Because Songs Matter

AUTOPSY IV'S FAVORITE 20 ALBUMS OF 2009 (today):

Well, I guess it’s my turn. Kasey and RSV have already dropped their faves of the year (here and here) on y’all, so there’s just no avoiding it for me now. This year was particularly difficult due to the sheer amount of great music that came out, and had I made this list tomorrow it would certainly change. That said, you can edit forever but eventually you have to settle on something and call it your list. So, with out further ado I am gonna steal RSV’s formatting and get this show on the road:

20. Eilen Jewell – Sea of Tears
19. Those Darlins – Those Darlins
18. Strawfoot – How We Prospered
17. Justin Townes Earl – Midnight at The Movies
16. Malcolm Holcombe – For The Mission Baby
15. Jon Snodgrass – Visitor’s Band
14. Ben Nichols – The Last Pale Light In The West
13. Cam Penner – Trouble and Mercy
12. The Fox Hunt – America’s Working So We Don’t Have To
11. William Elliott Whitmore – Animals In The Dark

Top 10 (with mp3s) are under the cut…

10. The Drive-By Truckers – The Fine Print (Oddities and Rarities 2003-2008)

Can you really call a collection of unreleased outtakes, largely from a version of the band that no longer exists, a Top 10 of the year? Fair question. Now go listen to their cover of “Rebels” and “Play It All Night Long” and get back to me. Largely culled from the sessions that gave birth to The Dirty South, The Fine Print reminds DBT fans of why we love them, and hopefully reminded them that it’s still okay to rock. We’ll find out come March.

Drive-By Truckers - When The Well Runs Dry     

09. The Builders & The Butchers – Salvation is a Deep Dark Well

Rev. Marcus from Strawfoot recommended these guys to me after catching them at a show one night, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Their bio claims they “don’t pay homage to old America, they channel it through desperate story-songs that latch onto your brain and demand immediate attention.” I couldn’t sum it up any better. A definite “must hear” for fans of O’Death.

The Builders and The Butchers - Raise Up Your Weary Hands     

08. Matthew Dean Herman – Blackbird

Look at that, three spots into the top 10 and it’s an Alaskan dominated list so far. I was turned onto Matthew Dean Herman’s music thanks to Evan from The Whipsaws and then had the pleasure of meeting him when I was up in Minneapolis for this year’s Deep Blues Festival. I have played this album for everyone from my parents to my boss to my drinking buddies, and everyone falls in love with it immediately. It’s stayed in constant rotation on my iPod this year and if you’re a fan of The Whipsaws, The Drive-By Truckers, Centro-matic and music of that ilk (which you are or you wouldn’t be here), then I bet it can find heavy rotation on yours, too.

Matthew Dean Herman - Blackbird     

07. Truckstop Coffee – For Dear Life

Next we go to the first of three Florida bands to make my list. Am I biased? Maybe. Is the album awesome? Definitely. Moving away from the Lucero-esqe country sounds of their previous album, One Damn Thing To Redeem, and more towards a twang-tinged straightforward rock ‘n’ roll sound of, say, Two Cow Garage, Truckstop managed to avoid the sophomore slump and made a great rock album in the process. It’s available for whatever you feel like paying for it, so go get a copy of it for yourself.

Truckstop Coffee - Ghost or an Angel     

06. The Takers – Taker Easy

Another Florida band, and the third Suburban Home band, to make the list. IMO, The Takers embody the definition of “Florida Country”, which is to say they’re as much rock and roll as they are shit kickers and twang, and Devon (singer) has been known to drink enough to make any Floridian proud. It was a big year for these guys and I hope they can maintain that momentum. They are one of the hood ornaments of the awesomeness coming out of Florida these days.

The Takers - Curse of a Drunk     

05. Chuck Ragan – Gold Country

Nobody is more surprised than me to see a Chuck Ragan album on my list, but the quality of this album is impossible to ignore, regardless of your status as a fan or non-fan of Chuck. I can’t find a single fault with Gold Country, and since it’s release it’s been one of my favorite cds on the iPod. Easily his best effort to date, and if this is the direction he continues to go then 9b might turn into a de facto Ragan fan site.

Chuck Ragan - Get 'Em All Home     

04. Lucero – 1372 Overton Park

OMG! Major label! Horns! A tour bus! What’s happening to our beloved little band from Memphis? In a word; nothing. After all the hand wringing and pantie wadding was done, what were we left with with 1372 Overton Park? Another awesome Lucero album with some of the best songs they’ve ever written, that’s what. And typing any more seems like it would be a disservice to the band.

Lucero - Darken My Door     

03. Have Gun Will Travel – Postcards From The Friendly City

This is one of those albums I wish I could convince everyone that they needed to hear. It’s so delicate and at times absolutely perfect. It could be said that I am being overly influenced by the hat tips and landmark references to the town(s) I live and play in, and that could be the case, but I’m gonna say it isn’t. Matt and company have truly made a great album in Postcards From The Friendly City. Easily the best local album of the year, but I genuinely feel it is a Top 5 of the year, too, regions be damned.

Have Gun Will Travel - Salad Days     

02. Scott H. Biram – Something’s Wrong/Lost Forever

Two years ago I was pretty worried about Scott. It seemed like he was going out in a blaze of glory and then, in his darkest moment, he seemingly rose from the ashes a changed man. His shows went from drunken disasters to some of the best shows I’d ever seen, and on the heels of that came Something’s Wrong/Lost Forever, his best album to date. Something’s Wrong/Lost Forever was, produced and recorded entirely in Scott’s home studio, and his decision to leave some of the mistakes in the mix gives the album the feel of a live SHB show, minus the between-song banter. SW/LF drives home the point that while the one man band might start with Bob Log III, that shit ends with Scott H. Biram and any doubters just might get a whiskey glass thrown at them on the wrong night.

Scott H. Biram - Time Flies     

01. Micah Schnabel – When The Stage Lights Go Dim

There it is. Right there. RSV and I have both selected the same album as our favorites of the year without even knowing what the other was choosing, further cementing my decision of asking him to become a regular 9b contributor as a good one. There is an honesty to this album that I find utterly captivating. RSV called it an “acoustic bombshell” and I can’t think of a better way to describe it. Micah’s songwriting abilities are getting to the point of being unfair to the others bands in these genres. And while When The Stage Lights Go Dim probably isn’t an album for all occasions, it is, imo, the album of the year. Bare. Under-produced. As real and honest as Lincoln. You can’t look that kind of shit in the eye and remain unmoved. And if you can, well, you probably don’t belong ’round these here parts.

Micah Schnabel - American Static     

And with that. We’re taking the rest of the week off. I like to echo RSV by saying thanks to all of you. The commenters, the lurkers, the bands making the music, the labels releasing it and the people pushing it on us. Hopefully 2k10 will be as prolific as this year was.

9 Comments

  1. December 23, 2009    

    The amount of good music is why I made mine 25. It almost went thirty. At 26 the average would have been a good album every two weeks and that’s a damn good year. In all honesty it was better than that but we had to cut the lists of somewhere!

  2. Brit Brit
    December 23, 2009    

    That pretty much lines up with my Best Of, give or take a few. I’d also say a good bit of those I only started listening to because of 9B so thanks boys for all the great music. Looking forward to next year!

  3. December 23, 2009    

    I also want to mention this here. The three folks that write regularly here have different tastes and it shows in our lists. That’s something I absolutely love about writing for 9b! We aren’t cookie cutter fans living in different cities. There are some very varied variations here (yeah I did that on purpose, now say it ten times fast) and we pretty much let our differences hang out in public and sometimes flaunt them. I think that’s what makes 9b a cut above the rest. Of course I could just be biased but I don’t think so…

  4. Lynchie from Aberdeen, Scotland Lynchie from Aberdeen, Scotland
    December 23, 2009    

    Just a few words to let you know how much I appreciate your blog and the music. You’ve introduced me to a lot of new bands I’d probably otherwise never have heard of.
    Very handy for an old fart who’s in search of some decent “modern” sounds – and the chance to be “down with the kidz” (joke – honest!)
    All the very best to you and yours for the New Year…

  5. rev rev
    December 23, 2009    

    we’re honored to be a part of this list.

  6. December 23, 2009    

    Nice! A couple there I haven’t heard so thanks for that. Couldn’t agree more on Micah. Haven’t taken that one off heavy rotation since I got it.

  7. December 23, 2009    

    I can’t wait for my latest order from Suburban Home to arrive, as I’ll then finally have my hands on Micah’s album. I’ve got Lucero as my undisputed #1, but I know how good of a songwriter Micah is.

    There’s plenty others on this list that I’ve got to give a listen to – thanks for that!

  8. Larry Larry
    December 28, 2009    

    Testing. 1, 2, 3.

  9. Larry Larry
    December 28, 2009    

    Cool. I can post comments again.

    Rad list. Honored to be a part of it. Can’t wait to get the whole Have Gun Will Travel record.

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