Best music of ’09 (So Far)

This is long overdue, as is a blog post about anything at all. I might update with some real news about my life/thoughts lately in the next few days. I’m having a hard time putting into words all of the things that have been going on in my life recently. It’s nothing huge, and I guess it doesn’t matter because everyone who reads this is probably someone I normally talk to anyway.

Anyway, here are some thoughts about some of my favorite music I’ve been listening to this year.

(I didn’t spend much time putting in links, but you people know how to use the Google.)

Elbow

-Of all the good music to come out so far this year, my favorite thing that I’VE discovered was actually released last year. “The Seldom Seen Kid” is the fourth album from Elbow, a quintet of Brits from Manchester who have been big in the UK for a while, but still don’t get the recognition they deserve here in the States. To use a line that I constantly use when describing Elbow, I can’t say enough good things about this band. The lead singer, Guy Garvey, sings with a thickly-accented voice that seems to have a limitless range. He’s the real deal. The arrangements by the rest of the band are interesting and never too much or too little, and are accented by plenty of strings and even brass at times. But what have really sucked me in are the lyrics. When I saw Elbow last weekend, Garvey admitted that all of the songs were about love, in one way or another. And whether it’s the great parts about love or the awful, painful parts, Garvey writes some of the most evocative and beautiful lyrics I’ve heard in a long time. Start with this album, then check out “Leaders of the Free World” and “Asleep in the Back”.

Bon Iver “Blood Bank EP”

-Justin Vernon, the brains and voice behind Bon Iver, put out my favorite album of 2008 (unless you count Elbow’s album). With this four-song EP released in January, he hasn’t disappointed with his second release. When it first came out, I got hooked on the song “Woods”, a beautiful acapella song that relies heavily on Auto-Tune (in a good way…yes, that’s possible), and didn’t really give the rest of the EP a fair shake. But after seeing Bon Iver live in June, I went back and realized that all four songs are great in their own way. Check out “Beach Baby” and “Blood Bank”.

Coldplay “Prospekt’s March” EP and  “Leftrightleftrightleft” (Live)

-More good music from one of the great bands of our generation. Really love the song “Glass of Water” on the EP.

The Damnwells “One Last Century”

-Just good, thoughtful alternative rock music from a great band. Was available for free on Paste Magazine’s website for a while. Might still be. Not sure.

Dave Matthews Band “Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King”

-Favorite band of all time. Finally back to making the kind of music that they are capable of. “Squirm” is epic, and “Why I Am” is catchy, awesome, rock radio gold.

David Mead “Almost and Always”

-One of the most underrated Nashville singer-songwriters. Another really fun album.

Derek Webb “Stockholm Syndrome”

-Lots of hype about this one that I won’t go into. This is a totally different direction for Derek, with very little acoustic guitar and a ton of computer-generated sounds. Lyrically, it’s his most challenging and bold (and that’s saying something). He address race, sexuality, and becoming a slave to a governmental system, and how these things apply to Christians. A lot of people will probably be offended by some of it, but they should be. I love this album.

Jaydiohead

-This is a Radiohead/Jay-Z mashup. It’s awesome. You can download it for free online, so do that.

Kings of Leon “Because of the Times”

-I think pretty much everyone loves this album and knows how great it is. I’m so glad they’re famous.

Lorien “Esque”

-Got their album on Noisetrade (www.noisetrade.com). It’s probably still there and it’s definitely still free. I think of them as a cross between Jump, Little Children and Mute Math. Or maybe Muse.

Manchester Orchestra “Mean Everything to Nothing”

-Favorite album of 2009 so far. Which is surprising, because their sound isn’t something that normally attracts me. But there are at least 3 or 4 moments on this album that have brought me to tears because of lyrics and/or the pure, raw emotion of the moment in that particular song. Lyrically, this album is right where I’ve been for a lot of this year, so it really hit close to home the first time I heard it, and still does. This is a really, really, really great album by a young band that I think will be around for a long time.

Sandra McCracken “Red Balloon”

-She never disappoints.

Sarah Siskind “Say It Louder”

-Wonderful singer/songwriter who has written a lot of famous songs and has now released one of my favorite recordings of this year. Beautiful voice.

Wilco “The Album”

-I want to be in this band.

I’ve also spent a lot of time this year listening to the music of Dirty Projectors, Sara Watkins, Mikky Ekko, Joe Pug, Phoenix, Nick Flora, Passion Pit, and Jump, Little Children (yes, they’re old and no longer together but I can’t get over how great they were). I recommend all of this music.

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~ by wchandlerparker on August 17, 2009.

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