Ah 2009, that was a different time. Obama was still in the White House, Marvel had yet to overtake Avatar as the biggest film ever, and Tarantino’s schtick was to rewrite WWII history rather than Hollywood history. But perhaps the thing that most defined 2009 was the ridiculous slew of indie rock tunes that came out over the course of those magical 12 months.
We’ve had some banging indie rock tunes over the past decade, but in terms of sheer quality and quantity, nothing in recent memory comes even close to touching what 2009 had on offer.
From the get go we were treated to an immediate classic by Animal Collective, who dropped their greatest album, Merriweather Post Pavilion, upon the world and gave us the trippy odyssey that is ‘My Girls.’
The quality didn’t let up as we got some seriously good stuff from both sides of the pond in rapid succession, Hell you could make a playlist just from the great stuff that was put out in 2009 by artists from the UK.
Just from the top of my head, we got:
- ‘Zero’ – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
- ‘Crying Lightning’ – Arctic Monkeys
- ‘No You Girls’ – Franz Ferdinand
- ‘Who Can Say’ – The Horrors
- ‘Islands’ – The xx
- ‘1901’ – Phoenix
- And of course, ‘Little Lion Man’ from Mumford & Sons
The indie and alternative rock scene in America was also flourishing at the same time and the output just as equally impressive. Let’s just scratch the surface of what was released that year:
- ‘Two Weeks’ – Grizzly Bear
- ‘Panic Switch’ – Silversun Pickups
- ‘The Rake’s Song’ – The Decemberists
- ’11th Dimension’ – Julian Casablancas
- ‘Lust for Life’ – Girls
- ‘Young Hearts Spark Fire’ – Japandroids
All while this was happening, Australia was in its own little musical bubble thanks to Short Stack and all the mania that surround them. Seriously, it was almost impossible to go anywhere in 2009 and not be smacked in the face with quality tunes.
I’ve definitely forgotten a heap of other 2009 bangers in trying to compile this list, which speaks to just how good of a year it was for indie rock. But just as it seemed like the genre was about to take a leap forward, it sort of just… stalled.
Sure there have been great songs released from aforementioned artists like the Arctic Monkeys and The Decemberists since 2009, as well as the rise of newer artists like Mitski, but nothing has come close to reaching the heights of that year in terms of sustained brilliance.
And that’s the big question right here: where have all the indie bangers disappeared to?
Is it because budgets are shrinking? Tastes have changed? Bands failing to capitalise on the momentum? Someone made a deal with the devil and indie rock had to pay the price?
Answering that question properly is another story for another day so let’s just celebrate that magical 12 month period in 2009 when indie rock reached new heights.
From Animal Collective to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, you all gave us a playlist that still holds up as well today as it did 10 years ago and we’re hoping lightning will strike again soon because it’s long overdue.