Well it’s been 24 hours since I got this thing up and running. Yay Me. It seems great (and by ‘great’ I of course mean, ‘unoriginal’) minds think alike, with blogging being the main focus of attention in the studio today. So in the spirit of this sort of thing, here’s another entry. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, and now I finally have a reason. I present to you, my top 10 albums of 2009:

10. Chewing on Tinfoil – Get Rich or Try Dyin’

2009 was an amazing year for music. People say that every year, but genuinely had trouble whittling this down to just ten albums. Kicking off said albums is Dublin-based pop-ska-punk outfit Chewing on Tinfoil. I first heard these guys several months ago on Mike Davies Radio 1 Punk Show, when Stza Crack requested them. As the song ‘Blood ‘n’ Sweat ‘n’ Tears‘ blasted out of my speakers I couldn’t help things, “These guys are awesome, how the how the hell have I not heard of them?”.

I  immedietly got hold of this, their first full album, and was not dissapointed. ‘Tinfoil are a great blend of indie-tinged pop punk infused with upbeat ska rythms. The album is quite diverse too, ranging from fast, aggresive tracks to ballady more melodic stuff. All of which makes the album feel like a musical journey. I’m very exciting to see what these guys do next, and fingers crossed I can check them out live at some point.

9. Big D and the Kids Table – Fluent in Stroll

This was an interesting one. I’ve been a big fan of Bid D and the Kids Table for a couple of years now, and was pretty excited to get my hands on this, they’re 6th album (roughly). I put it on expecting the fast, youthful, ska-punk of their older albums and what did I get? 14 songs of mellow, reggae. They’d shown alot of interest in toning things down a bit in their last album ‘Strictly Rude‘, but this was toned down to eleven. I didn’t hate it, but dissapointed, I only listened to it once.

Fast-forward several months and Big D have just been announced as the main support on Reel Big Fish’s ‘2010 – A Ska Odyssey‘ tour. I thought I’d better reacquaint myself with their catalogue, and what better place to start with Fluent in Stroll, the album they’d no doubt be playing alot of. It was like hearing a different album. This isn’t the slow crap that left me wanting the old Big D back, this was like nothing I’d heart before, and it was pretty damn cool.

Never has my opinion of an album changed so drastically. I think it was the primary dissapointment that turned me off, and from what I gather, alot of their fans too. I’ve listened to the record several times since, and it’s wonderful stuff. It’s the same band, but doing something new that they clearly have a passion for. It’s actually quite hard to define, mixing elements of dub, reggae and ska (both trad and thrid wave), it’s an album as fresh and warm as the cover art suggests.

8. Nathen Maxwell & the Original Bunny Gang – White Rabbit

Another great artist I discovered thanks to Radio 1’s Mike Davies, who’s pretty much the only person on popular radio actually worth listening to. Nathen Maxwell is not really known by name, but his other band, Flogging Molly is pretty famous (and very good). Now this album is nothing like Flogging Molly. It’s more of a chill-out style, with Maxwell on acoustic guitar. The artist this most reminds me of is Jack Johnson, but with a more polished, eclectic sound. And this sounds FANTASTIC, with every little instrument and noise coming through, it feels like you’re in the studio with them all. Maxwell has a great voice, and the heart-felt, rustic charm of this record won me over before I’d even finished listening to it.

7. Sonic Boom Six – City of Thieves

A band that has been consistantly brilliant for years, Sonic Boom Six continue their genre-bending assault with ‘City of Thieves‘, a sort-of concept album and their most diverse record yet. Although not my favourite SB6 release, this is a truley original and unique album. You just can’t stcik them into any one genre or category, my attempt being ‘Electro-Ska-Reggae-Dub-Punk’. It’s loud, funky and stays true to their roots while drawing influences from grime, dubstep and metal among countless others. There’s something for everybody, and they’re a band that you really have to hand it to for not playing it safe and making the songs they want to make.

6. Rancid – Let the Dominoes Fall

Finally!! Rancid has been one of my favourite bands for donkeys years, and it’s been six years since their last album. That’s a long time to wait, and they do not dissapoint. Over the years they’re style of punk rock has changed and mutated really drastically, with stop-overs in ska, reggae, old school punk and third wave ska. ‘Let the Dominoes Fall‘ (to me) is almost the sum total of all their genre hopping. It’s still a diverse album though. There’s more ska in the form of the downright wonderful ‘Up to No Good‘ (easily my favourite song of the year) and lots of infectious punk rock in songs like ‘Last One to Die‘ and ‘East Bay Night‘. If you prefer your old school, punk as fuck Rancid, then you’re probably not going to do backflips over this. But me, I like my sing-a-long, feeling good Rancid, and they’re here by the bucket load.

5. The Have Nots – Serf City USA

This came out of nowhere. I was browsing some music blog when I saw a link to this. It was a ska-based blog, and the album art looked cool, so I checked it out. Stopped. Me. Dead.

The first track, ‘There’s Gonna Be a Riot‘ kicks things off with a vigorous bang that doesn’t let up until all 12 tracks have finished. This is just a fantastic album. Much like the next entry, every song is a hit, bursting with energy and passion that doesn’t let up. Once that ska rythm kicks in with the punk rock it’s about as awesome as music can be. Out of all the bands on this list, The Have Nots truly deserve to be heard by more people and get the appreciation they deserve.

4. Teenage Bottlerocket – They Came from the Shadows

It took Teenage Bottlerocket a couple of albums to really find their style, which in my opinion they did with the excellent ‘Warning Device‘ in 2008. It’s hardly revolutionary music, by my God it’s infectious. They’re by far my favourite flat out pop punk band, taking a genre that’s boring and predictable, and making it sound fucking awesome. It just doesn’t get any better. This album has track after track of near-perfect, pop rock that gets under my skin and makes my head bop so frantically I usually have to stop what I’m doing. Absolutely. Brilliant.

3. The Grit – Straight Out the Alley

The Grit is the first band that I saw live before really discovering, and they blew me away. These guys blend psychobilly, punk, ska and rock n roll into something unique and truly their own. There’s a real sense that these guys are loving what they do and are having a lot of fun, while churning out tracks with such heart and soul I’m amazed they haven’t gained a larger following. There elements of The Clash at work, and ‘Straight Out the Alley‘ delivers an excellent reflection of what the band does best, which in their own words is ‘punk’n’funk’n’rock’n’roll’. This is a masterful album, that’s an absolute blast to listen to.

2. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Pin Points and Gin Joints

After a seven year hiatus, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones come back with a vengeance. Holy shit is this a great album. Now I’m not a massive fan of their earlier, more skacorey stuff. It was always a bit too raw for my liking. Their later, more poppy albums I much prefer. But ‘Pin Points and Gin Joints‘ is something else entirely.

Those seven years were clearly spent developing this sophisticated, mature style that makes every other band in this genre sound like ignorant amateurs. The awesomeness that comes out of this record is astounding. It’s a very ska-oriented album, with tasty-as-fuck-brass and alot of uplifting, feel-good tunes. I think I’m still in a sense of over-whelmed joy at the euphoric stupor the Bosstones have left me in with this beautiful album.

1. Random Hand – Inhale / Exhale

I have never seen a band that deserves as much respect as Random Hand. They tour endlessly, and every time I see them there’s such limitless energy on stage it’s impossible not to get sucked in. They’re first album, ‘Change of Plan‘, was good, but somewhat hit and miss. Now they’ve not only found their skacore feet, they’ve harnessed the power of their live performances and the sheer relentlessness they possess on stage, and unleashed it musically in the form of ‘Inhale / Exhale‘.

This album is like getting hit by a train. The fact these guys have made something of this magnitude on their SECOND record is nothing short of amazing. The thing is, it’s so good, they’ve set the bar very, very high for themselves with their next album. Either way, that’s not important. What is important is how incredibly damn good this album is. It has this raw, dynamic, force blasting out at you, each song catchy, loud and bursting with skary metal goodness. The anger, the intensity, the way the trombone works against the heavy guitars, everything about this record is incredible.

Well, that took far more of my time that I anticipated. Ah well, thanks for reading.