best of 2009 (top 10 for hexadactyls)

Again, to my own rules; what I discovered this year, and not necessarily ten:

  • Spoils — Alasdair Roberts. Alasdair’s transformed from a good (if somewhat doleful) Scottish folkie to a full-on demented psych-folker with this record. The Wyrd Meme EP is nifty too.
  • Banjo — Billy Faier. I know this album was recorded in the 1970s, but it’s as far away from tedious lick-based picking that most people link to the banjo. The fact that Billy’s giving it away free now doesn’t hurt, either. It’s kinda prog banjo, if you must.
  • Old Dog — Chris Coole. Chris has been recording for more than a decade, but this is his first solo album. Fabulous songwriting (Old Dog, and The Bottle Got the Best of Me is sounds like something that Porter and Dolly should’ve sung), brilliant playing, and all this from a man who can smack himself inadvertantly on the nose with his own coffee grinder.
  • Signal Morning — Circulatory System. Only five years late. Worth every minute.
  • Clifton Hicks — Clifton Hicks. Zero production; just a guy singing along with his banjo. But both so well.
  • Hypersomnia — entertainment for the braindead. Julia Kotowski makes achingly beautiful lo-fi noises.
  • Sing the Greys — Frightened Rabbit. Visiting Scotland, and having a crappy job over the summer, made this my singalong-driving album of the year. The Midnight Organ Fight has a high nift-factor too.
  • Yours Truly, The Commuter — Jason Lytle. Probably better than anything he did with Grandaddy. His free christmas album of piano music is pretty spiffy too.
  • Lord Cut-Glass — Lord Cut-Glass. I didn’t get into the Delgados when they were around (silly me; there was some fine fine music in Scotland while I still lived there), but Alun Woodward belted out a classic this year. Bought on a whim (a small Scottish coin, or unicycle) at Monorail in Glasgow, it’s a favourite when stuck in traffic on the 401.
  • Waxing Gibbous — Malcolm Middleton. Who knew that miserabilism was so much fun? Actually, it was Devil and the Angel from his first album that got me back into his work.
  • Love It Love It — Nana Grizol. And I do love it; noisy punk from the friends of Elephant Six. Technically the new album Ruth comes out next year, but it’s out already if you’re not hung up on physical media.
  • These Four Walls — We Were Promised Jetpacks. Scottish – yeah!

Quite a bit of Scottish content in there, I know.

Some late arrivals and miscellaneous:

  • I was probably supposed to like Goodnight Oslo by Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3 more than I do, but there was so much music this year it kind of got buried.
  • My sister  (Wendy Arrowsmith) has a new album out, Seeds of Fools.
  • Dunno what Friendly Rich was thinking releasing Pictures at an Exhibition so late in the year. It’s a twisted jazz take on Mussorgsky, and nothing to be modest about.

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