Lookin’ Forward: A 2009 Music Preview

Another new year, another crop of new music. The Hurst Review is going on holiday for a week or two, but, until regular reviews resume in early January, here are a handful of records– in approximate order of release– that make the next few months look very bright indeed.

Derek Trucks Band – Already Free
Bluesman, guitar virtuoso, honorary Allman Brother and Mr. Susan Tedeschi serves up another heady musical gumbo, a gritty and greasy amalgamation of rock, funk, soul, R&B, and worldbeat. A cover of Dylan’s “Down in the Flood” kicks things off, and you can hear it now at the DTB Web site.

Andrew Bird – Noble Beast
Reportedly inspired by country and folk recordings, Bird’s latest is also his most direct, laid-back, and charming record yet, an easy-going but lush pop album that finds our favorite violinist and whistler doing what he does best: Making the very complex sound very simple. I’ll have a full review of this, as well as some other Bird-related features, in January.

A.C. Newman – Get Guilty
Newman bashes out short, hard-hitting pop gems like nobody else in the late 2000s, and his second solo album is an even rawer, more spontaneous album than his first. It’s also the work of a true sensualist– half the joy of this album is hearing the sounds of the percussion and the acoustic instruments and the interplay between the musicians.

Marco Benevento – Me Not Me
Benevento– a Hurst Review favorite from 2008– doesn’t waste time knocking out his second album, a mostly-covers set that finds the pianist continuing to establish himself as one of the most boundlessly creative and unabashedly fun musicians working today.

The Bad Plus – For All I Care
The hipster’s jazz trio of choice, The Bad Plus is on a quest to create a new American songbook– in this case, performing druggy, woozy takes on songs by Nirvana, Wilco, Pink Floyd, Heart, and the Bee Gees. Vocalist Wendy Lewis brings a new dimension to the band’s familiar sound.

Lily Allen – It’s Not Me, It’s You
If the title is any indication, Allen is every bit the smartass she was on her debut, and if first single “The Fear” is any indication, she’s lost none of her pop smarts. Those are both very good things for her fans.

Marianne Faithfull – Easy Come, Easy Go
Sometime in March
The iconoclastic singer is joined by the likes of Nick Cave, Keith Richards, Jarvis Cocker, and Chan Marshall on a double-disc opus that features full-band covers of songs by Dolly Parton, Smokey Robinson, Merle Haggard, Duke Ellington, Neko Case, and The Decemberists. Astonishing.

Allen Toussaint
Sometime in March
Joe Henry produces the New Orleans jazz legend on a mostly-instrumental record that features some of today’s top jazz musicians, including Brad Mehldau.

Buddy and Julie Miller – Written in Chalk
We haven’t heard much from the Millers in a few years, and their new collection makes you realize just how much you’ve missed them. Every song on this twelve-song set is a winner– Buddy sings with Robert Plant, Julie sings with Patty Griffin, and between the two of them they tackle swaggering rock songs, gospel sing-alongs, jazzy torch songs, and country ballads.

Neko Case – Middle Cyclone
A must-own for the album cover alone.

U2 – No Line on the Horizon
It’s U2– perhaps you’ve heard of them?

Amadou & Mariam – Welcome to Mali
This record, which released worldwide in 2008, was the best-reviewed album of the year. And deservedly so– it’s a joyful, cross-cultural combination of traditional African music and Western pop and rock.

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