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The Best of February: 2009

As the month of February winds down and we get into the final week of releases, here is the Groove’s guide to the best of February 09′.

Morrissey – Years of Refusal

After the very mediocre Ringleader of the Tormentors, Morrissey puts up his latest offering that might be his best album of the decade. It plays out like really any Smiths or Morrissey album, full of the orchestrated rockin’ pop tracks, but always finding the perfect time for a ballad once the ears grow weary. His voice is as strong as ever, and is only improving with age — although now hes saying that he will retire by age 55, that’s 6 more years, maybe enough time for one more album? If it’s anything like this record, then we can stop asking for Smiths reunions and just enjoy his current output (although I still want the Smiths reunion, and so do you, right?)

Tombs – Winterhours

Ah, the monthly dose of metal. Brooklyn’s Tombs are the result of a trio that probably grew up listening to metal and discovered bands like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive along the way. Their songs start out rooted in insanely heavy riffage, but take off into space as the minimalist structures build around layers of effects. Did I mention this album is heavy as hell? I can’t get over how big a sound 3 guys produced — and where the hell do they rehearse this loud in Brooklyn? So good. So loud.

N.A.S.A. – The Spirit of the Apollo

After all the recent hatred on this record, I felt as if it would be important to give our two cents! Listen, a 1.6 at Pitchfork is unjustified. Yeah, its not a record that is going to intellectually blow your mind, or even cover a whole lot of new territory — but its a whole lot of fun, and wheres the hurt in that? Yeah, some guests work better than others, and some beats do too — but lets forget about our pretensions and just have a dance party, ok? Not to mention, Tom Waits almost raps on this record, or his version of rapping anyway.

Mark Olson and Gary Louris – Ready for the Flood

There is so much that the hollow 6-string can reveal that its amplified counterpart cannot. Olseo and Louris, the masterminds behind the legendary alt-country group the Jayhawks, have been honing their craft for so long now, that this record full of jangly acoustic guitars and 2-part harmonies was the best idea they’ve had since Rainy Day Music. With Black Crowes Chris Robinson behind the boards, this allows the two to get to know each other again through the realm of songwriting, the thing they both know best. People will whine and complain they aren’t in their prime anymore, but this isn’t about reclaiming the glory days. This is about starting fresh, and Ready for the Flood provides many moments of clarity and delicacy that much of their earlier career never had.