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Best Albums This Year (So Far)


We are slightly past the half way mark for 2009 and I have been thinking about the the new albums that I just can’t stop playing. I don’t know if I am just in some sort of woman singer songwriter mode but my list this year is dominated by them. Here is my list, in no particular order. I will rank them at the end of the year (with a few thoughts about each album).

	Album				Artist1. 	

California Years			Jill Sobule

She is brilliant. Her lyrics always unfold a lyrical story. Sometimes the story is sad, sometimes funny, sometimes inspiring, and always enjoyable. Stand out tracks include Palm Springs and Nothing To Prove.

2.	It's Frightening			White Rabbits

If you like drum runs then buy this album. Some of the best drums I have heard in a long time. The whole album is packed with pounding fast rhythms. This has become my main album to write by lately. It is particularly good for action sequences. In fact it has become a recent habit to play the song Percussion Gun when starting any new action sequence.

3.	Dancing The Whole Way Home	Miss Li

This is a perfect example of how much great music there is in the world. Linda Carlsson is Miss Li. A native of Sweden whose music is a mix of jazz, alternative rock, and the kitchen sink. I literally just stumbled on this album while looking for something new to listen to. One listen through and I was back on my e-music account downloading the rest of her music. I haven’t stopped listening since then. My favorite tracks are Polythene Queen and Stupid Girl.

4. 	Actor				St. Vincent

Annie Clark could sing the phone book. Serious, she would get down into the B’s and I would be like, “That was the best sounding Boyd ever.” The music is lush on this album. Layers upon layers of sounds all working to compliment her beautiful voice. This has been my favorite St. Vincent album and that is saying a lot because I loved her last one. She seems to be getting better with each release. I can hardly wait for the next one. Check out the songs Actor Out Of Work and Marrow, two of my favorite on an album that has no bad songs.

5. 	Middle Cyclone			Neko Case

She is like Ghiradelli Chocolate, you know that it is always going to be good. This is another album that became my favorite by that artist. Another amazing feat since she has not put out a bad album. One of the things I most amazed by with Neko Case is her ability to weave in and out of so many different musical styles. She will play anything from alt. country to alt. rock. My favorite tracks for this album are People Got A Lotta Nerve and Polar Nettles.

6.	Grrr...				Bishop Allen

This is just a light and bouncy album. The music is deceptively deep. On a first listen you tend to find yourself bobbing your head to the whimsical lyrics and beats. Then you listen again and hear all the great instrumentation going on in the background. This is an album to listen to when you are feeling down. It will perk you up and make you smile. Check out the tracks Shanghaied and Cue The Elephants.

7. 	Ordinary Riches			Company Of Thieves

I am clearly a sucker for the female voice and Genevieve Schatz has a great one. Combine that voice with some great sounds and you have a band that has the chance to be something special. This was another band that I just stumbled across and then couldn’t stop hitting the repeat button. A great debut and I am looking forward to the next release. In the meantime go listen to Old Letters and Past The Sleep.

8.	Face Control			Handsome Furs

Dan Boeckner, of Wolf Parade, can’t stop making music. He must wake up in the middle of the night with music in his head that needs to get written down. Add in his wife (Alexei Perry), a guitar, and a drum machine and you have Handsome Furs. This album again uses Boeckner’s voice as the main instrument. The songs are full of great hooks but ultimately you are going to love or hate this band based on Boeckner’s voice. I have lots of tracks that I love on this album but I am going to send you right to the first two. Listen to Legal Tender and Evangeline and you will know right away if Handsome Furs tickles your music bone.

9.	Yes!				K-OS

K-OS is a hip-hop artist that gets played on alternative radio stations. That should pretty much tell you what you are getting into. I think what I love the most about K-OS is how consistent he is from album to album. This is not something that can be said about most hip-hop artists. Continuing my theme of “Wow that’s the best album yet”, K-OS delivers a lyrical and thoughtful musical dish. There isn’t a bad track on this album but you can’t go wrong with Zambony and Burning Bridges.

10.	About A Girl			Winter Gloves

I really want to know what they are feeding their alternative rockers in Canada. The amount of amazing rock coming across the border has been boggling my mind. I have to admit that I owe this one to I-tunes. They gave me a song for free and I loved it. I went and listened to the rest of the music and quickly purchased the album. The moral of that little story is that free music is not always bad if handled properly. They gave me a song and I bought 9 more. There are two songs on this album that have incredible hooks (Invisible and Factories) so I would start there.

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