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Best Albums of 2009

2009-12-14 12:45

Blk Jks After Robots
Rock as you don't normally hear it – swinging and cerebral; meditative and enraged; avant-garde and Afro; freaky and funky; bathed in ancestry but strikingly fresh.
iPod heaven: the psyched up kasi reggae rock resurrection of "Lakeside".
Read the review. [Miles Keylock]

Babu Up Roots
While it's tempting to gush over the Mahavishnu-Orchestra like methodology underpinning this Mother City Afro-Indo fusion combo's shape-shifting exploration of the spaces where Indian Classical inspired composition and jazz architectures meet and greet, this cosmic trip isn't tailored towards jazz boffins only.
iPod heaven: "Duggi Style" - a deceptively smooth jazz noodle that imagines guitar guru John McLaughlin and bass punk Jaco Pastorious trying to prise the funk free from muzak classic "Popcorn". Read the review [Miles Keylock]

Die Heuwels Fantasties
DHF started in 2008, but this would be the year that the Belville boys (sound familiar?) really blew up. Pierre and Hunter could have made real boobs of themselves with their lyrically driven dance project, but instead, alternative Afrikaans music stays relevant for another year. iPod heaven: "Die Vraagstuk" - guest rapper Jack Parow’' spitfire rhymes about doppe en dolle mesh with an uptempo DJ Ohnny to produce what might be the hottest song on MK.
Read the review [Niel Bekker]

TKZee Coming Home
After an eight-year hiatus, Guz pioneers, TKZee returned with a progressive, yet stuck-to-basics modern classic. The 14-track serving holds everything from party-ready pan-Afro-pop, gritty hip hop, English-cum-Motswako blends, screeching electric guitars, 90’s house, disco-funk and meditative gospel. All while still maintaining the swerve of ullova and a quintessentially kwaito kick. iPod heaven: "Dikakapa" – Hard-hitting and up-tempo, it’s a classic Tokollo and Bouga Luv tag-team updated to the edge of 2009 over Zwai’s nuanced production.
Read the review [Masande Ntshanga]

Tuks Senganga Monopoly
Uncharacteristically serious, Monopoly came out of nowhere and irked fans while, simultaneously, winning over uninitiated ears. Tuks’ enraged and despairing concept album about global capitalism and Third World poverty arrived at a time when social commentary on commercial releases was quickly becoming a thing of the past. The fire-hot beats and relentless flow didn’t hurt it, either. iPod heaven: "Interview" – A semi-bitter and ironic take on press sensationalism. It knocks with a lo-key beat, as a laid-back, but scathing Tuks takes the media to task on its gross misrepresentation and love for rumours and beef-baiting. Read the review [Masande Ntshanga]
Thandiswa Mazwai Ibokwe
Thandiswa celebrates and interrogates not just her own Xhosa tradition, but also her pan-African roots to bring all South Africa together over our outrage at what so often divides us - crime and cruelty.
iPod Heaven: "Ibokwe" may be the track everyone talked about, but my favourite on the album is "Ingoma". It’s sexy, touching, yearning. And it works because love is universal (hate is usually pretty specific). Read the review [Jean Barker]

Taylor Swift Fearless
The young country cutie is a breath of fresh air amongst the hundreds of skin-baring tartlets in pop music today. Taylor celebrates her innocence, freedom and talent on this catchy album and it made me feel like a teenager all over again.
iPod heaven: "You Belong With Me". Put it on while you're doing your makeup for your high school reunion. Read the review [Sam Brighton]

Melanie Fiona The Bridge
Aretha Franklin inspired Soul with enough of a cool retro edge to make even the stiffest square pants go ‘Yeah baby!’
iPod heaven: the foot-tapping, groovy "Bang Bang". Read the review. [Soraya Abdulatief]

The Twilight Saga: New Moon Soundtrack Various
The worst movie of the year spawns the most sumptuously addictive soundtrack. Go figure.
iPod heaven: Grizzly Bear with Victoria Legend "Slow Life": Tough choice to make, but it doesn’t get more haunting than this ballad.
Read the review. [Shaheema Barodien]

Michael Bublé Meets Madison Square Garden
Who wouldn't to spend a night with Michael? When the Lord was handing out sexiness, swagger and croon-ability, Michael was in that line. You'd have to be crazy not to love him. 
iPod heaven: a finger-clicking Vegas lounge rendition of "Call Me Irresponsible". 
Read the review [Ulpha Edries]

Roger Goode Saturday Surgery Vol. 5
Be it lounge, techno, deep, vocal, tribal or electro, this album has a bit of everything.
iPod heaven: "Love Story" shows what an ultimate dance song should have in deep hard-hitting bass, sultry and, most importantly, coherent vocals that actually make sense.
Read the review. [Setjhaba Maphalla]

Which records rocked your world this past 12 months? Let us know in the comments section below.

Which records rocked your world this year? Our writers revisit those albums that opened their ears over the past twelve months.
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