OK, so I should preface this list by saying, this will not be a “completely un-biased critic’s opinion” list. In fact, it’s completely biased and in now way a critical, musically educated list. It’s just music that was released in 2009 that I happened to like. So here are my favorite albums in order of preference:
10. Justin Townes Earle – Midnight at the Movies
Steve Earle’s son escapes the umbrella of his father’s shadow with this gem. With content that covers a lot of ground from parents to girl problems, it makes for a fun honkey tonk ride. In “Halfway to Jackson,” he forgets about a girl he just left for cheating on him mid-train ride…ha!
Notable Tracks: ‘Halfway to Jackson’ ‘Midnight at the Movies’ ‘Someday I’ll Be Forgiven For That’
9. Lyle Lovett – Natural Forces
I’ve liked Lyle Lovett for a while and he delivers with his latest album. His return back to country from a jazz-infused hiatus has been welcomed with excitement…and he’s still got it. All I can say is thank God for Texas country music…without it, we wouldn’t have guys like Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark or Steve Earle. Yeah, that’s a pretty serious list.
Notable Tracks: ‘Natural Forces’ ‘Empty Blue Shoes’ ‘Sun And Moon And Stars’
8. The Low Anthem – Oh My God Charlie Darwin
My new go-to mellow folk rock band. See you later Iron and Wine. Beautiful melodies and lyrics create dream-like sounds your ears should be listening to if they haven’t already.
Notable Tracks: ‘Charlie Darwin’ ‘Ticket Taker’ ‘To The Ghosts Who Write History Books’
7. Rosanne Cash – The List
When Rosanne Cash was a teenager her father wasn’t very fond of the direction her music taste had taken. So he created a list of 100 essential songs everyone should know and love including her. Rosanne covers 12 of them here and adds her touch to these timeless classics.
Notable Tracks: ‘Sea Of Heartbreak’ ‘Miss The Mississippi and You’ ‘Silver Wings’
6. Wilco – Wilco
Another groovy album from the mega band reminiscent of “Sky Blue Sky.” In expected Wilco style, Tweedy’s lyrics for the most part are completely indecipherable…well…with the exception of this one I guess.. “Is someone twisting a knife in your back, are you being attacked? Wilco will love you baby.” Geee…thanks guys!
Notable Tracks: ‘Wilco(the song) ‘One Wing’ ‘Bull Black Nova’
5. Dave Rawlings Machine – A Friend Of A Friend
Dave Rawlings delivers on this solid debut with the help of Gillian Welch and Old Crow Medicine Show as a backup band. Rawlings, although he has never released a record under his own name, has produced/written some pretty influential records including Gillian Welch’s Time-The Revelator and Ryan Adams’ Heartbreaker. GO SEE THIS BAND IF YOU HAVEN’T. They just made it to the top 5 live shows I’ve ever seen.
Notable Tracks – ‘Ruby’ ‘Method Acting’ ‘How’s About You’
4. Brandi Carlile – Give Up The Ghost
I don’t know how I’d never heard of this girl before this year, but man oh man…this album rocked my socks off. It just shows simple songwriting doesn’t have to be so abstract or hard to understand to be damn good. Simple concepts can pack a punch and Carlile’s latest delivers.
Notable Tracks: ‘Dying Day’ ‘Dreams’ ‘Caroline’
3. Dan Auerbach – Keep It Hid
Auerbach mixes gospel, blues, rock and roll and any other Americana element you can think of in his latest solo project. He maintains a bit of that traditional Black Keys sound and experiments with boundaries of new territory. All this creates an exceptional listen that’s hard to stop when it’s time to get out of your car…not to mention the vinyl probably sounds even better.
Notable Tracks: ‘Trouble Weighs A Ton’ ‘Whispered Words(Pretty Lies)’ ‘When The Night Comes’
2. Neko Case – Middle Cyclone
Similar to folks like Alejandro Escovedo and Wilco, Neko Case achieved early success making alt. country records…and like Wilco and Escovedo, she has morphed her sound into something all her own. She admitted in an interview she swore to herself she would never make an album about love. For some reason she changed her mind and now we have Middle Cyclone…and boy are we lucky she did.
Notable Tracks: ‘This Tornado Loves You’ ‘People Gotta Lot Of Nerve’ ‘Magpie To The Morning’
1. The Avett Brothers – I And Love And You
This wasn’t a hard decision. The most anticipated album of 2009 didn’t let me down. With the help of Rick Rubin, the Brothers took a step forward with their latest. I don’t care what the cynics are saying…about it being too poppy or selling out their old sound. Music must change and evolve. And I And Love And You is the perfect example of that. This record is so honest and relevant. The best art always is. Keep it up guys.
Notable Tracks: Ever song on this freakin’ thing
‘Tonight I’ll burn the lyrics, cause every chorus was your name…I am a breathing time machine, I’ll take you all for a ride.”
Buddy and Julie Miller – Written In Chalk
Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
U2 – No Line On The Horizon
Langhorne Slim – Be Set Free
Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures
Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
The Dead Weather – Horehound
Bat For Lashes – Two Suns