Top 10 records of 2009
Honorable Mention, in order from 11-30: Neko Case, Natural Snow Buildings, Oneida, Dinosaur Jr, Baroness, Espers, Papercuts, Teeth of the Sea, James Blackshaw, Black Math Horseman, Omar Souleyman, Kylesa, The Fresh & Onlys, Sonic Youth, Wolves in the Throne Room, Wilco, Magnolia Electric Co, Harvestman, Lord Cut-Glass, Pissed Jeans
#10 Sylvester Anfang II – Sylvester Anfang II [Aurora Borealis]
Self-proclaimed ‘funeral folk’ out of Belgium, the hooded goat lovers stick a II at the end of their name, but their dark brooding clatter is intact…don’t expect a sonic migration like Amon Düül undertook from version I to II
#9 Om – God is Good [Drag City]
Al records his first record with newcomer (and Grails drummer) Emil Amos and subtly changes the signature bass mantras by adding textures and accents over the driving rhythm.
#8 The Reigning Sound – Love and Curses [In The Red]
Why Greg Cartwright isn’t internationally feted by hordes of Band-era Dylan disciples is beyond me.
#7 Jack Rose – The Black Dirt Sessions [Three Lobed]
Jack left us far too soon, and it’s a really big hole he left. Fortunately, his music lives on, and these new recordings of some previously released songs truly sings, especially “Cross The North Fork.”
#6 Death – …For The Whole World To See [Drag City]
Aside from a two song single in 1976, these proto-punk Detroiters finally have these crucial seven songs dusted from the archives and released. Not to be confused with the metal band from Florida.
#5 Boston Spaceships – Zero To 99 [Guided By Voices, Inc]
Pollard’s relentless release schedule continues unabated, but he’s struck a vein of gold with Boston Spaceships. Great songwriting and inspired playing, just like you know Uncle Bob’s capable of. The Planets Are Blasted is another record worth keeping an eye out for.
#4 Sir Richard Bishop – The Freak of Araby [Drag City]
Rick’s been doing the solo thing for a while now, and this record is his first since Sun City Girls with a full band. He pays homage to his Lebanese origins by reworking some traditional songs, and puts in the barbs and twists like he’s known for. Kicks up more dust than a desert full of siroccos. I’m looking forward to the project he’s working on with Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance)
#3 Kurt Vile – Childish Prodigy [Matador]
Though his debut record Constant Hitmaker came out last year, this one and the two 12” records really put him on the map, and he was the year’s most consistent artist for me. Great songwriting that should win a large fanbase.
#2 Bill Callahan – Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle [Drag City]
Bill’s breakup album, and what a stunning work it is. His close-mic’d voice gets really close, uncomfortably so at times. One of the best songwriters of our generation; listen to “All Thoughts Are Prey To Some Beast” for a spine-tingling experience. And this is Drag City’s 4th record of my top 10, clearly winning them label of the year honors.
#1 Polvo – In Prism [Merge]
How can a band shake off a twelve year absence after releasing what was widely recognized as their weakest record, and put out the record of year? I dunno, ask Ash or Dave. Incredibly rich, textured, and with hugely memorable songs and hooks, sometimes parts that were lacking in their 90s output. They put on a good live show in ’08 and I hope this prods them back to full-time status.