There was a lot of good music last year. Here’s a quick list of what I thought was tops, and it includes albums and artists that were reviewed or highlighted here, as well as stuff I was listening to.
Best of 2009 (in no particular order):
- Honeychild Coleman, “Halo Inside (Come La Luna).” Bjork-shaded breathiness, dubby goodness. A headphone masterpiece.
- Melvin Gibbs’ Elevated Entity, “Ancients Speak”. Gibbs mines the connection between Brazil and Brooklyn to great effect. “Mojuba” alone is worth the price of this album.
- Divisible, “Less Than Lion.” For years, Esthero’s “Breathe From Another” was my mythical “driving through San Francisco” album. This one may be an alternate selection.
- Le Grand Baton, “Le Grand Baton.” Voodoo rock by way of Guadaloupe
- Rain Machine, “Rain Machine.” If they ever need a picture in the dictionary for “Do you,” Kyp Malone’s should be the one. He does what he’s good at and it all comes across honestly and powerfully.
- Death “. . .For The Whole World To See (Reissue).” Once again, some brothas from Detroit were ahead of the curve.
- RES, “Black.Girls.Rock.” The return of Res! Worth the wait, but I wish we didn’t have to wait 9 years between albums. Thirds, please.
- The Bots, “Self-Titled Album.” Two brothers, 16 and 13, crank out a fun mix of punk, ska,rock and reggae. They’re the real deal.
- BLK JKS, “After Robots.” An absolutely beautiful, emotional and rockin’ album from this South African quartet. So much to like here: “Banna Ba Modimo”, “Standby”, “Cursor”, “Tselane”. Bravo, gentlemen.
- Living Colour “The Chair In The Doorway.” You’re thinking: Of course, it’s Living Colour. I say, No, this bad boy is bangin’ (my personal favorites are “Burned Bridges”, “DecaDance”, “Bless Those”) and leaves no doubt that this band is still vibrant and burning.
- Guillermo Brown “Shuffle Mode.” Like eatin’ in your awkward kitchen. My one regret for the compilation is that I didn’t include anything from this album.
- Leila Adu, “Dark Joan.” Ambitious multi-octave artistry from this London born, New Zealand bred singer
- Analogue Transit, “Gearheart.” The reassuring sounds of baby grands clashing with 21st century electronics
- Various artists, “Boldaslove.us presents Fire In The Dark.” Yes, shameless self-promotion, but nearly 10,000 downloads means somebody likes it.
Honorable mentions (bubbling under and worth keeping an eye on):
- Shelley Nicole’s blaKbushe, “The Quick & Dirty EP”
- California King, “Glad Tidings (Winter 2010 mixtape)”
- Mick Boogie & Terry Urban, “Wild Young Heartbreak”
- Neon Collars, “Chasing Strange EP”
- Coulon, “Salon”
- Activator, “Unfortunately Lovely EP”
- Gordon Voidwell, “The Voided Checks Mixtape”
- The Cocker Spaniels, “Sometimes You’ve Gotta Fight to Get a Bit of Peace”
- theDOLLDAZE, “Acid Report: the missing piece”
- Bad Rabbits, “Stick Up Kids”
Highly anticipated for 2010:
- Tamar-Kali, “Black Bottom” Not only is she a force of nature, but she’s evolving into a multi-faceted singer, songwriter and an artist to be reckoned with.
- Game Rebellion, “Sounds Like A Riot” Finally: The Rebels are coming.
- MuthaWit featuring Boston Fielder (as-yet-untitled 2010 album). Magic happens every year at the URB Alt festival, and I look forward hearing how successfully Boston Fielder can wrestle the angel he’s created.
- A.N.M. With a lineup that boast Kings X’s Dug Pinnick, 24-7 Spyz’s Jimi Hazel and Rick Skatore, as well as members of Fishbone, Sound Barrier and Wicked Wisdom, what’s not to like. Plus, this culture could use more anti-nigger machinery. Check the first single and get ready.
- Cipher, “The Joyous Collapse”. How about some political hardcore? Yeah, we like it raw.