Quarterly Report: My favorite albums of July-Sept. 2009

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Tuesday I listed the songs I've been enjoying most over the past three months. Now for a rundown of my favorite new albums from the same timeframe. Please recall that this year's previous quarterly lists: Q1 singles // Q1 albums // Q2 singles // Q2 albums // Q3 singles

(1) Kid Cudi, Man on the Moon: The End of Day I'm loving this new movement of singing/rapping hip-hop futurists spearheaded by Kanye, Drake and the Cleveland kid responsible for this motherlode, Kid Cudi. Man on the Moon is a classic concept album that finds Cudi traipsing around his subconscious. Between installments of narration by Common, our protagonist discovers a bevy of brainy, introspective meditations somehow fit for mass consumption. Ace appetizers "Soundtrack 2 My Life" and "Simple As" pop out eyes and perk up ears; dreary album tracks like "Heart of a Lion" and "Sky Might Fall" match TV on the Radio blow for blow; "Day N Nite" and "Make Her Say" redefine what constitutes a hit single.

(2) Times New Viking, Born Again Revisited A proper review is coming next week in advance of their hometown show/U.S. tour kickoff, but suffice it to say TNV has become one of the most reliable forces in this here indie rock game — the wheat in a lo-fi field filled with an abundance of chaff.

(3) Circulatory System, Signal Morning Forgot all about Will Cullen Hart's post-Olivia Tremor Control project after getting turned on to his sleepy psych-pop sounds in the early days of my Pitchfork readership. (Wow, that site has been poisoning my brain for almost a decade now.) And I forgot they had a new record out until I stumbled upon it this week on Metacritic and discovered they haven't lost a step. Put your Beatles remasters down for an hour and give Signal Morning a spin; you won't regret it.

(4) Paramore, brand new eyes Earlier this year I learned I'm a sucker for the latest Fall Out Boy album. Now comes the realization that this Paramore stuff rather rules as well. Like Pete Wentz and co., these Tennessee youngsters make sure there are gargantuan pop songs under the studio gloss. Their excursions into acoustic balladry ain't bad either; Hayley Williams can wring a lot out of that voice. Does it still sound like mall punk? To be sure. But it turns out there's a way to do mall punk artfully. Props to Maura at Idolator for big-upping this talented crew (and Fall Out Boy too, for that matter).

(5) Raekwon, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2 The Wu-Tang empire may really last forever if key players like Rae can keep reviving the mystique with straight fire like this. The beats are top-notch, but like any great Wu release, this is a lyric-lover's paradise from the first few bars of "House of Flying Daggers" to the waning minutes of "Kiss the Ring," when Cuban Linx 2 closes with the ever-so-accurate proclamation, "I spit for the vets who love it."

(6) Polvo, In Prism, (7)The xx, The xx, (8) Volcano Choir, Unmap, (9) Blues Control, Local Flavor, (10) Yo La Tengo, Popular Songs