Best music I heard in 2009

There are those that claim music made today isn’t as good as music made years ago. Reflecting on the past few years, I’ve collected quite a bit of evidence to the contrary. There is a lot of good music being made out there, you just have to know where to look. Here are my faves from 2009.

PhoenixWolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
This was my favorite release of the year. With their guitar/synthesizer sound, Phoenix’s music definitely has its roots in the 1980s (which is probably why I like it so). At the same time, it has a very fresh and modern sound.

sample of Lisztomania by Phoenix (mp3)

7 Worlds CollideThe Sun Came Out
7 Worlds Collide is a project headed by singer/songwriter Neil Finn (of Crowded House and Split Enz fame). He assembled a stellar group of musicians (members of Wilco, Radiohead, KT Tunstall, Johnny Marr, Lisa Germano to name a few) and created this wonderful double album to benefit Oxfam, an international relief organization. While buying a record to fight poverty and injustice is all well and good, this album isn’t just some knock off filled with second hand songs. It could be the best charitable album ever produced. Here are a couple of tracks to give you the feel of this wide-ranging double CD. The first “Learn to Crawl” is a dreamy tune featuring Neil and his son Liam.

sample of Learn to Crawl by 7 Worlds Collide (mp3)

The song “Long Time Gone” is a rocker featuring Don McGlashan.

sample of Long Time Gone by 7 Worlds Collide (mp3)

Amadou & MariamWelcome to Mali
The afro-pop this duo from Mali makes is simply wonderful. I defy you to sit still while listening to this album.

sample of Compagnon de Lavie by Amadou & Mariam (mp3)

Neko CaseMiddle Cyclone
Anyone who knows my fondness for Neko Case won’t be surprised to find this in the list. I wrote a review of Middle Cyclone back when it first came out.

People Got A Lot Of Nerve by Neko Case (mp3)

Son VoltAmerican Central Dust
Son Volt probably isn’t as well known as Wilco (the other band to come from the ashes of the group Uncle Tupelo), but I think they had the better record this year. A great slice of Americana in their alt-country style.

sample of Down to the Wire by Son Volt (mp3)

The Swell SeasonStrict Joy
I got this disc as a Christmas gift and I haven’t stopped playing since. It’s haunting, sweet, dreamy, and includes songs that stick with you long after the record has stopped playing.

sample of Love that Conquers by The Swell Season (mp3)

Tragically HipWe Are The Same
Tragically Hip’s unique sound is unlike any other band. Is it the lead singers voice? The excellent guitar work? The song writing? It’s probably all of those and more. Yet another strong release from one of my favorite bands.

sample of Queen of the Furrows by Tragically Hip (mp3)

Best Reissue:
The BeatlesStereo BoxSet
Listening to these remastered discs was like hearing them fresh for the first time. On every record I hear guitar lines, background vocals, hand claps, and other things I’ve never heard before.

Honerable Mentions

  • Cracker – Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey
  • The Doves – Kingdom of Rust
  • Monsters of Folk – Monsters of Folk
  • Wilco – The Album
  • The XX – XX