Numero Group: By The Numbers

Tom’s 2009 Top Eight

If I shot for ten, I’d be scraping. In no particular order:

The Mummers – A Tale To Tell

Raissa Khan-Panni sounds like Bjork. Let’s get that on the table. But arranger Mark Horwood frames her in such lush, musical mystery that she’s forced to transcend the comparison, delivering a record so unlike anything else out there it’s unlikely ever to be duplicated. More unlikely than ever as of two months ago, when Horwood hung himself in his treehouse studio.

Liam Hayes and Plush – Bright Penny

Both a real album, meaning a complete listen start to finish, and series of pop singles just waiting in the que to be hits, from Liam Hayes and the cream of Chicago’s criminally neglected pool of studio greats. Actual music from America’s best songwriter.

Doveman – The Conformist

As part of a very select group of master musicians offering aid and comfort to touring indie-rockers, Thomas Bartlett is the man at the top of the tier, called upon by Grizzly Bear, The National and Yoko Ono just in the past year. The guy’s Keith Jarrett at the piano and John Cale as a songwriter. A huge talent. This new record is his best and he’s really just getting started.

Sparks – The Seduction Of Ingmar Bergman

Audacious silliness from the masters of ten pounds of ideas in a one-pound bag. Recommended: The deluxe 4lp box with the original Swedish radio broadcast. Sounds like Sparks. That’s pretty much all you need to know.

The Beatles – In Mono

I remember once, long ago, bringing a girl home primarily because she’d bedded, after a show he performed in St Louis, John Lennon, the rhythm guitarist of The Beatles, a band I liked very much. I was also at that show. So if you’re not into them, I could give a shit. Sounds great, btw.

Pete Doherty – Grace/Wastelands

A lot of my enthusiasm for this is due to Stephen Street’s perfect production, but Doherty is so english and I am such an anglophile. There haven’t been as many “New Ray Davies’ ” as there have been “New Dylans” and there’s a reason for that: Davies is a much harder act to follow.

Big Star – Keep An Eye On The Sky

Everything about this is done right. The art direction is stunning, Bob Mehr’s essay put a lump in my throat, and it brings Big Star to the fore as a band and not just a record. Next to the Liverpool band I name-check above, the most important music of my life.

Circuit Rider – Circuit Rider

If only as a motorcyclist, this was a must. I’ve had the tracks for some time now, and only taking home the vinyl this week. If you ever woke up feeling like 1000 Hell’s Angels have been camping out in your mouth for a month and wondering where you left your shirt, your wallet and your mind, this record, only available as an lp, as it should be, is for you.

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