2009 was another great year for music, with the exception of Micheal Jackson's sudden death of course. Most of my favorite bands put out new albums, and I got to see most of them live in concert. And we also got to see the second coming of the Beatles, with the absolutely fantastic Rock Band game and the even better entire reissued catalog. We still owe a lot of our lives to them.
Top 10 Albums Of 2009:
1. Backspacer - Pearl Jam
PJ, soon approaching their 20th year as a band, is still going strong. Backspacer isn't groundbreaking in any way, but listening to this record, you just can't help but feel an immense amount of joy overwhelm you. This is one of those rare records that make you believe in the power of rock & roll to heal people. Seriously, there hasn't been a band that made a rock record this good since The White Stripes' Elephant.
2. Big Whiskey & The GrooGrux King - Dave Matthews Band
DMB's comeback album after their previous two mediocre ones, and their best one in over ten years. As much as I hate to say it, this definitely had something to do with Leroi Moore's death last year. Not only is every song good here, I particularly like the way they are sequenced. This album is so 'full' of music that every time I listen to it, I always hear stuff I never heard before. Big Whiskey is a heartfelt tribute to a fallen comrade.
3. No Line On The Horizon - U2
U2 has been making consistently great music over the past twenty years, despite their selling themselves out many times. It's no doubt that No Line is their best since 1991's Achtung Baby. I like that the band didn't really take the 'commercial route' this time (thanks to Brian Eno); instead they challenged themselves and made an album that makes you wanna pay attention to all the songs, rather than just one or two standout songs. Some of the best work of their career (i.e. Magnificent, Moment Of Surrender, Unknown Caller, Breathe) can be found here.
4. Together Through Life - Bob Dylan
Dylan, already in his late 60's, still proves he's got the chops, and can easily wipe the floor with any young recording artist. The feel of this album is quite similar to his previous two classics, 2006's Modern Times and 2001's Love And Theft; in a way, Together Through Life is the last of the great trilogy. This time however, he adds the accordion on every song, which actually is a good thing, like a breath of fresh air. Many people might disagree, but I think he still has a fucking awesome voice; a voice that can't be imitated, no matter how hard you try. The man has put a unique stamp on his songs; you listen to them, and even without the singing, you can almost immediately tell it's a Dylan song.
5. Before The Frost...Until The Freeze - The Black Crowes
It took me a while to get into this album, but once I did, I was absolutely floored. The double album (one more rock & roll, and the other acoustic) was all recorded live at Levon Helm's studio, and it shows what great musicians they are. The Crowes have earned their rightful place as one of the greatest southern rock bands of all time. This is one band I have to see live.
6. Wilco (The Album) - Wilco
This is probably the band's most easily accessible album since 1999's Summerteeth. Lots of fun pop songs here. It's amazing when you look back at Wilco's incredible output this decade, from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot to A Ghost Is Born to Sky Blue Sky, and now to their self-titled release. Every one of these albums is totally different from each other. One of my favorite songs this year has got to be You Never Know, a very uplifting 'George Harrison-inspired' tune, which IMO, should've gotten a Grammy nomination for Song Of The Year.
7. Revolution - Miranda Lambert
I got many good things to say about this Nashville girl. Forget Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift; Miranda Lambert is the real deal, the best thing to happen to modern country music since the Dixie Chicks. She has a nice way of injecting her quirky and funny lyrics into those beautiful ballads, and she's an incredibly sincere singer too. After listening to Revolution, one thing's for certain; she don't take shit from anybody.
8. Monsters Of Folk - Monsters Of Folk
Sometimes a supergroup can be a very good thing. Four talented guys from three different bands (Bright Eyes, My Morning Jacket, She & Him) get together to make a diverse record rich of musical styles. So it's not entirely a folk album, contrary to what the title might suggest. The best songs here are the ones where Jim James takes the lead vocals, with his beautiful falsetto voice. Being a fan of MMJ, I immediately fell in love with this album.
9. Horehound - The Dead Weather
I vote for Jack White as the breakthrough artist of this decade. He's like the Prince of our generation. This time, he's keeping a low profile by playing the drums, and he does it pretty fucking good as well. Alison Mosshart (from The Kills) is the lead singer here, and she never made the blues sounded so dirty and good. I get chills whenever I listen to this. Check out the kick-ass cover of a Dylan song, New Pony.
10. Working On A Dream - Bruce Springsteen
In my most honest opinion, the Boss is THE artist of the decade. Bruce decided to take things down a notch after his two previous heavy albums, The Rising and Magic, making a lighthearted record, with an ode to the wonderful pop music of the 60's, full of beautiful harmonies and catchy melodies. This is one of the most underrated albums of 2009.
Top 10 Songs Of 2009:
1. Amongst The Waves - Pearl Jam
2. Lying In The Hands Of God - Dave Matthews Band
3. Magnificent - U2
4. Why I Am - Dave Matthews Band
5. Unthought Known - Pearl Jam
6. Kingdom Of Days - Bruce Springsteen
7. You Never Know - Wilco
8. Backwards Down The Number Line - Phish
9. Empire State Of Mind - Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys
10. I Feel A Change Comin' On - Bob Dylan
Top 5 Gigs Of 2009:
1. Pearl Jam -- Nov 14, Perth
2. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band -- Jun 28, Hyde Park
3. Neil Young -- Jun 27, Hyde Park
4. Dave Matthews Band -- Jun 26, Brixton Academy
5. The Gaslight Anthem -- Jun 28, Hyde Park