KGRL's Best Albums of 2009
The Time Machine staff often find themselves listening to other radio stations online while not on the air (and sometimes in the broadcast studio between songs or commercial breaks while on the air but don't let management find out). One of our presets is KGRL.
Despite what people may think, as DJs, The Time Machine Crew are really not fans of our own voices. This one fact is one of the reasons we find ourselves listening to similar sounding playlists on other stations. We've spoken highly of this station over the years and are blessed with the presence of the esteemed Mysty from KGRL again for the fourth year in a row. We greatly admire her dedication and amazing music sweeps that knock us out everytime. KGRL has become one of the highest praised internet radio stations online and we couldn't be prouder of Mysty's accomplishment. As it is the end of the year, Mysty is sharing with you KGRL's list of the best albums of 2009. As usual, Mysty is on top of it and she is ahead of us yet again on our end of the year list so she gets extra brownie points as we look for that mistletoe that was in the doorway a few days ago. We played a number of these albums on the air this past year and prepare to empty your wallet if you haven't picked up any of these fine artists for your listening pleasure.
KGRL's Best Albums Of 2009
List Of Live CDs
List Of Full-Length Albums
List Of EPs
Nerina Pallot - The Graduate (MySpace)
2009 has been so kind to bring us tons of great new music and this made it very hard to pick the top spot for this list. Alas, re-listening to Nerina Pallot's latest offering The Graduate firmly reassured me that this is indeed the best full-length album released in 2009. My expectations were set sky-high due to the fact that I am madly in love with her previous offerings, Dear Frustrated Superstar and Fires. It would have been a big disappointment if the new album was so-so but The Graduate instead exceeded my expectations. After years of waiting, The Graduate proves that our favorite UK-based singer-songwriter can still dish out sensible pop melodies that are insanely memorable. Introducing all the songs (via one live recording a week @ Nerina's YouTube channel) long before the album was released could have been detrimental, but this instead helped highlight each of the songs. Whether it be the soulful classy ballad It Was Me, the hazy-swirly-jazzy Cigarette, or the melodious pop rocker Everything's Illuminated, there's something for everyone to enjoy on The Graduate. Every song is a gem waiting to be discovered. Oh and at long last, all of Nerina's albums are now available in the US, digitally.
Inara George - Accidental Experimental (MySpace)
KGRL loves Inara George. That's a fact. It's very hard not to when every one of her albums offers an exquisite listening experience. 2005's All Rise contains a mixture of genres, while 2008's An Invitation plunges us into orchestral overload. In 2009, we get another marvelous album from Inara titled Accidental Experimental. The new record dusts off songs written in collaboration with Mike Andrews. Some of the tracks had already appeared on An Invitation, but are given a new direction through blissful rearrangement. This record might not be for everyone but I guarantee that tracks like Surprise and Bottlecaps will appeal almost immediately to any listener. Don't get me wrong: the other nine tracks are as stellar as those two, but not of the ordinary pop variety. For a complete review of this album and exclusive live session performance, check out Inara George's Flower-Powered Artist page (clickable link here).
Lal Meri - Lal Meri (MySpace)
More than just Number Three on our list, Lal Meri's self-titled debut is the best electro-pop record of 2009. I can't help but fall in love with Nancy Kaye's intensely sensual vocals coupled with Carmen Rizzo's synth wizardry and Ireesh Lal's savory keys and trumpet work. Additional vocals provided by Pooja Lal and Natalie Warner help make the songs sound rich and authentic. Well, authentic in the way that the Middle Eastern sound is lavishly infused into the band's compositions. Each track is excellent but allow me to point out my favorites: Sweet Love, More Songs For The Moon, Dreams Of 18, Mausam, Borders, and My Ocean.
Leslie Mills - Falling Off The World (MySpace)
One of the most quietly-released albums of 2009 managed to loudly make its way onto our list. Yes, I'm talking about Leslie Mills' Falling Off The World. Whatever the reason for Leslie sneaking the new record quietly to retail, be assured that Falling Off The World is of the same caliber as the albums that came before it. Falling Off The World is an indie record that can go head-to-head with the most popular mainstream pop albums of 2009. Don't forget to check out our feature with Miss Mills at her (Flower-Powered Artist page) to see how she one-ups most mainstream artists with her strength as a live performer. My favorite tracks: The Things My Heart Could Say, Never Too Soon, Falling Off The World, One Determined Heart, Circles Around The Sun, and Once In A While.
Mandy Moore - Amanda Leigh (MySpace)
Am I out of my mind including Mandy Moore on this list? No, I am not. I'm including Mandy Moore on this list because her new album Amanda Leigh (taken from her real name) is one of the best records of 2009. Forget about your preconceptions about Mandy Moore and take a listen to the new album with an open mind. I could not believe it myself but if I hadn't tried listening I would have missed a brilliant pop record. Maybe it's the collaboration with Mike Viola that made this all possible. I sincerely hope that Mandy continues on this route for the following records. My favorite tracks are: Song About Home, Merrimack River, Fern Dell, Bug, Pocket Philosopher, Nothing Everything and Indian Summer.
The Bird And The Bee - Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future (MySpace)
What would a year-end KGRL list be without The Bird And The Bee? As I foretold on our Top 13 Albums To Watch Out For In 2009 list (as published on LAist), The Bird And The Bee has once again captured the essence of retro music in new songs, flawlessly integrated with the wonders of the digital age. Being an early 2009 release, Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future has probably gone under the radar for most listeners amidst the various recent releases, but the album's bubbly and sparkly songs managed to help keep it afloat long enough to bolster its position near the top of the list.
Metric - Fantasies (MySpace)
Metric's Fantasies is a love-hate relationship for most critics and listeners. For KGRL, Fantasies is the best album Metric has put out thus far. It is a testament to the failure of major record labels that the band garnered much success upon releasing Fantasies independently. Perhaps this is partly attributable to the fact that the band already has a staggering fan base. Regardless of the band's popularity, I give kudos to one of the year's albums that offers an unforgettable no-filler listening experience.
Howling Bells - Radio Wars (MySpace)
Howling Bell's sophomore record titled Radio Wars engaged us with a full-on sonic assault of solid indie-rock tunes. Juanita Stein leads the assault with a beautiful voice that is flexible enough to deliver a deep and dark intoxicating ballad, or blast away as necessary in the album's heavier romps. The Howling Bells came, saw, and conquered our list in 2009 with their Radio Wars. All of the songs on the album are top-notch.
Reverie Sound Revue - Reverie Sound Revue (MySpace)
It's interesting how this self-titled debut from the Canadian indie pop-rockers Reverie Sound Revue was recorded. They recorded the album in a span of four years while apart from each other. That means none of the songs were recorded as a band. They don't plan on playing shows either, aside from a virtual blog tour they recently did where they gave stripped-down live videos of 5 of their songs. However weird everything sounds, we're still listing this album. It is down as one of 2009's best simply because it is. It's just a shame that no one will get to hear the lovely Lisa Lobsinger perform these brilliant chill-pop/rock songs live.
Butterfly Boucher - Scary Fragile (MySpace)
Finally free! After the years it took to sever ties with a major record label, Butterfly Boucher's Scary Fragile finally came out this year. And yes, it was very much worth the wait. Scary Fragile is relentless from beginning to end. There are tons of high-quality pop-rock songs to satisfy your indie-loving ears. Like many of the albums we discussed earlier, this one is also a no-filler affair. For a full review of this album and exclusive live session performance, check out her FPA page (clickable link here).
Jenny Owen Youngs - Transmitter Failure (MySpace)
The second offfering from singer-songwriter Jenny Owen Youngs is quite a departure from her previous folksy Batten The Hatches. While the song Clean Break might sound like it belongs on Batten The Hatches, there's much more on Transmitter Failure than you can shake a stick at. This time it's richly-layered epic (in songs like No More Words) and orchestral (in songs like the title-track Transmitter Failure and Nighty Night) moments. Of course there's also the heart-wrenching, cleverly-written ballad Here Is A Heart that is a joy to listen to. What can I say? Every song on this record pretty much hits the spot.
Jonna Lee - This Is Jonna Lee (MySpace)
Jonna Lee's album This Is Jonna Lee is relaxing, moving, stirring, haunting, and delicate — all at the same time. It's a pop record that feels like there is more to it than the genre it falls under. It's dark, moody and filled with a lot of killer tunes. I could listen all day long to one of the best and most powerful songs on the record, The Weight And The Beating Of His Heart. This album is definitely one of the standouts of 2009. My other favorite tracks: Something So Quiet, Lake Chermain, There Was Me, The Light and In The Mood For You.
Jesca Hoop - Hunting My Dress (MySpace)
So far we've covered pop, rock, and ballads on this list. I guess now's the time to present the quirkiest album this year, and that is Jesca Hoop's Hunting My Dress. Well, for now it's only available in the UK but that won't stop me from listing it here (as long as it's been released somewhere since we're streaming worldwide). Miss Hoop's eccentricity in cooking up exotic musical cuisines is once again displayed on this album. Hunting My Dress has only nine tracks, but it's all about quality not quantity right? Yes, they're all quality tracks.
Lisa Mitchell - Wonder (MySpace)
Once in a while there are great artists who come out of the idol contests. We're so glad that we found out about Australian Idol (season 4) contestant Lisa Mitchell. Would I be stoned to death if I said her voice doesn't fit the cover songs she did on idol? Well, thank God she didn't win the contest. I think she is destined for a better path, the path that led to Wonder. This is where her voice perfectly fits, in the odd collection of songs on this album. Wonder is filled to the brim with wonderful sun-shiney merry happy tunes. Oh how I wonder if Lisa Mitchell would be interested in doing an FPA Live Session.
Brooke Waggoner - Go Easy Little Doves (MySpace)
Go Easy Little Doves is Brooke Waggoner's latest opus. It is a tough album to sell to everyone as it is not your typical indie release. It's a 35-minute orchestral record that offers a holistic listening experience, meaning that it must be listened to from start to finish to fully appreciate it. Go Easy Little Doves is a musical landmark for Brooke Waggoner. It proves just how talented and mature she is in both songwriting and orchestration. For a full review of this album and exclusive live session performance, please visit her FPA page (clickable link here).
Sarah Fimm - Red Yellow Sun (MySpace)
At the very end of 2008, we were enchanted with Sarah Fimm's free EP titled White Birds. During that year, on our Top Albums To Watch Out For In 2009 list (as published on LAist), we noted that there were 2 upcoming EPs. However, earlier this year Sarah decided to combine them to form the full-length, Red Yellow Sun. Surprisingly the new record is very unlike her previous records. For one, it has more a full-band sound than electronic. To replace the electronic sounds there are acoustic guitars and other organic instruments. Secondly, the songs on Red Yellow Sun are more mellow and melodic as highlighted by the lush background vocals in tracks like Crumbs And Broken Shells and How Does It Feel. Fans of the old record might find these changes a bit drastic. For me, it was a pleasant surprise. Every song is a gem worthy of constant repeats.
Maria Taylor - LadyLuck (MySpace)
Maria Taylor's new album was written during a tumultuous time in her life, as a result of a recent break-up. The new album is titled LadyLuck, and it's all about change — change in the life of prolific singer-songwriter Maria Taylor. This involved a move from Birmingham, Alabama to Los Angeles, California and a change in record label as well, from Saddle Creek to Nettwerk. This change is palpable in the album's mix of ten melancholic and upbeat songs. My favorites tend toward the latter: Time Lapse Lifeline, Green Butterfly, It's Time, 100,000 Times, A Chance, and My Favorite... Love.
A Camp - Colonia (MySpace)
A Camp started out as a solo project for The Cardigans' frontwoman Nina Persson, which turned into a full-fledged band through the process of creating their new record Colonia. The resulting full band sound is neither a derivative of The Cardigans nor is it a rehash of the first A Camp record. Colonia contains songs that veer more towards melodic pop versus the pop-rock of The Cardigans and the country overtones of the first A Camp record. As in The Cardigans though, Nina's vocals take the center stage on every song - except the instrumental Eau De Colonia (of course) and the lovely ballad Golden Teeth And Silver Medals, wherein she shares the stage with Nicolai Dunger. My favorite tracks: Golden Teeth And Silver Medals, Love Has Left The Room, Stronger Than Jesus, The Crowning, I Signed The Line, and Beat On The Beach.
Meaghan Smith - The Cricket's Orchestra (MySpace)
Meagan Smith's The Cricket's Orchestra is an album with a touch of class that is not too shy to be in the retro-jazz category, but has just enough sprinkles of quirk to be identifiably modern. The big-jazz-band sound is present and so are the vintage phonograph effects. If you're a retro aficionado, this one's a great album to add to your library. My favorite tracks: Heartbroken, A Piece For You, I Know, A Little Love, Drifted Apart, If You Asked Me, and Take Me Dancing.
Holly Conlan - Fascinator (MySpace)
The new record of Holly Conlan is aptly titled Fascinator for it is enchantingly beautiful. The collection of indie pop tracks here are lighthearted and easy to fall in love with. Fascinator may not have taken risks with the compositions, but these songs are the type where Conlan's voice really shines. There's no escaping the grasp of each track, for by the time Holly starts to serenade you're already helplessly captivated.
Rie Sinclair - A Moment You Never Dreamed (MySpace)
Our November 2009 Flower-Powered Artist Rie Sinclair rightfully deserves a spot on this list. The oft-delayed album for this sparkling violeteer was finally released in December 2009. Rie has enjoyed a fruitful and lucrative career writing songs for television. A Moment You Never Dreamed is the first Rie Sinclair record that was written first and foremost for the purpose of an album, thus we get songs that are deeply personal and intimate. For a complete review of this album and exclusive live session performance, check out Rie Sinclair's FPA page (clickable link here). My favorite tracks: Neptune's Bed, Sweet Violet, Victoria, Tell Me (The Way It Ends), High Time, and A Moment You Never Dreamed.
Schuyler Fisk - The Good Stuff (MySpace)
I remember writing about this Schuyler Fisk album way back in 2006 on our Top 10 Artists To Watch Out For In 2007 list (as published on LA Metblogs). Back then there wasn't a title for it yet. Fast forward to 2009 and we finally got the full-length we've been waiting for. Was it worth the wait? A resounding "YES!" is my answer. Schuyler Fisk does indeed bring us The Good Stuff. It's a good combination of well-crafted acoustic-driven ballads and picker-uppers. Each of the tracks has its own distinctive hooks that will likely please even the harshest pop snobs.
Aslyn - The Dandelion Sessions (MySpace)
In The Dandelion Sessions it just seems that Aslyn has mastered the art of crafting heartbreak- and relationship-themed pop songs. Whether you're a helpless romantic or just looking for an album chock-full of indie-sounding mellow love songs, look no further than Aslyn's The Dandelion Sessions. It's good to the very last drop.
Chantal Kreviazuk - Plain Jane (MySpace)
Chantal Kreviazuk's 2006 album, titled Ghost Stories, was a dark and depressing album, sans a few up-tempo tracks (i.e. Wonderful and Ghost Stories). Plain Jane on the other hand is the exact opposite. It features tracks that are more on the upbeat side, which is really a good thing. I've always appreciated the less-depressing tracks by Chantal but that doesn't mean that I don't appreciate some of her introspective songs. My favorite tracks: Invincible, Half Of Me, Ordinary People, Today, The Way, Say The Word, and Kerosene Lamp.
Clare And The Reasons - Arrow (MySpace)
An arrow is shot in the dark but it will not miss its mark, for it is aimed carefully into the hearts of those who ever loved The Beatles - now that's plenty a target. Call it playing safe or a devotion to one of the most popular bands that ever existed, but there's much to enjoy in Clare And The Reasons' latest offering titled Arrow. There are plenty of arrows in here but one that is sure to hit that bullseye is a song titled Oh You Hurt Me So. I can put this track on endless repeat and I'll still be delighted with every second of it. My other favorite tracks: Mellifera, Photograph, All The Wine, Our Team Is Grand, Kyoto Nights, and Murder, They Want Murder.
Kate Walsh - Light & Dark (MySpace)
Brighton, UK-based singer-songwriter, Kate Walsh croons her way onto our list with an album full of delicate and irresistibly-charming acoustic-based tracks in Light & Dark. Light & Dark is in the same vein as the two albums before it, and there's nothing wrong with that as long as the quality is also consistent - and there's plenty of that here. My favorite tracks: As He Pleases, June Last Year, Be Mine, 1000 Bees, Old Man, and Greatest Love.
A Fine Frenzy - Bomb In A Birdcage (MySpace)
Bomb In A Birdcage is Alison Sudol's follow-up to 2007's One Cell In The Sea. It may not be as memorable as the debut but it features a peppier and happier Alison. It's a double-edged sword. On one hand, it's probably the peppier poppier tracks that take away some of the memorable moments that One Cell In The Sea had. On the other hand, Bomb In A Birdcage features more variety. I'm not exactly blown away by the new record but it still managed to suck us in with the fine frenzy of Miss Sudol. My favorite tracks: New Heights, Happier, Blow Away, Electric Twist, Bird Of The Summer, Stood Up, and Elements.
Elizabeth & The Catapult - Taller Children (MySpace)
One of our most anticipated albums since the self-titled Elizabeth & The Catapult EP of 2006 finally arrived in 2009. I'm talking about Elizabeth & The Catapult's debut full-length, Taller Children. Although half of the amazing EP — which we have loved for years — made its way onto the debut album, there are still tons of quirky alternative pop tunes (Race You and Perfectly Perfect) as well as slow and moody ballads (Rainiest Day Of Summer and Apathy) to enjoy. My other favorite tracks: Taller Children, The Hang Up, and Hit The Wall.
Gemma Ray - Lights Out Zoltar (MySpace)
Earlier I talked about the quirkiest album of the year. I'll have to crown Gemma Ray's Lights Out Zoltar as the runner-up. I instantly fell in love with Gemma Ray's vintage-sounding eccentric pop, and by vintage I mean something like The Beach Boys. Lights Out Zoltar takes a lot of twists and turns, sometimes dipping into psychedelic rock and a bit of western. In the end, it's pretty much a roller-coaster experience listening to this album. My favorite tracks: 100mph (In 2nd Gear), Snuck A Peek, Tough Love, Fist Of A Flower, No Water, and So Do I.
Sheila Nicholls - Songs From The Bardo (MySpace)
Songs From The Bardo by Sheila Nicholls is probably the most overlooked record of 2009 that is worthy of your attention. This album is a collection of songs written and recorded by Sheila Nicholls over the last five years. Hip hop-sounding beats and R&B grooves permeate some songs but they are countered by the lovely and powerful voice of Miss Nicholls. Some of the tracks even sway towards Lo-Fi. You won't regret checking out this fantastic record. My favorite tracks: Mighty Love, Bardo, Natural Law, Simplify, Pointless Tackles Vision, Celery Bay, and Bed.
Leslie Mendelson - Swan Feathers (MySpace)
There's one prominent artist that the music of Leslie Mendelson reminds me of, and that's Carole King. Swan Feathers is an intensely melodic pop affair. What's immediately apparent upon listening to this album is Leslie's strength as a songwriter. The eleven pop tracks that make up this album are solid. The hooks easily sink in. An album like this is extremely easy to recommend to just about anyone.
Imogen Heap - Ellipse (MySpace)
It's been a long time coming. Too many dates were missed but alas it's finally here. Yup, Imogen Heap's Ellipse finally hit the shelves. Was it worth the wait? If we can separate this album into two, the answer would be yes and no. Yes to the first half, and no to the second. Why is the album then included on this list? Simple: it's because the first half of Ellipse contains some of the best songs to come out in 2009. The first half has songs that are ethereal-sounding, coupled with blissful electronic and vocal layers, while some are deliciously upbeat and graciously wrapped in fancy arrangements. The latter half is unfortunately marred by novelty tracks, album fillers, and tedious slow tracks. My favorite tracks: First Train Home, Wait It Out, Little Bird, Swoon, Tidal, and 2-1.
Laura Jansen - Bells (MySpace)
It's time to ring Dutch singer-songwriter Laura Jansen's Bells to let everyone know that she is included on our list. Bells is a collection of songs that were previously released on EPs (Single Girls and Trauma). There's so much to love in this collection of piano-based indie pop music, especially the slow and steady-paced tracks where Laura's voice shine the most: Come To Me, Signal and the title track Bells. There's absolutely no filler on this record.
Kathryn Williams & Neill MacColl - Two (MySpace)
The collaborative effort between Kathryn Williams and Neill MacColl was released in 2008 but was re-released in 2009 under Nettwerk records. I guess that's reason enough to list this wonderful album that escaped our attention last year. The effectiveness of the chemistry between Kathryn and Neill is readily apparent in the guitar-based acoustic folk songs offered in Two. The first single, Come With Me, is simply an immaculate folk ballad. I feel the chills down my spine every time I listen to it. But it's not all ballads as the album takes a turn towards the oddball in songs like Grey Goose. My other favorite tracks: 6am Corner, Holes In Your Life, Before It Goes, and Blue Fields.
Julie Peel - Near The Sun (MySpace)
I first heard of Julie Peel through various cover songs that graced a handful of compilation albums and she has since then piqued my interest. When I heard she was releasing a debut full-length album, I got excited and requested a copy right away. It wasn't what I expected. Listening to Julie Peel's record is comparable to molasses: thick, slow and sticky. Near The Sun gets a bit mushy at times, but it's a warm breeze of gentle folk pop. Be careful though, for it might melt your fragile heart. My favorite tracks: The Greatest Story, Near The Sun, Living In A Movie, Once More With Feeling, Innocence, The Piece Of My Heart, and Ok.
Micadelia - Free Ride (MySpace)
An album full of covers is hard to put on a list of Best CDs of the year but I'll go ahead and list Micadelia's Free Ride on this list just because the songs (as well as the song choices) are first-rate. Micadelia used to be in a lot of cover bands, covering Led Zeppelin with her band Mica And The Other Pages and Neil Young songs with her band Mica And The Gold Rush. It's not a surprise at all that Free Ride contains songs by Led Zeppelin and Neil Young. Other artists that Micadelia covers on the album includes Carole King, Nirvana, The Church, The Beatles and Blondie. There is one original song in the midst of the sea of covers, titled Sadness and it shows a spark of Micadelia's talent in terms of songwriting. We look forward to hearing more from this fine Swedish singer-songwriter. Every song on the record is a pleasure to listen to and yes, that includes the lone original track.
Vedera - Stages (MySpace)
It literally took the Kansas City-based band Vedera a lot of stages to release their second full-length album Stages. While it's undeniable that all of the new songs possess charming melodies like those that made The Weight Of An Empty Room such a joy to listen to, there's something different about Stages. Stages is a much fluffier, more poppy and less indie-sounding Vedera. Stages is released under Epic Records. Yes, Vedera is a major label band now, so maybe it's the label's fault for this change just as with with Sara Bareilles' Little Voice (is it coincidence that it's Epic Records that is involved again?). Despite this too-polished-sounding album, with Kristen May's vocals carrying the weight of the gorgeous melodies it's hard to say no to Stages, so we say yes to including it on this list.
Lily Allen - It's Not Me, It's You (Special Edition) (MySpace)
I like to think of Lily Allen's It's Not Me, It's You as a The Bird And The Bee project with Lily Allen as a guest vocalist. There's a whole lot of truth to that as this album was not only produced by but also co-written by one half of The Bird And The Bee, Greg Kurstin. He's probably the glue that held this album together, in contrast to how Alright, Still was a mish-mash of Ska, Pop, and Hip-Hop/Reggae. The copy I'm including in this list is the Special Edition with acoustic version of some of the songs, which were all surprisingly awesome. All the songs on the record are brilliant. Chalk those up to Kurstin's magic touch.
Under - More Pleasant Grey (MySpace)
Perhaps the most "chillaxing" album of 2009 is Under's More Pleasant Grey. Under is a collaboration between Jen Triano (vocals) and Eamonn Flynn (keyboards). This San Francisco-based band has a lot of warm sounds, with mellow to Lo-Fi / trip-hop beats and rhythms, to offer in More Pleasant Grey. The eleven tracks contained on this record drip with atmosphere and vibe. If, like us, you're one of those disappointed by the new Zero 7 album and were expecting something like Simple Things and When It Falls, you can instead listen to Under's More Pleasant Grey and start chillin'. My favorite tracks: Gravity, Union, The Cars Below, Under, Keep On Moving, and Far Away.
Regina Spektor - Far (MySpace)
Once an indie anti-folk artist (Begin To Hope, Soviet Kitsch), Regina Spektor is now more of a quirky alterna-pop genius. While the production is fuller and fancier, Regina's brand of oddness (to the point of craziness - not that this is a bad thing, mind you) is still present, still a wee bit below Björk weirdness. If you like Regina Spektor, you'll love every little thing Far has to offer, just as we did. Need I say more?
Spinnerette - Spinnerette (MySpace)
In our Best Albums Of 2008 list, someone posted a comment to add Spinnerette to the list, as they released a very good 4-track EP (Ghetto Love). Our mistake. So now we're correcting that by including this one helluva punk rock album in our 2009 list. Spinnerette is all about frontwoman Brody Dalle, and it shows as she sings, screams and snarls her way through all thirteen tracks on this self-titled debut. This is a punk rock album that don't just rely on noise; there's actual melody (hook-filled at that) and structure, more than enough to have you entertained long after the record stops spinning. My favorite tracks: Ghetto Love, A Spectral Suspension, Geeking, Distorting A Code, Baptized By Fire, Sex Bomb, and All Babes Are Wolves.
St. Vincent - Actor (MySpace)
How many quirky albums have appeared thus far on this list? It's not enough until I add Annie Clark's latest astonishing delight, an album titled Actor. There's beauty in every dark riff played on guitar, in Annie's vocal stylings, and in every other instrument played on every track - and they all paint an eerie abstract work of art worthy of framing and becoming a centerpiece in a gallery. My favorite tracks: Laughing With A Mouth Of Blood, Save Me From What I Want... Help, save me from listing all of the tracks! They're all good.
Pomplamoose - VideoSongs Vol. 1 (MySpace)
Pomplamoose's VideoSongs Vol. 1 is our top EP of 2009. What can I say about Pomplamoose that 60,000+ of their YouTube subscribers don't already know? I guess nothing. Their VideoSongs speak for themselves. If you haven't been caught in the frenzy of Pomplamoose yet, head on over to their YouTube channel to experience their music. So what are my favorite songs? Well, all of them! VideoSongs Vol. 1 is two songs shy of a regular full-length album. You'll get to read our full-review in our upcoming February 2010 Flower-Powered Artist feature with Pomplamoose.
Lovers And Poets - Lovers And Poets (MySpace)
Shannon Hurley is always at the top of her game, which is songwriting. In 2009, she astonished us with her brand new electro-pop band Lovers & Poets. Originally formed with Bryan Talbot, the Nashville-based band is now comprised of Shannon Hurley and her husband Ben Eisen. We were very proud to be the first to introduce this interesting collaboration via KGRL-exclusive pre-released tracks a few months ago. We can't wait to hear more from Lovers And Poets. Two thumbs up for all three tracks! Bravo Shannon Hurley!
Mouchette - From Orchids To Ashes (MySpace)
Natalie Walker's new band Mouchette came into existence in 2009 with a very impressive debut EP titled From Orchids To Ashes. Mouchette also features Aaron Nevezie on guitars, David Mason on drums, John Stenger on keyboards and John Davis on bass. While Natalie's recent solo album With You (2008) targeted radio-friendly and accessible tunes, From Orchids To Ashes takes a U-turn to get closer to the trip-hop / Lo-Fi sound of 2006's Urban Angel. This is easily one of the most memorable EPs to come out in 2009.
Carina Round - Things You Should Know (MySpace)
Carina Round gives us a bit of a "shock and awe" experience as she unleashes a dark and intense EP (sans the happy-sounding Backseat, whose chorus is perfectly suited for communal singing) titled Things You Should Know. With its subdued and laid-back melodies, Things You Should Know has more in common with her old (and rare) 2001 album The First Blood Mystery than it does with the alternative-rock style of her recent efforts (The Disconnection and Slow Motion Addict). This is exactly the type of song that showcases the flexibility of Carina's voice, gently restrained at one moment and soaring the next.
Ash Koley - The White EP / The Blue EP (MySpace)
We were so overjoyed when we recently heard that Ash Koley had signed up with our favorite indie label Nettwerk and is bound to release a string of four successive EPs. Two of them have already been released and are the subject of this blurb, namely The White EP and The Blue EP (the remaining two are The Red EP and The Black EP to be released in 2010). Ashley Koley, a Canadian singer-songwriter, and her producer and songwriting partner Phil Deschambault, instantly wooed us with a series of lively and enchanting pop songs videotaped in a do-it-yourself manner and posted for streaming over the internet via their YouTube channel. Both EPs contain slow ballads (Trampoline from The White EP and Getaway Car from The Blue EP) but Ash shines the most in the uptempo pop songs (Go! from The White EP and Don't Let Your Feet Touch Ground from The Blue EP). Since there are only two other songs I guess I'll mention them here too: Ten-Speed Flying Racing Bike is a holiday-inspired tune while Mary The Inventor sounds an awful lot like George Michael's Faith.
Joy Williams - One Of Those Days / Songs From This / Songs From That (MySpace)
These three EPs from Joy Williams, each released in 2009, are all exemplary pop records. Each one offers a solid, blissful pop adventure. At such a rate, I find it hard to believe that the songs on all three EPs are all hits and no misses. It does seem that Joy Williams owns a factory that manufactures all these finely-crafted hooks and gorgeous melodies. Pick one or pick em all, it doesn't really matter for sooner or later you'll own all three.
Summer Ames - Complicated Daydream (MySpace)
It isn't really as complicated as the EP title makes it out to be. Simply close your eyes, listen as Summer Ames casts a spell on you, and you'll find yourself daydreaming. Complicated Daydream is a six-track EP of pure unadulterated singer-songwriter folk-pop. Summer Ames can be frequently seen performing at The Opening Bell Coffee in TX. Thanks to our friend Mike Finkel, we were introduced to this lovely talent. Oh, and Summer's song Breaking Up The Love Scene is nominated for the Love Song category in the 9th Annual Independent Music Awards, so don't forget to cast your vote!
The Hampdens - Croupier (MySpace)
Australian band The Hampdens gave US listeners a hint of their tasty music in the form of a four-track EP titled Croupier, released under Nettwerk records. This three-piece band consists of Susannah Legge on vocals, Gavin Crawcour on guitar/bass, and Jules Hewitt on keyboards. Their music is a healthy dose of indie britpop with a slice of trip-hop beats. There's something about Susannah's voice that will have you cozying up to their songs from the first listen.
The Oohlas - Chinchilla (MySpace)
Los Angeles-based indie alternative-rock band The Oohlas rocks the music scene with their latest, Chinchilla EP. Lemmings Anthem and Adventures, both from the EP, must be two of the catchiest alternative-rock songs of 2009. Their music harkens back to the day when bands like Letters To Cleo ruled the airwaves. It's the kind of music that never goes out of style.
Gold Motel - Gold Motel (MySpace)
Gold Motel is Greta Morgan (front woman of The Hush Sound)'s new band. With her distinctive voice, it only takes an instant to feel "at home" with Gold Motel, as the vocal work is instantly recognizable. What's more, the songs themselves are reminiscent of the last The Hush Sound album, Goodbye Blues (of course I'm referring to the Greta-sung songs). If you liked those, then perfect because that's what you'll get from Gold Motel EP.
I wish I had time to write blurbs for all of the fabulous CDs of 2009, but it is impossible. Here then is a list of some more awesome CDs to check out:
List Of Live CDs
MiNa - Live & B-Side U
Samantha James - Rise (Acoustic Sessions)
Howling Bells - Paradiso (Live)
Katie Herzig - Live In Studio: Acoustic Trio
My Brightest Diamond - Live At Le Poisson Rouge
The Kills - Live Session (iTunes)
Natalie Walker - Live At The Bunker
Hanna Pestle - Live In The Studio
Katy Perry - MTV Unplugged
Sandra McCracken - Live Under Lights & Wires
Shawn Colvin - Live
The Civil Wars - Live At Eddie's Attic
List Of Full-Length Albums
Adiam Dymott - Adiam Dymott
Adrina Thorpe - Halflight & Shadows
Alana Grace - With One Word
Alessi's Ark - Notes From The Treehouse
Alfa - Second Skin
Allison Weiss - ...Was Right All ALong
ambeR Rubarth - Good Mystery
Amy Studt - My Paper Made Men
Anjulie - Anjulie
Anuhea - Anuhea
Anya Marina - Slow & Steady Seduction: Phase II
Astrid Swan & The Drunk Lovers - Better Than Wages
Bat For Lashes - Two Suns
Bif Naked - The Promise
Boh Runga - Right Here
Brandi Carlile - Give Up The Ghost
Caitlin Crosby - Flawz
Cami Bradley - Anomalous
Cerys Matthews - Don't Look Down
Chantelle Barry - Simple Things
Charlotte & Magon - Love Happening
Charlotte Hatherley - New Worlds
Crystal Thomas - The Touch Of My Skin
Dala - Everyone Is Someone
Dash & Will - Up In Something
Dawson & Marie - Months Vol. 1
Diane Birch - Bible Belt
Diving With Andy - Sugar Sugar
Dolores O'Riordan - No Baggage
Dragonette - Fixin To Thrill
Eleisha Eagle - Neither Here Nor There
Eleni Mandell - Artificial Fire
Elin Palmer - Elin Palmer
Elisa - Heart
Elysian Fields - The Afterlife
Emiliana Torrini - Rarities
Emme Packer - Earlier, Later
Erica Skogen - Stories About People
Florence & The Machine - Lungs
Flyleaf - Memento Mori
Freddy & Francine - The Briar Patch
Gaia Riva - Frantic
Gin Wigmore - Holy Smoke
Girls Love Shoes - Supamedicine
God Help The Girl - God Help The Girl
Hana Pestle - This Way
Hanne Hukkelberg - Blood From A Stone
Ingrid Michaelson - Everybody
Jenny & Tyler - This Isn't A Dream
Jill Sobule - California Years
Karli Fairbanks - The Breaking Of Our Days
Kat Edmonson - Take To The Sky
Kate Voegele - A Fine Mess
Katie Todd - Mumbled Speech
Laura Tsaggaris - Keep Talking
Lauren Zettler - On Your Back Porch
Leah Andreone - Avalanche
Lene Marlin - Twist The Truth
Lights - The Listening
Linda Good - Love Is A Curious Thing
Lindsey Smith - Lindsey Smith
Lisa Donelly - We Had A Thing
Little Birdy - Confetti
Little Boots - Hands
Marykate O'Neil - Underground
Meg & Dia - Here, Here, & Here
Meja - Urban Gypsy
Mindy Smith - Stupid Love
Miss Li - Dancing The Whole Way Home
MoZella - Belle Isle
Natalie Imbruglia - Come To Life
Nejra - In Hindsight
Nini & Ben - The Reasons We Try
Norah Jones - The Fall
Oh Darling - Oh Darling
Ohbijou - Beacons
Petracovich - Crepusculo
Pilot - Mother
Pink & Noseworthy - Twice
Polly Scattergood - Polly Scattergood
Rachael Brady - Somewhere Sunshine
Rachael Cantu - Far & Wide
Samantha Farrell - Luminous
Sansa - Sansa
Sara Beck - Music For Lovers & Fighters
Sara Haze - My Personal Sky
Sarah Blasko - As Day Follows Night / Cinema Blasko
Sarah Williams White - Fool
Shannon Wright - Honeybee Girls
Shelley Harland - Red Leaf
Sherree Chamberlain - The Wasp In The Room
Stefanie Heinzmann - Roots To Grow
Stephanie Briggs - Birds Barely Know Us
Stephaniesid - Warm People
Tegan & Sara - Sainthood
The Asteroids Galaxy Tour - Fruit
The Happy Hollows - Spells
The Love Willows - Hey! Hey!
The Mary Dream - This Kind Of Life
The Mummers - Tale To Tell
The Paper Raincoat - The Paper Raincoat
Tina Dico - The Road To Gävle
Tori Amos - Abnormally Attracted To Sin
Vandeville Falls - Ten Years Of Talk In Mexico City
Vienna Teng - Inland Territory
Wendy & Lisa - White Flags Of Winter Chimneys
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!
Zee Avi - Zee Avi
List Of EPs
Allie Moss - Passerby
Adrienne Pierce - Spring EP
Annie Stela - Hard City / Little House
Automatic Loveletter - Automatic Loveletter
Bess Rogers - Travel Back
Chandelle - Full Circle
Charity Daw - Charity Daw
Charlotte Martin - Rarities .6
Color Of Clouds - The Look
Eisley - Fire Kite
Elle Macho - ies Potencial!
Emily Zuzik - Jagged Life
Gemma Hayes - Oliver
God Help The Girl - Stills
Hannah Scott & John Carden - Falling Into Spring
Holly Miranda - Forest Green Oh Forest Green
Howling Bells - Cities Burning Down
Jamie Lynn Noon - A Moment To Break
Jennings - Storybook
Jonna Lee - Kitchen EP
Julia & The Doogans - Julia & The Doogans
Kate Havnevik - Me
Kate Walsh - Acoustic EP
Katie V - Songs From Under The Covers
Katie Wilde - Katie Wilde
Land Of Talk - Fun & Laughter
Lauren Malyon - At My Window
Leslie Mendelson - The Joel Dorn Sessions
Linda Strawberry - Lip Distortion
Lindsey Ray - Picture Perfect
My Eleventh Fantasy - My Eleventh Fantasy
Natalie Prass - Small & Sweet
Nerina Pallot - Junebug EP / Buckminster Fuller
O+S - O+S
Paula Valstein - Paula Valstein
Shannon Curtis - Why Don't You Stay
Sick Of Sarah - The Best Thing
SKooBER - SKooBER
Stacy Clark - Connect The Dots
Susie Suh - The Bakman Tapes
Swimming In Speakers - Swimming In Speakers
The Civil Wars - Poison & Wine
The Material - To Weather The Storm
The Meika Canon - From The Mouth Of Paris
The Throwdowns - Don't Slow Down
Tirzah Lemmens - Songbird
Posted by Mysty
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