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Best/Favorite Music of 2009


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What were your favorite music releases of the last year? What came out that you either liked or consider significant?

Here's my picks (in no particular order):

Porcupine Tree - The Incident
Dream Theater - Black Clouds & Silver Linings
Riverside - Anno Domini High Definition
Beardfish - Destined Solitaire
Gungfly - Please Be Quiet
Umphrey's McGee - Mantis
Odd Logic - Legends of Monta, Part II
OSI - Blood
Epica - Design Your Universe

[B]Porcupine Tree[/B] - [I]The Incident[/I]
Another excellent release from Steven Wilson and co. To me, this band can hardly do any wrong, and they really succeeded with this album. The original concept for the title track began as a 35-minute song that continued to evolve, eventually becoming a 55-minute multi-track suite that occupied the entire album. Another four stand-alone songs were included on a second EP-length disc. The album really runs the gamut of the band's various styles, from light to heavy as well as electronic and experimental. My pick for album of the year.

[B]Dream Theater[/B] - [I]Black Clouds & Silver Linings[/I]
The band's previous effort, Systematic Chaos was a bit hit and miss, but this newest release has a feel that reminds me more of Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence and Train of Thought, which are two of my favorite DT albums. An excellent entry into the Dream Theater catalog.

[B]Riverside[/B] - [I]Anno Domini High Definition[/I]
This band has definitely evolved over the course of their four studio albums, starting off more atmospheric and slowly incorporating heavier sounds. This latest album is their heaviest yet, and the new aggression displayed here perfectly fits the theme of the album, a commentary on our fast-pace technological society where 'the next big thing' can be obsolete in no time at all.

[B]Beardfish[/B] - [I]Destined Solitaire[/I]
A wonderfully quirky Swedish band that has always produced great music. Their sound harks back to a more retro-rock period, but they also have a modern energy and sensibility. This is their third album in as many years and it amazes me that they can come up with so much good stuff so quickly.

[B]Gungfly[/B] - [I]Please Be Quiet[/I]
Solo release from Beardfish frontman Rikard 'Gungfly' Sjoblom. Has the same quirky feel as Beardfish but with shorter, simplified songs. If this is "commercial", all commercial albums should be like this.

[B]Umphrey's McGee[/B] - [I]Mantis[/I]
I first saw this band perform on an episode of Soundstage and they captured me immediately. Part of the improvisation/jam band scene, they are heavily influenced by progressive rock acts, and release as many live albums as studio albums. They have a nice jazzy, funky style and after hearing this album I definitely intend to check out their older stuff.

[B]Odd Logic[/B] - [I]Legends of Monta, Part II[/I]
Long-awaited conclusion to the Monta saga. To me, Odd Logic is the prime example of great independent music: amazing stuff done by one man (with the help of family and friends) and released by himself. Great epic progressive metal with a wonderfully pulp-scifi storyline.

[B]OSI[/B] - [I]Blood[/I]
Third and undoubtedly best release by this project from Fates Warning guitarist Jim Matheos and former Dream Theater keyboardist Kevin Moore. I've always enjoyed OSI's combination of prog rock/metal with electronica and the perfect fit of Moore's monotone scratch vocals. Their music has gotten heavier and heavier with each release, and this one dips a lot more to the metal side. They are also joined this time by Porcupine Tree drummer Gavin Harrison.

[B]Epica[/B] - [I]Design Your Universe[/I]
While they had a few other albums under their belt, I didn't really get into Epica until the previous album The Divine Conspiracy, which was a stellar example of gothic symphonic power metal. Design Your Universe continues the trend. Great atmospheric gothic power metal complemented by the beautiful vocals of Simone Simmons.
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