I have no idea how some critics manage to put their year-end lists in descending order of importance. For this and many other reasons, I will likely never be employed by VH1, but that's fine by me. Generating a list of my top 10 favorite records of 2009 is no trouble; comparing Mastadon to David Bazan is significantly sketchier in my eyes. To that effect, I'll be going through my list and posting a bit about each selection between now and New Year's Day. First up: Murdering Oscar (And Other Love Songs) by Patterson Hood (Ruth St. Records).
Most of the 13 songs that make up the Drive-By Trucker frontman's second solo album were originally written in 1994, when Hood had first moved to Athens, Georgia. He recorded them on cassette via boombox, and gave them out to folks he met around town, but they never received full production or a proper release. He revisited those songs and wrote some new ones in 2004, during a period of downtime from the Truckers and during the last few months of his wife's pregnancy.
After his daughter was born, he entered the studio and began recording the material with help from producer David Barbe and several key guest players including Will Johnson from Centro-matic and his Hood's own father, David. The senior Hood is a veteran session musician himself; he added the gorgeous pedal steel that colors my favorite track from the album, "Pride of the Yankees". You can listen to the album version via the MP3 stream on Hood's website; a live clip of the song is after the jump.