2009 Album Capsules (with Twitter Restricted Length)

Atlas Sound - Logos: 82. "Shelia" and "Walkabout" are 2 of the finest musical moments of 09 and the rest of the album doesn't let them down.

Bon Iver - Blood Bank: 57. Title track is irresistible but the other three tracks are forgettable, if soothing, miserablism.

The Dodos - Time to Die: 62. Transitional and minor. Drums are toned-down and song structures homogenized. One idea per song, if that.

/The Dodos - Time to Die/: 68. Still feels largely transitional and not as compelling as VISITER; however it has proven to be a grower.

The Flaming Lips - Embryonic: 73. Bold title for a 26 year-old band but this is a baffling oddity from a group that seemed out of surprises.

Girls - Album: 71. Adorable but very top heavy with most of the highlights on the A side. Still one of the most promising debuts of 09.

The Growlers - Are You in or Out (2009): 76. Gets too fragmented for my taste on the B side but this stoned, surf psych sure is addictive.

The Happy Hollows - Spells: 75. After a series of terrific EPs, HH finally self-release an LP of expertly paced, Pixies-influenced rock.

Hunx and His Punx - Gay Singles (2009): 71. Funny & infectious LP that marries glam & garage punk with literal queer perspective.

Islands - Vapours: 69. A marked departure from moody ARM'S WAY: with synth lines, brass bursts and even autotune. A hard band to pin down.

Japandroids - Post-Nothing: 71. Rollicking garage rock anthems make this more Replacements than No Age. "Young Hearts Spark Fire." Indeed.

jj - jj n° 2: 70. A refreshing album that's short on duration but long on hooks.

Micachu - Jewellery: 36. The sound of Hipster Garbage. Random noises sampled atonally with pop vocals for the combined effect of bleh.

Mount Eerie - Wind's Poem: 67.
A return to the Loud-Quiet-Loud lo-fi sound of The Microphones, but more concerned with mood than harmony.

Thee Oh Sees - Help (2009): 76. Probably their most consistently strong set of tunes but lacks a show-stopper like "Warm Slime."

Real Estate - S/T: 70. A sun-drenched, reverbed Surf Folk album (as opposed to Surf Pop, which they can't do in New Jersey). Lovely stuff.

Jay Reatard - Watch Me Fall: 67.
This feels like the third Matador Singles compilation and not a carefully crafted or sequenced album.

Rural Alberta Advantage - Hometowns: 77.
NMH vocals. Aggressive drums. Folk with rock freak-outs. I am suspicious. Feels tailored for me.

Sunn O))) - Monoliths & Dimensions: DNF.
Five minutes of doom-laden electric guitar fuzz is enough for me. I don't need another 48, thanks.

J. Tillman - Year in the Kingdom: 68.
Strikingly combines Oldham's brooding intimacy with the religious poetry of Leonard Cohen circa Songs.

Why? - Eskimo Snow: 74.
Wolf moves towards piano ballads, twangy-slide guitar and Dylanesque lyrical phrasing. Angst disfigured, twirling.

The xx - xx: 71.
Sexy, nocturnal pop that recalls Tindersticks or Junior Boys. An impressive debut that could use some expanded dynamics.

YACHT - See Mystery Lights: 66.
Summertime pop album of sing-along choruses, sputtering percussion and synthy burps. Hipster BBQ music.

Yo La Tengo - Popular Songs: 64.
A pleasant pop album until the last three epic songs which upset the flow and sound like OST rejects.