Well, we've come to the end of what turned out to be a relatively quiet 2009. There was even very little in terms of rehashed reissues. The only re-issues of note were Blu-Spec CDs for Discovery, Out of The Blue and A New World Record, which (correct me if I'm wrong) were really just very slightly higher quality captures of their current masters. The only worthwhile compilation this year came from The Move.
Really my only disappointment this year was reading how so many Jeff Lynne and ELO fans didn't bother with Regina Spektor. Understandably, we'd all like to hear more from Jeff himself. But I tend to view Jeff Lynne as a record maker more than anything else. The moment I see Jeff run across the stage and drop to his knees like Springsteen, I'll view him strictly as a performer.
Regina Spektor has won a fan in me. Nothing in her songs is conventional, yet they make perfect sense. Jeff Lynne provided a driving cadence to Blue Lips, a playful hand-clapping shimmy to Folding Chair, a dark ambiance to Genius Next Door, an antiquey feel to Wallet and a little spook to The Sword and The Pen. I thought he hit all of them out of the park. The other producers on that record fit her songs like a glove, too.
On a personal level, I had a little more (ok, a lot more) time on my hands this year thanks to being a economic casualty. (Still am, actually.) I thought I used much of the time wisely by at least 2 dozen bands/singers/acts live this year, Regina Spektor included, although they put her with an awful venue here, The Electric Factory. These live acts led me to some amazing CDs this year. If you're interested in some recommendations:
M. Ward (and Monsters of Folk) - He's turning out to be quite a prolific guy and amazing songwriter and yes, record maker. He released Hold Time early this year with several stand-out tracks, released an album as Monsters of Folk with Mike Mogis (who produced), Conor Oberst and Yim Yames. And in April, he's releasing an album with actress Zooey Deschanel.
Swell Season- I had the pleasure of meeting Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova following a concert on their current tour. If you haven't seen the movie Once, do yourself a favor. They won the Academy Award for Best Original Song from that movie. Their new CD is only a few months old.
One EskimO- a late-year entry, but a band I can't shut up about right now. Their music was used in a Toyota commercial and as the foundation for a series of animations that won top awards. The music was retooled and refined for their debut CD released in September. The whole CD is amazing with the rather addicting Kandi as the lead single. (By the way, their album and the complete set of animations is on sale at iTunes for $5.99)
I was also lucky enough to see Rickie Lee Jones, Roseanne Cash, Marianne Faithful, and less-knowns Peter Bjorn and John, DeVotchka, Diane Birch, the list goes on and on. For me, it was amazing year for new and live music.
So now we look to 2010. ELO's 40th Anniversary is being celebrated in 2010. Will this translate into some worthwhile releases? Time will tell. In case you missed it, ELO's official website from Sony is gone, and we're still waiting for elo.biz.
But in 2010, we should have a produced by Jeff Lynne album from Joe Walsh and a produced by Jeff Lynne album from, uh, Jeff Lynne. As I always say, keep your fingers crossed.
I hope it'll be a great year for all of you. Have a Happy New Year!