Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Musings on 2011 (So Far)

2011 has been an interesting year for music thus far. It's been a solid mix of let-downs, unheard-of blind sides and fulfilled prophecies. So, without any further delay, I'll offer my lists.

(in no particular order)

Destroyer - Kaputt
Tim and I are both in firm agreement on this one. Really just a fantastic record. And, one of the best shows of the year to boot.

tUnE-yArDs - w h o k i l l
I've got enough time on my hands to type it out. I'm a sucked for this stuff. Much like I loved Bitte Orca a couple years back, I'm really taken with this album. The rhythm and melodies are engrossing, and Merrill's voice is transcendent.

Motel Beds - Sunfried Dreams
Maybe the most consistently good album of the year. Nothing over the top mind-blowing; but there isn't a skippable song on it.

Fucked Up - David Comes to Life
The most ambitious album of the year. I'm not sure why it strikes such a chord with me, but this album pumps me up and engages me throughout.

Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
A solid continuation of their self-titled, this album is hard to challenge.

PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
I throw on this album at work and it goes unnoticed for a few tracks, and then people become fascinated and curious. It's a unique and enjoyable album without a great song to put it over the top.

Sic Alps - Napa Asylum
A solid effort with great attitude. There have been a lot of great lo-fi releases this year (The UV Race, Hospital Ships, Motel Beds), and I think this album is a definite stand-out.

Panda Bear - Tomboy
Really atmospheric and wonderful with a lot of stand-out tracks.

Woods - Sun & Shade
Great songs without cohesion.

Yuck - Yuck
My most listened to and most disappointing album of the year. Side A is unbelievable, but it loses momentum so hard on side B that the album as a whole becomes merely good.

Fell Short
Julianna Barwick - The Magic Place
So delicate that it commands no attention.

TV on the Radio - Nine Types of Light
Maybe this needs further analysis, but this seemed like a major let-down effort from a fantastic group.

Tyler, the Creator - Goblin
Talk about flash in the pan. Bastard killed and commanded respect. This album was bothersome in a lot of ways.

YACHT - Shangri-La
What a disappointing listening experience. And the skits. Why?

Tennis - Cape Dory
People love this record for some reason. I guess the whole 80s mining thing is becoming stale to me when it isn't done in any unique way.

Needs Further Examination:
Bon Iver - Bon Iver, Bon Iver
I liked this album a lot on first listen, because I love soft rock. On repeat listens it's losing a lot of its luster.

The Antlers - Burst Apart
Gave it a once-through and liked it; but I really loved Hospice, so I'll probably have to check this one out a few more times to fully grasp it.

Wye Oak - Civilian
I haven't heard this album yet, but from all of the covers and live video I've seen of Wye Oak this year, I am really optimistic.

Crystal Stilts - In Love With Oblivion
Hear great things.

Arctic Monkeys - Suck It and See
Hear great things.

What I've Been Listening To The Most:
Harry Nilsson
Going back through his entire catalog. Stunning stuff.

Randy Newman
Especially Sail Away. The 70s L.A. scene produced so many fantastic musicians.

Revisiting and reconnecting with their catalog.

Probably album of the year so far.

Side A of Yuck
Probably the best album side of the year so far.

Dirty Projectors
They're in the studio!

Cymbals Eat Guitars
I've really enjoyed their last album, and I'm optimistic.

The songs I've heard have been unbelievably good. This may end up being my album of the year when all's said and done.


First Half Albums of 2011

6 months has already pass in 2011. A good time to take stock and see where we are:

12 Favorite Albums (in somewhat decreasing order; fine, I'll # them...)
12. Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring For My Halo - another solid offering
11. Radiohead - The King of Limbs - their best since Amnesiac
10. Yuck - Yuck - the great rockers on this one make up for the occasional dud
9. Mars Classroom - New Theory of Everything - the best of the 4 Pollard releases (so far)
8. Tim Cohen - Magic Trick - lead singer of Fresh and Onlys delivers retro-tinged pop ditties
7. Motel Beds - Sunfried Dreams - such a fun, upbeat, out-of-nowhere record all the way through
6. The Caretaker - An Empty Bliss Beyond This World - one of the most unique and fascinating listens of the year
5. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues - love it already and only going to get better
4. Woods - Sun and Shade - contains some of their best songs; embracing the two extended jams is key
3. The Vaccines - What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? - I am as surprised as anybody that I love this record, but it just feels so easy and carefree
2. Hospital Ships - Lonely Twin - had a revelation today; so much going on with this record, I feel like I've only scraped the surface
1. Destroyer - Kaputt - still the best thing I've heard all year

10 Biggest Disappointments (disappointing in the sense that I really like(d) these bands but wasn't inspired to listen to them their albums more than a couple times each - if that)
10. James Blake - just can't get into it yet, not sure I'll ever be able to
9.  Papercuts - a couple really good tracks, but dull as a whole
8. Generationals - first song is so killer, the rest is just a let-down
7. Bill Callahan - I'll try again in the fall
6. Sonny Smith - he's gone too 50's for my taste
5. The Decemberists - almost time to stop paying attention to this band, save a couple songs here and there
4. Iron and Wine - don't even remember how this one sounded
3. Dodos - steady decline since their first album (as Dodo Bird)
2. Mountain Goats - only listened to it once, so many better MG albums to listen to
1. Smith Westerns - that one song had a good outro, but that's about it; what happened to these guys?

17 Albums That Didn't Hook Me Immediately But Probably Warrant More Listens Before Passing Judgment (random order)
* Bon Iver
* The Antlers
* Panda Bear
* Cass McCombs
* Gang Gang Dance
* Tune-Yards (I refuse to type it the stupid way)
* Peter, Bjorn, and John
* TV On The Radio
* The Wooden Birds
* Peaking Lights
* Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr
* Black Lips
* Toro y Moi
* Chad Vangaalen
* Okkervil River
* Times New Viking

What do you think?

- tk