What did I listen to in 2009?

For the unaware, most recorded music still enters my collection via CD, so what CDs entered my collection in 2009?

Mogwai, The Hawk is Howling

Mogwai continues to excite me with their heavy sounds. The band hates to be pigeonholed, but you could call this genre 'progressive punk rock' or maybe 'punk progressive rock' and maybe not get beaten up too badly if they catch you.

Zombi, Spirit Animal

I think half the band has moved back to Pittsburgh, and the other half of the band is in New Hampshire or something, and they haven't played a Pittsburgh gig in years, but I still love them. These two guys totally rock. They're a bit more progressive and a bit less punk than Mogwai, but they probably wouldn't threaten to beat me up. I might have to buy a couple of rounds, though. This album wasn't instant earwig material like some of their other stuff, but it has definitely grown on me.

Elbow, Cast of Thousands

This album completes my collection of music from last year's earwig award winner (earwigner?), Elbow. Working backwards from their most recent album was maybe a route to disappointment, but I assure you these lads appear to be improving and their next album is probably a safe bet.

Moby, Wait for Me

Not the most exciting Moby album ever, but deeply attractive in its way and worth buying, despite the fact that I'd probably buy it even if it wasn't. Moby is one of those artists who have brought me so much pleasure over the years that I'll probably buy any album he releases so he can continue buying groceries.

Tosca, No Hassle

I really like this band. This album isn't as infectious as some fo their earlier work, but I enjoy it. They could have left the "live" versions out of this release, though. Really, they just double up its play rate on shuffle.

They Might Be Giants, Here Comes Science

Another instructive kids album from those Brooklyn lads. This one has plenty of catchy tunes, and teaches even adults how to think of science as fun. At least one song is a good for bucking up your courage to confront anti-science blatherers, and one song convinced me to put it on repeat until I learned it by heart.

Chess in Concert

I've been a big fan of this musical since "One Night in Bangkok" was played daily on pop radio. This new version is a bit different in story and song, but the work they've put into the story is great. The only problem is that when you've been humming along to a song for 25 years, even minor changes in timing can make it sound "wrong". This concert could have been better rehearsed, and I don't like the soprano for Florence, but it's better than the Broadway version.

Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, Silk Road Journeys; Beyond the Horizon

Further explorations in new instrumental world music from the world's most influential living cellist and his friends. This is "music from Earth" at its best, and should be way more popular than it is.

The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Time Out

Take Five is probably one of the best pieces of music ever, and this is a re-issue of the album it was on. Given that Pandora pegs "unusual time signatures" as a key chromosome in my musical genome, this album is instant earwig material from start to finish.

2010.01.07 at 12:00am EST