Ear Candy’s Top 29 local albums of 2009

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29. The Lonely Forest We Sing The Body Electric
This Anacortes outfit was one of the most heavily hyped groups of the year and they proved worthy of the hype with this record full of pretty pop-rock tunes.

28. The Physics High Society
This free EP is filled with grooves that are as perfect for a backyard barbecue as they are blaring at a club.

27. Curtains For You What A Lovely Surprise to Wake Up Here
It’s pretty cliché to say a band sounds like The Beatles, but this beautifully blissful album merits every comparison to John, Paul, George and Ringo heaped upon it.

26. The Purrs Amused, Confused & More Bad News
The British Invasion comes to Seattle with this psychedelic romp of a record.

25. Star Anna The Only Thing That Matters
Ellensburg’s finest comes to full maturation on a record that showcases her powerful pipes as much as it does her band, The Laughing Dogs.

24. Grynch Chemistry
Lots of feel good music here from the King of Ballard

23. Brandi Carlile Give Up The Ghost
An Elton John cameo isn’t even close to the high point on this gem of an album. That’s how good it is.

22. Born Anchors  Sprezzatura
A loud, self-titled debut from one of the more promising rock trios to hail from Seattle since you-know-who

21. Dyme Def Panic
Party-ready raps from the crew that brought you the 3 Bad Brothaaas mixtape.

20. Blue Scholars OOF!
An EP about Hawaii from the national face of Seattle hip hop sounds like it shouldn’t work, but it does.

19. David Bazan Curse Your Branches
This refreshing look at spirituality from the former Pedro the Lion frontman asks how many more “Are you there God? It’s me David Bazan.” jokes can you take?

18. Erik Blood The Way We Live
A solid rock producer produces his own solid rock record

17. D Black Ali’Yah
Rumor has it this is D Black’s last record. If this is true he definitely went out on a high note.

16. Skeletons With Flesh On Them All The Other Animals
Eclectically instrumental rock that fits in the mold of other Northwest greats such as Modest Mouse and Sunny Day Real Estate

15. People Eating People S/T
Nouela Johnston has the capability to become Seattle’s very own Norah Jones.

14. Macklemore VS & The Unplanned Mixtape
Indie rock meets hip hop with slick production on VS & Mac unleashes miscellaneous material on the mixtape.

13. M. Bison S/T
Geeky, charming pop rock by a band that doesn’t get as much recognition as it deserves.

12. Grand Hallway Promenade
A record full of chamber pop that sounds like it would fit perfectly in car commercials or a Wes Anderson film.

11. Pearl Jam Backspacer
The best album in a decade by one of the city’s biggest musical exports

10. Wheedle’s Groove

Why is this record so awesome? Well, it’s unlike anything that has been produced in Seattle in decades and for good reason. The musicians who contribute to this funk and soul compilation were all a part of the city’s vibrant funk and soul scene in the 1960s and 70s which makes this an amazingly unique album.

9. John Spalding’s Loveland The Beautiful Truth

This posthumous release was 10 years in the making and it is one of the more touching rock records to come out of Seattle within the last decade. It’s an album about living life to its fullest; a theme that’s often overlooked by musicians. Every song here is a gem. Since I couldn’t find footage of Loveland live (for good reason), I decided to share the above video which is footage of Ninety Pound Wuss, John Spalding’s former band.

8. Jeremy Enigk OK Bear

It was a big year for Jeremy Enigk. Not only did he get back together with Sunny Day Real Estate, he finally found himself as a solo artist and defined himself outside of his SDRE legacy. This album is chock full of powerful and catchy rock tunes that would make even the snobbiest of indie hipsters lose themselves in the moment.

7. Maldives Listen to the Thunder

Yes Seattle isn’t a country music town, but don’t tell that to this nine-piece powerhouse of a country band. The Maldives specialize in all things country ranging from slow burning jams to barn-burning romps and this album only scratches the surface of this group’s potential in the alt-country world.

6. Mt St Helens Vietnam Band S/T

It’s a family affair for these quasi math-prog rockers. Odd time signatures and unconventional song structures aside, MSHVB shine on their debut and tracks like “Albatross Albatross Albatross” and “Who’s Asking” prove this band that seemingly appeared out of nowhere is well worth the hype.

5. The Lonely H Concrete Class

If there is such a thing as modern classic rock this these guys are the posterboys of the genre. Every song on Concrete Class perfectly hedges the lines of classic and indie rock. The harmonies of “The River” sound as pretty as anything in Fleet Foxes’ catalog. The rolling drums of “Cold Blues” and the rocking guitars of “Going Out West” give Concrete Class its soul, while “Girl From Jersey” and “Singer” borrow heavily from the Eagles.

4. The Redwood Plan S/T & Movers, Makers, Shakers EPs

When Ms Led broke up it was a sad day in Seattle post-punk history, but from the ashes of Lesli Wood’s old band comes her new band, The Redwood Plan, which is bringing joy to rock ‘n’ roll dancefloors throughout Seattle. This post-punk, pop-rock will make you rock out, sing along and dance, dance, dance the night away.

3. Fresh Espresso Glamour

There’s not much I can say about this record that hasn’t been said already. From the smooth combo flows of Rik Rude and P Smoov to the grime and glamour of the entire album,  just about every song here is a homerun. Between “Diamond Pistols,” “Laszerbeams,” and “Big or Small” these guys make making hits seem effortless.

2. They Live! The Drobots Saga EP & They La Soul

To answer your first question, yes I did wait until after Dec. 24 to create this list because I wanted to see if They La Soul (which was released Dec. 24) would lift They Live! up this list. As you can see, it delivered. The record takes West Coast grooves combines them with ‘90s R&B samples and adds witty rhymes to make perfect part raps. With The Drobots Saga They Live! announced their presence to the scene. With They La Soul Gatsby and Bruce Illest not only proved themselves to be two of the most exciting people making music in Seattle today, they also cemented their place in local hip hop lore by creating an instant classic.

1. Visqueen Message to Garcia

Heartfelt. Emotional. Energetic. Spirited. I’ve listened to this album dozens of times and those are only a few of the thoughts that come to mind every single time I push play. Rachel Flotard took the death of her father and turned it into a beautiful, poetic piece of art. Message to Garcia is a life-affirming rock record powered by power cords and raw emotion that will make you rock out with happiness and possibly shed a few tears of joy.

In case you didn’t click on the link above directing you to numbers 29-11 on my list, here they are in reverse order:


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Travis Hay

About Travis Hay

Travis Hay is a professional music journalist who has spent the past 13 years documenting and enjoying Seattle's diverse music scene. In 2009 he established Guerrilla Candy and is currently the site's editor and publisher. He has written for various media outlets including MSN Music, the Seattle-Post Intelligencer, Seattle Weekly, Crosscut.com and others and was the founder and former editor of the defunct music site Ear Candy.