I also really liked "XX", by The XX. I think this is their debut album. Kind of Edwyn Collins meets Young Marble Giants (i.e. freaking tremendous).
Here's a sample:
Another fantastic release for 09 is "All My Friends are Funeral Singers" by Califone. I have this as double vinyl album and it sounds so incredibly good. Califone has been good for a long time, but they really stood out to me this year in particular. Here's the video for the song "Funeral singers".
Next is a definite guilty pleasure release. I mean, come on, these guys are soundtracking Cadillac commercials. I got it for Mrs. Angus and swore I wasn't going to like it, but Holy Crap! ">"Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix" by Phoenix is such a fun and practically perfect rock record, it totally won me over. Here's the video for "Liztomania":
The next picks are weird in that while they stand out from the rest of 09's releases, they are not quite as good as music by the same people from last year.
"Tarot Sport" by The F***k Buttons would be in my top picks except it's not as good as last year's "Street Horrrsing", which was my record of the year for 08.
Same for "Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle" by Bill Callahan. Stellar, but not as good as " Woke Up a Whaleheart" from 2008.
The last example of this phenomenon is "Blood Bank", the 2009 EP by Bon Iver which is awesome, but not as good as last year's "For Emma, Forever Ago".
People, could "Skinny Love" be the best song of the decade?
I also really enjoyed new releases by stalwart groups like Built to Spill's "There Is No Enemy" and Dinosaur Jr.'s "Farm".
The best live shows I saw this year were Built to Spill at the Diamond Ballroom in OKC, and Bill Callahan at the Granada Theater in Dallas