From gorgeous EPs to offbeat albums, music fans were treated with a wealth of terrific locally made music in 2009. While I didn’t get the chance to hear everything released, I heard most of it – and this is the best of the best.

- Tupelo: “Ups & Downs,” The Embrace

The indie rock band’s collection is easily some of the most beautiful music released this year. From the painfully honest “With a Wall” to the graceful lullaby “Sleep,” this is an unforgettable, near-flawless EP.

- Oxford: “West Coast,” Junk Culture

Ole Miss grad Deepak Mantena made an album that sounds like life in Oxford, literally – he mashed up everything from the sounds of Oxford traffic to samples of Estelle’s hit “American Boy.” This is one of the most original releases in quite a while.

- Tupelo: “Sides of the Soul,” John Milstead

If John Mayer had been raised in the land of Elvis and fed collard greens growing up, he still wouldn’t sound half as soulful as John Milstead does on his fiirst stellar record.

- Oxford: “The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele,” Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele

The best 35 minutes you’ll spend with a ukulele this year.

- Oxford: “...Not Just a Dirty Rumor,” Cory Taylor Cox

Cox’s quirky-but-sincere solo debut CD is a indie folk-pop gem.

- Oxford: “Strangers,” Avenue Hearts

Avenue Hearts’ Adrian Dickey slices open a vein for his debut CD, full of his brand of intimate Americana.

- Nettleton: “Capitalism,” Capital T

Capital T wowed rap fans with his first record, “Mouth of Madness,” and then did it again with his second disc. Just try to get these songs out of your head.

- Columbus: “The Motions,” The Motions

The guys in The Motions are still under 20, but they rock like veterans.

- Pontotoc: “Back to You,” So Be iT

So Be iT set out to do two things on its second CD: praise God and rock. The band accomplished both, in spades.

Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal

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