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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Top 11 Albums 2009

Here are my 11 favourite albums from 2009. Mind you, these didn't necessarily come out last year, that's just when I got a hold of them. The bolded ones are the best of the best:

1) Tracy Chapman, Our Bright Future - The first half of this album features some really new sounds from her, almost like folk-lounge music. The second half is a bit of a let down but the first half carries it.

2) K’naan, Troubador - On the flipside, the second half of this album is really innovative hip hop with brilliant storytelling. The first half is a lot slicker than his first offering, and a bit plain. But the second half is worth the wait.

3) Luke Doucet, Blood’s Too Rich - Took a few listens to get into, but Luke's a phenomenal guitar player and his music is a tonne of fun.

4) Joel Plaskett, Three - Oh man this guy has a gift for catchy riffs and hooks, and this is his magnum opus - a trilogy detailing his departure from, exodus away, and return to Nova Scotia. Amazing backup vocals from some of the province's finast female vocalists, sweet harmonic blend.

5) Bop Ensemble, Between Trains - Saw this "Canadian folk music super group" at Stanfest. I'd never heard of any of the members, but they are indeed super. I guess they literally recorded this between trains, so it's got a good jam feel, yet the songwriting and talent of the performers gives it polish.

6) Brett Dennen, Hope for the Hopeless - My favourite musical discovery of the year is California's Brett Dennen, lovechild of Bob Dylan, Bob Marley and Ron Sexsmith. Highly political lyrics with a folkish reggae backbeat.

7) Rolling Stones, Let it Bleed - One of those classic albums you think maybe you should own, and then you hear it and you wonder how you lived without it.

8) Martha Wainwright, I Know You’re Married but I’ve Got Feelings Too - Raunchy folk-signer who is way better than her more famous brother.

9) Mary Margaret O’Hara, Miss America - Another classic you should really, really own.

10) Metric, Fantasies - I was surprised by this album, how good it is, kind of transports me to a funkier universe while I type my missives.

11) Cat Power, Jukebox - Powerful sultry vocals covering some great but mostly lesser known American country/folk/blues numbers from the last half century.


Charles Gramlich said...

As you can no doubt guess, my friend, I have only one of these albums, the Rolling Stones. Other than that I barely recognize most of these musicians/groups. Viva la differance I suppose. I should list my 10.

benjibopper said...

I'd love to see your top 10 (or 8 or 11)!

Furbottle said...

#3. Crip's Too Poor The two-chordy, Lennonist song about Cleveland,the Pink Floydoid mangling of Spanish in Commandante (cf. "Scusi dove รจ il bar?" from Not Now John") and the song about living for the weekend despite it being only Tuesday were fantastic. I sometimes feel that Luke's talent for quirky songwriting is drowning in the undertow of his quasi guitar heroism. His fretwork is top-notch, but it's hardly what draws me to his CDs. Have I got that backwards?

#6 Rope for the Hopeless. Dude! YOU discovered Brett Dennen?! Awesome! His agent and manager will be pissed to find out that it was you and not them who got him of course, but you can ri-i-i-de those royalty checks all the way to the retirement home, man.

#7 Let it Bleed. Um, no. Don't ever let it bleed. Nine out of ten times it's clearly a bad idea. Children, if you are watching this, NO! NO! Apply pressure, IMMEDIATELY! Best way to go!

#8 I Know You've Got Feelings, But I'm Married II. I know nothing about Martha Wainwright, but if her brother's name rhymes with 'dufus', then I immediately and unconditionally agree with your assessment.

#9 Missembodied America. ♪"When your bodies in... TROUBLE!"♪. Ah. Brings back memories. The video is fantastic. Phil Hartman once reminiscing to Dave Foley on this subject said ONLY two words. "GOOD times... good times".


benjibopper said...

You do indeed have it backwards with Luke. After seeing him live again I felt like he was downright subdued on the album. More guitar!

Furbottle said...

I have re-listened to Blood Stew, Rich! several times, in view of your argument. In the end, and with apologies, I have to come down on the side of less guitar. There's way too much of it on the CD.

You have to remember though that among my favourite artistes are the Prince and the Costello. Neither of them wank on the guitar very much at all, despite an ability to do so, ad hoc, at whim. (Nice) guitar solos creep into their songs sometimes, but only rarely, and seemingly just when needed.

Luke writes great songs too, which - take it from me - is a higher calling than random and somewhat impressive guitar wanking.

Don't get me wrong, a good live wank pleases us all. But on disc I somehow prefer a high song-to-wank ratio.