Laura Shine’s Top Picks for Albums of 2009

2009 has been an incredible year of good music. It’s been an incredible year for me personally too. Because of that, the albums I have picked have all resonated with my heart quite a bit. This does not cancel out the fact that I have given them a serious critical listen from a technical standpoint as well. But sometimes I wonder the old chicken and egg question with these picks such as would I have liked these albums so much if I had been in a different place in my life right now? Who’s to say and really does it even matter? A song either strikes us or it doesn’t and everything is about timing anyway, I believe. So, with that in mind, here are my picks for 2009:

10. Mountain Meadows – Elliott Brood. Canadian rockers with rootsy, gutsy tunes. This was a surprise find and I love this album.

9.  Build Me This – Joshua James. From Nebraska, he has mega talent as a songwriter. The song “Coal War” is epic in scope and dynamics. The whole album is superb.

8.  Strict Joy – The Swell Season. Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova formed this duo after the making of the film Once. Glen also fronts the Irish band The Frames. He sings with so much passion and soul it really gets to my core. Plus it is an absolutely beautiful album.

7.  Everybody – Ingrid Michaelson. Ingrid is an artist of this place and time in our technical age. Discovered on MySpace, then having a hit song from an Old Navy commercial which propelled her into mainstream consciousness are examples of that. But she’s got staying power and has proven it with this Sophmore release. So many gems on this record esp. “Soldier”, “Everybody” and “Maybe”.

6.  Sunny Side Up – Paolo Nutini. Scottish/Italian is a good mix! This album is all over the map in terms of genres and sounds and textures with a bit of ska, reggae, big band, traditional swing to good old folk, he covers it all superbly. Stand out track is “Candy” but they are all good!

5.  Give Up The Ghost – Brandi Carlile. 3rd album from this Washington State cowgirl who sings with such passion and has pipes of gold in her throat. What a voice! Check her out live when she plays the Brown Theatre on Jan. 22, 2010. I got to see her a year ago with the Louisville Orchestra and was completely won over by her enormous talent. Favorite tracks are “Looking Out” and “Pride and Joy”.

4.  Noble Beast – Andrew Bird. Brilliant, genius, beautiful, sensuous are the words that come to mind when I hear this haunting album by this virtual one man band.

3.  IandLoveandYou – The Avett Brothers. From tender ballads to raucous rockers, the Avetts put their whole essence into this brilliant record produced by Rick Rubin. However, I heard someone on NPR say that Rick is not a producer but rather a reducer: he reduces production so that we get the rawest version of talent an artist has to offer. That is the case on this gorgeous record from this North Carolina band of brothers and friends. I love every single song on this album but esp. “Laundry Room”, “Ill With Want” and “January Wedding”.

2.  Kenter Canyon – Joey Ryan. Another great find this year was L.A. singer/songwriter Joey Ryan. He has only this EP of a few songs but each one is fantastic. He started out as a neuroscience major but then decided to pursue his passion for music, thank God. “Broken Headlights” with Sara Bareilles is a must have on your ipod but so are the other songs on this EP due out Jan. 19th.

1.  Dear Lover – Matthew Ryan. Hands down, my favorite album of the year! I have always liked Matthew’s songwriting and soulful, gravelly vocals but I’m in LOVE with this record. It’s deep, dark, meaningful, heartwrenchingly beautiful, brilliant and gorgeous. It has been a very long time since I have spent so much time listening to one record over and over again like this one. Matthew was also my favorite interview of the year and you can listen to our conversation anytime on our podcast page from “In The 91.9 Studio”.  To be honest, I had barely listened to the album before we had that interview. Even after that I still didn’t expect to fall in love with the record like I did. The album is due out this January of 2010 but is available digitally at Matthew’s website. Favorite songs are “Your Musuem” and “Spark”. I highly recommend this album to anyone who has ever been in a relationship and likes gorgeous music. Wouldn’t that be most of you? Happy New Year and Happy Listening!  Laura Shine

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