The Best of 2009

Music You “Aught” to Hear

What will this first decade of the new century be remembered as? “The Zero’s?” “The Turn of the Century?” “The Aughts?” Well, with the end of 2009 comes the end of the “whatever you want to call it” decade and a chance to introduce you to more new music.

So sit back, relax and enjoy this year’s favorites. It’s music you “aught” to hear. Happy holidays!

You can listen to these songs on Spotify. Click here.

P.S.  In case you’re interested, the artist who appeared most often over the decade is Jack Johnson (6 times), followed by Spoon and Ryan Adams (with 5 appearances each).


1. “The Great Defector”  Bell X1
Irish rockers, who have been around since 1999, make a splash in the States a decade later with a tune you’d swear was a lost Talking Heads classic.



2. “Lasso”  Phoenix
Hard rockin’, toe tappin’, pop number by this French indie band, who can be heard in the recent Cadillac TV ads.  Guess the French are good for some things. 😉


3. “Beat of My Heart”  Noisettes
Fronted by the stylish lead singer Shingai Shoniwa, the Noisettes shake things up from the UK with this soulful groove off their second release.



4. “Shoulda Shut It”  Backyard Tire Fire
Based in Bloomington, IL, this alt-country trio delivers a hook-filled, laid-back melody about a man who’s “in the business of regret”.  Who isn’t? 😉



5. “Great Ocean”  Dan Dyer
Must confess this one’s a bit older than the others, but can’t believe I missed it the first time around.  This boy’s got the pipes!  Similar to Lenny Kravitz, who discovered him in Austin.



6. “People Got a Lotta Nerve” – Neko Case
On hiatus from her guest appearances with the New Pornographers, Neko goes “animal” with references to killer whales and sharks on this fun mix of harmonies and jangled guitar.



7. “Harold T. Wilkins”  Fanfarlo
A British chamber quartet, who busted on the scene with their sweet, simple sound complete with rolling drums and prickling mandolins.  But who the heck is Harold T. Wilkins?




8. “Heartbeat Radio”  Sondre Lerche
The perfect track for this collection. The opening line, “Tell me what you think about this song…,” echoes my thoughts exactly. Sondre’s slam against current state of the radio biz. Thank god for NPR!



9. “Glass Brigade”  Little Tybee
A brand-new, Atlanta-based trio named after a small nature preserve off the shore of Savannah.  I dare you not to tap your fingers (or feet) to this one.  Go ahead, I dare ya!



10. “Flaming Arrow”  Jupiter One
Named after the spaceship from TV’s “Lost in Space”, this pop nugget soars with its catchy refrain, “You build me up, you burn me down.” Danger, Will Robinson!



11. “Feeling the Pull”  The Swell Season
Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, the sweethearts who won an Oscar with their “Once” soundtrack, have ended their relationship but still make beautiful music together with this powerful acoustic piece.



12. “When She’s Near”  Fiction Family
A collaboration between Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman and Nickel Creek’s Sean Watkins, the duo takes a turn performing their best XTC impersonation.  Andy Partridge would approve.



13. “Get Better”  Mates of State
While released in ’08, I didn’t discover this husband & wife act until this year.  Seemingly cemented into our car’s CD player this summer, this track was a particular favorite.



14. “Natural Reaction”  Gomez
Not seen on the “Best of” collection since 2006, Britain’s Gomez returns for their 4th appearance with another acoustic guitar-driven selection. Naturally.



15. “Go On, Say It”  Blind Pilot
Hooked from the opening drum beat, this moody, acoustic number from an emerging twosome out of Portland, OR makes them this year’s Fleet Foxes.



16. “Sick Muse”  Metric
Out of Canada, Metric’s frontwoman Emily Haines, who’s also worked with Stars and Broken Social Scene, belts out this dance-rock delight with hooks galore.



17. “Niagara Falls”  Harlem Shakes
Named after their favorite dance move, this Brooklyn-based quintet pays homage to the upstate NY tourist attraction with a piano-led piece that starts off sounding very Kinks-ish.



18. “Worries”  Langhorne Slim
Thanks to the Traveler’s ad with all those little red umbrellas flying about, I finally got around to listening to Mr. Slim, who’s been at it since 2004.   Has that timeless, bar room piano sound.



19. “Dreams”  Brandi Carlile
Reminding me of a female (and peppier) version of Roy Orbison, Ms. Carlile rocks out with a track “that gets under your skin and cuts to the bone.”  Dream on, Brandi! 🙂



20. “My Friend the Sun” – Holsapple & Stamey
Former leaders of the underground 80’s band the dB’s, Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey reunite and get back to their jangly-pop roots.



21. “Talk to Me”  Peaches
Merrill Nisker, the edgy Canadian electronic diva, barks her demands in this dance floor-ready number. A bit of a departure for the “Best of” collection. 🙂


22. “Sunrise on Avenue C” – James Maddock
The final tune in this year’s collection (and the longest) finds the return of James Maddock, who released his last effort with the band Wood 10 years ago. Soft and serene, it extols the magic and beauty of a brand new day in the East Village. Welcome back, James.

Cheers and thanks for listening.  Now get ready for “The Ten’s” (or is it “The Decade After That Other Decade?”). 🙂


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2 responses to “The Best of 2009

  1. JK

    Great blog, great choices — Listening to the James Maddock CD for the 17th time in past few days…


  2. Rust M


    Can’t believe I just found this! Great stuff. Don’t know where/how you find ’em but I’m glad you do…


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