The Music of the Year list ain't over until the short play records get their chance to shine. I'm a huge fan of the EP and always have been. There's something about those four or five song mini-albums that just scream perfection some times. I'm also a huge collector of singles. What can I say, I'm a B-Sides junkie. So, here is my list of my favorites of 2009.
01. Mapei - Cocoa Butter Diaries
The best female MC since Jean Grae in my opinion. This debut is fantastic four track schizophrenic rap. As far as I can tell, it's only available from itunes. Do yourself a favor, spend the $3.99 for this gem.
This is different than the full length album that also came out this year. It's not just left-over tracks...recorded later at a different session...it's kind of a free and easy album of a different styles, ranging from the sacred harp "Weeping Mary" to the 50's rocker "Stop, Drop, Rock N Roll" to the plain perfect "Stay Zombie Stay".
Picked this one up in London, it's very much in the tradition of the other new folk sounds coming out of the UK these days...but that's a good thing. Simple singer songwriter acoustic folk, but with something to say. There's one line that just stays with me all of the time. That's not something that happens every day.
(A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Exploding in your Mind)
A 22 minute marathon remix that seems to travel through many different landscapes and styles. I'm rarely into remixes, but this is one of the most creative you'll ever hear.
Flying the freak flag high, this is a chaotic mess that somehow works to create a stoned Stones groove. (Note: the real cover is a little ris-kay, so this is the cover of their full-length, also out this year and also quite decent)
06. Magnolia Electric Co. - It's Made Me Cry
Easily one of my favorite bands of the decade, Magnolia blessed us with a new full-length and this EP in the same year. Though I really enjoyed the album, these tracks seemed to connect with me more.
07. Kid British - Leave London
I love these three songs which are part Madness, part hip-hop, part club dance mix, part pub rock and all catchy. I listened to it many times in the headphones as I walked the streets of London this summer. Unfortunately, the full length that followed was utterly terrible.
I've decided to include a special section for three live albums that came out this year. By rule, I rarely consider live albums to be essential. They're fun, and interesting, but usually come far from capturing the experience. This year, there were three exceptions:
01. Nirvana - Live at Reading
Though not new to me (I've had this on bootleg for 15 years) but still worth mentioning. This is considered one of their landmark gigs for good reason. The setlist is incredible and the band sounds amazing, not yet burned out and still kind of digging their rise to fame.
02. Blur - All the People (Live at Hyde Park July 3, 2009)
Having been at the concert may make me impartial, but this set is amazing. Hearing them do what basically amounts to a greatest hits set, I remember walking away and thinking, no wonder they've decided not to continue as a band. A catalog like they have is pretty perfect as is...why mess with that.
03. Iron & Wine - Norfolk 6/20/05
I loved this band's first EP and LP, but then tuned out for one reason or the other. This year's comp of B-sides and rarities (Around the Well) brought me back into the fold. This live album then sealed the deal, hooking me once again to these amazingly fragile and beautiful songs.