The B List: Top 6 Of The First 6

5. Neko CaseMiddle Cyclone

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2009 seems to be the year that Neko Case will finally get the mainstream due that she deserves. Sure, the redheaded chanteuse with the booming voice has released a number of critically lauded albums both on her own and with the indie-pop band The New Pornographers, but with the release of Middle Cyclone more people seemed to sit up and take notice of her country-inflected torch songs. Case is at her best here immediately drawing you in with her powerful vocals, and plaintive lyrics all while channeling the ghost of Patsy Cline.

4. Deer TickBorn On Flag Day

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While this album just barely made the cut, having been released in the last weeks of June, it’s been one of my most played in the short time that it’s been out. Deer Tick’s sophomore effort is anchored by lead singer John McCauley croaky, whiskey and cigarette-soaked vocals, as he spins tales of woe that involve broken hearts and failed relationships. The Providence-based band music effortlessly combines country laments, with the stark Nebraska-era Springsteen folk and 1950s rockabilly that would have made Buddy Holly proud.

3. Elvis Perkins In DearlandElvis Perkins in Dearland

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When you release as strong of an album as Elvis Perkins did with his debut, the fear of a sophomore slump seems inevitable. While Ash Wednesday was strewn with Perkins’ sad, aching tales, his latest self-titled release is more of a complete representation of what he and his band In Dearland sound like. The combo’s “antique music” can best be summed up as equal parts ramshackle folk and Sousa marching band, making it virtually impossible at times to keep you from from tapping your feet along to songs like Hey, I Heard Your Voice In The Dresden and Doomsday with Perkins’ vivid lyrics as the guide.

2. The Felice BrothersYonder Is The Clock

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Over the last couple of years I’ve become completely infatuated with The Felice Brothers and their brand of Basement Tape-era influenced Americana, catching the band a remarkable seven in that short span. With their fourth full-length, and second for Conor Oberst’s Team Love label, the band has put out their most well thought out and produced record yet. Yonder Is The Clock is filled with their now trademark homespun stories of grifters, drifters and unsavory characters that could easily inhabit their hometown in the Catskills, set to country-folk romps and barroom ballads that have you almost tasting cheap booze and smelling stale liquor.

1. M. WardHold Time

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Coming off a year when he seem to take backseat to doe-eye actress Zooey Deschanel as the Him in vintage indie-pop act She & Him (who’s album was featured in last year’s Top 6), M. Ward 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, all while throwing in a  brilliant reinterpretation of Buddy Holly’s Rave On and you’ve got your number one album of the first six.

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12 thoughts on “The B List: Top 6 Of The First 6

  1. Ryan D Reply

    Great choices Jeff. I liked all of those, except for Deer Tick which I haven’t heard yet.

    I also really liked the Loho Sessions from Leroy Justice, Manners from Passion Pit, and Coming Up for Air from Back Door Slam. Wilco is growing on me, but not really hooked on it.

    All in all, seems like kind of a boring album year so far.

  2. DaveO Reply

    Nice list Jeff.

    Mine would probably look something like this (not in order)

    Umphrey’s McGee – Mantis
    Wilco – Wilco (The Album)
    Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca
    Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
    Sunset Rubdown – Dragonslayer
    Super Furry Animals – Dark Days/Light Years

  3. JB Reply

    Those are fine. I have all those in my collection except Neko and Elvis Perkins… Mine would have to go (no particular order):

    Dan Auerbach – Keep It Hid
    Bill Callahan – Sometimes I Wish I Were and Eagle
    Akron/Family – Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free
    El Grupo Nuevo De Omar Rodriguez Lopez – Cryptomnesia
    Pink Mountiantops – Outside Love
    Meat Puppets – Sewn Together

  4. Andrew Reply

    Mastodon’s Crack The Sky, Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion and Dirty Projectors Bitte Orca are probably my top 3. Good list though. Deff digging the Deer Tick and Conor Oberst

  5. tacitco Reply

    Hazards of Love, The Decemberists
    Keep It Hid, Dan Auerbach
    Together Through Life, Bob Dylan
    Audie Blaylock & Redline, Audie Blaylock & Redline
    Radiolarians II, Medeski, Martin & Wood

  6. BIN Reply

    This list blows

  7. Jennifer Kirk Reply

    Felice Brothers – Yonder is the Clock – I get to see them tomm. yay!
    Bob Dylan – Together Through Life
    The Features – Some Kind of Salvation
    Those Darlins – s/t – but it actually came out this month, so it may not count
    Todd Snider – The Excitement Plan

    I also love the fact that three of those mentioned livein Middle Tennessee!

  8. The Mad Hatter Reply

    Where’s the love for Derek Trucks Band – Already Free? That album is genius.

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