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Best of ’09 Crush: Nick Balkin’s Top Ten Albums

December 15, 2009

Nick Balkin (left) plays guitar with Logan 5 & the Runners, plays bass with Kingsley Flood, twiddles knobs with Fünf, and this year he was also a member of the short-lived Battle Toadz as part of One Night Band. He is sharing his Top Ten Albums of ’09 with Boston Band Crush readers, and we think it’s a damn good list! Take it away, Nick…

Nick Balkin’s Top 10 albums of 2009

1. Flotation Walls – Nature
An art pop masterpiece about life (“Sperm & Egg”) and death (“I’ve Seen Death and his Tremendous Pink Eyes”) that reminds you that concept albums don’t have to be lame. Yes, it’s an ambitious record – most tracks have complex choral and orchestral arrangements – but these gorgeous melodies would stand on their own unembellished.

2. Mercy James – Best of Mercy James
This modest, barely 30 minute album bursts at the seams with hook-laden indie pop. “Ride On, Red Line” is the best tune ever written about the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. “Whisper Whenever” is the best. Period.

3. MEandJOANCOLLINS – Love. Trust. Faith. Lust.
A bombastic and fully formed debut from one of Boston’s most electric live acts. Littered with grimy glam anthems like “Crime of the Century,” “That’s Not What I Want,” and “Typical Asshole.”

4. Left Hand Does – Yeckum Checkum
Weird, elastic songs about airplanes, nightmares, and microwave throwin’ men. Eighties influenced, but not in obvious ways (an indie rock INXS?). “Valerie” has a killer guitar solo.

5. The Beatings – Late Season Kids
Shout-y Boston post punk that doesn’t sound like Mission of Burma or the Pixies but kinda does. Album opener (and highlight) “Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained” has an addictive guitar hook and heart pounding drums.

6. Sidewalk Driver – For All the Boys and Girls
Super catchy power pop with glam attitude that channels Bowie, the Cars, and Cheap Trick. All 12 tracks sound like hit singles.

7. Hallelujah The Hills – Colonial Drones
An unpredictable album that captures the energy of their live shows. Sounds like a guided tour through the last 20 years of indie rock – from Sonic Youth to Pavement to the Arcade Fire.

8. The Everyday Visuals – Self Titled
Subtle, harmony rich folk rock that improves with repeated listening. “Driving” is the one of the year’s most beautiful recordings.

9. Eddie Japan – Four by Six EP
Soaring 1960s influenced pop with mariachi trumpets and spaghetti western guitars. “The Power of Negative Thinking” might be my favorite song of 2009.

10. St. Helena – Slow Jack EP
Emotional (but not emo!) indie rock with cathartic instrumental sections and vocals that sound like a cross between the Dismemberment Plan and Neutral Milk Hotel.

Would you like to share your picks for Boston’s best of ’09? Get in touch! We’ll be running reader-submitted lists through the end of the year. We’ll let you make up your own rules – Top 10 Albums, Top 5 Songs, whatever – as long as it’s Boston-centric.

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