2009's top 10 list is dominated by two patterns that emerged over the past year, one looking forward and one rooted firmly in the past. Albums like "O N A N I," "Flowers From Exile," and "1666" are the best showings from a new wave of dark ambient, martial and neo-folk artists that are pushing the boundaries of the darktronica scene. On the other hand, Clan Of Xymox returns triumphantly to the club scene with their first Darktronica Top 10 album in nearly 20 years, as only one of several notable releases that proved gothic-tinged, post-punk synthpop isn't dead after all. Anders Manga is another example, having nearly missed the top 10 with their album "Catastrophe."
My favorite release of the year hands-down was Tamtrum's "Fuck You I'm Drunk," a rollicking good time of an EP that took the band in a welcome new direction. It would be sitting pretty at the top if it weren't for its companion, "Stronger Than Cats," which is still worthy but is more of their traditional terror EBM style. Another happy result worth noting is that after a decade filled with hit singles, Tom Shear finally puts together an Assemblage 23 album that is solid enough across the board to earn a place on the list.
Outside of the darktronica world, top hip hop honors go to "Never Better" by Minneapolis MC P.O.S., followed by Cage's "Depart From Me." My favorite dance album of the year was La Roux's self-titled release, and I also really enjoyed Hiromi Uehara's solo piano album "Place To Be" and Phoenix's "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix."