Illustration by Stella Alys Wittram from James Mason's Cupid's Game with Hearts, 1897
I've decided not to disclose my favorite album of the year today - I'm going to leave it for Monday and post a longer write-up about it at that time. After all, it's my favorite record of 2009, and I've got a lot to say about it.
#5 Mrs. Equitone by Kleenex Girl Wonder (Do Not Sell Records)
The follow-up to my favorite record of 2008 is a less sprawling release than the two-hour Yes Boss, and it trades some of that album's vituperative invective for more cerebral subject matter, but it still doesn't coddle the listener (as you can see by flipping through the extensively-annotated lyric booklet that comes with it.)
#4 Communion by the Soundtrack of Our Lives (Yep Roc Records)
The Swedish arena-psych-rockers haven't put out an album since 2005's disappointing Origin Vol. 1, but this double album of explosive epics and hymn-like ballads is worth the wait - it's a winner by sheer volume measurement, containing more minutes of excellent retro rock than any other release I heard this year.
#3 Perfect Waves by James Rabbit (self-released)
I wrote a lukewarm review of this home-recorded kitchen-sink pop record earlier this year, but I have to admit that the preciousness of young Tyler Martin's songwriting becomes more charming the more I listen to it, and Perfect Waves has so much going on that there's going to be something new to smile about every time you listen to it.
#2 Embryonic by the Flaming Lips (Warner Brothers)
I'll admit that I was 100% on-board with the Flaming Lips' embrace of AM soft rock when The Soft Bulletin came out but, after three albums in the same vein with serious diminishing returns, I am excited to see Coyne/Drozd/Ivins return to the heavy acid-rock sound, motorik rhythms, and lyrical weirdness of their earlier work.
"Silver Trembling Hands" by the Flaming Lips