From Suicide Bill & the Liquors to Roz Raskin & the Rice Cakes, the Rhode Island music community flourished in 2009, with new full-lengths from the Coming Weak, California Smile, and the pride of Cranston West and official big-leaguers Monty Are I, who released Break Through the Silence in September. But none broke bigger than the Low Anthem, when Nonesuch released Oh My God, Charlie Darwin to international acclaim. And it was a vintage year for the EP format, with ace minis from Strange Famous Records' punks-with-purpose Prayers for Atheists, Senior Discount, and Verbana Darvell, plus rap acts Poorly Drawn People (Motion not Emotion continues PDP's reign) and braggadocious wordsmith Jon Hope (his must-hear Some Kind of Wonderful). In 2010 we're anticipating more good things from Lolita Black, J. Berndt's Revival Preachers, the Wrong Reasons, Coma Coma, and Makeupbreakup, as well as hip-hop's finest in beat composer Joe Beats, Labeless Illtelligence, and emcees Theo, Chachi Carvalho, and my man Romen Rok. In the meantime, here are 10 albums from '09 (in no particular order) worth seeking out:
TALLAHASSEE | WOLFE MOON
We can thank Coach Belichick for recommending Brian Barthelmes find another line of work, as the former O-lineman's warm voice defines the roughshod beauty of Wolfe Moon ("California" is a particularly riveting tune). Could be album of the year for me (myspace.com/tallahasseeband).
SIX FINGER SATELLITE | A GOOD YEAR FOR HARDNESS | ANCHOR BRAIN
Two-and-a-half minutes into the opening track "Hot Food" and 6FS frontman J Ryan is up to his old tricks, howling like a rabid wolfman atop a sinister, spazzed-out groove. By the time you hit "Midnight Rails," "Half Life," and the woozy closer "Rise," it's abundantly clear that Six Finger Satellite remain light years ahead of their time (myspace.com/6fs).
ROUTE .44 | THIS IS MY AMERICA | BLUE RADIO
Charismatic hosts Ian Lacombe and Jess Powers revel in the bloozy sounds cooked up by this acclaimed octet, and Route .44's excellent follow-up to 2007's Worthless Lessons expounds on their tipsy vision of seedy Americana as seen through a dirty shot glass, accompanied by plenty of sultry and sleazy horns (route44.org).
SWANN NOTTY | RIGHT AND EXACT
Someone must have put out an APB for this guy or got his mug on a milk carton. Six years passed since his landmark debut "4 Steps," and while the '07 mixtape Classic Material marked an official return, Right and Exact proves why this guy should be the next Master Ace, making a living taking out "ringtone rappers" with help from 9th Wonder (myspace.com/SwannNotty).
THE DIEPODS | 75ORLESS
Shooting stick and pounding beers calls for the diePods' no-frills debut— trust me. I don't know how 'HJY overlooked "Waiting," and "Can I Feel Sad" sounds like a bastard child of Guided by Voices and Thin Lizzy (75orlessrecords.com).
DEER TICK | BORN ON FLAG DAY | PARTISAN
Crack a Narragansett tallboy in honor of national media darlings Deer Tick, who broke big in '09 behind Flag Day (Brian Williams loves it). From the rousing opening track "Easy" to achy-breaky ballads "Little White Lies" and "Smith Hill," John McCauley and the boys have struck gold (myspace.com/deertick).