There was a lot of good music last year.  Here’s a quick list of what I thought was tops, and it includes albums and artists that were reviewed or highlighted here, as well as stuff I was listening to.

Best of 2009 (in no particular order):

  • Honeychild Coleman, “Halo Inside (Come La Luna).”  Bjork-shaded breathiness, dubby goodness.  A headphone masterpiece.
  • Melvin Gibbs’ Elevated Entity, “Ancients Speak”.  Gibbs mines the connection between Brazil and Brooklyn to great effect. “Mojuba” alone is worth the price of this album.
  • Divisible, “Less Than Lion.”  For years, Esthero’s “Breathe From Another” was my mythical “driving through San Francisco” album.  This one may be an alternate selection.
  • Le Grand Baton, “Le Grand Baton.”  Voodoo rock by way of Guadaloupe
  • Rain Machine, “Rain Machine.”  If they ever need a picture in the dictionary for “Do you,” Kyp Malone’s should be the one.  He does what he’s good at and it all comes across honestly and powerfully.
  • Death “. . .For The Whole World To See (Reissue).” Once again, some brothas from Detroit were ahead of the curve.
  • RES, “Black.Girls.Rock.”  The return of Res!  Worth the wait, but I wish we didn’t have to wait 9 years between albums.  Thirds, please.
  • The Bots, “Self-Titled Album.”  Two brothers, 16 and 13, crank out a fun mix of punk, ska,rock and reggae.  They’re the real deal.
  • BLK JKS, “After Robots.” An absolutely beautiful, emotional and rockin’ album from this South African quartet.  So much to like here: “Banna Ba Modimo”, “Standby”, “Cursor”, “Tselane”. Bravo, gentlemen.
  • Living Colour “The Chair In The Doorway.”  You’re thinking: Of course, it’s Living Colour.  I say, No, this bad boy is bangin’ (my personal favorites are “Burned Bridges”, “DecaDance”, “Bless Those”) and leaves no doubt that this band is still vibrant and burning.
  • Guillermo Brown “Shuffle Mode.”  Like eatin’ in your awkward kitchen.  My one regret for the compilation is that I didn’t include anything from this album.
  • Leila Adu, “Dark Joan.” Ambitious multi-octave artistry from this London born, New Zealand bred singer
  • Analogue Transit, “Gearheart.” The reassuring sounds of baby grands clashing with 21st century electronics
  • Various artists, “ presents Fire In The Dark.” Yes, shameless self-promotion, but nearly 10,000 downloads means somebody likes it.

Honorable mentions (bubbling under and worth keeping an eye on):

Highly anticipated for 2010:

  • Tamar-Kali, “Black Bottom” Not only is she a force of nature, but she’s evolving into a multi-faceted singer, songwriter and an artist to be reckoned with.
  • Game Rebellion, “Sounds Like A Riot”  Finally: The Rebels are coming.
  • MuthaWit featuring Boston Fielder (as-yet-untitled 2010 album). Magic happens every year at the URB Alt festival, and I look forward hearing how successfully Boston Fielder can wrestle the angel he’s created.
  • A.N.M. With a lineup that boast Kings X’s Dug Pinnick, 24-7 Spyz’s Jimi Hazel and Rick Skatore, as well as members of Fishbone, Sound Barrier and Wicked Wisdom, what’s not to like.  Plus, this culture could use more anti-nigger machinery.  Check the first single and get ready.
  • Cipher, “The Joyous Collapse”. How about some political hardcore?  Yeah, we like it raw.
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