Uncle Zeke's TOP 10 of '09!!

Note:  When I originally did this list back in 2010, I had listed only ten, and in no particular order.  I have since (today) placed the ten albums in order, and will actually begin work on revising this list to a more solid collection of music.  It's sad when I disappoint even myself with such a poor list....


One of the five most important musical discoveries of mine, in the last decade, MUSE return in fine form. Featuring their trademark Pop sensibility, mixed with Neo-Prog talent, this British trio have unveiled one of their finest albums to date.


Those familiar with me (or my blog) know my love of all things Steven Wilson. Porcupine Tree was actually the second Wilson project that I became acquainted with. After loving his lesser known project "NO-MAN" for several years, I thought I would utilize the easy mp3 access of Audio Galaxy, to find out about Steven Wilson's "other" band, back in 2001. I was blown away by what I heard, and have since purchased each of his/their albums, along the way. 2009 saw their most recent release, THE INCIDENT, their first for Roadrunner Records. This album was an aggressive work, featuring 2 discs. The first disc contains a single thematic song, broken up into 14 tracks. The second disc features four songs that are not part of this suite.
THE INCIDENT further showcases this band's talent, as they have further strayed away from the melodic, Psychedelic sounds of their early work. This album takes a more dense, Neo-Prog approach.... even more than their trio of albums for Atlantic Records.


The most important discovery of 2009 (yes, I was familiar with them, but didn't really "know" them), DREAM THEATER has done nothing but amaze me. If you want to know why this band is on my list, just research the band members. When you see where they were educated... and listen to how well they play... you will (hopefully) see why they will continuously make my lists.
This album is continuing in the footsteps of their previous effort, "SYSTEMATIC CHAOS", incorporating a real Speed Metal sound into their already Progressive Metal sound.


I first discovered this Portland band, a few years ago. I was browsing the CD selection in a store that sells odds and ends, close-outs and damaged goods. When I found "THE CRANE WIFE", I believe it was a promo copy, most probably taken from a store that had closed it's doors. Either way, I was instantly a fan. This 2009 release continues in the same vein. The Decemberists not only prove that the "concept" album is NOT just for Progressive Rock... or dead, entirely... but they actually seem to do a better job than most bands, of ANY genre.


Originally known as the duo of GLEN HANSARD and MARKETA IRGLOVA (forgive my lack of proper accents on Marketa's name), and probably best known for their performances in the movie "ONCE". After two albums under their given names (the ONCE soundtrack included), they took on the name "THE SWELL SEASON", taken from a Czech book. This album follows the collapse of their intimate relationship, and delves into those personal feelings associated with that. Those familiar with Fleetwood Mac's RUMOURS (who isn't?), you know that music fueled from a broken relationship can be a beautiful thing. This is one of those cases...


Probably one of my most anticipated albums of 2009, "Middle Cyclone", from Alt. Country/Indie darling Neko Case, did NOT disappoint. I love this album from start to finish... well... as far as the music is concerned. The CD version contains a 30 minute track of ambient "night" noise, including insects and such. It may be fascinating to listen to, all the way through... but I haven't. I was fortunate to get a head start on this album, as she played several tracks from it, when performing in Salt Lake City, back in August of 2008.


Another album I looked forward to, with great anticipation, "I AND LOVE AND YOU" is the Rick Rubin produced/Nettwerk Records released album by these North Carolina boys. A band that I was first introduced to, several years ago, they have remained one of the most exciting discoveries of the last decade. I ALWAYS tell people... even if you are not that fond of the music that you hear on record, you MUST check these guys out live. They have one of the most exciting live shows I have ever seen, and NONE of it has to do with lights or stage gimmicks. However, with this release, I would also challenge you to check out the music on record, and see if it isn't something that you immediately connect with. Rick Rubin always has a knack for bringing the honesty out of people, by creating a genuine album. A true piece of art that comes from the soul.... not from hours of post-production. This is no exception.


I have my brother to thank for introducing me to this wonderful band from L.A.. After seeing them live, in August, I quickly secured most of their albums. Although their two most recent releases are the only ones I would consider great from start to finish, this album sits solidly as one of my favorites of 2009. Featuring incredible musicianship, wonderful melody and thought provoking lyrics, I expect big things for this band.


EASILY, my most anticipated album of 2009, "IN THE MUSIC" by TRASHCAN SINATRAS was NOT an album that let me down. I even ponied up the $40 to get the limited edition (2000 copies) boxed set, featuring bonus tracks, as well as some beautiful packaging. It was worth the money, as I was able to have my hands on it back in August, when the regular release didn't hit the streets until October... if not later. Recorded in New York (the band originally hails from Scotland), and featuring a more paired down sound (compared to their previous "Weightlifting"), this album also holds another total surprise... guest vocals from one Carly Simon! Either way, if you are a fan of melodic Pop... especially that in the Indie Rock genre... you need to check this out.


Rounding out the list... and quite possibly my favorite album of the year... is "UNION", by THE BOXER REBELLION. I first came across this band on KCRW's "MORNING BECOMES ECLECTIC" podcast, as well as an NPR Indie song podcast. The band hails from the U.K., with the exception of the singer, who comes from Tennessee. This band immediately struck a chord with me, as I heard elements of Radiohead, Explosions in the Sky, among others. The album was initially such an "Indie" endeavor, that the only way to get physical copies of it, were to buy them at their concerts... most of which were NOT in the U.S.A.. After browsing on Amazon, it looks like you can now get imported copies, but for those of you who can't wait, there is always iTunes... where this album was apparently their Number 1 Alternative Album of 2009. Not bad for a band who does NOT have a huge following, in the United States.

There you have it, folks.... my Top 10 list for 2009. A very close follow-up was Imogen Heap's "Ellipse", which actually would have made it, if it hadn't been so similar in sound to her previous release. I loved it... but had to bump it down for lack of originality. I guess that can be argued with some of the albums listed, but the records on the list still managed to dig into my soul, and move me somehow. I have recently discovered an L.A. band called Sea Wolf (see the video, in my previous post), and once I hear that full album, it very well could bump one of these off... but, until then... let's enjoy what we have.

Here's to 2010!!


Kate said…
I will hafta check all of these out. The only ones I'm really familiar with are Trashcan Sinatras & Swell Season.

I don't think I found anybody new this year! How sad is THAT?! Altho I did gain new respect for Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift, people I had previously dismissed, so that's something.

Thanks for sharing! :-)