To continue adding to the saturated market of best of lists, I'll add yet another dose of subjectivity with this one caveat: I chose albums which show drive, grit and passion and yet, too rarely grace typical best-of-the-year lists. Being a tad retro-minded may taint my list in some eyes but with all these nature-named bands and their delicate sound-sculptures dominating best-of lists someone's gotta highlight albums that kick ass - not just punk but driving country, folk, glam, power-pop, gospel, hell even an indie rock album if it shows some damn fortitude.
1. The Parasites (more here) Solitary
New Jerseyite Dave Parasite, a one-man force in pop-punk for decades waited till two-thousand-and-fucking-nine before releasing his best record, full of racing guitars and soaring tunes - score one for the late-starters!
2. Ripchord Beginner's Luck
If I told you I'd discovered a band whose two greatest influences are the Kaiser Chiefs and the Housemartins would you run away or listen closely? Choose carefully...
3. Those Darlins’ S/T
Always nice to have a funny, pretty and catchy country album on the list; even if gets a bit arch in spots.
4. Houseboat The Delaware Octopus
The lame name (but netter than Barrakuda McMurder!) can't disguise the fact that Grath Madden, formerly of New York's Steinways is starting to grow up. Now backed by members of Dear Landlord and the Ergs, Grath's more musically developed songs show that his old cute self-loathing is veering towards self-disgust, ("everyone's fucked and alone" he sings on "Alonelylonelylone") which he still makes sound pretty appealing.
5. Frank Turner (more here) Love, Ire & Song
An odd entry due to the Frank Turner Overdose on the net this year and this album being from 2008 but as the hype focused on the disappointing Poetry of the Deed and since Epitaph did release this wordy-but-wonderful folk-punk album in North America this year (though without the corrosive "Thatcher Fucked the Kids") and I need a "Dylan-was-a-punk" album of the year we will have to bend the space-time continuum just to the left.
6. Used Kids Yeah No
Nato Coles (self-described as, "like Bob Mould, Howlin' Wolf, Paul Weller, Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Westerberg, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer, Mike Ness, the baritone guy from the Coasters, the slightly less baritone guy from the Coasters ... all rolled into one giant burrito." put out two heartland punk records this year and I'm giving this one the edge for the astounding ballad, "Desperate Times".
7. Michael Roe (more here) We All Gonna face the Rising Sun
I've already raved to ridiculous degrees about this gos-pel ex-plosion, which is basically a one man condensation of the the Goodbye Babylon box set (the Oh Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack would be a more widely known, if less accurate, comparison).
8. The Leftovers (more here) Eager to Please
Another one I've spilled many words over, but how can you resist such sparkling power-pop melodies being given the pop-punk once over?
9. TV Smith (more here) Live at NVA
Thirty songs hammered out by one skinny fifty-something balladeer with an acoustic guitar who'd sooner kick the shit out of James Taylor then confess his inner demons.
10. The Takeover UK Running With the Wasters
The kind of swaggering egotistical glam-pop thievery that the British music press would usually salivates over, if the band wasn't from Pittsburgh - yup the Takeover UK are from steel-town.
11. MewithoutYou It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All A Dream! It’s Alright
Experimental post-hardcore band who, despite their roots is Sufism and Judaism record for Christian label Tooth and Nail, find the Neil Young and Sufjan Stevens within, thereby breaking all my stupid rules (it's even number eleven!) and make an album that when described sounds like a pretentious bag o' shit but in execution aches, shines and refuses to relent.
Okay, MRML Readers, leave us a comment on our choices and then tell us your picks for the great album of '09.