Saturday, December 24, 2011

My Favorite Music 2011

I find it nigh impossible to write about music, and although I don't suffer from the misconception that anyone in the rest of the world cares what my favorite music was this year, the truth is I love reading other people's lists. It means I should spend time with something, it means the chance of--sniff--sharing. So in the spirit of sharing, not narcissism, I offer my favorite music of 2011. BTW, it's friggin hard narrowing down a list to something manageable. With limited exceptions, the order below is arbitrary.

1. Cut Copy – Zonoscope. 

Push comes to shove, my favorite band. As should be apparent from most of these albums, I’m a sucker for the dancey electronic stuff, and these guys seem like the U2s of it. That is, I can imagine this stuff filling arenas and not just clubs or bedrooms. Listened to this more than anything else this year, I’m sure. They’re the (my) INXS of the 2010s--forget the U2 comparison. I'd never seen the video below before, but it looks sort of like if David Lynch ripped his own Obsession ads off in order to make one for Nike.

2. Little Dragon - Ritual Union.

Really solid album through and through. Gotta kinda smooth, funky Prince feel but cold--they're Swedish, after all. Great guest appearance on SBTRKT record, too. As the video below proves, they do this stuff live. Nice fashion sense as well.

3. Tycho - Dive.

Discovered late this fall, but I feel confident in keeping it on my list. This is the sort of intricate electronic music you can listen to as closely (or not) as you like, and hear lots going on. Really listenable, but stays fresh--fresher, in my opinion than Washed Out. Which I do like.

4. Shabazz Palaces - Black Up. 

I've always thought Digable Planets were underrated, particularly their Blowout Comb album. This is a comback of sorts. Again, actually interesting to listen to--as opposed to, say Watch the Throne. Which has its undeniable charms, so long as you don't care to listen closely or hope to hear anything new. was on my list...but push come to shove, I think I've heard it before. Not this. Enough talk about Watch the Throne. Stream Black Up in its entirety below.

5. Ford & Lopatin - Channel Pressure. 

80s inflected electronic. Just listen.

6. SBTRKT - SBTRKT & Step in Shadows. 

It's pronounced "subtract". Once I could wrap my head around that, quickly fell for this fast DJ, eletronic stuff. Maybe it's the mask, but I often think of Soul II Soul when I listen to this.

7. Metronomy - The English Riviera. 

Did you catch that album title? I like it. Watch and listen to the video below. You will know within 5-10 seconds whether you like this band.

8. The War on Drugs - Slave Ambient. 

Rock-n-roll 2011. The lead singer’s voice has got a weird Dylan thing going on every now and then. Come to think of it, I think I hear Marshall Crenshaw in his voice. Marshall Crenshaw? WTF? They sound lots better on the album than in this clip.


9. Peter, Bjorn & John – Gimme Some. 

There’s no “Young Folks” on this album, but such a song only comes around once in the lifetime of about a thousand bands. I think this is their best overall album—the most consistently pleasing, at least.

10. Phantogram - Eyelid Movies. 

Again, electronicky rock that doesn't get old. Check out "Running from the Cops."


Atlas Sound – Parallax. Came out too late and listened to too little to put on the list. But Bradford Cox will always have a spot somewhere on my year-end list.
Black Keys - El Camino. Just doing my part to continue the Black Key’s media blitz and adding some rock to my list. This is an instant pleaser. You don’t like the Black Keys? What’s wrong with you?
Gus Gus – Arabian Horse. The Icelandic electronic act that just keeps going. Put this on and go about your business. You’ll feel better about whatever it is you’re doing.
Wugazi. Has this DJ marketed a “This is not a Wu-Tang Clan/Fugazi shirt?” Because he should. Get this album: it’s free and it’s great.
Washed Out – Within and Without. Previous album put me to sleep. Not so this one.
Beastie Boys. When this first came out, I listened to it a whole, whole lot. Not so much since then. But I still think it’s their best since Ill Communication. And more so than anything else, this one probably falls victim to the Woody Allen syndrome on end-of-year lists.
Foster the People. Horrendous performance on SNL. Dude should not try to dance or be a rock star. But I like the album, not just the one track that got them on SNL and the radio play. Really stupid lyrics, most of the time.
Also, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Cults, New Division.
Someone I can appreciate but that just didn’t make the top ten: James Blake.
Someone I just don’t like: Bon Iver.
Stuff I’m immediately going to listen to after looking at all the other lists: Kendrick Lamar – Section.80, Wild Flag – Wild Flag.