Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Rhythms and Rhymes of 2009

I've started an annual tradition this year of making a mix of songs that came out in the last year that I really liked. In general, the popular music of the year was kind of terrible (remember this? Or this?), but there were some redeeming tunes (Am I right?) along the way. A lot of really good and interesting stuff got overlooked, but with the nature of the music industry it's hard to catch everything.
Here's a list of the songs on my 2009 mix:

Monsters of Folk: Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.)

The members of Monsters of Folk certainly weren't thinking modesty when naming the band. This supergroup is made up of Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes, Yim Yames of My Morning Jacket, solo performer M. Ward, and Mike Mogis, who's appeared with bands like Bright Eyes and The Faint. Monsters of Folk is one of my favorite of the modern freak-folk genre and I can't wait to hear more of it.

Phish: Backwards Down The Number Line

Phish is back! I've always preferred live music, so most of the stuff this band has produced has treated me well in the past. Joy is a studio album, so it's not quite up to snuff as far as their other releases go. I just couldn't resist adding a song considering they've been apart and not recording for so long.

Paolo Nutini: Coming Up Easy

Of all the pop singer/songwriters out there, Paolo has got to be
my favorite. His style is sweet and genuine, and any of his songs makes for a good, uplifting listen. Maybe it's the charming Scottish accent, but it certainly doesn't take long to fall for Paolo.

Mason Jennings: Pittsburgh

Nobody writes lyrics like Mason Jennings does, and "Pittsburgh" is a testament to his talent. He describes various traumatic adolescent experiences with phenomenal imagery and tangible emotion. "Blood of Man" is a fantastic album, and I would recommend to almost anybody. It's definitely one of my favorite albums this year.

If you could spend your life with a big group of hippie friends driving around the country and playing music, would you do it? These guys are living the dream. The band, headed by Alex Ebert and Jade Castrinos, released its first album, "Up From Below," this year. Every song on the album is guaranteed to make you grin like a fool, and I can't wait for more.

Weezer: Let It All Hang Out

Say what you will, but Weezer's one of my all-time favorite bands. And although I wasn't thrilled with Raditude, this song is reminiscent of their older albums. It's just goofy enough, and you can't say it isn't catchy.
I'll stand by this band forever, Weezy or not.

Wolfmother: New Moon Rising

I just got into the Australian trio Wolfmother this year, and it's refreshing to hear a modern, sturdy rock band. The vocals and guitar wail on "New Moon Rising," and the whole album is really well-done. I'd love to hear this band live.

The Flaming Lips: The Sparrow Looks Up At The Machine

Another good psychedelic rock song from a really talented group. "Embryonic" has nothing on Yoshimi, but it's still a good album. There's a great video of the band in the studio at NPR's Morning Becomes Eclectic.

All of my music-snob friends have messed themselves over Them Crooked Vultures. I'm getting to that point, but still working on it. The band, another supergroup, is made up of John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and Nirvana, and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age. The album is exactly what you'd expect (fantastic) and they're already working on a second.

Telekinesis: Coast of Carolina

This is by far my favorite song of 2009. It gets better every time I listen to it, and trust me, I listen to it a lot. The song describes the confusion of a big city, and the thirst for open spaces. You can taste how much frontman Michael Benjamin Lerner yearns to be on that coast. Listen to this one, and then listen to it again.

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