Monday, December 12, 2011

Best of

This is the year that I really started to feel a bit old when it comes to music.  Like it was an effort to keep on top of things.  Like the kids are listening to bands I've never heard of.  I don't really like that. 

Songs (that didn't have albums to match)

Wugazi - Sleep Rules Everything Around Me

When I first heard about the Wugazi album I just freaked right out.  I had higher expectations, as a whole.  Sleep Rules Everything Around Me shows the promise of this concept.

Yacht - Shangri-La
This is my favourite song of 2011.  It reminds me of the slow jams that I listened to throughout my childhood.  Radio NL, the greatest hits of all time.  It's a bit Afternoon Delightish.  Just an extremely catchy and beautiful song.

Albums (the obvious ones)

Panda Bear - Tomboy and Atlas Sound - Parallax

I listened to both of these a lot.  See?  Obvious.

Albums (the less obvious ones)

Louis CK - Hilarious
Did this even come out this year?  I really enjoyed this album as it made me think about a few things for a few hours afterwards.  I can't really remember what they were, but it really resonated at the time.

Fucked Up - David Comes to Life
I remember trying to explain to somebody a few years ago that a great album can be created in just a few moments.  The 5 seconds in the middle of a song that make you want to listen to the whole album.  Of course, you need an album to support those 5 seconds.  Without the album, you're just going to yell at BTO to get "workin' overtime".  To dig way into the past, I think the Unicorns were a band that really captured these moments.  The Fiery Furnaces as well.  This album, while not quite on that level, does a spectacular job of capturing moments and sprinkling them throughout.

Wu Lyf - Go Tell Fire to the Mountain
This is really the only thing this year that came out of nowhere (well...Pitchfork) and got me really excited.  I honestly didn't know what language they were speaking the first time I heard it.  I was worried that the live show was going to bring the whole thing crashing down but it actually made everything better (although I've only listened to the album once since then).

See what I was saying at the top?  That's a pretty sad list right there.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

THE BEST!! of 2011

Okay Dave, for posterity's sake, a top five:

- Thee Oh Sees, Castlemania. I played the hell out of this record all summer. Their double EP in November was icing on the cake. San Francisco garage rock had a big year, and even though Ty Segall gets most of the accolades, these guys are probably what he puts on when he's microwaving burritos.

- Ty Segall, Goodbye Bread. But then again Ty deserves some accolades.

- Girls, Father Son Holy Ghost. So I should just to move to San Francisco? But this album—-unassailable. On every point.

- The Psychic Paramount, II. Oh hi there post rock. Where you been? It's like when Megatron sort of died but then came back as Galvatron, bigger and more unhinged. Sure he was still just a handgun, so a little one dimensional, but he was a pretty kickass handgun.

- Wugazi, 13 Chambers. Mashups are a tired gimmick? Yes. This album is still impossible to turn off? Also yes.

(I should mention that this isn't really a “best of” so much as a “I liked this and played it a lot.” There is a difference. I also liked new albums by old favourites (Wire, Deerhoof, Feelies) well enough, and got pretty enthusiastic about old favourites with new/newish names (Wild Flag, Obits), and a little less but still enthusiastic about new (to me) bands with new (to me) names (Iceage, Trash Talk); I heard a bunch of indie (or easy listening?) bands mostly stick to formula, which is fine when the formula's okay (Antlers, Radiohead, Lykke Li, Gang Gang Dance, Cults, Atlas Sound, Panda Bear, Wilco), but disappointing when the formula didn't used to be quite so easy listening (The Rapture, TV on the Radio); I listened to a bunch of hip hop I found either too predictable (Lil B, Jay-Z/Kanye) or else pretty interesting, but missing the mark for some reason or another (Tyler the Creator, Death Grips, Das Racist, Danny Brown); I tried to like some American (ie. “false”) black metal, but failed (Wolves in the Throne Room, Liturgy); I tried not to like some NPR-approved singer songwriters, but failed again (Tom Waits, Sam Phillips, Bill Callahan); I spun some overrated genre exercises (Washed Out, Destroyer), and an underrated one (Dirtbombs), and some that were highly rated and deserved it (Tune-Yards, James Blake); I smiled at some competent rehashing of 80s electropop (Handsome Furs, HTRK, Drive sountrack, Gotye, Ladytron, M83). And I found myself surprisingly unconflicted about cheering for Lady Gaga, even though I only listened to her album once, if that. But she took a brave and genuinely compelling stand against homophobia in the year it was supposed to get better but didn't. I'm disappointed that her Shania track “You and I” wasn't picked up by country radio. But she made a lot of people a shit ton of money this year, so maybe try try again, and eventually the bible belt will erupt into one giant John Waters freakathon.