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Friday, January 30, 2009

Best Albums of 2009: January

Best Albums of 2009

Rather than compiling a huge list at the end of the year, not having enough time to do a good job, and simply throwing something together really fast, I'm going to start compiling my thoughts on albums over the whole year - month by month.

January Edition

Not much to report yet.

J. Tillman - Vacilando Territory Blues

Oops - did I jump the gun and put this on my 2008 list? I guess I got it early. Let me reiterate what I have already said about why I like this album. And I quote from my premature 2008 posting: J. Tillman has been putting out some great solo, singer-songwriter material for a few years. I found him via his current gig as the drummer for Fleet Foxes and form my bro-in-law McGreggor. His 2nd release of the year, I like this one better than Minor Works. The production value and sound quality isn’t quite as good as Minor Works, but thankfully, he didn’t lay down the countrified slide guitar as much. Top tracks are Firstborn, James Blues [download mp3], Barter Blues and Master’s House.

Andrew Bird - Noble Beast

According to my wife, the cellist, Andrew Bird should be put into a different category of band, because unlike all of us run-of-the-mill musicians, Bird is classically trained in a "real instrument." Namely, the violin. And boy can he play! He also can lay down a mean whistle. Noble Beast is standard Bird. I don't see much here that departs too drastically from his previous releases - other than slight evolutions in his sound which came with Armchair Apocrypha as well. And, as with his other albums, I think it is fantastic, but only a few songs ever really stick with me. In this case, they are Oh No [download mp3], Nomenclature and Souverian.

Coconut Records - Davy

I like Jason Schwartzman. I wish that he had never left Phantom Planet though. Not necessarily because I don't like his solo gig - Coconut Records - but because Phantom Planet took a turn for the worse once he left. That said, I like his sophomore release as Coconut Records. It follows closely in the footsteps of Nighttiming and has come catchy fun tracks. Take note of Drummer, Any Fun [download mp3] and Wandering Around.

Ben Kweller - Changing Horses

Oh Ben, Ben, Ben. I have such a love and hate relationship with you. I love one album, hate the next, love the one after that and now hate this one. Bummer. Why have you gone the way of the countryfried indie rocker trying to get in touch with his country-bumpkin roots?! As far as I'm concerned, here's how I rate my Kweller catalog:

Hello and Dizzy (Radish) - he was 13 years old, what do you expect?
Restraining Bolt (Radish) - a good start
Discount Fireworks (unreleased Radish material) - CRAZY AWESOME!
Melange - good
Bromeo EP - fair
Freak Out its Ben Kweller - also good
Sha Sha - Holy Delicious Batman!
On My Way - blah!!!
Sundress EP - a good recovery
Ben Kweller (s/t) - a good return to goodness
How Ya Lookin' Southbound ? Come In... EP - ugh
Changing Horses - double ugh

The few tracks that I will keep on the album are Gypsy Rose, Things I Like to Do and Homeward Bound [download mp3].

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