), but common'! Seriously, I hated the ending. I hated specially because the story was getting me depressed after the end of act 4. I was totally immersed in an amazing experience and then they just had a normal happy ending.
That's my main complain. I wanted a sad ending. Seriously, Kojima (if you're reading this up until now, you know who that is, right?), that's cheating. The entire journey is depressing and in the ends things magically work out. But perhaps that was his objective, to surprise people, to piss people off.
Come to think of it, MGS4 was partly about showing the middle finger to the players. You thought the other Metal Gear had too many movies? Make them even longer now. You didn't want to play with a war veteran, an "old" man (a girl reportedly said this in a letter to Hideo Kojima years ago). Make Solid Snake really old. And so on.
Which brings me to my last point: MGS4 is not perfect and is not for everyone. Your 4-years old cousin will give it up after 5 minutes. The typical Xbox360 Halo player that just wants to kill everyone (in a game, obviously) will hate it. No, MGS4 tries to do one thing and it does that thing extremely well. I play most games because of their story and I love a complicated plot. MGS4 is definitely for me. Sure, it's not perfect (that damn happy ending!), but it gets close...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Best 10 songs of 2009

Ok, let's go to the songs now. A bigger female presence here. I like female vocals a lot!

10. The Cure, Tegan and Sara:
Confused and slightly disturbing, this honest rip-off of The Cure's Lovesong is irresistible to me. 'All I said to you, all I did for you, seems so silly to me now'. This speaks directly to my soul!

9. Songs Remind Me Of You, Annie:
And here am I, talking about this singer again. Seriously, she might be the best pop singer around these days, and this is the best track of her new album.

8. Dominos, The Big Pink:
A big song with a catchy chorus about guys who cheat and write great songs about it. 'These girls fall like dominos, dominos...'

7. Resistance, Muse:
Matt Bellamy might be a little crazy (ok, not just a little...) and an extraordinary songwriter, but he's also a normal human being who is in love, and who fights for his love besides all the problems and shortcomings of a, am I really talking about the Muse leadsinger here?

6. Bulletproof, La Roux:
Possibly the only true catchy chorus in La Roux's album, here we get a break from her weird vocals. Which is not necessarily a good thing, but works great in this track.

5. 1901, Phoenix:
I saw Phoenix live this year (and I'm going to see them again in December...) and they closed with this, their biggest hit. The place almost felt apart, with everybody singing the words and jumping a lot. Nice moment.

4. Zero, Yeah Yeah Yeahs:
This starts slow, and builds up and up until it explodes. Then the last 2 minutes are pure nirvana. 'You're a zeroooo...' Epic!

3. Stillness is the move, Dirty Projectors:
Dirty Projectors are truly blog darlings and their exceptional album is going to be in 9 of 10 'best of' lists this year. I certainly believe that they deserve the hype, but overall their album is just too hard for me, with too many experimentations. Once you start to like a song, something too weird shows up and you're turned off. Thank god this doesn't happen with the entire record. When the Dirty Projectors's weird pop works, it works extremely well...

2. Sleepyhead, Passion Pit:
Since the beginning of their hype last year, Passion Pit released many memorable songs and that consistency is ultimately what makes them one of the best acts of 2009, but they never improved over their first (and best) hit.

1. Heads Will Roll, Yeah Yeah Yeahs:
'Of with their heads, dance till you're dead. Heads will roll, heads will roll, heads will roll...on the floor'. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs aimed very high with It's Blitz!. They really wanted people to dance. Sure it was a risky bet. But they totally won. I never really believed that they could go beyond the glory of 'Cheated Hearts' and 'Maps'. But they did it. The best song of their career and one of the greatest moments of this decade.

My 10 favorite 2009 albums!

Usually I wait until the year is over but since I don't expect much action in the next two months, and I really need to remember why life is worth living for, I decided to do my 'best of' lists tonight. In some sense, this is good because this way I do my list before magazines like NME and so I am a little bit less biased.
I'm more of a song's person than an album's person. That said, even thought 2009 was musically amazing, it was hard to make this list. Big hits like 'Poker Face' and 'Stillness is the move' were very important to me, but there was no way I could include them here, simply because the respective albums are not as good as a whole.
Anyway, below is my list. Hopefully it tells you something about my personality and, more importantly, it gives you a new act to listen to.

10. Cobra Starship, Hot Mess:
THe kind of plastic record that doesn't say anything and stills says it all. I used to hate these emo bastards but this time, by leaving the complaints and embracing the dancefloor, they really did it! This is probably the album that rivers Cuomo had in mind (but never accomplished) for Weezer's Raditude: just plain fun, without taking itself too seriously.

Highlights: Nice Guys Finish Last, Hot Mess, Good Girls Go Bad

9. Lily Allen, It's Not Me, It's You:
Oh god, I love british accent. I once went out with a british girl just because of her accent. Oh yeah, and the songs are amazing too...

Highlights: The Fear, Back To The Start

8. The Big Pink, A Brief History Of Love:
This feels like a long, dense and complicated trip, occasionally made more pleasant by things like the stellar 'Dominos', but still... I was not going to put this album here, but I was in love for the entire year, and I don't know. I just connect with this album, even thought it's far from perfect.

Highlights: Dominos, Velvet, Love In Vain

7. Muse, The Resistance:
My once favorite band came back in 2009, 3 years after the memorable Black Holes And Revelations. The Resistance may not match BH&R's glory, but still it's hard to not be touched by lyrics that speak so closely to my heart such as in 'Undisclosed Desires', or to the brilliant chorus of 'Resistance'.

Highlights: Resistance, Undisclosed Desires

6. Annie, Don't Stop:
Annie's music is exactly the kind of pop that I love the most. Plastic, with no big message, but still with weird touches. In "I don't like your band', when she sings (sarcastically) about feeling bad for not liking the guy's music, it reminds me of the best moments that Lily Allen might never had. 'Songs Remind Me of you' uses a simple (and ordinary) feeling and transforms it in one of the best chorus of the year. I could go all day... In terms of singles, this is possibly the album of the year!

Highlights: Don't Stop, Songs Remind Me Of You, Bad Times

5. Franz Ferdinand, Tonight:
Cold and calculated, yes, but Franz Ferdinand was always like that. You wouldn't necessarily want to be their close friend but still cannot resist the big party anthems. People talked a lot about the role of synthesizers in this record but at least in one of the tracks it yields a very interesting result: 'Lucid Dreams', an 8-minutes club epic, is beyond fascinating.

Highlights: Lucid Dreams, Turn It On, What She Came for

4. Passion Pit, Manners:
Seriously, can someone resist the the super catchy melodrama of songs like Sleepyhead and Little Secrets? Passion Pit is this year's MGMT and more than deserves all the love it got in 2009.

Highlights: Sleepyhead, The Reeling

3. Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix:
While the Strokes are too busy delivering average solo projects that they can't be a band again, these french guys gave the world a reason not to miss them. With pop gems like '1901', who needs The Strokes anyway?

Highlights: 1901, Lasso, Liztomania

2. La Roux, La Roux:
At first, I dismissed this as just an overhyped effort of an ugly girl with an annoying voice. But with time the annoying voice became less annoying and more powerful, and her beauty...well, she's still the same but who cares? Like Annie's album, this is electropop at its best. Party tunes directed to the dancefloor, the kind of Britney spears that it's cool to like. But, unlike Annie's Don't Stop, the message here is dark and angry. Eleanor Jackson is not happy but she knows that the fun can never stop...

Highlights: Colourless Colour, Bulletproof, In for The kill

1. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It's Blitz!:
'Shake it like a ladder to the sun', the first words of the YYYs third album, could be considered an understatement of what this album does. It has the big party energy of FF's Tonight but without losing the emotional stuff that made this band epic in the past. Don't get me wrong, I love all the albums in this list, but It's Blitz! is 2009's best by a mile. Reviewing this record, Spin Magazine wrote: "The result is the alternative pop album of the decade-one that imbues The Killers's Hot Fuss and MGMT's Oracular Spectacular with a remarkable depth and finesse". I couldn't agree more.

Highlights: Heads Will Roll, Hysteric, Zero