Our Critics List Their Fave Discs of '09

His career can be described as spotty at best for an MC whose skill we've rarely seen matched in the rap world. But The Ecstatic shows Mos Def finally approaching the potential we saw a decade ago on his solo debut, Black on Both Sides. The variety of styles used makes his creative wanderlust apparent, and Mos was able to create a cohesive enough album to fly in the face of those trumpeting hip-hop's demise.

Noah W. Bailey's Top 10 of '09

1. Phosphorescent, To Willie

2. Lee Fields and the Expressions, My World

For my money, "Do You Love Me (Like You Say You Do)" and "Love Comes and Goes" is the best one-two opening punch of any album this year, as the 57-year-old Fields and his young, hip backing band set a gritty new apex for the late-aughts soul revival.

3. Justin Townes Earle, Midnight at the Movies

4. Alela Diane, To Be Still

5. The Low Anthem, Oh My God, Charlie Darwin

6. Telegraph Canyon, The Tide and the Current*

7. Teenage Cool Kids, Foreign Lands*

8. Son Volt, American Central Dust

9. Reigning Sound, Love and Curses

The Boss may have laid an aural turd back in January with his horrid Working on a Dream. But Springsteen fans need look no further than Reigning Sound's Love and Curses for their yearly fix of River-esque rock and roll. Just try not to pump your fist to Greg Cartwright and Co.'s cover of Glass Sun's "Stick Up for Me," a raw-voiced '60s anthem that somehow feels even more relevant in 2009.

10. Jim O' Rourke, The Visitor

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