There was plenty to not love about 2009, but it did have a lot of good music. Each year I put together a playlist of some of the favorite “new” tracks in my music library. I put new in quotes to emphasize that the list doesn’t consist necessarily of music released in that year, but rather music that was new to me — maybe even an old favorite that I never had a copy of. Here’s this year’s list with a little commentary and the occasional amazon affiliate link.
- Great Expectations / The Gaslight Anthem
The opening track from The ’59 Sound is a real burner, and sets the tone for the entire, great album. (at amazon)
- Here I Am (Come and Take Me) / Al Green
Because, come on.
- The Blue / Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit
I heard this track in lots of unexpected places this year, like over the PA system at the FLG airport. Good stuff. (at amazon)
- Swim Until You Can’t See Land / Frightened Rabbit
This song is the first pre-release track over at eMusic. Frightened Rabbit’s new album comes out later this year, and it’s on the AV Club’s most anticipated 2010 entertainment. They say much better than I can, why we’re all eager for this album:
The jump in excellence between Frightened Rabbit’s first album, Sing The Grays, and its second, 2008’s incredible The Midnight Organ Fight, was huge—anticipating another such leap for the upcoming The Winter Of Mixed Drinks would be ridiculous. But if Drinks is even half as good as Organ Fight, it’ll be twice as good as just about anything else out there: The Scottish band perfectly combines raw emotion and the dourness of everyday life with spikes of roaring joy.
(Get Frightened Rabbit’s Midnight Organ Fight at amazon)
- Little Lion Man / Mumford & Sons
Someone posted a link to the video for this track on a forum I read occasionally, and I had to have the whole album. It’s crazy-good wild stringy folk with fantastic vocal harmonies. (at amazon)
- At Midnight / Glossary
- Damagasi – Africando / Africando
We spent a few months taking salsa lessons last year. This is a nice one for dancin. (at amazon)
- Monster Ballads / Josh Ritter
Josh Ritter has to make an appearance, of course. This is a great acoustic take on the song, originally from an album that’s on Paste’s best of the decade list:
13. Josh Ritter: The Animal Years [V2] (2006): After the latter third of the 20th century became littered with “new Dylans,” it became obvious that no one could ever fill that role. So when Ritter made his first few strummy, literate records, there were no lofty expectations to keep him from developing his talent and fanbase. After three promising albums, the masterpiece arrived. Recorded with producer Brian Deck, who stretched Ritter’s rootsy folk in more ambitious directions, The Animal Years is bookended by a pair of epic ballads—“Girl in the War” and “Thin Blue Flame”—which helped secure his place at the table of great songwriters without ever having to live in anybody’s shadow.
- Black Star / Gillian Welch
An elegant cover of the Radiohead song, with Welch’s fine voice and David Rawlings’ guitars.
- Regreso / Aziza Brahim (at amazon)
- At War With The Sun / The Big Pink (at amazon)
- Now We Can See / The Thermals
Yes, have some. (at amazon)
- Ships With Holes Will Sink / We Were Promised Jetpacks
- Idle (The Rabbit Song) / Hem
I totally fell for Hem in 2009. Such great songs, so beautifully performed. (I also learned that Dawn Landes plays with Hem — awesome!) (hem at amazon)
- Wallflower / Uncle Earl
The same way Chatham County Line grabbed me last year, Uncle Earl’s classic, clear bluegrass sound got to me this year. (at amazon)
- Rudie Fails / White Rabbits
(What is it with band names with “Rabbit”?) It’s Frightening is a super album, absolutely propelled by cracking percussion and Britt Daniels’ (of Spoon) production. Great title, too. (at amazon)
- Djer aman / Terakaft
Listen for the instrumental breakdown about 2:30 in for some of the most wide-open, bright guitar around. (at amazon)
- Here’s Lookin At You, Kid / The Gaslight Anthem
Closing out the year with the last track from ‘59 Sound is a sweetly regretful love song about convincing yourself that your heart really isn’t broken, like Bob Dylan’s “Most of the Time.” (at amazon)