Ah, 2009. Ten years ago. A stellar year for the scene—one where rock, punk and metalcore continued to construct exciting new avenues, while flagging trends such as neon pop punk showed their fatigue. Major releases from All Time Low, Every Time I Die and Paramore kept the pace for an alternative music world seemingly bursting at the seams with fresh ideas.
It was quite the thrilling juncture of art and culture, too. It might be hard to fathom, but not everyone had a smartphone in their pocket yet. (Literally, the iPhone was less than two years old at this point.) And if it gives you any indication of the times, a large majority of the songs mentioned below were premiered on MySpace. Talk about a blast from the past.
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Anyway, here are 30 albums we just couldn’t stop spinning a decade ago. Sound off in the comments section with your own picks!
AFI – Crash Love
RELEASE DATE: Sept. 29, 2009
Shattering any leftover notions of horror-goth posturing and reasserting the band as a formidable force in rock, Davey Havok’s longtime alt-punk outfit embraced a colorful spirit of adventure on their eighth album, Crash Love. The glam-tinged effort pushed AFI’s mainline ambitions to the fore while further positioning their art in a spectral sonic territory all its own.
All Time Low – Nothing Personal
RELEASE DATE: July 7, 2009
The third long-player from All Time Low found frontman Alex Gaskarth’s suburban rockers securing an all-star team of co-writers to propel Nothing Personal into the emo-pop stratosphere. The gambit payed off, delivering the goods with crowd favorites such as “Weightless” and beefing up the band’s blueprint in making a bid for the big leagues.
The Almost – Monster Monster
RELEASE DATE: Nov. 3, 2009
Monster Monster marked the second outing for Underoath innovator Aaron Gillespie’s solo act the Almost, but it was the first time he handed over drumming duties to Advent’s Joe Musten. Armed with a full backing band, the more traditional lineup lends a collaborative atmosphere to the album released at a time when Gillespie’s initial tenure in Underoath was drawing to a close.
Anti-Flag – The People Or The Gun
RELEASE DATE: June 9, 2009
The People Or The Gun captured Anti-Flag coming off a hot streak, the unflinching punk act’s two preceding efforts casting their politically charged roar far and wide. What do you do when you have the world’s ear? Fire off an eat-the-rich anthem such as “When All The Lights Go Out” or equate the nation’s capital with Sodom and Gomorrah, of course.
Architects – Hollow Crown
RELEASE DATE: Feb. 10, 2009
Hollow Crown found Architects expanding their iron-forged provenance, the British metalcore dynamos resting on their mathcore laurels while developing a proggy penchant for ornamental tonal turns. The third studio album from the act, it stands as a testament to their crushing songcraft and a document of the technical prowess of late guitarist Tom Searle.
August Burns Red – Constellations
RELEASE DATE: July 4, 2009
Constellations might as well have come in the mail with samples of Tide considering its effect on melodic metalcore’s late-aughts swell. And it was a creative and commercial triumph for Grammy-nominated August Burns Red, who can still make a Christmas song sound like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are out caroling.
Boys Like Girls – Love Drunk
RELEASE DATE: Sept. 7, 2009
Before music-man Martin Johnson hit out with his latest project, the Night Game, the songster was making art and breaking hearts with Boston power crew Boys Like Girls. The band’s second album, Love Drunk, shows a formidable pop group at peak scene power, while the video for the bubbly title track brings to mind a colorful High School Musical montage.
Cartel – Cycles
RELEASE DATE: Oct. 20, 2009
A stint spent literally living and recording in a bubble on MTV’s Band In A Bubble resulted in Cartel’s self-titled 2007 album. But the Peach State pop-punkers went back to basics for their third entry, Cycles, cooking up tunes in a real recording studio while layering their signature power-pop jams with enough happy hooks to satisfy any listener’s sweet tooth.
Cobra Starship – Hot Mess
RELEASE DATE: Aug. 11, 2009
While cheekily stating right on the tracklist that Pete Wentz was the only reason they were famous, Cobra Starship took their Snakes On A Plane notoriety and turned it into one of neon pop punk’s most self-aware offerings with their penultimate dance-off, Hot Mess. It doesn’t get any more on the nose than a song called “The Scene Is Dead; Long Live The Scene.”
The Devil Wears Prada – With Roots Above And Branches Below
RELEASE DATE: May 5, 2009
Documenting a crucial time in the band’s artistic development, the Devil Wears Prada conjured a dark and heavy storm on With Roots Above And Branches Below, the third full-length from the Midwestern metalcore mainstays. The group celebrated the effort’s 10-year anniversary with a throwback tour last year, performing the entire album in full.
Every Avenue – Picture Perfect
RELEASE DATE: Nov. 3, 2009
Every Avenue’s route to neon-scene stardom started with their sugary 2008 debut Shh. Just Go With It. But its follow-up, Picture Perfect, saw the Michigan-raised pop-punkers clearing a wholly new path of wholesome rock revelry. Like the memory of a high school romance revisited, sitting down with the album now feels like watching a highlight reel of the time’s musical triumphs.
Every Time I Die – New Junk Aesthetic
RELEASE DATE: Sept. 15, 2009
New Junk Aesthetic saw Every Time I Die tag the hallowed punk-rock halls of Epitaph Records for the first time, the band’s new label home providing the New York hardcore stalwarts with the boost they needed to take their messy metal vibe over the top. Now, spinning the album in polite company will instantly out any ’TID devotee as the bona fide life of the funeral.
Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown
RELEASE DATE: May 15, 2009
After American Idiot, Green Day hooked up with famed Nirvana producer Butch Vig to put the gloss on their follow-up rock opera, 21st Century Breakdown. A catchy narrative of alienation in a time of political strife, the three-act blitzkrieg had Billie Joe and company at the arguable zenith of their impressive stretch as rock ’n’ roll’s modern Working Class Heroes.
Halestorm – Halestorm
RELEASE DATE: April 28, 2009
Halestorm hit hard right out of the gate with their 2009 self-titled debut, a refreshing arsenal of fiery rock armed with loaded cuts such as the desire-soaked “I Get Off.” The world’s first proper dose of the uncompromising talent in vocalist/guitarist Lzzy Hale, the early victory for the fierce quartet evoked great moments from rock’s past while shining a light on its future.
Lights – The Listening
RELEASE DATE: Sept. 22, 2009
The soft explosion of The Listening introduced the magnetic draw of Lights to the greater music-listening public. Crystallizing her fizzy knack for turning a melody into a moment, the first LP from the multifaceted Canadian creative gave us a clear view of the emotional peak she was cresting. Now, it’s hard to imagine another road our souls may have taken.