I got my one wish; a music man to digress on bands and lists. Thank you GUEST WRITER: TONY VONTZ. And, proof those California types do know their music.

I know you all have been eagerly awaiting it all holiday season.  You’ve been on pins and needles.  Finally, my best music of 2009 list.  A chance for me to bloviate about what mattered the most to my ears.  This year the songs/albums are listed in no particular order.

Dirty Projectors (thanks go to Crumbs for making sure this one didn’t pass me by) may have made my favorite “Brooklyn” album of the past decade.  It is a completely original creation, as adept at a party as it is on the headphones and does not have a bad or boring moment on it. Phoenix added to its already impressive catalog with the most fun record of the year.  It’s awesome to see them getting the success they have long deserved.  Girls proved to be a grower, not a shower.  I shelved it initially only to be completely swept away by it late in the year. AC Newman, Dan Auerbach and M. Ward make the cut despite getting very few kudos in the mainstream.  I thought the Newman record was the best, most consistent work he has ever done and I really, really dig the production.  “Hold Time” is the most even, consistently rewarding and fully realized album of M. Ward’s career.  He’s not reinventing the wheel, he’s perfecting it.

Dan Auerbach was a mainstay during the second quarter of this year.  If you’re not a huge fan of the Black Keys (I’m in that boat), but they pull you in a little bit, this is the album for you.  It’s full of catchy tunes, crunchy rhythms, fleshed out instrumentation and kick ass songs. Gary Louris & Mark Olson reunited for the first time in eons and have not lost a step.  That record slipped under the radar, but it is essentially a stripped down, haunting, midlife crisis Jayhawks album.  As good as anything either of them have ever done.  Bill Callahan drops the best album title and artwork of the year, as well as one of the year’s best songs.  His music makes me want to move to a ranch in Wyoming and contemplate my navel.  Not exactly party music, but just as thrilling.   Vetiver deliver a sun drenched set of green triangle California folk music on their semi-major label debut that would have been a hit record in 1974.  It is the best road trip album of the year.  Wilco make another “adult” album that threatens to be immediately derailed by one of the weakest songs Tweedy has ever written.  Fortunately Wilco the song proves to be a minor aberration as the rest of the album flows as smoothly as room temperature butter over a piece of bread.  Or as smoothly as “Katy Lied” era Steely Dan.  You can take your pick.

It was a great year for music.  Vinyl is making a big comeback and bands are responding with complete albums.  I think of this as music’s answer to the Slow Food movement.  I feel lucky to still have two ears.

Dirty Projectors-Bitte Orca
Bill Callahan-Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle
Gary Louris & Mark Olson-Ready For The Flood
AC Newman-Get Guilty
Vetiver-Tight Knit
Wilco-The Album
M. Ward-Hold Time
Dan Auerbach-Keep It hid
Phoenix-Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Kurt Vile-Blackberry Song
Le Loup-Morning Song
Jay Farrar & Benjamin Gibbard-One Fast Move Or I’m Gone
The Juan Maclean-Accusations
Animal Collecitve-What I Want? Sky
Monsters of Folk-Ahead of The Curve
Bill Callahan-Jim Cain
Grizzly Bear-Southern Point
Dan Auerbach-Real Desire
Neko Case-Magpie To The Morning
Akron Family-Set ‘Em Free
Cave Singes-Beach House
Kurt Vile-Freak Train
Big Pink-Dominos
Bonnie Prince Billy-I Won’t Ask Again
Vetiver-Rolling Sea
Bear In Heaven-Lovesick Teenagers
Wilco-One Wing

Tony lives in San Francisco with his girlfriend and his brother.  He enjoys music and fresh-baked cookies.  He will not apologize for being a fan of Crowded House.  Follow him at twitter.com/tonyvontz .