FREEwilliamsburg's Best in Music 2009

In Brooklyn, 2009 will be remembered as the year that musicians got naked in videos, hipsters continued growing their beards, bloggers overused the term “glo-fi” — 297,000 hits in Google — and every person in Williamsburg and Bushwick transformed their loft into a DIY music club. It will also be remembered as the year music really got interesting again in New York. FREEwilliamsburg opened our doors in 1999 and ten years later we’ve never been more excited about the music scene in this city.

With so much great music available, compiling our annual ‘best of’ was a daunting task this year. These things are always pretty damn subjective, but we’ve done our best to put together a definitive list documenting all of tastes over here at the FREEdubya headquarters in Cripplebush. It’s amazing how many of the below bands call Brooklyn their home. It’s a great time for music in New York, and there’s no better place to be than Brooklyn — the official epicenter of today’s indie music scene. Let us know what you think in our comments section (like we need to ask) and keep on making music ya’ll.

Happy Holidays. Check out our picks after the jump.


desire_lp_cover-1.jpg 40. Desire
(Italians Do It Better)
fanfarlo.jpg 39. Fanfarlo
monolithsanddimensions.jpg 38. Sunn O)))
Monoliths & Dimensions
(Southern Lord)
waitingforyou200.jpg 37. King Midas Sound
Waiting for You
cass.jpg 36. Cass McCombs
(Domino Recording Company USA)
2dancers.jpg 35. Wild Beasts
Two Dancers
(Domino Recording Co.)
seekmagic.jpg 34. Memory Tapes
Seek Magic
(Sincerely Yours)
m37871o8oly.jpg 33. Dan Deacon
(Carpark Records)
here-we-go-magic.jpg 32. Here We Go Magic
Here We Go Magic
(Western Vinyl)
vibert.jpg 31. Luke Vibert
We Hear You
(Planet Mu)
lovelanguage.jpg 30. The Love Language
The Love Language
(Bladen County)
mymaudlincareer.jpg 29. Camera Obscura
My Maudlin Career
nasa.jpg 28. N.A.S.A.
The Spirit of Apollo
27. Woods
Songs of Shame
drift.jpg 26. Nosaj Thing
(Alpha Pup)
toeachizown.jpg 25. Dâm-Funk
(Stones Throw)
24. Califone
All My Friends Are Funeral Singers
(Dead Oceans Records)
23. Raekwon
Only Built for Cuban Linx… Pt. II
22. Neon Indian
Psychic Chasms
21. Cold Cave
Love Comes Close
20. Bat for Lashes
Two Suns
19. Fiery Furnaces
I’m Going Away
(Thrill Jockey)
18. Allen Toussaint
The Bright Mississippi
17. Yeah Yeah Yeahs
It’s Blitz!
16. Phoenix
Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
post-nothing.jpg 15. Japandroids
14. Fever Ray
Fever Ray
13. Pains of Being Pure at Heart
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
12. Passion Pit
11. Micachu & the Shapes
(Rough Trade)
10. M. Ward
Hold Time
(Merge Records)

M. Ward is so consistently good, most people overlooked Hold Time this year. Ashame, because it ranks among M. Ward’s best work. We look forward to his upcoming release with Zooey Deschanel (swoon) in 2010, She & Him, Volume 2.

9. The Antlers

Interesting back story notwithstanding, Hospice resonates because of the delicate beauty of Peter
Silberman’s voice juxtaposed with the swelling and contracting of the music. A brilliantly rich and dynamic album.

8. Atlas Sound

We fell in like with this record the second we heard the single “Walkabout”, featuring Panda Bear. Then, we fell in love with it when we heard “Quick Canal” with Stereolab’s L√¶titia Sadier. Keep up the amazing work Bradford Cox!

7. The xx
The xx
(Young Turks)

Sure, its sexuality and whispery vocals are calculated, but get the fuck out of those pants. Give this CD one listen you’ll be ready to get it on.

6. Real Estate
Real Estate

And to think they played our 10 year annivesary party! Don’t we feel lucky.

5. Julian Plenti
Julian Plenti… is Skyscraper

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again Julian Plenti… is Skypscraper is the Turn On the Bright Lights of 2009. And although this is the solo debut of frontman Paul Banks, Skyscraper is basically the Interpol album we’ve been waiting for since 2002.

4. Dirty Projectors
Bitte Orca

Accessibility is key and it’s what opened up Bitte Orca to so many new
listeners. Audiences finally “got” Dave Longstreth’s epic musical
visions. And come on, those harmonies are like a glee club doing math rock.

3. Girls
(True Panther/Matador)

We’re the first to admit that Girls’ debut isn’t groundbreaking, but that’s beside the point. Album is all about emotion, plain and simple. A gorgeous, surprisingly sophisticated record (listen with headphones) from start to finish. This is the best break-up record of the decade.

2. Grizzly Bear

Some of us over here liked Yellow House better. We’re looking at you Nicole. But that didn’t stop us all from agreeing that Veckatimest was amazing. And we didn’t even know we liked chamber pop. One of 2009’s essential releases.

1. Animal Collective
Merriweather Post Pavilion

A predictable choice? Perhaps. But placing Merriweather Post Pavilion in the number one slot is only predicable because this was, hands-down, the stand-out album of the year. Every contributor on our staff placed it in their top ten. When we look back on 2009 in years to come, we’ll all be humming “I don’t mean to seem like I care about material things,” an apt refrain for the year the economy went to the shitter.


Flaming Lips – Embryonic

What the what? This self-indulgent, overly long record pretty much sucked. And did we really need to see Wayne’s man parts on display in the ‘Watching the Planets’ video?

Mastodon – Crack the Skye

We love you Mastodon, so why’d you have to go and get all proggy on us?!



1. Best Coast – Make You Mine
2. Animal Collective – Fall Be Kind
3. Small Black – Small Black
4. Beirut – March of the Zapotec
5. Blank Dogs – Under and Under & The Fields
6. Washed Out – Life of Leisure
7. Bon Iver – Blood Bank
8. No Age – Losing Feeling
9. Delorean – Ayrton Senna
10. Olof Arnalds – Vio og Vio
11. Kurt Vile – Constant Hitmaker & God Is Saying This to You
12. Memory Cassette – Call & Response


[in no particular order]

das-racist.jpg“In For The Kill” by La Roux
“Beach Comber” by Real Estate
“Lips” by Micachu and the Shapes
“Control” by Kid Sister
“Deadbeat Summer”by Neon Indian
“Catholic Pagans” by Surfer Blood
“Marrow” by St. Vincent
“Easy Answers” by These Are Powers
“You Saved My Life” by Cass McCombs
“Lindsay Brohan” by Javelin
“Kettering” by The Antlers
“Moth’s Wings” by Passion Pit
“Cosmic Love” by Florence and the Machine
Feel it All Around by “Washed Out”
“Blood Bank” by Bon Iver
“Best I Ever Had” by Drake
“Die Slow” by HEALTH
“Daylight” by Matt & Kim
“Rave On” by M. Ward
“You Do You” by Bear in Heaven
“Lalita” by The Love Language
“Seasun” by Delorean
“Madagascar” by Lake
“Quitters Raga” by Gold Panda
“Seven” by Fever Ray
“My Boys” by Taken By Trees
“Walkabout” by Atlas Sound
“Hip Hop” by N.A.S.A.
“We Hear You” by Luke Vibert
“Apollo and the Buffalo and Anna Anna Anna Oh!” by Sunset Rubdown
“Combination Pizza Hut And Taco Bell (Wallpaper Remix)” by Das Racist


Beach House – Teen Dream
[advance single “Norway”]

Toro Y Moi – Causers Of This
[advance single “Blessa“]

OUR TOP FIVE VIDEOS OF 2009 [in no particular order]

“Two Weeks” by Grizzly Bear

“Audacity of Huge” by Simian Mobile Disco

“Feel it All Around” by Washed Out

“Kids” by MGMT

“Pon de Flor” by Major Lazor

“Lessons Learned” by Matt & Kim


  1. ahhhhh i love your site, and you have great picks here, but why did you have to trash mastodon?
    seems like a low blow against a band that is exploring, and made an amazing album in the process.
    we can’t just expect bands to do the same thing over and over, even if that thing is rattling our skulls with thunderous metal.

  2. Thank you for acknowledging that “Embryonic” sucked. I whole heartedly agree.
    Also, “Under & Under” by Blank Dogs is technically considered an LP. However, “The Fields” can be considered an EP.

  3. Grizzly Bear>>>>>Animal Collective
    contrary to popular belief

  4. love this article….thanks…i will def come to this site more often now

  5. This is great. A little self promotion…Posted the list from Gorilla v. Bear 2009 top albums/songs on POP’s (Wmbg boutique) new blog (and launching in Jan. online shop, Please check it out:)

  6. ‘Pon de Flor” by Major Lazor ‘Pon de Flor” by Major Lazor

  7. You have got to listen to the Gareth Emery podcast, he has the latest and best Techno, Dance, Club-House, Electronic and Trance music does a new one every 2 weeks, fantastic.

  8. Dear New York Police Department,
    Everyone Who Gets It

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