The Scientifically-Proven Best Albums of 2009*

* as determined by a statistically insignificant number of friends

Too much yapping?      Skip to the Top 10.

Welcome to Sunbury Music's picks for album of the year.  What's Sunbury Music?  It's an mp3blog that residents of the prestigious Sunbury House of Penn State University abandoned a few years ago (a move that was very uncharacteristic of their ilk).  Why are there non-Penn State people involved? Good question.  Someone should tell them to go back to their ivy-covered ivory towers.

This year has been both a banner and a confusing year for music.  I know for some (obsessives) among us, it's been a year of musical surfeit.   As if the years of unlimited musical copying and on-demand musical purchasing weren't bad enough for our overloaded ears, this year (for me, if not others) has been a year defined less by individual bands than by Lala.com and their listen-to-anything once model.  On a culture already defined by flitting taste and staggering overabundance, Lala dropped a garbage truck of unbounded possibility.

But at the same time, Lala's model unleashed a counteracting conservative force.  In many ways, Lala didn't make music more available (after all HypeMachine and a dozen other websites had made virtually any song (and it's seven remixes) available for years): it made, for the first time, albums available to experience, en masse, for free (once).  And because of that, I've never been more excited about the album format: its death has been greatly exaggerated.

That said, not all things last.  Twain after all is unexaggeratedly dead.  Lala was recently bought by Apple who will almost inevitably gut it.  Michael Jackson will never again be the backbone of a collective musical taste. Remixes may one day take the place of albums.  Songs may be reduced to 7 seconds to fit our attention spans.  Those damn kids may throw their ball on our lawn while listening to their loud music with its bip-bip this and their bap-bap that.    

A few trends I thought were worth pointing out with limited comment: a hyper-concentration of music from New York (and a sizable segment coming from Brooklyn), an almost complete shut out of rap (and really, Chris, Mos Def's album is only solid, not great), an almost complete lack of music from Philadelphia despite its high voter representation (I blame this on a blighted year in the Philly music: thanks, Amanda Blank; keep playing with War on Drugs, Kurt Vile), and an alarming overlap with Pitchfork.  

Anyway, 17 friends have compiled their top ten lists.  Using methodology I describe here, I've created the scientifically-approved master top ten list, an overall ranking, a geographic breakdown of worthless nerdiness, individual lists, a ranking of "most" similar users, and a page for each album.  

Yes, this took way more of my time than it should have (although it would have taken a lot less if Google Sites allowed HTML uploads like I thought).  No, I do not regret it.  I'll add that a full 88% of the albums are available on Lala and have Lala's player embedded in the album pages for your convenience.  I think that says something to Lala's breadth and influence.

Happy listeneing, 2009ers.  Hoping to see you (and more of you) next year.

-David

PS I await your movie list, Karphills.  Bring it on.