Distribution and format chaos may reign, but the music prevails. What is your pick for <I>new</I> album of 2009 (no reissues please)?
The Leisure Society: The Sleeper/Product of the Ego Drain. Good songs, well performed, nice arrangements, intelligent lyrics, and a sense of humor—what's not to like? Mind you, the Muppets' version of "Bohemian Rhapsody" deserves an honorable mention!
Alasdair Roberts: Spoils
Black Clouds and Silver Linings by Dream Theater. This collection of incredible musicians does it again!
Porcupine Tree: The Incident
I didn't see too many albums with the 2009 date on the cover this year—however, let's say Alexandre Tharaud playing the music of Eric Satie.
Kasey Chambers: Rattlin' Bones
Melody Gardot: My One and Only Thrill. Perhaps too close-miked for audiophiles, but she writes her own songs and they all seem like old classic jazz.
Sarah Jarosz: Song Up In Her Head
Kanye West: 808s and Heartbreaks. One of the most on-point, insightful, and personal rap albums since The Eminem Show. Plus, the deep bass drum beats sound amazing on a properly set up system.
The Dead Weather: Horehound. Jack White is marvelous!
Rosanne Cash: The List
Mew: No More Stories
Future of the Left: Travels With Myself and Another
Shirley Bassey: The Performance
Harper Simon—hands down great.
Melody Gardot: My One and Only Thrill
The initial-release double-vinyl RTI pressing of Sonic Youth's The Eternal, with the download certificates and the extra Live in Battery Park LP, and the artwork. There were lots of close seconds, but that one won the prize here.
Drivel, drivel, drivel. The same stuff, rehashed. The wheel keeps turning, but we go nowhere. Some years are different, but this year nothing stands out.
Muse: The Resistance. The vinyl actually sounds good.
Fever Ray: Fever Ray
The Flaming Lips: Embryonic
Sonic Youth's The Eternal.
No Line On the Horizon by U2.
My One and Only Thrill by Melody Gardot.
My pick: fun's Aim & Ignite (ournameisfun.com).
La Ballade of Lady & Bird—a project by Keren Ann Zeidel and Bardi Johannsson with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Pop music meets Tim Burton on a snowy winter night up north. Dark and beautiful. Pure brilliance!
That's easy, Melody Gardot's My One and Only Thrill.
Tortoise: Beacons of Ancestorship. More electronics than usual, but still that krautrock-inspired sound that has become Tortoise's hallmark.
Fiona Joy Hawkins: Blue Dreams
Joel Fan: West of the Sun: Music of the Americas from Reference Recordings.