2009 was a great year for British music, although much of it went unnoticed by the U.S. music press. Susan Boyle and the X Factor kids dominated the news, and a lot of good music got lost. Hopefully, this post will help remedy that.
Britain has always produced great ethereal female singer-songwriters, from Kate Bush to Liz Fraser to Beth Orton. This year, the genre was booming, giving us Florence + the Machine, La Roux, Bat For Lashes‘s Two Suns, and the kooky Marina and the Diamonds (who is certain to breakout in ’10). The Noisettes filled in the retro soul gap for Amy Winehouse and conquered radio with the indelible, Motown-inspired “Never Forget You.” Stalwart veteran bands like Manic Street Preachers, Pet Shop Boys, Bad Lieutenant (a.k.a. the “new” New Order), and Ash demonstrated that they still had creativity to burn.
And indie bands like Camera Obscura, The Horrors, The Maccabees, The Cribs, Bat For Lashes, and Doves showed real artistic growth, putting out their best work to date. Former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr‘s effect on The Cribs has been nothing short of miraculous, turning an overhyped, immature indie band into a real contender.
And Doves, who’ve put out some of the best songs of the past decade, hit a peak with the Western ballad “Kingdom of Rust,” their most moving song yet (and, in my estimation, the best British song of 2009). Take a listen to all 50 tracks below. You may find some new favorites to add to your music library.