My first two picks come from the CMJ Charts
(where you can listen to entire albums free!). This is a great resource to keep your finger on the button of what's hot on college radio. I've found that college radio will give you a glimpse into next year's next-big-thing.
by Sub Pop group Fruit Bats is a fantastic CD, maybe one of the year's best so far. Fruit Bats is fronted by Eric Johnson, who served as a touring guitarist for the Shins last year. The influence shows too, as Fruit Bats capture the indie-poetry tone of the Shins throughout the CD. And I say this in a good way. Check out the title track and you'll be hooked. This record
is great through and through and will likely top the year end critics picks (like it topped the CMJ charts last week.)
by Arctic Monkeys is my next must-buy recommendation. This is the best CD they've ever recorded, including their stellar debut a few years ago. The band's frontman, Alex Turner, is maturing in both his songwriting and in the area of emotional expression. Check out track #2 Crying LIghtning and you'll hit the buy button. This record
is listenable from the first to the last track, not something you can take for granted with UK indie-20's something bands.
My last pick is 11:11 by Rodrigo y Gabriela
. These two mexican metal-flamenco wunderkinds finally released their followup to their self titled major label release (which I recommended breathlessly
in 2007.) This is the most sonic record of 2009 and a must-own for any lover of fine music. This duo successfully combines rock, latin, acoustic and classical guitar into a roaring album that'll do for dinner, a party or a drive through the mountains. It comes with a bonus DVD that will prove that the two make ALL their music live with only four hands.