Download 10 of 2009’s Most Under-Appreciated Gems


Best of the Year lists aren’t just about closure. After all, these lists make for a great way to catch up everything you missed while you were spinning that new Phoenix album endlessly. Making this time of discovery easier yet, InSound has rounded up their 50 most downloaded albums of 2009, and is offering everyone 10 free MP3s for download.

Looking at their list, we’ve eliminated albums that weren’t from 2009, and skipped over the obvious choices — the Grizzly Bears, the Phoenixes, and the Passion Pits. Those are for everyone else’s lists.

Here are 10 deep cuts, just for you to *download.

1. Why?, Eskimo Snow: “Into The Shadows of My Embrace”

While most of Eskimo Snow plays like an emotional hangover from the daunting Alopecia, “Into The Shadows of My Embrace” finds Yoni Wolf once more spinning sharp witted narratives of growing up and growing lonely. “And I know saying all this in public should make me feel funny/ but you gotta yell something that you’d never tell nobody” he yells at the songs climax. Lonely pop at it’s finest.

2. Japandroids, Post Nothing: “Wet Hair”

Boiled down to the basics, this garage-rock duo find near perfect logic on this teen-angst fueled jam. Nearly half of the three minutes find the two yelling, “Let’s go to France so we can french kiss some French girls.” The two, could be five, ten, or all the teenage boys of the world. Three lines and three minutes long, this song brings more energy to the table than the biggest anthem.

3. Bon Iver, Blood Bank: “Woods”

A re-release left Bon Iver, topping lists with For Emma, Forever Ago two years in a row. While 2009’s Blood Bank EP is less likely to make lists, it finds Justin Vernon in full form once more. The title track “Blood Bank” is an easy extension of his musical winter, lonely, intimate, and stunning. “Woods,” on the other hand, is the EP’s most interesting offering, with Vernon trying on a new sound. Giving the vocorder a spin, he throws some T-Pain on his painfully emotive voice, to the effect of, well, just another haunting ballad of loneliness.

4. Neon Indian, Psychic Chasms: “Deadbeat Summer”

Cool cassettes on a hot car dash: this is what summer sounded like before AC and MP3s.

5. Langhorne Slim, Be Set Free: “Restless”

This voice and banjo picking might sound familiar if you’ve seen that Traveler’s Insurance commercial with the tumbling umbrellas. Well, they belong to Brooklyn’s Langhorne Slim, a willing force on the alt-blues grass scene. For a similar take, try Tallest Man Alive (not included on our list due to a 2008 release date), Sweden’s top producer of Americana.

6. Woods, Songs of Shame: “Rain On”

Rock spent 2009 trading in lo-fidelity, and like Wavves, Vivian Girls, or Washed Out, Woods cashed in on their well-used sound. Drums and guitars stagger as the Brooklyn foursome meander through a worn world. “Oh how the days will rain on you,” they sing. Soggy, running, and of course, perfect for a rainy daysometimes the highest art comes from down low.

7. Kurt Vile, Childish Prodigy: “Overnite Religion”

Listening to Philadelphia’s Kurt Vile’s wonderfully titled Childish Prodigy sounds something like hearing a neighbor’s Tom Petty singalong through thin walls. Album standout, “Overnite Religion,” performed through heavy reverb and with delicate finger picking, the song’s solid grove reflects all the years Vile has spent absorbing radio rock.

8. Cold Cave, Love Comes Close: “Love Comes Close”

There is not much new hear, but you could do worse than another New Order impression, and really, these guys are do a great job.

9. The Antlers, Hospice: “Two”

“Two” builds quickly, beginning with teeny tiny guitar chords and piano lines layering and growing larger as a lone voice meets a larger world. “You had a new dream, it was more like a nightmare,” the chorus rings, before warning: “You were just a little kid, and they cut your hair. They put you in the machine and you came so close to dying.” This songs an antidote to that techno-nighmare, as the emotion spills freely and the song grows organically. Like Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago, Hospice stems from trauma, finding an emotional payload in the tiniest terrors and a beauty in the exorcism. (The liner notes are also well worth the read.)

10. Neko Case, Middle Cyclone: “This Tornado Loves You”

Share this one with your mom. Wavves come and go, but Neko Case’s voice is one for the ages, meaning this song will probably sound good forever. Or at least throughout 2010.

* To get your 10 free downloads, you’ll have to access the MP3s from this page. The links above will allow you to sample them first.