At the end of the year, I always like to reflect on all the great music that came out during the year. There were quite a few good albums that were released in 2009. Here’s a list of some of the more notable ones that crossed my radar in 2009 (in no particular order):
The Ballad of John Henry by Joe Bonamassa – Each new album by Joe Bonamassa shows him stretching the blues/rock genre with his own unique style of playing. The Ballad of John Henry continues that tradition and is another great album by Bonamassa. See my full review of the album here. Also, do not miss Bonamassa’s latest DVD release Live from the Royal Albert Hall. Bonamassa puts on one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen, and this DVD does a great job of capturing that magic. It also includes an appearance by Eric Clapton.
White Sugar by Joann Shaw Taylor – Joann Shaw Taylor is an excellent Telecaster-wielding blues/rock guitarist from the UK. White Sugar is her debut album and showcases not just her guitar playing but also her soulful vocals and songwriting skills. If White Sugar is any indication, Shaw appears to have quite a future ahead of her.
Keep It Hid by Dan Auerbach – I can’t say that I really understand why Auerbach went solo with this album, as any of these songs would have sounded good on a Black Keys album. However, Auerbach does expand the guitar/drums duo format and adds full instrumentation on Keep It Hid. At any rate, it’s an excellent album full of the Black Keys-style of playing that Auerbach does so well. I love his fuzz tones.
Heads, Tails, & Aces by Matt Schofield – Matt Schofield is another excellent blues guitarist from the UK. Heads, Tails, & Aces is his latest release and it showcases his excellent guitar, vocal, and songwriting talents. Schofield hasn’t gotten much press yet in the US, but he’s recently acquired US-based management and he’s looking to tour in the US soon. I can’t wait!
Coming Up For Air by Davy Knowles and Back Door Slam – Coming Up For Air is Davy Knowles and Back Door Slam’s Peter Frampton-produced second album. I think this album is a nice evolution from their debut. Although Knowles is one of my favorite guitarists, this album showcases more of his vocal and songwriting talents. These songs sound good on record, but really shine live, so I highly recommend catching them live if they come through your town.
By a Thread by Gov’t Mule – By a Thread is another solid effort from Gov’t Mule, who continue to put out great music. And, it features a guest performance by none other than Billy F. Gibbons, so what’s not to like?! Some of my favorite tracks from the album, “Broke Down on the Brazos” and “Inside Outside Woman Blues #3”, should be great live, so I’m really looking forward to catching them when they come through Nashville in a few months.
Crack the Skye by Mastodon – Mastodon is one of the premier progressive metal bands of today, and Crack the Skye serves to solidify their place in progressive metal history. This album is full of epic riffs. I bought the deluxe version of the album from iTunes, which includes a full instrumental version of the album.
Battle Studies by John Mayer – Another solid effort by Mayer. I’m partial to his Trio music, but his songwriting skills are undeniable. And, other people complain about his inclusion of “Crossroads” on this album, but I really like his version.
Sean’s Blues by Sean Costello – Frankly, I wish this album didn’t need to be released, because it’s release depended on Costello no longer being around to create new music. That being said, this is an excellent retrospective of Costello’s music with some really great tracks that weren’t released on albums during Costello’s life. This album also serves as a great introduction to Sean’s music if you’re not familiar with it.
Black Gives Way to Blue by Alice In Chains – Black Gives Way to Blue is almost as notable for what it stands for (the return of AIC) as for the music. This is not AIC’s greatest album, but what’s surprising is that it’s a solid continuation of AIC’s music. There’s going to be some fans that will never acknowledge AIC without Layne Staley at the helm, but Black Gives Way to Blue is a solid effort, and new singer William DuVall does an admirable job as Staley’s replacement.
This list is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list of my favorite albums of 2009, but a list of some of the more notable albums that I keep coming back to. In fact, I’m sure I missed a number of excellent albums that were released in 2009, so please feel free to add your favorites from 2009 in the comments.