Here it is folks! Expanded for 2009, my
Top 20 Albums of the Year – Part I.
20. Wye Oak – The Knot
It’s a loud, alt-rock album kept country with a heavy dose of steel guitar. Wye Oak is Jenn Wasner (guitar, vocals) and Andy Stack (drums, vocals). If being signed to Merge Records isn’t enough, the beauty of The Knot, their sophomore album, should help bring some attention going into the next decade.
Wye Oak – For Prayer
19. Wilco – Wilco (The Album)
The boldly titled seventh album from alt-country mainstay Wilco did not disappoint. Jeff Tweedy continues to provide welcoming melodies and infectious guitar licks overlain with his unmistakably heavyhearted vocals. Each time I listen, I find a new favorite track. In fact, as I write this, I already wish I would have placed it higher in this list.
Wilco – I’ll Fight
18. Slaid Cleaves - Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away
Music Road, 4.21.2009
Folk storyman Slaid Cleaves may not pump out albums, but for our patience we get carefully crafted song showcases that continually impress. While Everything You Love doesn’t have a ‘Broke Down,’ there remain 11 songs filled with first-person experience that only Slaid could recount with such ease and grace.
Slaid Cleaves – Black T-Shirt
17. Stephanie Briggs – Birds Barely Know Us
Smith Entertainment, 3.31.2009
It’s strange that out of all the Texas acts I used to follow, a female, Stephanie Briggs, would bring an album that follows the general direction to which my musical tastes have shifted. What’s not so strange is that running around with the likes of Cody Canada, Stephanie learned how to use a guitar the right way. Calling New Braunfels, TX home, Stephanie (guitar, vocals) and husband Matthew (percussion, vocals) offer a freshly energetic album with an indie-edge.
Stephanie Briggs – Private Parts
16. The Felice Brothers – Yonder Is The Clock
Team Love, 4.7.2009
Since 2007’s Tonight At The Arizona, each of The Felice Brothers‘ albums have become slightly less enjoyable – mainly due to too much album-filler. But just as I passed through Yonder Is The Clock to check inventory, I remembered just how good the good ones are. Ian Felice can strike my fancy just as easily with a raucous barn-burner as he can with a plaintive dirge. Read my original review.
The Felice Brothers – Boy From Lawrence County
15. Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses – Roadhouse Sun
Lost Highway, 6.2.2009
Another product of the Texas Music scene, Ryan Bingham emerged with the basics only to build upon them to gain national success. I’ll admit, if I hadn’t found this album for $3.99 on Amazon, I most-likely wouldn’t have given it a shot this year. Sure glad I did – Roadhouse Sun is a dustblown disc expertly arranged with the fullest sound to come from Ryan yet.
Ryan Bingham – Change Is
14. Great Bloomers - Speak of Trouble
Maple Music Recordings, 4.21.2009
The Great Bloomers came out of nowhere (actually Canada) and brought us an easy choice for a top 20 list. Lowell Sostomi and crew offer piano-fueled, guitar-aided, harmony-highlighted folk-pop that oozes optimism. Listed first in their ‘influence’ column are The Beach Boys, and nowhere does that ‘influence’ ring truer than when they institute deft 4-part harmonies. Speak of Trouble jauntily guides you though 11 tracks of unique arrangements and sticky melodies.
Great Bloomers – Admit Defeat
13. Brendan Benson – My Old, Familiar Friend
This is Brendan Benson’s fourth solo album, but remains the only one I’ve heard. I was first introduced to Brendan when he joined forces with Jack White in The Raconteurs. When I heard My Old, Familiar Friend, it was quickly evident how much of Consolers was influenced by Brendan. If you like the pop melodies and smooth vocals from The Raconteurs, Brendan Benson comes highly recommended. First order of business for 2010: check out Benson’s back catalog.
Brendan Benson – Garbage Day
12. The Avett Brothers – I And Love And You
Just two short years after The Avett Brothers topped my list of albums, it seems they are already the clichéd choice. Good news for them, but as you’ll remember from my original review, (sorta) bad news for me. Their meteoric rise from obscurity landed them in the studio with Rick Rubin for 2009’s I And Love And You. His polished touch on the album created a different sound that initially rubbed some of us the wrong way. From the small sampling of reviews I found that weren’t fawning over the disc, one common theme emerged: This album will grow on you. While in its second listening round, the album hit me in a different way. Once I got over the production choices, all that was left were the songs. And they were good.
The Avett Brothers – And It Spread
11. These United States – Everything Touches Everything
United Interests, 9.1.2009
Reigning Best Album champs These United States released their third disc in just two years. Last year’s Crimes was my choice for Best Album last year, but interestingly enough, I couldn’t find a song from it to include in my Best Songs list. The same approach was taken with 2009’s Everything Touches Everything, in which Jesse Elliot crafted a cohesive album. None of the songs were written with a single in mind, but rather each was written as an equally important element to the disc. Maybe it’s not quite as good as Crimes (due mainly to the fact that its opener was a stellar, thematic lead-in), but still an immense joy to listen to – and that’s all that matters.
These United States – I’m Gonna Assemble A City
Continue to Part II (Albums 1-10)….
2009’s Top 5 EP’s
2009’s Best Videos
Refresh your memory with last year’s lists:
Top Albums, pt 1
Top Albums, pt 2