Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My Favorite Albums of 2009 (20-11)

Since I am new to the world of blogging, I figured it best to give a little insight to the kind of music that interests me. What better way to do that than share my favorite albums of 2009. I'm not making a case that these are the most important albums of the year. These are just the albums that helped pull me through a year that saw much of the world in a somewhat depressed state (bad economy, Yankees winning the World Series, etc).

So here we go with #20-11. I'll follow up with 10-1 in a few days.

20. Charlie Robison - Beautiful Day: The man who was once married to a Dixie Chick makes an album about dealing with divorce, but surrounds it with music so sunny you don't feel the least bit depressed while listening.

19. Phish - Joy: The closest band we have to a modern day Dead regroup and make their best album in years. Listing to this album takes me back to my high school years when my friends and I would ride around and listen to Billy Breathes and A Live One...this album is almost that good. Try listing to the song "Backwards Down The Number Line" without a smile on your face.

18. Drive-By Truckers - Live From Austin TX: This one would place a lot higher if it actually contained any new music. This set comes packaged with a DVD of the entire concert. Check out the excellent versions of "Let There Be Rock," " The Living Bubba," and " 18 Wheels of Love."

17. Cross Canadian Ragweed - Happiness And All The Other Things: This may not be one of the boys from Oklahoma's best albums, but it had enough stellar songs to keep it on my iPod for most of the year. The version I have includes a bonus track of Cody playing the Willie Nelson classic "Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground" acoustic. This song alone is almost worth the price of the album.

16. Son Volt - American Central Dust: After Uncle Tupelo disbanded in the early 90's, Jay Farrar formed Son Volt and made the excellent album Trace. In all the years since then, this is as close as he's gotten to matching Trace's greatness. After many years of experimenting with new sounds, Jay Farrar finally steered Son Volt back into the realm of pure Alt-Country.

15. Steve Earle - Townes: Mr. Earle takes on his mentor, Townes Van Zandt's songs. While the entire album consists of covers, all the songs are undeniably Steve Earle as he manages to make each song his own. My favorite track on the album is the duet with his son Justin Townes Earle (yes, named after Van Zandt)"Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold."

14. Brad Paisley - American Saturday Night: I'm not much of a mainstream country fan these days, but Paisley is a master of his craft. He is the total package of musician, singer, performer, and songwriter. This is his best album. With songs like the title track and "Water" this was a great album enjoy on those hot southern summer nights.

13. Drive-By Truckers - The Fine Print (A Collection of Oddities and Rarities 2003-2008): The second Drive-By Truckers album on this list. This album has a few throw-away tracks, but the majority is way above average for a B-Sides album. The cover of Tom Petty's "Rebels" is a personal favorite along with "TVA," "George Jones Talkin Cell Phone Blues," and "The Great Car Dealer War." Too many covers, reworked songs and not enough contributions by band members not named Patterson or this one would be much higher on my list. I can't wait for the new album in March of 2010.

12. Pearl Jam - Backspacer: One of my favorite bands released the most pop-oriented album of their career. Many of my friends don't care for this album because of it's simplicity. It's not their best work, but I think it was the right album for them to make at this stage of their career. I saw an Eddie Vedder quote that said something to the effect of "we've made difficult records, and I'm sure we'll make more difficult records in the future." For this one, they just wanted to rock. Who can blame them for that?

11. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Cardinology: In my opinion, this is the strongest album from Adams since Jacksonville City Nights. The songs are more polished than we are used to seeing from him. He stated shortly after this album was released that he would be taking a break from music, presumably to focus on his new wife Mandy Moore. Check out the song "Magick" for one of the best feel good rock songs of the year.

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