Monday, December 28, 2009

My 10 Favorite Releases of 2009

Well, it’s that time of the year again. 2009 is almost at a close and as we hover in anticipation of the New Year, this is a good time to reflect on the great music that came to us this past year. I’m hopeful that 2010 will bring half as many quality releases as 2009 did. Will we see a new Aerosmith record? I doubt it. Could we hold out hope that KISS goes back into the studio? Not likely. But we do know that there are some great albums on the horizon. Bruce Kulick is set to release a solo album, Buckcherry is in the studio, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are recording new music. Spoon, Lifehouse, Vampire Weekend, Natalie Merchant, and Airbourne are all talking about 2010 releases. And that’s just to get us started. Yeah, 2010 should be a great year for new music!

While we wait for future releases, let’s take a moment to reflect on the past. Here are my ten favorites of the past year. This was no easy task by any stretch of the imagination. A lot of incredible records were left off the list only because there were so many excellent choices. This is in no particular order, other than they are what I feel represent the 10 best releases of the past year. Got a different opinion? Leave a comment or drop an e-mail and let the debates begin!

Dave Matthews Band – Big Whiskey And The Groogrux King

Without a doubt, Dave Matthews Band’s Big Whiskey… was one of the greatest gifts of 2009. Packed with memorable hits, smooth funky rhythms, and artistic punch, DMB has shown once again why they are leaders in the field of music and entertainment. Released in June, I played this CD several times when I first got my hands on it, at one point not listening to anything but this album for a week straight.

Here’s my review of Big Whiskey:

Lynch Mob – Smoke And Mirrors

I’ll be honest, when I heard that this album was coming out featuring original vocalist Oni Logan, I didn’t have much hope for greatness. Don’t get me wrong, I was excited and I wanted the album to do well and sound incredible. However, I’m a realist, and with Logan being MIA for so long, and George being out of the spotlight, I wasn’t sure if they still had that magical chemistry. Am I ever so glad that they erased all doubt. Smoke And Mirrors is a metal classic!

Here’s my review of Smoke And Mirrors:

U2 – No Line On The Horizon

Shocked. That’s how I was when I listened to No Line On The Horizon. I was skeptical of the new U2 disc. How could they possibly release another great disc after All That You Can’t Leave Behind and How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb? Well, somehow, they made it happen again. Another near perfect album came out this year from the Irish rockers beloved the world over. With incredible songs like the title track, Breathe, and Moment Of Surrender U2 continues to dazzle and show us just why they are one of the greatest rock bands in existence.

Here’s my review of No Line On The Horizon:

The Clarks – Restless Days

Back with their first album of new material in more than five years, The Clarks made fans very happy with this year’s release of Restless Days. The wait was worth it, because The Clarks turned in their best album since 2000’s Let It Go. Combining typical bar blues Clarks style rock and roll with intense lyrics and melodies, The Clarks have produced one exceptional album. If you only own one Clarks album, this is the one that it should be. Restless Days is simply amazing and definitely a worthy contender for record of the year in 2009.

Here’s my review of Restless Days:

KISS – Sonic Boom

Long time readers of The Rock and Roll Guru may call me biased for picking KISS to be in the top 10 albums of 2009, but that is not why they are being chosen. Yes, Kiss is my favorite band, but Sonic Boom is a worthy contender for record of the year. Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley went into the studio with Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer and put together one incredible album. Sonic Boom is so much more than a great Kiss record – it’s a great record. If you played it and had no idea what band it was, you’d still like it. It’s their best work in decades, it’s a strong rock record, and it’s one of the ten best for 2009.

Here’s my review for Sonic Boom:

Wilco – Wilco (the album)

After a 2-year tour in support of Sky Blue Sky, Wilco returned this year with Wilco (the album) a fun filled disc of excellent material, some of the best Wilco has delivered in a while. The evolution of their musical talent and their transitioning from alternative country to jazz rock is what helped this album stand out. Never being afraid to push the envelope or change his sound, Jeff Tweedy has taken the band into unchartered territory and it paid off. Wilco (the album) is one of the best Wilco albums to be released in a long time and it’s one of the 10 best to come out this year.

Here’s my review for Wilco (The Album):

Phish – Joy

2009 was a most excellent year for Phish and their fans. First, the band announced that they were reuniting and going on tour, kicking it off with three solid concerts in March. Then they made those concerts available for free while they launched into an extensive tour. Finally, the best news of all came out that Phish was cutting a record with Steve Lillywhite producing. Wow! Joy was the result of those recording sessions and the album is simply amazing; not only a great Phish album, but a great album in general. Lillywhite has the ability to bring out the best and beyond in the artists he works with, which is why he is such a sought after producer. The results are imminent in Joy, one of the best records I’ve heard this year.

Here’s my review of Joy:

Dion Roy – Gallery

New to the scene and new to me this year was Dion Roy who released the amazing Gallery back in May. A fabulous album of blended melodies, acoustic guitar, and wonderful harmonies, Gallery mixes elements of Pete Yorn, Ryan Adams, and David Gray and turns them into a wonderful record of folk style rock and roll. Gallery was the nicest surprise of the year for me and a fantastic album that fans of Ryan Adams and/or Uncle Tupelo should definitely own.

Here’s my review for Gallery:

Pearl Jam – Backspacer

In September, Pearl Jam released their long awaited album Backspacer to the delight of many fans (cousin Ryo included). It had been a long time since their last record (2006’s Pearl Jam) and the new songs were something that fans were crying to get their ears on. Well, the wait was worth it and the time between records paid off. Pearl Jam delivered another fantastic record, and while not quite as good as their self titled previous effort, Backspacer is certainly a worthy disc. A well crafted, well thought, beautifully arranged work of art.

Here’s my review of Backspacer:

Pete Yorn – Back and Fourth

As mentioned in my recent review, it took me a while to get into this record. At first, I was not very impressed at all. However, after revisiting (for this post, I believe) I was amazed at how good the album actually was. Once I stopped comparing it to his magnificent debut record (musicforthemorningafter) and accepted it for what it was (a new release by Pete) I was much more open to the songs contained within. Back and Fourth is an amazing journey through song and Pete Yorn has delivered an incredible record that is worth the time it takes to truly appreciate it.

Here’s my review of Back and Fourth:

And there you have it. Cousin Ryo’s picks for the 10 best releases of 2010. What are your picks?

Comments are open. Feel free to post some.


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I haven't heard yet many of these, but, Phish's Joy... I didn't like that much, maybe because I am used to their incredible live recordings. It's like every time they make a record something is missing. This album is a little too "positive" to me.

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