Jamie T, Neko Case, Regina Spektor and more of the best new music of 2009
Artist: Neko Case
Album: Middle Cyclone On our playlist since: UK release, March 3
Why we loved it: Not quite as good as its splendid predecessor, 2006’s Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, but still a brilliant accomplishment, Middle Cyclone is the latest from the alt-country goddess.
Artist: The Decemberists
Album: The Hazards of Love
On our playlist since: UK release, March 24
Why we loved it: Panned by some for its arty pretentions, this folk-opera concept album from the much-loved US band is melancholy, mysterious, beautiful and utterly bewitching.
Artist: Bat for Lashes
Album: Two Suns On our playlist since: UK release, April 6
Why we loved it: This Mercury-Prize-nominated sophomore album is a varied, utterly unique combination of electronica and alt-rock that promises big things for her future but stands alone as a work of brilliance.
Artist: Art Brut
Album: Art Brut vs. Satan
On our playlist since: UK release, April 20
Why we loved it: Led by Eddie Argos, a lead singer who can’t sing, and produced by Pixies’ Frank Black, Art Brut have created a hilarious, maddeningly catchy third album with a rawer sound than before.
Artist: The Broken Family Band
Album: Please and Thank You On our playlist since: UK release, April 20 Why we loved it: Alas, The Broken Family Band have actually now broken up. Still, at least they released this marvelous, darkly witty alt-rock album before they did. Farewell, Family.
Artist: St Vincent
On our playlist since: UK release, May 5
Why we loved it: A former member of Sufjan Stevens’ touring band, St Vincent (Annie Clark) shares his flair for the orchestral, but has a much darker edge, which comes to the fore in this claustrophobic album.
Artist: Tori Amos
Album: Abnormally Attracted to Sin
On our playlist since: UK release, May 19
Why we loved it: She released two albums in 2009 – the second was November’s Midwinter Graces – but this is the better of the two. A sonically and lyrically rich concoction, it shows that Tori’s as good now as she ever was.
Artist: Dirty Projectors
Album: Bitte Orca
On our playlist since: UK release, June 9
Why we loved it: New York experimentalists Dirty Projectors have been tirelessly releasing albums and EPs almost every year since 2000, but they’ve only really taken off with this incredible, inexplicable avant-rock cracker.
Artist: Regina Spektor
Album: Far On our playlist since: UK release, June 22
Why we loved it: Few manage to combine a fearsome intellect and musical talent quite like Spektor, and fewer still have done it as well as she has on this exquisite, piano-led collection.
Artist: Jamie T
Album: Kings & Queens On our playlist since: UK release, September 7
Why we loved it: Jamie T’s latest is tighter, both lyrically and aurally, than his debut but retains the ramshackle air that made him stand out. Deftly mixing hip hop and indie-pop, he’s created a wise, witty and catchy LP.