Actually I didn’t want to make any list because I missed some important amounts of music in the first three-quater of the year. But then I thought it would not be fair against the good albums I discovered nonetheless. And so I give you a list with 13 recommendations of records I really liked over the last time. The list is in alphabetical order and here we go.
Brown Bird – The Devil Dancing
Peapod Recordings 2009
After the stunning first three albums Brown Bird is back with a more instrumentalized version of their own music. The Devil Dancing got lots of rhythm and lots of country and singer-sonwriter influences so that you are forced to like the result. This album really shines out and is a must-listen if you are just a little bit into alt country.
Muck And Mire (from The Devil Dancing)
Chad Price – Smile Sweet Face
Suburban Home Records 2009
Another alt country release that really got me this year is the solo effort by Chad Price, founding memeber of Drag The River. It’s named Smile Sweet Face and it mainly features acoustic guitar and Chad’s voice. But this is enough to create some stunning songs with catchy melodies and lots of feeling and honesty.
Cursed (from Smile Sweet Face)
David Åhlén – We Sprout In Thy Soil
We Sprout In Thy Soil is maybe the best folk album this year, that nobody knows. David Åhlén’s haunting voice, his spares instrumentation and the very faint guitar play conjure up extremly deep and venerable songs. This is the record you want to listen to while leaves are falling.
Arise (from We Sprout In Thy Soil)
Haruko – Wild Geese
Bracken Records 2009
Another folk gem. Haruko’s Wild Geese is one of those records you get the feeling that it cannot be from this world. Her angel like voice and the super soft fingerpicked guitar melodies will lull you into your sweetest dreams and take you on mysterious journeys where you’ll meet wild wolves and lying dragons. What a spectacular debut!
Man In The Moon (from Wild Geese)
J. Tillman – Year In The Kingdom
Western Vinyl 2009
You cannot be surprised to see good old J. Tillman on the list because Year In The Kingdom is THE folk album of 2009 and I don’t think I exaggerate here. Songs with just acosutic guitar and voice and more instrumentalized songs take parts and make this record even better than Vacilando Territory Blues. If you like folk music and you neither don’t know J. Tillman nor you don’t know Year In The Kingdom you mustn’t waste time and check out this incredible music.
Earthly Bodies (from Year In The Kingdom)
Molina And Johnson – Molina And Johnon
Secretly Canadian 2009
What to say about Molina And Johnson? The grandmaster of music himself, Jason Molina, together with the hell of a folk musican, Will Johnson, can’t do wrong at all. Their music is a blend of alt. country and haunting singer songwriter/folk stuff and the result is a extremly good record with lots of dark night feelings you will play again and again.
Almost Let You In (from Molina And Johnson)
Mountain Man – Mountain Man EP
Mountain Man, a three yound ladies’ band, is one of the folk newcomers this year that got tons of well deserved blog love. Reason for this is the extremly voice driven music reminding a good bit of Fleet Foxes but, beyond all comparison, sounds fresh and unconsumed. Watch out for 2010, Mountain Man will be on everyone’s lips. Amazing.
Animal Tracks (from Mountain Man EP)
Singing Bridges – Three Trains EP
Skipping Stone Records 2009
I was atonished to find the music of Singing Bridges not so long ago and I fell in love with it immedeatly. Smooth indie rock from Connecticut with Yo La Tengo influences in sound and style. For me one of the top indie rock releases I heard and I’m really looking forward to the first full length.
Crazy Street (from Three Trains EP)
The Handsome Family – Honey Moon
Carrot Top Records 2009
Since it was released back in April 2009 Honey Moon is still growing on me and it seems that Rennie and Brett released a masterpiece and one of the best records in their musical history. The Handsome Family’s 8th studio album and the alt country that is offered on it, is beyond description. They mix the ordinary with the mystical and the result is extremly fine music that can give you the creeps but also tries hard to be your best friend. Pure magic.
The Loneliness Of Magnets (from Honey Moon)
The Lovell Sisters – Time To Grow
2DefPigs Records 2009
I was not sure if I should include The Lovell Sisters in this list but in the end I think this album is somewhat outstanding, because of its combination of alt country, folk, pop and irish traditional influences with great voices and catchy melodies. If you have the opportunity to listen to the whole album, I strongly recommend to do so, because these three ladies know how to folk you out.
Paulita Maxwell (from Time To Grow)
The Mountain Goats – The Life Of The World To Come
Easy choice again. As I listened to the record the first time I was not at all convinced of its hidden beauty. But as I listend to it some more, I couldn’t stop playing it over and over. I really like the piano driven sound of some of the tracks, but I also like gentle rockers like Psalms 40:2 or Genesis 3:23. The non lo-fi sound fits the band very well and once more they proved how talented they are. What an impressive masterpiece!
Genesis 3:23 (from The Life Of The World To Come)
Vic Chesnutt – Skitter On Take-Off
Varpo Records 2009
One of the most intense records for me. Even though I’m not a big fan of Vic Chesnutt’s album At The Cut, I admire Skitter On Take-Off because it is reduced to the max and intimate as it could be. Recorded live with no overdubs the record got the raw and honest sound I like and want. Every track on the album is outstanding; and one of the highlights is clearly the earnest but also humorous Worst Friend. Though the lack of blog love for Skitter On Take-Off is a bit strange and puzzles me.
Unpacking My Suitcase (from Skitter On Take-Off)
Yo La Tengo – Popular Songs
Oh man! I waited for this release three long years and finally it hit the road in September 2009. My alltime favourite indie rock band was back with a monster record! Popular Songs perfectly combines the band’s feeling for calm pop songs as well as for spacy indie rock and freaked out noise sessions. If any record in 2009 deserves the quality of beeing purly perfect, Popular Songs is the one without doubt. After 25 years of excellent music Yo La Tengo recorded an album that is fresher than ever – where will they go in the future? Alone on the path of ingenuity they have no one to fear than themselves. Best band on earth.
Here To Fall (from Popular Songs)
So, I’m done with my little list and I could have included much more albums and artists and whatever, but I think for the sake of practicability I wont add more releases. Maybe you found one or two albums you dig too – this would be great. And don’t forget to buy the music from all of the bands you like – keep them alive for 2010!
But one last thing I have to add to this list and this is one of most beautiful folk songs I found since I started blogging. Its Eyes Wide Open by The Vespers. They recording their first album at the moment and the full length will hit the road in 2010 and I’m excited if they manage keep the high quality level after adding drums and other instruments to their music. But for now: enjoy!