This year at Hidden Track, we concocted a little experiment for our year-end Best Albums of 2009 list. Instead of picking the old fashioned way – subjectively – we opted for something a little different: a collaborative, collective list that incorporates the opinions of everybody here at HT.
To begin, we devised an all-encompassing list of around 100 nominees and populated it in a Google spreadsheet – essentially anything that anybody who writes for Hidden Track liked at all, made the list. Then we invited our crew of writers to independently vote on the whole list (omitting anything unfamiliar) on a scale of 1 to 20 (20 = five stars). We ended up with 33 voters with varying degrees of familiarity with the nominees; some folks voted on just about everything, while some just a few. From there, we eliminated anything that did not receive at least three votes, calculated the average scores, and sorted it. We took the top 25 scores and presto: the Hidden Track 25 Best Albums of 2009. No bullshit, no big opinions; just the results.
Let’s kick things off with numbers 25 through 21…
Key Tracks: Stars Of Leo, Rave On, Never Had Nobody Like You
Sounds Like: An old antique photo
Skinny: In 2008 M. Ward seemed to take a backseat to doe-eyed actress Zooey Deschanel as the Him in vintage indie-pop act She & Him, but he was back in 2009 with his latest solo release, Hold Time. The album is full of everything we’ve come to expect from Matt over the years – modern indie-rock that is completely bathed in the patina of the last fifty-plus years of pop music. Combining his sepia-drenched vocals and open tuning guitar work with guest appearances from the aforementioned Deschanel, Lucinda Williams and Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle.
READ ON for the next four albums in our countdown…
Three years after the Irish singer-songwriter had us weep with 2003’s Shortlist Prize winning O, Rice has returned with another round of seductive ballads. Vocal companion Lisa Hannigan has returned to provide the essence, as Shane Fitzsimmons (bass) Vyvinne Long (cello) Tom Osander (drums) and Joel Shearer ( guitars) nail the “sparse climatic" on 9.
Trent Dabbs, follows in that mold of minimalist serenity with his debut Quite Often. Refusing to write formula songs, Dabbs takes his brand of celestial folk and makes it float quietly and peacefully aboard lush instruments, proving Dabbs is an artist with a knack for entrancing songwriting.
Bursting onto the singer/songwriter scene with his album O, Rice, a native of Ireland, has quickly built a strong following in the United States with his emotional lyrics and steady radio play. And throughout his two-hour performance, you could argue that Rice will be able to stick around and build on his already strong foundation.