2009 shaped up to be a great year for pop music, if not for the music business. In no particular order — here are my choices for the Best of 2009.
- The Twilight Hours – Stereo Night. Veterans of underappreciated groups Trip Shakespeare and Semisonic come together to create a masterful pop record. Available on clear red vinyl, too! Review here.
- Pugwash – Giddy. Irishman Thomas Walsh has been making records for awhile, but none has gotten released outside the Emerald Isle. Andy Partridge’s Ape label corrects that tragic oversight with a best-of. Review here.
- Big Star – Keep an Eye on the Sky. Another in that long, revered line of groups that didn’t succeed commercially but exerted far-reaching influence, Big Star finally gets the box set treatment they’ve long deserved.
- Jamie & Steve – English Afterthoughts. Half of the Spongetones channel their inner Chad & Jeremy. Pure pop for anytime people. Interview here.
- Various Artists – Where the Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968. 100-plus tracks of garagey, psychey pop goodness. Need I say more? I think not.
- Dennis Diken with Bell Sound – Late Music. 2009 was a banner year for breakout side-project albums. Evoking the Who, the Move and Pet Sounds era Beach Boys, Diken’s album is a real gem. Review here, and extensive interview here.
- Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey – hERE aND nOW. Half of the dB’s follow up their Mavericks collaboration of many years ago with this acoustic-flavored delight. Album review here, and interview here.
- Dukes of Stratosphear – The Complete and Utter Dukes. XTC’s psych-pop alter egos have gotten the box treatment. Review here.
- King Crimson – Red (40th Anniversary Series). This expanded packaging of the classic 1974 prog album simply sets the standard for reissues. A perfect album gets even better. Review here.
- The Orange Peels – 2020. A late entry, this album is not to be missed. Review to be published the week after Christmas.
Five excellent music or music-related DVDs top my list for 2009:
- My Dinner With Jimi – Howard Kaylan’s true and uproarious tale of the day the Turtles met the Beatles, Brian Jones, Donovan and Jimi Hendrix. Interview here.
- Blackfield – Live in NYC. Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) and Aviv Geffen turn in a stellar performance onstage. Review here.
- BB King – Live in Africa. An important historical document, and some great music to boot. Review here.
- Let Freedom Sing – How Music Inspired the Civil Rights Movement. A thoughtful look at the connection between music and social change. Review here.
- Paul McCartney – Good Evening NYC. A sentimental choice, yes. Great show, great packaging. Review soon.
Top that, 2010.