Duncan Clark Poop 09

I thought that 2008 was probably one of the best years in music over the past decade and judging from a lot of other people’s comments, I was just about the only one who felt that way. I’m not sure what people thought this year, but for me 2009 was a year of great expectations and equally great disappointments although maybe I’m just generalizing from everything else that has been happening. Oh well, here it goes:

VARIOUS ARTISTS - The Soul of Spanish Harlem   Buy New or Used through amazon
VARIOUS ARTISTS – The Soul of Spanish Harlem:
Superb collection of songs recorded in NYC between 1967 and 1971 from Ace Records. These are songs, all in english, that never came close to making a Billboard chart by artists that you’ve never heard of before (ie. the 107th Street Stickball Team) which is a pity. It is a fantastic mixture of soul, pop, r&b and rock that is as strong and vital as anything that was on the charts at that time. My favorite disc from last year.

RANCID - Let the Dominoes Fall   Buy New or Used through amazon
RANCID – Let the Dominoes Fall:
Still stuck in the past, but you could do a lot worse than the Clash as your reference point. This is their best work since their early albums. It has the band covering a lot of different areas with a depth to the songs that I had not previously appreciated.

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix   Buy New or Used through amazon   OR   @ eMusic
PHOENIX – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix:
Along with wars, earthquakes and other natural disasters, I suspect that the first appearance of a Gallic pop dance band on one of my poop lists is yet one more sign of the coming apocalypse. Damn catchy though.

RAPHAEL SAADIQ - The Way I See It   Buy New or Used through amazon
I think this was actually released towards the end of 2008, but I didn’t start hearing it on the radio until this year. This is smart old school r&b and soul from someone who has been doing his history homework.

WILLIE NILE - House of a Thousand Guitars   Buy New or Used through amazon
WILLIE NILE – House of a Thousand Guitars:
Second strong disc in a row from Nile. It ranges from rocking at the Doomsday Dance (throw your red shroud on!) to the quiet bitterness of Now that the War is Over.

NEIL YOUNG - Dreamin’ Man Live ’92   Buy New or Used through amazon
NEIL YOUNG – Dreamin’ Man Live ’92:
It’s weird but I prefer the songs from Harvest Moon in this solo setting a whole lot more than the studio album that was released. Come to think of it, I felt the same way about the bootlegs that came out around the same time as the Harvest album.

BLACK JOE LEWIS & THE HONEYBEARS - Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is  Buy New or Used through amazon
Lewis is more of a shouter and screamer than he is a soul singer but you can’t deny the man’s musical chops nor that he fronts one of the tightest bands around.

COCKTAIL SLIPPERS - Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre   Buy New or Used through amazon
COCKTAIL SLIPPERS – Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre:
Little Steven seems to be making garage rock a cottage industry. A couple of well chosen covers, a couple of songs written by Little Steven who was always a better composer than he ever got credit for and strong original material by a group that’s able to pull off the garage-girl group rock with style.

DECEMBERISTS   Buy New or Used through amazon
THE DECEMBERISTS – The Hazards of Love:
They lose points for doing a concept album even if it was inspired by an old Annie Briggs EP. Ultimately it comes down to the songs themselves which are strong enough to stand on their own.

WILCO   Buy New or Used through amazon
WILCO – (the album):
This is about as middle of the road as Wilco gets.

ERIC CLAPTON AND STEVE WINWOOD - Live From Madison Square Garden  Buy New or Used through amazon
ERIC CLAPTON AND STEVE WINWOOD – Live From Madison Square Garden:
The one concert that I really wish I had been at. At least I got see Winwood in Kingston.

MARK KNOPFLER - Get Lucky   Buy New or Used through amazon
My favorite works by Knopfler as a solo artist are the soundtracks that he did for the Scottish movies “Local Hero” and “Shot at Glory”. He’s added Scottish heavyweights John McCusker and Phil Cunningham to the band for this disc a lot of which would fit in quite nicely with the aforementioned albums.

Melancholia from Austin by way of Brooklyn. It doesn’t hurt that the singer sounds like Lucinda.

YOUNG DUBLINERS – Saints and Sinners:
If I have to pick a favorite album released this year by an Irish rock band, this is more memorable than the one released by that other band.

SONIC YOUTH – The Eternal:
Growing old, neither gracefully nor quietly.

Even in “Once”, you could see that this was Glen Hansard’s show. Marketa’s contribution is only two songs this time around but they still make beautiful music together.

BRENDAN BENSON – My Old Familiar Friend:
After hearing this, I’m beginning to think that I gave Jack White too much credit in the Raconteurs. A musician born in the wrong age.

YO LA TENGO – Popular Songs & CONDO FUCKS – Fuckbook:
The two albums from Hoboken’s finest runs the complete gamut from genuine garage rock in the latter disc to a real mix on the other album that ends with classic twin sonic blasts over the last half hour.

BOB DYLAN – Together Through Life:
I love minor Dylan albums where it at least sounds like he’s having fun. He also gets extra credit for making the weirdest Christmas video in recent memory.

TINTED WINDOWS – Tinted Windows:
Nobody’s quitting their day jobs although Taylor Hanson might be hoping otherwise.

I really struggled with this one. A confounding record. I don’t like the production and for every song that impresses me there’s another one that has me going WTF. Bruce sounds somewhat removed from the proceedings but the best songs keep you coming back to the album to give it another try.

NEKO CASE – Middle Cyclone & A. C. NEWMAN – Get Guilty:
Strong solo efforts from New Porno mainstays. Neko’s is the better disc although you can’t get around the fact that the sum of their parts is more than what they accomplish here.

IAN HUNTER – Man Overboard:
It’s hard to believe that Hunter turned 70 this year. I assume that he saved the hard rock for the Mott reunion but he is still slugging it out and having fun.