Perfect Sound Forever

PSF's 2009 Writers' Poll
Our favorite things

Left to right: Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo De Cotonou, Screaming Females, Evelyn Petrova, Feelies, Extra Golden

And here it is... again... our annual writer's poll. But instead of a measly 10 albums, our writers get to choose up to 20 of 'em to give you a better idea of what they like and what you might consider checking out. Or you can just wonder about our taste in music and argue with us about it. Enjoy!

Tim Broun

Try as I might, 2009 seems to be the year I officially entered old-fartdom. I could only find one single new studio recorded release that I felt enthusiastic enough about to include on this list.

Ken Cox

Jorge Fernandez

Michael Freerix

Besides rediscovering The Swell Maps, I listended to following records many times this year...

Jason Gross

Full list at

Richard Haslop

As usual, there are about another hundred that could easily have found a place here, but I guess the clincher is that I just couldn’t decide what to drop in favour of Sonic Youth, Martin Simpson, Bill Frisell, Sam Baker, Reigning Sound, Wilco, Califone, the Neil Young extravaganza or the Blitzen Trapper EP.

Left to right: Mulatu Astatke, Sun Ra, Bill Callahan, Blank Dogs, Comet Gain

Domenic Maltempi

Gregor Meyer

2009 was, for some, a lackluster year for new releases in the outer fringes of music, though archival releases and overdue reissues delivered the most rewarding hours of sonic adventure:

Richard Moule

Highlight of the Year: Cannibal Corpse, Mayhem Festival Festival, Phoenix, Arizona.
Temperature:115 degrees in the shade.
CC were rightfully surly because of stage complications that forced them to shorten their set. Consequently, they unleashed their molten, metal wrath on an audience that tried to stand its ground in a parking lot, amidst a swirling, dust storm that threatened to the blow the stage over. It was a perfect storm of man and nature's sound and fury. It was "Live and Dangerous", to quote Thin Lizzy, and it was bliss.

Jim Rader

Kevin C. Smith

Ethan Stanislawski


  • The Jesus Lizard Pure/Head/Goat/Liar/Down
  • Volcano Suns The Bright Orange Years / All-Night Lotus Party

    Richie Unterberger

    • Thee Midniters Thee Complete Midniters: Songs of Love, Rhythm & Psychedelia!
    • Buddy Holly Memorial Collection
    • Buddy Holly Down the Line: Rarities
    • Lulu Shout! The Complete Decca Recordings
    • The Who The Who Sell Out Deluxe Edition
    • Vince Taylor Jet Black Leather Machine
    • Various Artists Where the Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggest 1965-1968
    • The Rationals Think Rational!
    • Blossom Toes What on Earth: Rarities 1967-1969
    • Various Artists 50 Years of Revolucion!
    • The Mojos Everything's Alright: The Complete Recordings
    • Jefferson Airplane The Woodstock Experience
    • David Bowie Space Oddity 40th Anniversary Edition
    • Santana The Woodstock Experience
    • Various Artists Woodstock 40 Years On: Back to Yasgur's Farm
    • Leonard Cohen Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 CD/DVD
    • Various Artists An Outbreak of Twangin': Phantom Guitars Vol. 2: 26 Cool Early 60s Guitar Instrumentals
    • Janis Joplin The Woodstock Experience
    • The Doors Live in New York
    • Jenni Muldaur Dearest Darlin'

    Lisa Marie Valletutti

    • Monty Are I Break Through the Silence
    • Paramore Brand New Eyes
    • Katy Perry MTV Unplugged Album
    • The Almost Monster, Monster
    • Train Save Me, San Francisco
    • Lady Gaga The Fame Monster
    • Glee Cast Album Volume 1
    • Norah Jones The Fall
    • Daughtry Leave This Town
    • Tina Parol Bite My Tongue

    Marko Vukusic

    • Noisettes Wild Young Hearts
    • The Dead Weather Horehound
    • Arctic Monkeys Humburg
    • John Fogerty The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again
    • Pearl Jam Backspacer
    • Heavy Trash Midnight Soul Serenade
    • Seasick Steve Man From Another Time
    • Air Love 2
    • R.E.M. Live At The Olympia
    • Bob Dylan Christmas In The Heart
    • Nikka Costa Pebble To A Pearl
    • The Derek Trucks Band Already Free
    • Larry Garner Here Today Gone Tommorow
    • Susan Tedeschi Back To The River
    • Bruce Springsteen Working On A Dream
    • White Lies To Lose My Life...
    • U2 No Line On The Horizon
    • Diana Krall Quiet Nights
    • Yeah Yeah Yeahs It's Blitz!
    • Elvis Costello Secret, Profane & Sugarcane

    Gregg Wager

    As a proud member of my mother?s Clean Plate Club, I have always made sure there were 20 titles to any top-20 list I make?usually struggling during those last bites to find nos. 17, 18, 19 and 20. For this year?s PSF poll, the struggle was what to exclude. I?d love to hear anyone?s theories about why I found this to be a good year of music. Meanwhile, I extend a special tribute to the loyal fans of Blue Cheer who over the decades kept that extremely influential rock trio going and this year suffered the loss of Dickie Peterson (1946-2009). Other maestros lost this year: Ali Akbar Khan (1922-2009), Maurice Jarre (1924-2009), Henri Pousseur (1929-2009), and Lukas Foss (1922-2009).

    • Anaphoria Footpaths and Trade Routes (vinyl LP)
    • Derek Bermel Voices for Solo Clarinet and Orchestra
    • Domina Catrina The Book of Worlds
    • Toshio Hosokawa Solo Concertos Vol. 1
    • Roger Kleier The Night Has Many Hours
    • Karlheinz Stockhausen PARADIES
    • Dong Bang Shin Ki/Tohoshinki Share the World/We Are!
    • Joe Zawinul & The Zawinul Syndicate 75
    • Blue Cheer Rocks Europe (DVD)
    • Mi-Ja Lee 50th Anniversary Album: 101 Songs
    • Brian Joseph Davis Intro, and Other Instrumental Works
    • Madonna Celebration
    • Mark Grey Enemy Slayer: A Navajo Oratorio
    • Peter Garland String Quartets 1 & 2
    • Throbbing Gristle The Third Mind Movements
    • Maurizio Pollini Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier I
    • Elliott Carter A Nonsuch Retrospective
    • Lucy Keany Fool Me
    • Chinese Stars Heaven on Speed Dial
    • John Zorn Femina

    Kurt Wildermuth

    • A-Bones Not Now!: Does justice to their live sound. A great way to remember the fun of seeing them rock the boat on a Rocks Off cruise in NYC's East River this summer.
    • Built to Spill There Is No Enemy: Some of the tempos drag, but this is BtS's most moving and majestic work since Perfect from Now On, with some of Doug Martsch's most eloquent guitar playing.
    • Bob Dylan "Forgetful Heart" on Together through Life + most of Christmas in the Heart: Johnny Mathis he ain't, babe, but the Christmas songs help him focus far more than the uninspired lyrics throughout Together through Life do. I'd trade all of that CD for Bob's Dylanesque delivery of the lines "Have yourself / a merry little Christmas," which sound like he's waited his whole life to sing them. And for a senior citizen whose voice is shot he does a beautiful "Little Drummer Boy"!
    • Jesus Lizard live at the Fillmore East at Irving Plaza, November 19: Ferocious. Awesome.
    • Michael Hurley and Ida Ida Con Smock: Hurley is charming, and Ida's backing is sensitive but loose and never precious.
    • Mission of Burma The Sound the Speed the Light: Is it my problem or theirs that I can't place MoB's reunion releases in a hierarchy? This one has some garage rock and metal beneath its typically frantic surface.
    • Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby: This late-2008 release is the most all-around enjoyable music I heard in 2009.

    Mike Wood

    • Castanets Texas Rose The Thaw & The Beast
    • Death ...for The Whole World To See
    • Black Breath Razor To Oblivion
    • Iggy Pop Preliminaires
    • Various Artists Daptone Gold
    • Various Artists Ghana Special: Modern High Life, Afro-Sounds & Ghanaian Blues, 1968-81
    • Pissed Jeans King of Jeans
    • Volcano Suns All Night Lotus Party (reissue)
    • Mono Hymn to the Immortal Wind
    • Extra Golden Thank You Very Quickly

    Left to right: Michael Hurley, Seasick Steve, The Almost, Thee Midnighters, Maurizio Pollini

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