Hudson's Best of 2009, Part 2: #40 - 21

40. The King Khan & BBQ Show, Invisible Girl. How can you not love anthemnic garage rock with traces of an unlikely love of doo-wop. Mixing Little Anthony with the Seeds (or the Big Bopper with Otis Redding), Invisible Girl is an album to crank up while downing triple shots of whiskey.

39. Great Lake Swimmers, Lost Channels. Fans of Fleet Foxes should enjoy this Canadian group’s dreamy, folk-inspired yet hauntingly ambient sound. Slow and spare, Lost Channels is one of those albums that creeps up on you.

38.  Metric, Fantasies. Part of the incestuous Toronto indie rock scene (Broken Social Scene, Stars, etc.), Metric’s latest may be their glossiest release to date but it’s hard to resist their blend of 80’s new wave and 90’s alt-rock. "Who would you rather be? The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?", they ask on “Gimme Sympathy”, but I have a feeling their answer is neither.

37. Japandroids, Post-Nothing. One guitar, one set of drums, and two voices all set to maximum volume. Nothing more needs to be said.

36.  Chuck Prophet, Let Freedom Ring. Recorded in a rundown studio in Mexico City during a pandemic, the underrated Prophet has said his latest album is a colleciton of “political songs for the non-political”. After a couple of albums that experimented with  loops, Let Freedom Ring’s tales of the underclass are brought to life due to a resurging interest in a more traditional dual-guitar sound.

35. Boston Spaceships, Zero to 99. Following the dissolution of Guided By Voices, leader Robert Pollard has continued to flood the market with product. Generally, each of these releases, whether under his name or a handful of band monikers, have been highlighted by a couple of tracks but little else. On his third album under the Boston Spaceships name, Pollard and friends return to the British Invasion-influenced power pop that made his former band so legendary.

34. Bad Lieutenant, Never Cry Another Tear. Former Joy Division/New Order guitarist/vocalist Bernard Sumner’s new band shines due to a renewed emphasis on jangly guitars. Synths are still present, but this is a far cry from the disco-y sounds of the latter days of New Order.

33.  Grand Duchy, Petits Fours. What a surprising musical turn for Pixies leader Frank Black! Paired up with his wife, Violet Clark, Black sets aside his normal dissonant sounds in favor of melodic synth-pop that ranks right up there with anything Black has released since the heyday of his former band.

32. Lucero, 1372 Overton Park. On their seventh album, this Memphis band added a little bit of hometown history to their patented punk-influenced Southern rock sound. Soulful horns may not appear to be a viable complement to their sound, but they perfectly fit leader Ben Nichol’s tales of booze and lost love. (Plus, I have to love an album that mentions late night listens to Pleased to Meet Me.)

31. Neko Case, Middle Cyclone. While I’ve always been a fan of Case’s larger than life vocal stylings, there’s always seemed to be something missing from her previous albums. Middle Cyclone finally gets it right by letting her voice carry the day. Guest appearances by members of The Band, Los Lobos, Calexico, and her bandmates from the New Pornographers create an epic backdrop to her trademark “country noir” vocals.

30. Morrissey, Years of Refusal. Typical Morrissey – sarcastic, pissy, melancholic - but also a bit more rocking than we’re used to from the King of Mope.

29. A.A. Bondy, When The Devil’s Loose. Formerly the leader of Verbana, Bondy’s second solo album is the sort of slow-burning moodiness that’s perfect for those late night moments of melancholy. Intimate yet powerful, Bondy’s weary vocals are reminiscent of Heartbreaker-era Ryan Adams.

28. Dinosaur Jr., Farm. Another comeback that is not an embarrassment to their 80’s origins, J. Mascis doesn’t mess with the formula. Loud, distorted walls of guitars accompanying catchy hooks that continue to reverberate long after that final chord finally fizzles away has always been the playbook, and Mascis’ songs are every bit as strong as in their heyday.

27. Mission of Burma, The Sound The Speed The Light. It may have been over twenty years between their first two albums, but Mission of Burma have now released more music since their reformation in 2002 than they did in their entire original incarnation. Many would argue that they’re an even better band today than they were in the early 80’s, and this punchy release doesn’t dispute that claim.

26. Son Volt, American Central Dust. Although the Kerouac project received more publicity, the latest album by Jay Farrar’s primary gig deserves an equal airing. On their best album in years, Son Volt retreats back to the Stones-meets-Flying Burrito Brothers sound that so captivated the alt-country crowd in the 90’s.

25. Ben Gibbard & Jay Farrar, One Fast Move & I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur. Over a decade ago, Wilco and Billy Bragg were unlikely collaborators on two albums of previously unrecorded Woody Guthrie lyrics. Now Wilco leader Jeff Tweedy’s former collaborator in Uncle Tupelo has gone a similar route by working with Death Cab For Cutie leader Ben Gibbard on putting Jack Kerouac’s words to this set of primarily laid back country-rock.

24. Brendan Benson, My Old-Familiar Friend. Primarily known as Jack White’s songwriting partner in the Raconteurs, Benson has quietly released a number of albums that deserved much more attention. His latest continues in the McCartney-ish power pop of the past, but it’s also clear that he’s invested some of that Raconteurs cash in studio time as the production is a huge advance over his past efforts.

23. Ike Reilly, Hard Luck Stories. Sort of an American version of Billy Bragg, Reilly combines vivid storytelling with dark humor to vividly portray the hard luck stories of the so-called “heartland”.

22. Camera Obscura, My Maudlin Career. With Belle and Sebastian on an extended hiatus, Camera Obscura is now clearly Scotland’s best artist, as evidenced on this wonderful collection of eloquent, heartbreaking pop.

21.  Girls, Album. One of the more intriguing stories of the year. Girls leader Christopher Owens reportedly grew up in a cult that forced his mother to prostitute herself. After running away from the cult, he eventually ended up in San Francisco where this narcotic-assisted ode to an obviously brutal romantic breakup was written and recorded.


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