Tom Butler

Top 10 Albums

Thee Oh Sees
In the Red

Thee Oh Sees were one of the most prolific bands in 2009, releasing too many records to count. Help is the most standard of their releases, but as such, it came out the best. An album of garage-psych stompers with all the fat trimmed off.

Cult Ritual
Cult Ritual
Youth Attack

This may or may not be the best hardcore album to come out in 2009, but it was probably the most talked about. Like Black Flag on their classic My War, Cult Ritual delivers a number of short sharp blasts on the A-side and a couple of longer slow jams on the flipside. They toured this year as well, and then did what all great hardcore bands do: they broke up before they got boring.


Whenever rock bands and rappers get together, there is always the very distinct possibility of a trainwreck. Not here. The Black Keys showed that they can do no wrong, creating a psychedelic hip-hop album that stands as one of the best of 2009. Raekwon, Jim Jones, Mos Def, Nicole Wray, and Ludacris all make stellar contributions.

Blank Dogs
Under and Under
In the Red

This year, the prolific Blank Dogs unleashed Under and Under, a double-album comprised of the lo-fi Cure-styled jams for which Mr. Sniper is known. These are all great songs and well worth the listen, so it will be interesting to see if the “band” can keep up the relentless pace at which they’ve been releasing records in the new year.

The Clean
Mister Pop

New Zealand legends the Clean returned this year with Mister Pop, and there couldn’t be a more appropriate title. This catchy batch of tunes will stay with you for days. Highlights include “Are You Really On Drugs?” and “In the Dreamlife You Need A Rubber Soul.” This is essential 2009 listening.

Zola Jesus
The Spoils
Sacred Bones

Zola Jesus debut full-length sounds like Kate Bush recorded an album with SPK. It’s bleak, cacophonic, and gorgeous. A trained opera singer, Nika Danilova has a monster voice for which Zola Jesus is the perfect showcase.

Sonic Youth
The Eternal

Sonic Youth returned to their indie roots this year with their Matador debut, The Eternal. It’s a solid effort all the way through, with noisy guitar jams, cultural references galore and social commentary all wrapped up in mostly three-and-a-half-minute pop songs.

Times New Viking
Born Again Revisited

Columbus’ Times New Viking have released four records in as many years and the quality level keeps rising. Born Again Revisted is their best record yet. It’s darker than their earlier work, but still catchy as hell.

The Fresh & Onlys
Grey-Eyed Girls

San Francisco’s Fresh & Onlys released two LPs as well as a slew of singles and splits in 2009. While the quality is consistently top-notch, their second album, Grey Eyed Girls, is the best of the bunch. It succinctly summarizes the band’s sunny, fuzzy, garage psyche. You can’t go wrong with a song called “Dude’s Got A Tender Heart.”

Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears
Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is
Lost Highway

This record came out of nowhere. Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears borrow heavily from classic funk and soul without sounding like a direct rip-off of the Superfly soundtrack or Hot Buttered Soul. But like their luminaries, these guys destroy live.