2009 Year in Review:Aught-nine oughta hears

Free Press music reviewers cue up their favourite albums from the past year


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Rob Williams

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/12/2009 (4830 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Rob Williams

1. Future of the Left, Travels with Myself and Another (4AD)

On their sophomore album, the Welsh trio (featuring two-thirds of the late great Mclusky) add deft pop hooks to their herky-jerky mishmash of overdriven RNR, New Wave and post-punk noisecraft.

2. Baroness, The Blue Album (Relapse)

A tour-de-force of colossal riffs and harmonized dual guitar lines too rock SSRqnSSRq roll to be metal and too metal to be rock with occasional acoustic flourishes adding to the epic vibe.

3. Propagandhi, Supporting Caste (Smallman/G7 Welcoming Committee)

With the addition of new guitarist Dave Guillas, the local socio-political band’s attack becomes even fuller and sharper mixing Discharge-inspired hardcore, old-school trash and melodic pop-punk into a powerful Molotov cocktail.

4. Pissed Jeans, King of Jeans (Sub Pop)

5. Sonic Youth, The Eternal (Matador)

6. Flaming Lips, Embryonic (Warner)

7. Reigning Sound, Love & Curses (In The Red)

8. Revelators, Let a Poor Boy Ride (Crypt)

9. Isis, Wavering Radiant (Ipecac)

10. Neko Case, Middle Cyclone (Anti)


Jeff Monk


1. Tommy T., The Prester John Sessions (Easy Star)

Gogol Bordello bass player’s stunning world music/deep dub reggae solo debut.

2. Status Quo, In Search of the Fourth Chord (Eagle)

England’s boogie rock icons endeavor to persevere and more than make the grade.

3. James Hand, Shadow on the Ground (Rounder)

Greasy, sad and righteous country music as it is meant to be made. Give this guy a hand.

4. Blue Rodeo, The Things We Left Behind (Warner)

5. Zrada, Zrada (Independent)

6. Watermelon Slim, Escape from the Chicken Coop (Northern Blues)

7. Nicole Atkins, Neptune City (Red Ink)

8. Ian Hunter, Man Overboard (New West)

9. The Gourds, Haymaker! (YepRoc)

10. Donovans Brain, Fires Which Burn Brightly (Career)


Bruce Leperre


1. Heartless Bastards, The Mountain (Fat Possum)

As they cruise that long lonesome highway at 3 a.m. from the garage to the Mississippi Delta to the Mountains of Appalachia and back again, the Heartless Bastards create something unique and undeniably captivating. Imagine PJ Harvey in a three way with Robert Plant and Robert Johnson under a full moon.

2. The Decemberists, Hazards of Love (Rough Trade)

If you’ve ever imagined Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard replacing Ian Anderson in Jethro Tull and thought it would sound totally cool … The Decemberists prove you were absolutely right.

3. The Avett Brothers, I and Love and You (American)

Veteran indie Americana outfit (featuring brothers Seth and Scott) team up with superstar producer Rick Rubin to record a ballad heavy disc full of heart and soul that burns with an unstoppable fire even Hurricane Katrina couldn’t extinguish.

4. Neko Case, Middle Cyclone (Anti)

5. Carolyn Mark & NQ Arbuckle, Let’s Just Stay Here (Mint)

6. The Wooden Sky, If I Don’t Come Home You’ll Know I’m Gone (Black Box)

7. Florence and the Machine, Lungs (Island/Universal)

8. Lee Harvey Osmond, A Quiet Evil (Latent)

9. Melissa MacLelland, Victoria Day (Six Shooter)

10. Alana Levandoski, Lions & Werewolves (Blue Lily)


Anthony Augustine


1. Death, …For the Whole World to See (Drag City)

Collecting dust since it was shelved by Columbia Records in 1975, …For the Whole World to See will add a new chapter to the history books. The missing link between rock, punk and hardcore. Absolutely essential.

2. Propagandhi, Supporting Caste (Smallman/G7 Welcoming Committee)

After 23 years of fighting in the trenches, local punk rock veterans Propagandhi turned out the best record of their career and spent most of 2009 on the road playing to their devoted worldwide fanbase. Supporting Caste not only brilliantly bridges the progressive trash metal of their youth with their trademark politicized punk, it demonstrates a renewed sense of urgency, outrage and self-reflection from one of North America’s most important bands.

3. Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse, Dark Night of the Soul (EMI)

Despite an all-star lineup, stellar songs and extensive artwork from David Lynch, Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) and Sparklehorse’s (Mark Linkous) moody collaborative project was blocked by their label and will likely never be official released. Thankfully it has found its way onto the web (probably thanks to a leak from Linkous or Burton). It deserves to be heard.

4. Japandroids, Post-Nothing (Unfamiliar)

5. The Rural Alberta Advantage, Howntowns (Saddle Creek)

6. Dinosaur Jr., Farm (Jagjaguwar)

7. Jeremy Enigk, Ok, Bear (Lewis Hollow)

8. Nestor Wynrush, Trinnipeg!78 (Clothes Horse)

9. Pastoralia, Across Living Room Floors (Independent)

10. The XX, XX (Young Turks)


Steve Adams


1. MSTRKRFT, Fist of God (Last Gang)

Amped-up electro house from Toronto knob-twiddlers whose only concerns appear to be partying and sex. Think Daft Punk, but sleazier. And on a cocaine bender.

2. Pitbull, Rebelution (J/ Sony)

Mindless, gratuitous, and completely infectious. If you didn’t catch yourself singing, dancing, or at the very least, tapping your toes along to Mr. 305’s escapist electronic hip-hop at some point this past year, you surely must be dead inside.

3. The Prodigy, Invaders Must Die (Cooking Vinyl)

The princes of punk-rock techno prove they’ve still got plenty of fight left in them, fusing together the thunderously menacing beats of their later work with the other-worldly melodies of their rave heydays.

4. Jay-Z, The Blueprint 3 (Roc Nation/Atlantic)

5. David Guetta, One Love (Astralwerks/Virgin)

6. Clipse, Til the Casket Drops (Re-Up/Star Trak)

7. Armin Van Buuren, A State of Trance 2009 (Armada)

8. Deadmau5, For Lack of a Better Name (Virgin)

9. Basement Jaxx, Scars (XL)

10. Timbaland, Shock Value II (Interscope)


Chris Smith


1. Keith Jarrett, Testament, Paris/London (ECM)

Pianist Keith Jarrett has spent decades reinventing the solo jazz concert. In a genre in which improvisation is king, Jarrett wears the crown on his latest three-disc solo set.

2. Joe Lovano, Us Five, Folk Art (Blue Note)

Powerhouse, the first track on this new Joe Lovano disc, aptly describes the saxophonist, and the band. On his 21st recording for Blue Note, he continues to challenge and please listeners with an unusual band.

3. John Patitucci Trio, Remembrance (Concord Jazz)

Acoustic and electric bassist John Patitucci composed 11 pieces as a tribute to jazz greats such as Monk and Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard and Michael Brecker. Aided by saxophonist Joe Lovano and drummer Brian Blade, Patitucci is a delight to listen to.

4. Branford Marsalis Quartet, Metamorphosen (Marsalis Music/Universal)

5. Kurt Elling, Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman (Concord Jazz)

6. Dave Young Quartet, Mean What You Say (Independent)

7. Steve Kuhn/Joe Lovano, Mostly Coltrane (ECM)

8. Chris Potter’s Underground, Ultrahang (Artist Share)

9. Dave Holland/Gonzalo Rubalcaba/Chris Potter/Eric Harland, The Monterey Quartet: Live at the 2007 Monterey Jazz Festival (Monterey Jazz Festival Records/Concord)

10. Will Bonness, Subtle Fire (Independent)


James Manishen


1. El Sistema (EuroArts DVD).

The story of Venezuela’s phenomenal music education system, founded over 30 years ago by José Antonio Abreu to bring music to the lives of kids from Caracas’s shanty towns, is one of the most powerful you will ever see.

2. Jonas Kaufmann, Angela Gheorghiu, Antonio Pappano, Puccini: Madama Butterfly (EMI)

Puccini’s unforgettably teary opus is flawlessly cast and paced as if recreated afresh.

3. Artur Rubinstein, Moscow Recital October 1, 1964 (Medici Arts DVD)

A rare opportunity to hear and see this master pianist in recital before a live audience and to experience his unique charisma.

4. Roman Chorus & Orchestra of Santa Cecilia, Antonio Pappano, Verdi: Requiem (EMI).

5. Gidon Kremer, Martha Argerich, The Berlin Recital (EMI)

6. Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Alexander Mickelthwate, Zane Zalis: I Believe (Independent)

7. Zefiro, Alfredo Bernardini; Handel, Royal Fireworks Music (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi)

8. Lang Lang, Vadim Repin, Mischa Maisky, Tchaikovsky: Piano Trio (DG)

9. Gerald Finley, Julius Drake, Ravel: Songs (Hyperion)

10. Cecilia Bartoli, Juan Diego Flórez, Alessandro De Marchi, Bellini: La sonnambula (L’oiseau-lyre)


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