Favorite Albums of 2009

My 2009 Top 10 bears several surprising similarities to last year’s list. Willie Nile’s album of new material replaces last year’s historic Live From the Streets of New York; a Big Star box set replaces last year’s Big Star-rich Thank You Friends: The Ardent Records Story; there’s a superb reissue from a legend (Elvis replacing Hank), and a revitalized album from a musical great (Tanya Tucker replacing, of all people, Glen Campbell). There are exceptional new works from favorite artists (Slaid Cleaves, The Avett Brothers and Caroline Herring) and terrific acts that are new to my ears (Blind Pilot, Jason Karaban, The Voyces).

It was a year full of great music, with a dozen more albums that could easily have taken a place in the top ten. New sounds and variations on old sounds all sounded fresh and exciting. The EP returned as a short form introduction for new artists or a placeholder for artists who didn’t have a full album ready to go (don’t miss Lissie’s debut in the honorable mentions below). Little by little the majors continued to dig out their vaults, or let specialty labels do so on their behalf, returning great music to circulation and impressing a new generation of fans.

Great trend: artists giving away a selected track to podcasters and bloggers (and thus their listeners and readers). Unfortunately the major labels haven’t yet seen the promotional value as being worthwhile. Just as troubling: the on-going complexity and expense of ASCAP and BMI licenses (plus the mechanical from Harry Fox Agency) that would really free podcasters and bloggers to help artists and the music industry promote their wares. The indies get it, and distribution sites like ReviewShine help artists and bloggers meet. Let’s hope 2010 sees new thinking in music licensing that helps the majors get comfortable with new media.

That said, here are my favorites from among what I heard in 2009. Click album titles to read reviews and (for many) hear sample tracks.

Top 10 Albums of 2009 (Alphabetical Order)
The Avett Brothers I and Love and You
Big Star Keep an Eye on the Sky
Blind Pilot 3 Rounds and a Sound
Slaid Cleaves Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away
Caroline Herring Golden Apples of the Sun
Jason Karaban Mayfly
Willie Nile House of a Thousand Guitars
Elvis Presley From Elvis in Memphis
Tanya Tucker My Turn
The Voyces Let Me Die in Southern California

Honorable Mention New Music of 2009
Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women s/t
The Belleville Outfit Time to Stand
Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles The Stars Are Out
Guy Clark Somedays the Song Writes You
The Clean Mr. Pop
Dennis Diken with Bell Sound Late Music
John Doe and the Sadies Country Club
Hollis Brown Hollis Brown
Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey Here and Now
Sarah Jarosz Song Up in Her Head
Eilen Jewell Sea of Tears
Paul Jones Starting All Over Again
King Wilkie King Wilkie Presents The Wilkie Family Singers
Lissie Why You Runnin’
Gurf Morlix Last Exit to Happyland
The Mumlers Don’t Throw Me Away
Outrageous Cherry Universal Malcontents
Pine Leaf Boys Homage Au Passe
The Postmarks Memoirs at the End of the World
Brandon Rickman Young Man, Old Soul
David Serby Honky Tonk and Vine
Ricky Skaggs Solo: Songs My Dad Loved
Chris Smither Time Stands Still
Mark Stuart and the Bastard Sons Bend in the Road
Various The Man of Somebody’s Dreams: A Tribute to the Songs of Chris Gaffney
Derek Webb Stockholm Syndrome
Holly Williams Here With Me

Honorable Mention Reissues of 2009
Book of Love Candy Carol
Dave Brubek Quartet Time Out
Creedence Clearwater Revival The Singles Collection
The Del-Lords Based on a True Story
The Del-Lords Frontier Days
The Fabulous Poodles Mirror Stars/Think Pink
Jay & The Americans The Complete United Artist Singles
George Jones A Picture of Me (Without You)/Nothing Ever Hurt Me (Half as Bad as Losing You)
Gary Lewis & The Playboys The Complete Liberty Singles
Little Richard The Rill Thing
Manassas Pieces
The Nerves One Way Ticket
Dolly Parton Dolly
Thee Midniters Thee Complete Midniters: Songs of Love, Rhythm and Psychedelia
Tiny Tim I’ve Never Seen a Straight Banana
Various Artists A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector
Various Let Freedom Sing

[©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

One Response to “Favorite Albums of 2009”

  1. Sam Umbach says:

    I will definitely have to look for some of those reissues (a lot of bloggers don’t include them in their best of). And thanks for the shout-out, Hype. We’re doing our best to make life easier for bloggers and artists, and we’re eager for all the feedback they send our way. Happy 2010!