My new top music of 2009

I've always got my ears open for new bands and music that I haven't heard before. Here are some bands I heard for the first time in 2009 and have since gone into my permanent rotation.

Top 5: Anathallo, the Knife/Fever Ray, Nomo, Shearwater, Vampire Weekend

One genre of music I became aware of and took a liking to this year is Afro-beat. It's kind of like jazz with a bit of rock and brass thrown in. It's definitely got a beat, which with the other musical parts, often is polyrhythmic sounding. For me the tip of the iceberg for the genre was the Talking Heads' Remain in Light, that album includes Once in a Lifetime.

The band I've been listening to in this area is Nomo, who are from Michigan of all places. Invisible Cities, which came out this year, is pretty good. There are songs on their Myspace page.

A pleasant surprise this year was a friend's recommendation of Vampire Weekend.  He said something like 'check them out although they've got a name I'd never give a second thought to'. To make a short story short, they basically sound like Ferris Bueller singing Paul Simon of the 80's.  It's carefree and cheerful. (By the way, Paul Simon had an African streak in the 80's, at least with Graceland.) Their first album came out in 2008, and what do you know, their next one come out in two weeks! Here's their website!

If you like Sufjan Stevens, the probability is high that you'll like Anathallo, especially Canopy Glow, from late '08, which is a solid album all the way around. They too are in Chicagoland and have a myspace page with songs.

My runner up for favorite new music is electronic duo the Knife. I posted on them previously. Their album Silent Shout, from 2006, continues to be awesome. Also one member has a solo project, Fever Ray, which released a self-titled album, myspace for songs, in spring that maintains the awesomeness.

Overall, my favorite new band is Shearwater. Their two most recent albums, Palo Santo and Rooks are solid, beautiful albums that soar from start to finish. Listen for yourself (link, link, link, link, link, link). And they've got a new album coming out in February! Their website has some teaser stuff.

5 Honorable Mentions: