January 7, 2010

Sound on the Sound’s Top 25 Northwest Albums of 2009



This list represents the strongest 25 albums we heard in 2009 from bands based in the Northwest. We approximated the Northwest as Vancouver to the North, Eugene to the South, Boise to the East, and the Olympic Peninsula West. Even though we snuck in a few Portland bands and a Vancouver band, this is largely a list of Seattle releases. We did our best to feature the vast array of the Seattle Sound in 2009, though there’s no denying some genres fared better than others–genres that you might be surprised by, genres we were surprised by. If there was any doubt left, 2009 proved Seattle isn’t just a rock town.

2009 was an incredible year for local music in Seattle. There’ve been some unnecessary put-downs of Seattle’s musical output in 2009, because the scene didn’t spawn a new Fleet Foxes, Band of Horses, or Death Cab for Cutie, and the biggest local record label didn’t sign a single Seattle band. That’s “the industry” and Sub Pop’s loss, not ours. Just because the rest of the world isn’t blasting The Maldives or Macklemore yet (or even if they never do) it doesn’t reflect poorly on the scene or the talented folks who call Seattle home. From our front row vantage point, Seattle had an embarrassment of riches in the local music department.

The local hip hop scene bubbled with excitement and slowly-but-surely burgeoned into a topic on everyone’s lips, thanks to the energy of head-turning acts like They Live!, Champagne Champagne, Fresh Espresso, Macklemore, as well as the notorious antics of Mad Rad. Across town from Pike St., Ballard Avenue continued to cultivate a tight-knit community of Americana and rockin’ country bands where pedal steel and fiddle were the instruments du jour. The Maldives, The Moondoggies, Sera Cahoone, Zoe Muth and so many others inhabited both the stages and the bars at the Conor Byrne, the Sunset Tavern, Hatties Hat, and the now 15-year-old environs of the Tractor Tavern, feeding a spirit of collaboration and verve. King Cobra, a rock club which opened up in 2008 in the wake of the Crocodile Cafe’s closing, shut its doors after barely a year of rough business–just in time for a newly revamped Crocodile (without the Cafe in the name) to reclaim its place in March as one of the premier venues in Seattle to see live local music.

While Seattle didn’t spawn a new Fleet Foxes sized success in 2009, we certainly won’t be surprised if a few of the many bands on this list find national attention come 2010. No matter what, we’ll look back on 2009 with warm nostalgia as a vibrant year of local music, when we saw these bands play in living rooms and local bars: the year Seattle knew the words before everyone else could sing along.

25. Zebra by Karl Blau (K Records)

Psychedelic shape-shifter Karl Blau creates an utterly Northwest soundscape that identifies strongly with the output of the Haight-Ashbury facilitated psych movement, as well as the more modern creative likes of Grizzly Bear. “Waiting for the Wind” reminds me of Esquivel’s avant, arty piano, while “Welcome in NW” sounds like it was banged out of an actual sixties basement, fueled by homegrown psilocybins. “‘Tha Ole Moon Smile” makes me do a “Is this a Sixto Rodriguez cut I haven’t heard?” double-take every time. Each new song turns in a completely different direction. By the end you’re left dazed, trying to decipher where you started and what just happened. What happened was Blau presented a reverent journey into musical history through a warped and hazy Technicolor filter. [Josh]

24. From Slaveships to Spaceships by Khingz (self-released)

Much like D. Black’s record this year, Khingz’ From Slaveships to Spaceships finds an MC ignoring hip-hop’s self-imposed strictures about toughness and content, and succeeding through sheer force of purpose and humor. Even though MC Khalil Equiano left town for a while and now lives in British Columbia with his significant other, he obviously loves his hometown scene and returned to the Northwest with this new album in tow, showcasing a rapid-fire rhyming style and spitting dense, wordy verses filled with references to science fiction and his former life on Seattle’s Southside. This is another record distinguished by its brazen autobiographical nature and the surety of the conclusions that follow. “Intellect is a weapon,” he says in “Escape Society.” “You’re at war, please respect it, your struggle is a blessing, embrace, don’t deflect it.” Hip-hop was once widely known as a vehicle for imparting social understanding, and Khingz’ latest is his contribution toward seeing it return once more to that primary function. [Josh]

23. Life On Earth by Tiny Vipers (Sub Pop Records)

Each time I listen to this record I’m reminded that I should probably mentally prepare myself before taking in a whole Tiny Vipers record, unsure if the tears that will inevitably form in my eyes are due to the inherent sadness being communicated, or if I can attribute it to the effect of the one-of-a-kind voice of Jesy Fortino. Four songs in, “Dreamer” hits the headphones; as she coos, “I’m dying for a way out,” I feel as though I’m vibrating on an inter-dimensional frequency, able to sense every haunting ghost, able to see each person’s natural aura of sadness in hues of deep blue. Even though I know this record isn’t for everyone, and though I can’t guarantee you’ll like this record as much as I did, I can guarantee it will change your perspective. If you let it, Life On Earth will overwhelm you. Whether you like it or not, the remainder of your day after a listen is liable to be heightened emotionally because of it. [Josh]

22. The Way We Live by Erik Blood (self-released)

It’s very possible that Erik Blood went around to every hot studio in London ,yoinked every good idea he heard and used it for himself. If he didn’t, maybe they should be coming to him, because he clearly has lots of good ideas. Early on, the title track, “To Leave America,” and “Home & Walk” all synthesize the best of the expansive guitar and organ Brit-rock sound (think Doves), while later in “Broken Glass” and “Too Early & Too Late” we’re notified Blood also has a handle on turning uncomplicated rhythms into sonically interesting pop songs that also sound modern. My one criticism of the record would be that the material is all over the place, and maybe he should have stuck to a rock record instead of including the final two R&B inspired cuts. But then again, “Better Days” is one of the stronger tracks on the record, fusing soul-ish singing with very rock backing to unexpectedly great results. There is something to be said for being able to do experiment with anything and make it sound not just good, but as good as those who do it best. [Josh]

21. Ali’Yah by D. Black (Sportin’ Life Records)

Though much of the recent focus on Seattle hip-hop has been tied to the so-called “3rd-wave” of party rap, one can’t ignore the continued influence of the second wave and its socially conscious approach to concept and performance. In his second album, Ali’Yah, D. Black does a 180 from his previous effort–a stereotypical rap record where he thought he had to be hard–instead opting to be completely REAL about his choices, his identity, and his mistakes. The record is an indictment of his former gangsta self, and by dropping in “The Return,” “I can’t associate with them fake ones/to add to their fake bullets coming out of fake guns,” he’s no doubt turning his back on old friends and the possibility of success by usual means. Yet one can only come away from this record with the conclusion that D. Black is not only confident in his conviction, but righteous. As I said earlier this year, “the force of his example on this record serves to quash any weak retorts that it’s not so easy to turn your back on the game. Not simply inflammatory words, he’s genuinely attempting to engage a nuanced conversation from the inside.” [Josh]

20. Shouting At A Silent Sky by Shane Tutmarc (self-released)

For almost the entirety of his musical career, Shane Tutmarc has been on a journey through history, beginning with an intense interest in classic pop lyricists before more recently being entranced by the gospel recordings of Elvis and the songs of the South. Billed as his first solo effort as Shane Tutmarc, Shouting At A Silent Skyis also probably the most complete, and therefore satisfying, of his recent records–though the Traveling Mercies records are notable themselves for their raw pre-rock quality. By recruiting a few ringers to form his studio support (local producer Johnny Sangster among them), Shane was able to focus on just being Shane at the mic, and the practiced performer really showed through. If Shane’s music occasionally seems styled from another era, just remember that when they came up with the term ‘Rock n’ Roll’, this is what they were talking about: dirtied up blues and church numbers warning about “Crimes of Passion” and the dangers of “Idle Hands.” [Josh]

Read the rest of Sound on the Sound’s Top 25 Northwest Albums of 2009 after the jump

19. Origins by Black Whales (Mt. Fuji Records)

On the eve of the release of the Black Whales Origins EP I wrote, “The seven songs on the Origins EP keenly reflect [a] philosophy of trying to have fun and creating something new…” This long EP is a soundtrack for leaving the past behind, hitting the open road and making the most of life’s exploration. Creating sunny beach pop that isn’t content to be superficial or afraid to face the ugly facts, the gentlemen of the Black Whales look to the horizon toward which we all endlessly tread and see unbounded possibility. Provided you’re you’re not only willing, but you expect to “Roll With the Punches” that is. [Josh]

18. M. Bison by M. Bison (self-released)

M. Bison sound like no one else making music in Seattle today–maybe just making music period. They specialize in meticulously orchestrated adventurous pop songs. It’s theatrical and earnest. Saccharine and sarcastic. It’s piano pop, it’s soaring 8-bit arias, it’s a simple song  (“Going Home Soon”) that sounds so right on listen one that it feels like it’s been around for 40 years. Their songs are as complex as they are catchy and after just couple listens, you’re sure to find an M. Bison song on repeat in your head–and you won’t mind it one bit. [Abbey]

17. Snow Motion by THEESatisfaction (self-released)

From minute one of Snow Motion, and the opening appreciation of The Joy of Painting’s Bob Ross and his afro, it’s apparent that you’re taking a fantastic journey into an unfamiliar wonderland. Backed by what I can only describe as a selection of minimalistic yet movement-inducing space beats, MC duo Stas and Cat call themselves a “little bit of freak with a new age dance.” Floating from verse to verse they trade verbal barbs playing only half-humorously on their own relationship and the cultural nuances of being black, harmonizing choruses while calling out ridiculous cultural double standards and catch-22′s. Emcees harmonizing choruses? If this record began in my mind as merely a curiosity, with multiple listens under my belt Snow Motion sounds like the future. [Josh]

16. Year in the Kingdom by J. Tillman (Western Vinyl) Realization is the single word I would use to describe the most recent record from the formerly rough-around-the-edges voice of Josh Tillman. In early 2008 I remarked that J Tillman’s voice was “so damn beautiful” and “ideal.”With a 2008 dedicated to honing his voice with the Fleet Foxes, this release impresses how much he’s now realized his singing potential, to go along with an already proven songwriting depth. I stand by everything I’ve said about this guy; he’s truly elevated his voice to a thing of unique human beauty. (I don’t usually say that about dudes.) Though his enigmatic storytelling can occasionally be dense, the generally positive tone and the purity of the sound on this record (thank you Kory Kruckenberg) makes Year in the Kingdom a very rewarding listen, and one of Tillman’s best efforts. [Josh]

15. Sunset / Sunrise by Dutchess and The Duke (Hardly Art)

The slow-grower of the year was one of 2009′s most-anticipated local records. It wasn’t love at first listen for me, nor was it upon two or three (or four our five). But once the weather turned colder and the album had some time to ruminate, I was enveloped by the minor chords and warm harmonies of Sunset / Sunrise. What the album lacks in tempo it makes up in emotional intensity and jangly brokenness. If you’re willing to give this album time, it’s one of the most rewarding records of ’09 and cements that the Dutchess & the Duke’s next release will be even more highly anticipated. [Abbey]

14. Post-Nothing by Japandroids (Polyphonic)

Post-Nothing is a teenage joyride with the top down, chock full of swollen riffs and anthemic choruses that invite spontaneous movement and genuine fist pumps. This Vancouver duo sounds as big as a foursome, and Post-Nothing stokes our sense of youth and abandon like no other record did this year. “Young Hearts Spark Fire” was sure as hell this 28-year-old’s still-feel-like-a-teen anthem of 2009. The starting one-two of “The Boys Are Leaving Town” and “Young Hearts Spark Fire” is in my estimation the strongest beginning to a rock record this year, and they don’t let up from there. Much like drinking two Red Bulls in the span of ten minutes, after consuming Post-Nothing, you’re left undeniably energized and ready for anything. [Josh]

13. People Eating People by People Eating People (The Control Group)

People Eating People is the Ballard version of Regina Spektor: bawdier and bolder, without the coy intellectual quirkiness. People Eating People is Nouella Johnston and her nimble fingers, and she’s drinking Oly, not champagne. People Eating People is full of songs for foul moods and songs for singing along mindlessly in your car at the top of your lungs. She’s a local who we expect to break out of Seattle big in 2010. [Abbey]

12. Welcome Joy by the Cave Singers (Matador)

Sophomore efforts are always iffy, but the Cave Singers seemingly never gave that cliche a thought with Welcome Joy, not straying too far from the aesthetic that served them well in their first album, while adding shine and depth to the production this time around. Derek Fudesco continues to excel in his workmanlike efforts at the guitar and bass pedals, while formerly shy and understated lead singer Peter Quirk has found a new confidence and strength in his voice which feels “in the pocket” from start to finish. If anything they’ve perfected the ‘back porch’ sound they developed with their first record, evidenced by “Summer Light,” “Leap” and lead single “Beach House.” If someone were to ask about the bands that represent the new “Seattle Sound,” the Cave Singers would still be among the first to come into the conversation. [Josh]

11. Glamour by Fresh Espresso (Out For Stardom/self-released)

Chances are if you were at a bumpin’ party this year, then either you heard “Lazerbeams” or Fresh Espresso was up on stage at some point. If you didn’t hear that or another Fresh Espresso cut, that party wasn’t really bumpin’ as hard as it should have been circa 2009. You probably want to forget you ever admitted to attending that party, or at least re-remember that party as being in 2008. Because 2009 was officially the year Fresh Espresso brought the fun back to Sea-town, and if you weren’t in on it, your head was truly in the sand. MC Rik Rude and producer PSmoov (and DJ Terry Radjaw on stage) are in it to make you move, and start to finish, PSmoov’s playful synth and vocoder choruses are the yin to Rude’s yang: an aura of uncompromising cool and class. More than occasionally crass but always enjoyable, Glamour sets the standard as the party record of 2009. [Josh]

10. Rotting Slowly by The Curious Mystery (K Records)

Rarely has a band’s name ever so aptly described their sound. The Curious Mystery’s Rotting Slowly is a slow-burning, sonically dense trip through dusty garages and mushroom-fueled hikes among the mossy forests of the PNW. The record only truly unfolds to show its strange charms after multiple close listens, when you find yourself hypnotized by its droning dissonance and hazy beauty. [Abbey]

9. Telekinesis! by Telekinesis (Merge)

Was it the inevitable hand of fate that led Telekinesis, a.k.a. Michael Benjamin Lerner, to be able to wrangle Death Cab For Cutie’s Chris Walla to produce his debut record for Matador? From song one it almost seems as if it couldn’t have been any other way, but where Walla’s band has expanded into a stadium band of international proportions, Telekinesis seems perfectly situated to fill the bedroom-sized space they’ve carved for smart, lovesick pop on the headphones of college freshmen everywhere. It’s a record that’s tailor-made for those years of self-discovery and first-loves, a soundtrack not for wallowing in defeat but to encourage you forward. I mean, everyone starts out as an “Awkward Kisser” right? Maybe if I’d had Telekinesis to listen to in my formative years instead of Bright Eyes and Elliott Smith, I’d have gone out with a lot more girls and ended up a whole lot less of a sad bastard. [Josh]

8. Vs.by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (Sound Records)

Sometimes a song hits you in the gut so hard you have to catch your breath. Sometimes it feels like an album or a track is speaking to you, your situation, and your life through the speakers. Sometimes it feels like an artist has shared such an unvarnished glimpse of themselves that they’ve become your dear friend. Sometimes a man comes into his own and realizes his potential, and you feel blessed just being able to witness their triumph. Macklemore, with the help of Ryan Lewis, has managed to do all those things with seven songs on the Vs. EP. Backed by mixes and mash-ups of contemporary songs from the likes of The Killers and Arcade Fire, Macklemore has bared his soul with no reservations—and with rhymes that meditate on the darkness and disappointments of life as much as they celebrate coming through deathly fogs and finally choosing life and light. [Abbey]

7. We Sing the Body Electric by The Lonely Forest (Burning Building Records)

Most likely to break out of the Seattle scene and be playing arenas in the next few years? That would be The Lonely Forest, who wrote the anthem-on-the-edge-of-discovery “We Sing In Time” and an altogether heart-tugging debut album that explores addiction and the awkward stumble into adulthood with disarming earnestness and intensity. The Lonely Forest have the chops for success, lyrically as well as live performers, and I suspect both will be tested thoroughly in 2010. I can’t wait to watch them succeed. [Abbey]

6. Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers by Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers (self-released) Among some of the hardest punk and hardcore acts this side of The Funhouse, Zoe [has been] styling her sound with songs like “You Only Believe Me When I’m Lying,” full of glossy pedal steel and dusty mountain strings, and “Hey Little Darlin’,” a swinging folky kind of honky tonk, with equal parts Flying Burrito Brothers and Ira and Charlie Louvin. Together they make a perfect one-two opening to a record that takes you back somewhere in time when country music wasn’t ruled by pop templates and crossover singles. The thing I like most about this record is that, simply put, it sounds good in a bar. It’s the kind of thing you want to hear on a quiet afternoon with a beer and whiskey: happy or sad, on the road or two blocks from home. [Brady Sprouse]

5. Widower EP by Widower (self-released)

If Widower were running a 90′s era campaign, their slogan would be “It’s the song, stupid.” If you think you’re not a fan of twang or country or Americana, I implore you to listen to Widower. Yes, there’s that singing pedal steel and the slightest of twang to Kevin Large’s vocals, but at the center of it all is five glorious songs. Songs that sing to all of us who’ve loved and been wronged and kept loving anyway. It’s bittersweet and beautiful. This is country music the way it should be: not cross-over pop marketing, but songs that sing to accompany and abate the sadness of every day living. Large conveys a sense that he is singing his songs, not just any songs. And at five aching songs, you’d think you’d want more from the EP, but you don’t–the EP is a complete journey that sweeps you away with its sound, sadness, and above all, the songs. [Abbey]

4. The Space Between the Maps by The Ironclads (self-released)

According to my oh-so-handy infallible iTunes, I listened to no record more in 2009 than The Ironclads Space Between the Maps. By a lot. It’s no wonder: I spent the entire month of May with the record on repeat trying to figure out which of the album’s 12 songs was my absolute favorite. It was a true dilemma, because at one point or another, all 12 songs have been strong contenders. The Space Between the Maps is an album with no throw-aways, and no songs to skip through. Each song is an epic journey of sympathetic and strange characters, people who in their quirks and flaws you connect to depending on the day. No album was a more rewarding companion. The songs are dense with lyrics and themes, with stories that unfold more and more with each listen. These are advanced pop songs, not mindless ditties, but you’ll wake up in the morning with one playing in your head all the same. [Abbey]

3. Apple’s Acre by Nurses (Dead Oceans)

Portland’s Nurses are our pick for the most innovative Northwest act of 2009. They are the experimental pop trio led by the unconventional voice of one Aaron Chapman who spends most of his time at the Rhodes and on guitar, while multi-instrumentalist John Bower caresses bevy of electronic samplers and sound modifiers. With the restrained presence of analog drummer James Mitchell, they’ve achieved a curious balance of digital and human that we’ve not yet seen, inventive enough in their methods to sound completely different, while still in large part hewing to the familiar structures of pop to be immediately ear-catching. Seeing this material live really impresses the playful and outside-of-the-box mentality that makes this band so different and attractive over and over again. “Lita” and “Technicolor” are two of 2009′s most unique and interesting avant-pop tracks, something I could probably say that about two or three other cuts on this record as well. [Josh]

2. Listen to the Thunder by The Maldives (Mt. Fuji Records)

When they are ruling the sold-out stages of Ballard Ave. and beyond, The Maldives are full-on Wrangler head-bangers. They’re a lot country and a lot rock ‘n roll, because there is nothing little about The Maldives–not their nine full-time members, their sound, or their potential. But as big as they are on stage, there’s a delicateness to their album Listen to the Thunder.In the adept hands of Kory Kruckenberg, not a one of those nine-instruments overshadows Jason Dodson’s twang-tinged vocals or his poetic every-man lyrics. Whether it’s Seth Warren’s fiddle or the singing of Chris Zaches’ pedal steel, each instrument in The Maldives vast country orchestra cradles Dodson’s songs, enhancing a complex mood the lyrics are setting. Dodson writes songs that come from a place of living life, not fighting it, and it celebrates that life without glossing over its sadness. Listen to the Thunder is as much about life’s burden as it is about it’s beauty, and at any given moment it’s equally likely to tug at your heartstrings as get your blood pumping. They may be one of Seattle’s biggest bands (literally and figuratively), but as the album reveals, there’s more to The Maldives than meets the eye.  [Abbey]

1. Curse Your Branches by David Bazan(Barsuk Records)

Curse Your Branches is David Bazan’s finest work to date and well worth the five-year wait. It is an emotionally devastating and musically diverse exploration of the consequences of finding that the questions you most desperately need answered might just have no answers. It is a record that laments limbo while slowly but surely gaining confidence in the absence of answers. Bazan may have written this record for himself and his family, but the eternal questions he addresses (those of faith and family) make it a record for all time. It is an autobiographical album for not just David Bazan but for all those who have dared to address the big questions about the beliefs they’ve held dearest. Audiences will be connecting to and praising this record and the themes it tackles for decades to come. Curse Your Branches cements Bazan as one of the finest song writers in America today. [Abbey, including excerpt from my feature on Bazan and Curse Your Branches from Sound Magazine]


Remember that whole embarrassment of riches statement? Here is a short list of other notable releases from 2009 which we considered for the Top 25 Northwest albums. They all deserve your attention and affection, and are listed in alphabetical order:

{ Alligators – Piggy & Cups:: Andy Werth – Burn the Maps and Bury the Compass :: Arthur & Yu – Don’t Piss into the Fire Sub Pop Single :: BEADS – No One Knows :: BOAT – Setting the Paces :: Blue Scholars – OOF! :: Blood Red Dancers – Bikini Island EP :: The Builders & The Butchers – Salvation is a Deep Dark Well :: Curtains For You – What A Lovely Surprise to Wake To Wake Up To :: The Dimes – The King Can Drink The Harbor Dry :: Elba – Don’t Be Discouraged, Little Sparrow :: Final Spins – This is Then/That Was Now and City Of… EP :: Friday Mile – Good Luck Studio :: GMK – Songs for Bloggers :: Goldfinch – Goldfinch :: Grand Hallway – Promenade:: Grynch – Chemistry EP :: Intelligence – Fake Surfers :: LAKE – Let’s Build a Roof :: Laura Gibson – Beasts of Seasons:: Macklemore – The Unplanned Mixtape :: Levi Fuller – Colossal :: The Moondoggies – The MoondoggiesEP (Ltd Ed.) :: Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band – S/T :: The Nightgowns – Sing Something :: Red Fang – Red Fang :: Say Hi  – Oohs & Aahs :: See Me River – The Great Unwashed EP :: The Sea Navy – Memory Matches:: Shabazz Palaces – s/t and Of Light :: Skeletons with Flesh on Them – All the Other Animals :: Slender Means – Adrift in the Cosmos :: Solvents – Madonica :: Star Anna – The Only Thing that Matters:: Starfucker (now PYRAMIDDD) - Jupiter:: Talbot Tagora – Lessons in the Woods or a City :: They Live! – They LA Soul :: Throw Me The Statue – Creaturesque :: Virgin Islands – The Ages of Anxiety:: Viva Voce – Rose City:: Visqueen – Message to Garcia :: Wheedle’s Groove – Kearney Barton }


Hit us up.

  1. Star Anna did put out a very, very good record.

    Would still like to get your thoughts on ours.

    Here is to a great 2010.

  2. We’re honored you considered us! Glad you like the record!


    1. David Bazan – Curse Your Branches – Barsuk
    2. The Thermals – Now We Can See – Kill Rock Stars
    3. D. Black – Ali’yah – Sportn’ Life
    4. Neko Case – Middle Cyclone – Anti
    5. Shabazz Palaces – CD 1 / CD 2 – self-released
    6. Laura Gibson – Beasts Of Seasons – Hush
    7. The Dutchess & The Duke – Sunset / Sunrise
    8. Fresh Espresso – Glamour – self-released
    9. J. Tillman – Vacilando Territory Blues – Western Vinyl
    10. The Lonely Forest – We Sing The Body Electric – Burning Building

  4. Katelyn #

    I’m excited to check out the new Dutchess & the Duke album, which somehow I missed entirely. Thanks for all your work on this thoughtful list!

  5. Wiley Girard #

    the Globes – Future Self EP

    anyone else blown away by this release?

  6. wiley – we were under the impression that it was a 2008 release and called just The Globes EP. If they put out another one, we sadly slept on it.

    we are big globes supporters though. we’re trying to go out to their show at the croc tonight.

  7. Nice comprehensive list, and great writing, as always.

    But really, Shabazz Palaces didn’t crack your Top 25? How in the world might you explain yourselves??

  8. Thanks so much 206-UP! 2009 had something for everyone musically and we loved a lot of it.

    As for explaining ourselves regardig Shabazz Palaces, we’re still just getting ourselves acquainted with the albums. If we’d had more time with them, I’m sure it would’ve made the Top 25. Loving them so far, but including Shabazz now over the other albums in the Top 25 would have been more band-wagoning and bets on our future relationship with the record than honesty.

    Same thing with They Live!’s great “They LA Soul” release, we just haven’t had enough time with them.

  9. Great list! I’m glad you included what didn’t make the list, as that to me is inherently more interesting that what makes the cut.

    I will say, check out Apollo Ghosts from Vancouver, BC, if you haven’t already. Their album, Hastings Sunrise, was by far my favorite NW album of the year, maybe even my favorite release of anything in 2009!

  10. Neal Freeland #

    Thanks! I’ve heard some of these albums and like them so I’ll give the others a spin (or download) and hope to discover some new favorites.

  11. Fair enough. It’s a record that takes months to digest and absorb, so good on ya for approaching it in such a way!

    And I’m with you on “They LA Soul”, it just dropped way too late in the year.

  12. Levi #

    Thanks for this great list. I’ve just added as many as possible to my lala queue, and am looking forward to listening to them. I’m kind of embarrassed by how many I haven’t heard!

  13. inthechoirs #

    Tiny Vipers should be way higher than that. C’mon!

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