Adventures In 2009: Top 30 Albums [#20-11]

Friday, December 18, 2009

Round 2 for my favorite albums of 2009 is in full effect! Take note that debut efforts were a strong force this year :) 

20. Wild Young Hearts - The Noisettes
True facts. Shingai Shoniwa is fiercer than you. She really is, no denying there and her infectious personality is fully displayed on this eclectic mix of tunes. The Noisettes have finally graced a wider American audience and they have done so with their second album, Wild Young Hearts. A more polished sound from the trio is displayed here but the motive isn't absence, as the Noisettes continue to thread together folk, alt-rock, electronic pop and so much more. "Don't Upset The Rhythm" splashes and thrashes around, while the 60's pop-rock are recalled in tunes like "Every Now and Then" and "Never Forget You". What is impressive about Wild Young Hearts are the ballads (hear "Atticus"), which seem touched with such tender loving care that you had no idea that Miss Shoniwa and the boys were were such softies.

Notable Tracks: Every Now and Then, Atticus

Yeah, Elly Jackson is a sour little person as she complains about anything and everything in music. And yeah, she screeches sometimes when she sings "Bulletproof", but be damn...this album is pop-synth paradise. It's also one of the most 80's sounding albums for the 21st century. Almost like it was an unreleased treasure that got locked in a vault somewhere. In some ways, I don't want to like this album because its just "too much" all at once, but its so well-executed from tracks like the swiveling "Quicksand" and the bittersweet hymn of "Cover My Eyes". If the hair of Ms. Jackson didn't bring you in, then the revival of the neon age will.

Notable Tracks: Reflections Are Protections, Fascination

18. The Bridge - Melanie Fiona
A sound that harkens back the 60's Motown  is usually a winner, but it takes a special vocalist to give you that feeling that the album was pressed on black wax back when it was known as Hitsville U.S.A. Fiona is a noted Sam Cooke fan, and on The Bridge, she kind of gives us the undertones of that influence. A dazzling array of modern throwbacks are present on this cohesive display. Many hats Melanie wears throughout this record as she turns it Tina Turner loose on "Bang Bang", then she gets 60's girl group savvy on "You Stop My Heart" and then wallows in woman done wrong Blues with "It Kills Me". If we don't see more of Miss Fiona in 2010, it will be a criminal offense.  

Notable Tracks: You Stop My Heart, It Kills Me 

17. Don't Stop - Annie
It took a little time, but the long awaited second album for Norwegian pop tart, Annie finally saw the light of day in 2009, and the wait has been well worth it. Don't Stop is an electronic explosion of wall-to-wall 80's inspired jams, and an excellent follow-up to Annie's 2004 debut, Anniemal. Songs like the funky title track and the surging, "Songs Remind Me Of You" are confectioner treats. I even have a penchant for the annoying yet zany, "The Breakfast Song", which refrain ("What do you want for breakfast?!?") will be lodged in your brain long after the album ends. Now that's what pop music should be, like sticky n' sugar ridden bubblegum that manages to be stuck to your shoe long after stepping on it .

Notable Tracks: Songs Remind Me Of You, When The Night

16. Idle Forest Of Chit-Chat  - Kinny
 Like your soul music not shaken but stirred? Then this album isn't for you because Kinny has flipped soul on its ear and twisted in Jazz and Reggae elements to create a refreshing drink of elemental Soul. With a voice that reminisce of the likes of jazz singers like Sarah Vaughn and Ella Fitzgerald, Kinny's debut takes us into songs like the punchy "2546 Nice!" and the succulent, "Water for Chocolate" and that's just only two songs as the remainder of the album is a solid wall of sound.  

Notable Tracks: 2546 Nice!, Afro Love Forest

15. It's Blitz! - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Brilliant cover art aside, the New York underground darlings of punk-rock, glammed and glossed up their sound, but didn't abandon their style and pumped out a potent little puppy in the guise of It's Blitz! "Heads Will Roll" just tumbles out of the grimy sack it was captured in, while "Zero" surges on at lighting speed. Things get even more potent as the album progresses on, as Karen O. gets comfortable in the groove and lets herself go fully into the music. An album that is guarantee to snap you out of whatever bored state you claim to be in. It's not called It's Blitz! for kick n' giggles. 

Notable Tracks: Dragon Queen, Soft Shock

14. Every Waking Hour - Electric Wire Hustle
It's official. Something is in the water in New Zealand. Last year, I was enraptured with Zealander, Ladyhawke and her debut album, now this year comes a trio with an industrial soul sound that is experimental and familiar all in one prize package. Electric Wire Hustle live up to their title, as it sounds as if Marvin Gaye or Donnie Hathaway, if alive, were given a 21st Century overhaul, due to the sonic, nighttime alleyway sounds that vibrate through the album. Each song was possibly crafted to hypnotize you as tracks like "Perception" and the outstanding, "Buy Some Land, Build A House" latch onto your brain.

Notable Tracks: Buy Some Land, Build A House, Again

13. The Fame Monster - Lady GaGa
By jove, she's done it again! In 2009, Lady GaGa decided that "Pokerface" and "Paparazzi" weren't enough pow in her loose cannon, thus she said, "I'll make a new album...with more great pop treats to sprinkle over the masses and seal my reign". And reign she has created, as in a few short months, even the most unlikely bunch of music listeners have been recruited into the cult of GaGa, and the ride is well worth admission. If you merge this 8 song (album? EP?) in with last year's The Fame, you're in for a pop-dance explosion, but alone "Dance In The Dark" swirls around you in techno fervor and the "So Happy I Could Die" picks off where Cyndi Lauper's "She Bop" couldn't go due to censors. Then there is the cunning, "Bad Romance", the catchiest pop tune this year. This monster bites back.

Notable Tracks: Dance In The Dark, So Happy I Could Die

12. Godchild - Joy Jones
A marriage of Afro-soul and electro-funk occurs on this sublime musical quilt from one of 2009's emerging vocalists. Joy Jones has managed with one album to push herself to the front rows of the Church of Neo-Soul and her gospel rings true. Godchild is one of those albums that instantly grabs you by the collar and doesn't let go due to cascade of instrumentation that hits you right from the start. "Over" is an experimental whip of sound as it "Supernova" with its skittish drum work and sudden blast of horns. Clackety drums, boisterous brass and Joy's honeysuckle sweet voice make Godchild an instant attraction and one of the finest debuts to emerge this year.

Notable Tracks: The Joy, Supernova

11. Classic Delight - Saunders Sermons
 Sermons' music came into my life late, but sometimes late is better than never, as this short yet sweet set of songs zoomed up to be one of my favorite musical gems of 2009. It has everything that I was wanting from male vocalists this year, and then some. Sermons' Classic Delight short player is what any true Soul/Jazz head would appreciate as it sticks to its guns and doesn't get distracted down the road, everything is consistently good and the musical ear that Sermons possess is in full display here. Songs like the excellent, "Don't You Understand" and his take on "In A Sentimental Mood" are just some of the wondrous sounds to experience here.

Notable Tracks: Don't You Understand?, In A Sentimental Mood 

1 comment:

  1. Great selections as always.

    Kinny, Joy Jones & EWH were definite highlights of the year.

    Really looking forward to your top 10!


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