After compiling my list of personal favorite releases from 2009, I realized that the common link between them was how much they all left me eager to see what the artists do next. Most are debut or sophomore albums from the respective artists with a few third releases here and there, and while each album is exceptional in its own way, I think all of the artists on my list have even better releases ahead of them. That said, here are the ten albums that I couldn’t get enough of in 2009.
10. Trevor Hall – Trevor Hall
Hall’s self-titled Vanguard Records debut combines acoustic island rock with soulful vocals that reveal a depth of spirituality rarely found in artists so young. Heck, it’s rarely found in artists of any age. I caught the last show of his Fall 2009 tour—which included sold-out dates with Michael Franti and Spearhead, as well as two of the artists featured on the album, Matisyahu and Colbie Caillat—and the vibe in the packed room was simultaneously invigorating and serene. I highly recommend you check Hall out when he hits the road again later this month.
9. The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band – The Whole Fam Damnily
An album that tackles the healthcare industry, big business, and the plight of the economically disadvantaged with rowdy, finger-plucked guitars; direct lyrics; and a washboard. This band is very near the top of my Need To See Live list for 2010 and should probably be on yours too.
8. Samantha Crain – Songs in the Night
I love artists that I can identify the moment they open their mouths and Samantha Crain definitely falls into that category. I was thrilled to hear that the Oklahoma native’s full-length debut more than lives up to the standards she set for herself with The Confiscation EP.
7. Bad Veins – Bad Veins
This duo from Ohio blends the best parts of the mid-90s Midwestern indie rock scene with the dancy indie rock of the past decade. The result? A debut album that captured my attention this year and simply never let go. Check out our interview with one half of the band and then go pick up this amazing release.
6. Goldspot – And the Elephant is Dancing
The bittersweet love songs on Siddhartha Khosla’s sophomore release are so buoyant and bright they practically radiate. If you’re experiencing anything less than the clear skies and sunshine we’re currently enjoying here in LA, this album is guaranteed to bring a little summertime to your day.
5. Petracovich – Crepusculo
After catching Petracovich perform in August, I knew I had to give the group’s Crepusculo a listen, which I did. Then I gave it another. And another. Tracks such as “Heaven Help the Day” and “Sleep It Off/Lie Down” get stuck in my head for days and the only solution seems to be to listen to them again and again.
4. Damion Suomi – Damion Suomi
I spent months before this album was released satisfying my Suomi cravings via his MySpace page so you know the moment I could, I preordered this release. “San Francisco” and “Darwin, Jesus, the Devil, and Me” have both made it onto pretty much every playlist I’ve made since, and his performance at Hotel Café in July might just be my favorite of the year.
3. Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside – Not An Animal EP
I picked up a copy of this EP after reviewing the group’s live show when they opened for the Avett Brothers this year. The five tracks on it aren’t enough to satisfy my cravings for Ford’s vintage sound, so I’ve been forced to listen to each song on this EP twice as often. Not that I can complain about that. I will complain, however, if a full-length debut isn’t in the works for 2010.
2. Cary Judd – Goodnight Human
I wake up with songs off Goodnight Human stuck in my head so frequently that I’m starting to wonder if the title is some sort of reference to the album’s ability to haunt me in my sleep. Days after my last listen to the album, I’ll roll out of bed humming “Sarah” or “Valentine” to myself and knowing that the soundtrack to my morning commute has been chosen for me that day. Can’t wait until “the hick” from Wyoming makes his way back to the West Coast so I can experience his live show again.
1. Jamie T. – Kings and Queens
From halfway around the world, this Brit’s eclectic collection of songs has landed at the top of my list. I’ve already gushed about Kings and Queens once in my review of it back in October, and my love for the album has not subsided one bit since then. From beginning to end, this album has more hooks than a pirate convention and my resolution for the new year is to witness a live Jamie T. performance. Here’s hoping he crosses the pond in 2010.