Adventures In 2009: Top 30 Albums [#10-1]

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Now we have reached the end...the final installment of my favorite albums of 2009!

10. Pop Art - MPHO
Pop Art is probably the most fun you'll have without breaking any rules. Or getting messy drunk. The content of this is pretty basic, yet it all rests in the British poptress' energy and the electro-pop n' funk music production that makes it just a enjoyable pop experience. Simple Simon songs like "See Me Now" and the punchy "Fix Ya Face" could've been done by any overactive manufactured pop tart, but in MPHO's hands, they are adoring pop meets hip-hop nuggets worthy of multiple plays. The fantastic "Box N' Locks" is one of many standout tracks, as is the charging, "Paranoid Type" and the should-be-a-darn-single-by-now, "Morning After". Unscrupulous musical fun.

Notable Tracks: Morning After, S.P.A.C.E. Man 

Maxwell might as well be in the top 10 for just coming back alone. It had been a seven year itch that I was willing scratch and it is a relief to alleviate that tingly feeling. Sure BSN doesn't no way near touches what Urban Hang Suite, Embrya or Now were, but this is still a fine long player of a serious and talented soul man. Oddly, the return of Maxwell was at a divided state due to purists and new fans. I'm one of those who couldn't care less if Maxwell sung the labels off of prescription pill bottles over the Walgreens drug store loudspeakers. I just want to hear his voice over intricate background music and that's what I got. BSN indeed rises to the occasion with Marvin Gaye sensibilities, Donny Hathaway instrumentation and Sam Cooke vibrancy, but all done in Maxwell's effervescent fashion. Songs like "Cold", "Help Somebody" and the graceful, "Pretty Wings" soothed the mind and gave us back a true music man.

Notable Tracks: Cold, Fistful Of Tears 

8. Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful? - Paloma Faith
While Amy Winehouse does other extra curricular activities aside from singing, it was time for someone to fill the void, hence where Paloma comes in. Paloma Faith's stature was like this on paper: a white Briton who could convincingly sing 60's soul fodder. Yawn. Duffy and Adele did it last year...been there done that. Yet, we judge to swiftly. Opening up Truth is like breaking into an ordinary package with a plain bow, as looks can be hella deceiving. Inside the package we get an glistening affair of symphonic sounds that mix with soul and 60's pop qualities that is matched nicely with Paloma's voice, which hints at 50's cabaret singer. In short, 'Truth' is a gorgeous album. The music is sweeping, theatrical, inspired by the more glossier sounds of yester-year and each and every song sparkles. Definitely one of the pleasant surprises of my '09.

Notable Tracks: Do You Want The Truth..., New York 

7. Music Fan First - Eric Roberson
Many people had convinced me that Eric Roberson's music was worth a go-round, thus this year I indulged myself in what the singer's third album, Music Fan First is all about. From the opening track of the spacey, "The Newness" I was hooked, no need to convince me further. As Roberson is a noted sojourner for independent artists, this album is special for many reasons, not just for the smooth delivery and songs like "Borrow You" and "She", but because of the heart n'soul put into the package as a whole. It's a prime example of how an album can be genuinely outstanding without a monster major label backing and crafted with attention especially in this time era where fast food music reigns.  MFF is music done by a lover of music, and Eric with his silky vocals, lyrical sensibilities and attentiveness to arrangement, is really just icing on the cake.

Notable Tracks: Dealing (ft. Lalah Hathaway), The Newness

6. UnFresh - Andy Allo
In align with Paloma Faith, Andy Allo's debut just plopped from the sky out of nowhere and clipped me on the head like a less painful version of Chicken Little ("the sky is falling!"). I didn't expect to enjoy an album so thoroughly as I did with Allo's debut UnFresh, which title is contrary to the fact. Maybe because there are other guitar strapped sistas, but Allo is of a special kind, as she keeps things upbeat and varying. Blending acoustic folk-soul with electro-synth hip-hop, Allo's first time out is massively enjoyable from start to finish. Songs like the whimsical, "DreamLand", the Neptunes influenced, "Stalker" and the lullaby guitar strums of "Down To Roll" are just a few of the main attractions off this classy set of tunes.

Notable Tracks: DreamLand, Hooked 

5. Quadron - Quadron
What do you get when you mix, jazz, Motown, trip-hop, House and good-old fashioned toe-tapping Soul? Obviously you get Quadron's debut, which is deeeelightful. What I love about this album is that every song is different from the last and is unique in its own right. Every time I pop it in, I hear something different, thus the adventure of exploring it starts all over again. The duo from Denmark, have created their own brand of dicey and trance like Soul, which I lovingly call Sterile Soul. It's brisk, electric and innovative, yet the blueprint of classic soul and R&B peeks out to give it that little push. Every song is worthwhile, but notably there's the eerie, "Horse", the decadent "Day" and the groovin' "Average Fruit".  Oh, and there's "Slippin'" which provokes you to get those fingers snapping.  

Notable Tracks: Day, Slippin' 

4. Made Of Stone - Kylie Auldist
As mentioned awhile back, Australian songstress Kylie Auldist became one of my favorite voices this year due to her pipes being just so sublime, effortless and perfect. Though she made her appearance in 2008 with debut, Just Say, in 2009 she was back in stride again with Made Of Stone, a throwback funk stomp that feels like a familiar pair of shoes, yet feels brand new once you slip them on. With her backing band, The Bamboos, Miss Auldist revives the what was so grandiose about vintage funk-rock-jazz. It shows on tracks like "In A Week, A Day" and "Ship Inside A Bottle" which glide along so lovely. Still I really like it when she tears it up on the title track and "It's On", because you can just feel the energy.

Notable Tracks: In A Week, A Day, Kiss and Tell

Miss Ndegeocello can really do no wrong in my book, thus Devil's Halo was going to be a obligated favorite anyway. But to be a sensible being, Devil's Halo is great because it's Meshell once again being a got damn artist with her music, and painting her canvas with sounds and techniques that captivate the soul. Meshell has a way of provoking things out of me on each album. Plantation Lullabies is gusty, Bitter is for those "beat up on self image" moments, and Comfort Woman makes me want to be in love, even though I may not have the desire too. Devil's Halo is on a different scale. It's seedy, stark, sexy, mysterious and is like what Van Hunt said in his song "Lowest 1 Of My Desires": it wrestles on the floor with your shame. In context, it's a confessional of sins and desires to strangers, and its confessions you want to hear.

Notable Tracks: Love Come Down, Lola

2. Pink Elephant - N'Dambi
I've said my piece about Pink Elephant, and I stand by my statements that it's "solid as a rock, and mighty potent with the right balance of modern soul and vintage flavor." It also is one of the best examples of neo-soul that you'll probably get a chance to indulge in this year. N'Dambi captures some soothin' Southern soul and dishwater Blues sounds, shakes it up and then unleashes it on this third album charmer. If the crackling lead off single, "Can't Hardly Wait" didn't provoke you, well, you lost. There is nothing on here that I don't like, as each and every song gleams and glistens with richness and finesse. The lead-off "L.I.E." is clever and swift as "Ooo Baby" mellows you out with its caress...and that's just two tracks, wait till you hear the rest.

Notable Tracks: L.I.E., Nobody Jones

1. Turn Me Loose - Ledisi 
Stay forward. That's what Ledisi expresses in "Runnin'" the opening track off of Turn Me Loose, and its been my motto for most of my '09. In fact a bulk of Ledisi's fourth hour has been my ongoing mantra, just set to some groovin' tunes and with hefty dollops of Ledisi's exuberant and intricate vocal delivery. Thus, it deserved its spot at my #1 album of the year for the context alone. Ledisi had me convinced with 2007's Lost and Found that she was one of the of the 21st century's freshest set of pipes. On Turn Me Loose, she solidifies her place and well...turns it on out. Elements of bucket rattling Blues ("Turn Me Loose"), electro-Soul ("I Need Love"), Southern funk ("Please Stay"), Gospel  ("The Answer To Why"), and much more are present to make for a dazzling listening experience. There isn't much more I can say that I already haven't said before...but for a shorten clarification, Turn Me Loose is just a damn good album. Period.

Notable Tracks: I Need Love, Trippin' 


  1. You had great picks this year, I just dunno where you got the energy for top 30 albums AND songs lol.

    Here's to more musical discoveries in 2010!!

  2. I love that you have Kylie Auldist in your top 5. I saw her at a festival recently and she was amazing.

    Oh and I love Ledisi too!


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