Here's a novel idea: What if someone who listens to a lot of music were to compile a year-end list describing his or her 10 favorite records? A brief glance around online reveals that one or two people have already tried it, so I figured, why not join them?
That tiny handful of lists — okay, it's more like hundreds of overstuffed wheelbarrows full of lists — reveals something of a critical consensus around a bunch of titles that were far easier for me to admire than love. Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest, Animal Collective's Merriwether Post Pavilion and Dirty Projectors' Bitte Orca had several things in common: All are wildly inventive, widely beloved, creatively made marvels, and I can't recall more than a handful of words from any of them. They're worthy of recommendation, to be sure, but they didn't feel fully relatable; call me a soppy mope, but at the end of a given year, I'm far more likely to dwell on albums and songs that exude a fair bit of earned insight, even ache.
So here's my Top 10. It may be the equivalent of a single teardrop in a vast sea of year-end reflection, but the music is glorious. (Click here for more entries in NPR Music's ongoing look at 2009's best.)
All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen's Top Ten List For 2009
Monitor Mix Blogger Carrie Brownstein's Picks For The Best Music Of 2009
All Songs Considered Producer Robin Hilton's Top Ten List For 2009
More Coverage Of The Best Music Of 2009