As you can tell from our previous lists of the past four years – which we’ve been posting all week long – there’s no shortage of musical talent in the Capital Region. But this year’s batch of albums is simply the strongest in recent memory. And our memory is pretty good. Even hedging our bet by squeezing 11 albums into our Top 10, there were still at least five additional honorable mention albums that would have earned a Top 10 spot in just about any other year. So here it is without further ado – Nippertown.com’s favorite Capital Region albums of 2009: 10 (tie) Steve Lambert’s “May” (Planet Arts) and Brian Patneaude’s “Riverview” (WEPA): Trumpeter Lambert and his band of Nippertown all-stars (including Patneaude) and saxman Patneaude’s own one-night-only recording with a switched-up combo prove that our jazz scene isn’t just surviving – it’s thriving. 09 Jim Gaudet & the Railroad Boys’ “So Far So Good” (Real Life Enterprises): Gaudet’s 2007 comeback album, “Re-Calling It Quits,” was brilliant, but this was the album that solidified the band and its bluegrass/folk-twang sound as a force to be reckoned with. 08 Jill Hughes’ “For the First Time”(JillHughesOnline.com): Way back in 1994, Hughes earned top honors as Best Jazz/R&B Singer from Metroland magazine. This looong overdue solo debut proves they were right. And she’s still got the right stuff. 07 Street Corner Holler’s “Street Corner Holler” (RootBlues.com): Making their blues-centric duo debut, Mark Tolstrup and Dale Haskell brewed up a raw, righteous mix of swamp boogie, buzzsaw blues and delta stomp. 06 Alta Mira’s “Alta Mira” (Indian Ledge): This is rock that certainly doesn’t follow any kind of straight-forward rock formula. It’s complex and intoxicating. This is challenging stuff. 05 Jocamo’s “New Funk Order” (HeyJocamo.com): Vocalist-bassist Dave Macks and his funky bunch get down with some old-school funk ‘n’ soul laced with a bit of zydeco spice and humor, too. 04 The Ashley Pond Band’s “The Warning” (AshleyPondMusic.com): Pond’s 2007 solo debut “Dala” was exquisite, but – like Gaudet – this follow-up brings a true band sound to her songs. It’s more confident, deeper, richer. 03 Sean Rowe’s “Magic” (Collar City): The acoustic soul man with the honey-smoked voice broke through with a first-rate batch of songs and haunting, atmospheric production. 02 Eric Margan & the Red Lion’s “Midnight Book” (EricMargan.com): An absolutely gorgeous chamber-pop album forged from equal parts pop smarts and lush classical influences. Beautiful stuff. 01 Super 400’s “Sweet Fist” (Response/Rock Ridge): Troy veterans Lori Friday, Kenny Hohman and Joe Daley churned up power-trio rock like they invented it. And “Flashlight” gets our nod as Song of the Year, too: HONORABLE MENTIONS: John Brodeur’s “Get Through” (Mr. Duck); David Greenberger with Paul Cebar’s “Cherry Picking Apple Blossom Time” (Pel Pel); Various artists’ “Live From CRUMBS Cafe, Vol. I” (Crumbs.net); We Are Jeneric’s “Animals Are People, Too” (B3nson); Tern Rounders’ “A Different Land” (TernRounders.com); Sgt. Dunbar & the Hobo Banned’s “Charles Mingus’ Garbage Pile” (B3nson); Johnny Mystery & the Mysteios’ “Pronounced Misty-Oh’s” (no label); Sara Milonovich’s “Daisycutter” (Loonymusik); Scientific Maps’ “Galvanic Wizardry” (B3nson); Berggren/Kirk/Shaw’s “North River/North Woods” (Sleeping Giant); Mirk & the New Familiars’ “Love” (NewFamiliarMusic.com); the Empire Jazz Orchestra’s “Symphonies in Riffs” (EmpireJazzOrchestra.com); Lunic’s “Love Thief” (SellaBand.com); Matthew Loiacono’s “Penny Riddle” (Collar City); Sea of Trees’ “Animal Sounds” (SeaOfTrees.com); Boston Celtics’ “The End of Mont Pleasant” (B3nson) CD COVER: John Brodeur’s “Slutty Nurse” Honorable mention: Jill Hughes’ “For the First Time” CD PACKAGING: Eric Margan & the Red Lion’s “Midnight Book” Honorable mention: Empire Jazz Orchestra’s “Symphonies in Riffs” DEBUT: Eric Margan & the Red Lions’ “Midnight Book” Honorable mention: Steve Lambert’s “May” MOST OVERDUE DEBUT: Jill Hughes’ “For the First Time” COMPILATION: “Live From CRUMBS Cafe, Volume I” NIPPERTOWN’s MUSIC MAN OF THE YEAR: Sten Isachsen earns 2009’s top honors, but not just because of his fine work as mandolinist-electric guitarist with Jim Gaudet & the Railroad Boys. His behind-the-scenes hand helped guided three of our Top 10 albums (the Railroad Boys, Street Corner Holler and Brian Patneaude), as well as such other fine albums as Three Quarter North’s “North by Northeast” and Ramblin Jug Stompers’ “Hobo Nickel” – variously engineering, mixing and/or producing the projects at his Bender Studios in Delmar. Listen to Greg Haymes hosting the Nippertown 2009 Local 518 Top 10 Countdown and playing selections from the Top 10 albums on WEXT (Exit 97.7 FM) at 6pm Friday, New Year’s Day.
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