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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Adam’s World’s Top Ten Albums of 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Every year culminates a bevy of Top Ten lists, but this is the Top Ten list you’ve been waiting for - Adam’s World’s Top Ten Albums of 2009! The list is not genre specific in any way, shape, or form. Hip-Hop, pop, soul and rock are all represented here. To be on this list the only rules were that the album had to have been released on CD in 2009 and it had to be really freakin awesome. So without further adieu, here are my picks as the best of the best from 2009.

10) Black Eyed Peas - The E.N.D.

Forget the fact that mainstream radio is determined to play every song off of this album until we hate it. The very first time I spun The E.N.D. I was blown away with what the Peas were doing with pop music. I knew right away that the techno-funk of will.i.am was going to be a game changer in the pop scene because it was different, but not too different, it was motivating in that it made you want to get out of your seat and move to it, and it was incredibly catchy. Let’s be real, at this point does anybody not know Fergie’s verse off of “Boom Boom Pow?” Case closed.

9) Wale - Attention Deficit

I’ll admit, when Attention Deficit hit my desk I didn’t have high hopes for it. Wale’s buzz was huge, but that buzz was coming from sources that I don’t usually agree with. Less than halfway through the album, though, I realized I was listening to something special - an underground emcee who had found a way to incorporate mainstream sensibilities without losing who he was. The album is a gem and Wale is a heck of an emcee. Imagine Kanye West if Kanye was as good as he thinks he is. Call me a bandwagon jumper if you want, but Wale’s bandwagon is one worth jumping on.

8) Nicholas Howard - God is in the City

Although I’m not a fan of labels, it wouldn’t be unfair to call the music of Nicholas Howard blue eyed soul. Howard’s vocals have always been amazing, but on God is in the City, which is his sophomore effort, he also shows some fantastic growth in his songwriting ability. That’s not to say he wasn’t good with a pen and a pad before, but the realness and the emotion of God is in the City is on another level completely. This is reality music. It takes you back to when R&B/soul music was a lot deeper, both topically and emotion-wise. Howard has the vocal range to pull off everything from joy to pain and on God is in the City he not only does that, he does it with aplomb.

7) Vinnie Scullo - I Spit On Your Grave

Rife with frustrations over the political banter coming from both sides of the table, Vinnie Scullo put together an album that took those discussions and blew them all away. With his trademark style of mixing a heaping dose of humor with his vitriol, I Spit on Your Grave is Vinnie’s take on American politics and society as a whole. Angry, poignant, and at times incredibly funny, ISOYG proves that an artist doesn’t have to be preachy to get his, or her, point across about something they feel is important. (Those with good memories will remember I accidentally listed this album last year, not knowing it had been pushed to ’09)

6) Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It’s Blitz!

It’s hard to put my finger on just one thing that makes the Yeah Yeah Yeahs great. They’ve created a rock sound all their own (you always know when a song is a Yeah Yeah Yeahs song), their lyrics are always incredibly unique, and lead singer Karen O has a voice unlike anyone else in music. Even though It’s Blitz! features the band at their frantic best, the album unfairly flew under the radar thanks to a lack of radio stations, and music video stations, that embrace anything too outside the norm. Don’t let it fly under your radar.

5) Q-Tip - Kamaal the Abstract

This was a VERY long awaited album, but one that was certainly worth the wait. As someone who loved Tribe, but wasn’t a fan of Q-Tip’s “Vivrant Thing” phase, Kamaal the Abstract is the soulful/jazzy album I always knew Tip had in him. With all the musicality, perhaps even more, than he had during his A Tribe Called Quest days, Kamaal the Abstract puts Tip on another level, not as an emcee, where his status has no reason to be questioned, but as a musician. Imagine if Mos Def had developed a fifteen year career as an emcee before venturing into his attempt at jazz and you begin to scratch the surface of what Tip is doing here.

4) The Revelations feat. Tre Williams - The Bleeding Edge

If you listen to old school soul music and wish that R&B artists still did it like that, The Revelations are the answer to your prayers. Tre Williams and his band bring it back to the good ol’ days and unlike a lot of artists that try to be retro, Williams and crew don’t have to try, they have that vibe naturally, and the authentic nature of their music is what makes it so fantastic. Listening to The Bleeding Edge it seems totally reasonable to be imagining the music being performed at a smokey club in the 60’s, but it has just enough modernity to it to make it totally relevant to today’s listeners.

3) A Fine Frenzy - Bomb in a Birdcage

Alison Sudol, AKA A Fine Frenzy, has one of the most beautifully emotive voices I have ever heard and Bomb in a Birdcage is a perfect example of all the things she can do with that voice. At times painfully beautiful - it’s virtually impossible to listen to a song like “Beacon” and not feel something well up inside you - at other times playfully fun, such as with the song “Electric Twist,” and even going all the way to being downright inspiring with “Stood Up,” Bomb in a Birdcage is one of those rare albums that works on all levels. A cross between adult-contemporary and pop, all you really have to call it is great. Just make sure to hold on to your heart when you’re listening to it!

2) P.O.S. - Never Better

Extremely powerful, both lyrically and production-wise, Never Better showcases pure, raw emotion. P.O.S. has never been a quiet guy as his ideology is one part hip-hop, one part punk rock, but with Never Better he has seemed to up the ante, which I didn’t even think was possible. Embracing his outsider nature, P.O.S. utilizes his incredible lyric writing ability and some amazing punch-you-in-the-face production to get you to stand up and want to fight for something. Not physically, but emotionally. Inspiring to the end, Never Better is a perfect example of what hip-hop, at it’s best, can be.

1) Lights - The Listening

With a voice that sounds a bit like a modern version of a young Susanna Hoffs, and some crazy amazing keytar skills, Lights caught my attention the very first time I heard her and she hasn’t let go since. This is probably because Lights creates an atmosphere with her work, which is something very few artists can do. Her music is friendly and there’s a real genuineness to it. I realize friendly isn’t an adjective normally used to describe music, but her openness, and her personable nature, shine through so much so, both in her lyrics and the way she delivers them, that one can’t help but believe they’re truly getting to know her. Adding to the friendly nature of her work is the fact that her music is 80’s synth pop inspired, and there’s very little that’s angry or mean spirited about that genre. You can be sure I’ll be listening to The Listening for a very long time.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:30 AM  
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