The second part of The Only Thing I Know For Sure’s top ten of 2009. Part one can be found here.
7. Mastodon – Crack The Skye (Warner Brothers)
Bombastic and pretentious, this year Mastodon reinvented themselves. Crack The Skye at times beggars belief, the band pulling musical tricks out of their sleeve that nobody saw coming. It’s debatable whether this is their best album yet, but without a doubt it shows that Mastodon are so much more than a skilled thrash band with a few ideas – they’re happy to pioneer and mix up genres that have no right to belong together. The fact that they then went on to play these songs to perfection when they visited the UK this year just cements the fact that they are one of the best things ever at the moment.
6. Thrice – Beggars (Vagrant)
Ok, so let me be honest – this is the first Thrice album I’ve ever listened to. Shocking yes, but maybe it wasn’t such a bad start. Those fans fonder of their earlier sound seem somewhat disillusioned with this effort, but I sure as hell don’t understand where they’re coming from. Beggars is such an intricate piece of work, and a powerful release for vocalist Justin Kensrue’s troubled mind, that it demands attention and respect. Certainly one of the most affecting albums of the year, and not just because of its melancholic reflections on belonging and faith – Thrice still take care to rock out as hard as ever.
5. Ex Libras – Suite(s) (Wirebird)
This one came completely out of the blue, but it is something incredibly special. When I reviewed it, I had to rely on that journalistic crutch of comparing Ex Libras to Radiohead, a compliment that sometimes seems the only one music writers can conjure in order to make a new band sound important. But I stand by my favourable comparison, as ‘Suite(s)’ mixes the intelligent experimentation of ‘Kid A’ with more basic elements, such as a stunning vocal performance from Amit Sharma. A remarkably impressive debut, what makes it more exciting that this is a band at the very beginning of their musical career. And even Radiohead started shite, so imagine what this lot are capable of?