It’s New Year’s Eve and KEXP is just about ready to star their countdown of the best albums of 2009. I’ll be listening and commenting on that later but, for now, here’s what you need to know.
The Top 10 Albums of 2009
1. Rising Mountains – Capsula: I first heard Capsula on KEXP on July 3rd and I was immediately hooked. They are the most exciting band I’ve heard since discovering The Duke Spirit three years ago. The band is originally from Buenes Aires, Argentina and they relocated to Bilbao, Spain. They are a guitar driven, hard rocking band that knows how to write songs with catchy lyrics and great hooks. The album is currently available as an import only. You can get it at Amazon. I suggest you go there now and buy it. They will be coming to the U.S. in March for a show in NYC and then will be in Austin for SXSW. See them if you can. More about them here.
2. Something’s Wrong/Lost Forever – Scott H. Biram: Gorby turned me on to this guy by giving me an earlier album to listen to. In May, I went to Austin with Gorby and Zippy, and we saw Scott live at The Continental Club. GREAT one-man show. I bought the album shortly after that, and I’ve been listening to it constantly. Junkyard blues just don’t get any better than this. Scott Biram will be in Seattle at the Tractor Tavern on Friday, February 12th. See you there.
3. Truelove’s Gutter – Richard Hawley: I read a review of this album in MOJO magazine, and immediately went out and bought it. It is by far the most sonically interesting album of 2009. He uses some really rare instruments: the glass harmonica (based on the haunting tone you get when rubbing a wet finger around the rim of a wine glass – a.k.a. the hydrocrystalphone invented by Benjamin Franklin), the waterphone, the cristal Baschet, the ondes Martenot(kind of like a theremin), and a musical saw. The key track on this album is “Remorse Code.” Can’t stop listening to it.
4. One Fast Move or I’m Gone, Kerouac’s Big Sur – Jay Farrar & Benjamin Gibbard: I am a huge fan of Jack Kerouac, so I bought this they day it came out. The cd is the soundtrack to a movie about Kerouac’s journey back to California to get some down time at Ferlinghetti’s seaside cabin. The film is excellent. It features readings of Big Sur by the man himself. Kerouac’s voice is intoxicating. I could listen to it for hours. Oh, and the music by Farrar and Gibbard is stripped down and soulful. I recommend “California Zephyr” and The “Void.” They will be performing at The Showbox in Seattle on Sunday, January 24th.
5. Wilco (the album) – Wilco: The guitar work by Nels Cline on this record is incredible. The songs are great. Tweedy sounds great. What more can you ask for from a Wilco album?
6. I and Love and You – The Avett Brothers: This is a beautiful sounding album produced by Rick Rubin who fleshed out the trio of banjoists and drummer with piano and sometimes lush orchestration. The title track and “Tin Man” are my favorites.
7. Broken – Soulsavers: This is Mark Lanegan at his best. A dark brooding album that matches his voice perfectly. He gets excellent vocal support from Rosa Agostino (a.k.a. Red Ghost), and Richard Hawley makes an appearance too.
8. Welcome Joy – The Cave Singers: I heard of this band, but never really knew what they were about until I saw them at Bumbershoot. It’s real rootsy stuff with catchy lyrics and great vocals. “At the Cut” and “Leap” are my favorites.
9. The Spirit of Apollo – N.A.S.A.: That stands for North America South America. It’s a duo that pulled together a whole lot of artists to sing vocals on twenty-some songs. Who? David Byrne, Chuck D, Tom Waits, Kool Keith, Kanye West, Mia, Del the Funky Homosapien, and more. The first song I heard was “Spacious Thoughts” featuring Tom Waits and Kool Keith. You just have to hear it. The two with David Byrne, “The People Tree” and “Money” are really great.
10. A Woman A Man Walked By – P.J. Harvey & John Parish: The album starts out with one of my favorite songs of the year, “Black Hearted Love,” a pop song, and then it veers off in all different directions. Thanks to “That Irsih Fella on my block, I got to see P.J. and John put on a great show at The Moore Theater this year. P.J. was in perfect form, and John and the band were tight. They are PROFESSIONALS!
The Top Teen Albums of 2009
11. Tell ’em What Your Name Is – Black Joe Lewis and the Honeydrippers: My Austin pals told me about this band last year. Black Joe Lewis has a huge fan base in Austin, and I was lucky to see the band at a sold out show there in May. I love the fun energy in this album. “Get Yo Shit” and “I’m Broke” are the shit.
12. ¡Let Freedom Ring! – Chuck Prophet
13. Horehound – The Dead Weather
14. Middle Cyclone– Neko Case
15. Together Through Life – Bob Dylan
16. Hombre Lobo – Eels
17. Through the Devil Softly – Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions
18. Secret, Profane, & Sugarcane – Elvis Costello
19. The Eternal– Sonic Youth
and number 20…
Backspacer – Pearl Jam
This year’s best series of reissues is of course the first four albums by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds out on Mute records: The First Born is Dead, From Her to Eternity, Kicking Against the Pricks, and Your Funeral, My Trial. Buy them all and play them loud.
The best live album of the year is Tom Waits’ Glitter and Doom.