10) Bruce Springsteen – Working on A Dream
As The Boss makes his transition to “seasoned citizen” all of his words on this record seem to carry a bit of wisdom. “Outlaw Pete” is reminiscent of his earlier narrative tunes, but the majority of Working on A Dream is filled with sage advice and anecdotal reflections on a storied life.
Favorite Track: “Life Itself”
9) Black Eyed Peas – The E.N.D.
This was the perfect summer album, carefree and delightfully silly. Plus, “Boom Boom Pow” was the top selling song on iTunes this year. I’m not sure what that says about our culture, but if you can make a song about nothing and sell millions of copies, more power to you.
Favorite Track: “Alive”
8 – fun. – Aim and Ignite
Life can get messy, and the boys in fun. know it all too well as they deliver the sordid details of their weekends over syrupy-sweet pop melodies. Featuring some of the catchiest songs in any genre this year, Aim and Ignite was 2009’s most pleasant surprise.
Favorite Track: “All the Pretty Girls”
7) John Mayer – Battle Studies
I know it’s completely cliché for a 24-year-old guy to say, “John Mayer totally get it”, but seriously, John Mayer totally gets it. The allure of Mayer, on this record especially, is that he’s able to communicate the hopes and fears of every twenty-something while making it seem like he’s speaking only to you.
Favorite Track: “Perfectly Lonely”
6) Taking Back Sunday – New Again
After losing an integral band member on less than friendly terms, at least according to the revealing “Capital M-E”, TBS recruited new guitarist/vocalist Matt Fazzi and barely skipped a beat. Drugs, religion, summer romance, failing friendships and a broken engagement all find their place on New Again, letting us know that emo is still alive and well.
Favorite Track: “Everything Must Go”
5) Paramore – Brand New Eyes
Apparently Hayley Williams was feeling judged by some folks and decided to respond with an album full of songs judging those who were judging her. Judge. All the finger pointing aside, and boy is there a lot of it, Paramore stepped up their game and crossed the threshold from emo pop-tarts to full-fledged rock stars.
Favorite Track: “All I Wanted”
4) Colbie Caillat – Breakthrough
Miss Caillat continues to leave me completely smitten as she sings about love in all of its various forms. While there’s nothing particularly challenging here, for Caillat or the listener, that’s also the beauty of the record as she plays to her greatest strength: being down-to-earth and relatable.
Favorite Track: “Fearless”
3) Dashboard Confessional – Alter the Ending
There’s a familiarity in Chris Carrabba’s tone that balances out the rock god aspirations on Alter the Ending. The combination of the two makes for an instantly exciting record that’s accessible and surprising and gives me high hopes for the future of my favorite band.
Favorite Track: “Get Me Right”
2) David Gray – Draw the Line
Never has so much human frailty been presented with such poise. Visceral and raw, Draw the Line is heavy enough to collapse under it’s own seriousness, but is buoyed by Gray’s delivery and charm. It’s the sound of all the thoughts you wish you could put into words being expressed more elegantly than you ever imagined.
Favorite Track: “Kathleen”
1) Steven Curtis Chapman – Beauty Will Rise
This is more than music. This is a journey through every heartbreaking step of the Chapman’s tragic loss. This is a sovereign God triumphing over evil and tragedy. Honestly, words escape me when I talk about this album except to say that it’s truly the most worshipful record I’ve ever experienced.
Favorite Track: “Our God Is In Control”