From Lady Gaga to Gucci Mane to chillwave, 2009 had plenty of stars and stories to latch on to. This was the music that stuck with me when all was said and done.

From Lady Gaga to Gucci Mane to chillwave, 2009 had plenty of stars and stories to latch on to. This was the music that stuck with me when all was said and done.


(20) Various Artists, "Dark Was the Night" (4AD)

Rarely has one album compiled so many respected names performing so much quality material for such a good cause: AIDS research. Kudos to the Red Hot Organization and The National's Aaron Dessner.


(19) Times New Viking, "Born Again Revisited" (Matador)

"Born Again Revisited" doesn't hit with the jarring immediacy of previous TNV releases. But if the initial rush of romance has run its course, this latest collection proves Jared, Beth and Adam are a reliable bunch you can throw your lot in with for the long haul, with subtly superior songwriting that rewards career-length commitment. That's right: It's their "mature" album.


(18) The xx, "The xx" (Young Turks)

All rock music is inherently sexual, but this British breakout band's strikingly minimal and mumbly approach flies in the face of what sexualized music is supposed to sound like. Call it the sonic equivalent of "size doesn't matter?"


(17) Volcano Choir, "Unmap" (Jagjaguwar)

Before beginning work on a proper follow-up to "For Emma, Forever Ago," Bon Iver's Justin Vernon teamed up with a clumsily named Wisconsin post-rock crew called Collections of Colonies of Bees and concocted an otherworldly sonic landscape that maintained much of the pop appeal of his more intimate musical gestures. Whether he sings from the hush of wintry solitude or deep inside a maelstrom of sound, the man has a way with melodies.


(16) Fall Out Boy, "Folie A Deux" (Island)

"Folie A Deux" technically came out in the waning weeks of 2008, but its imprint was all '09. Even after Green Day and blink-182, no band has ever skewed as far to the pop side of pop-punk as Fall Out Boy, and for that I'm thankful. They imported garish arena rock bombast, glossy production and glitchy, dance-influenced beats into their basement-bred emotional anthems, and birthed a batch of songs that wipe the floor with most of the one-dimensional tripe that passes for rock on the radio. Very curious to see what Wentz and the boys do next.