Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My Favorites of 2011

These are my favorite albums of the past year. This is not a “Best of 2011” list. I claim no authority. I know I skipped over, missed out on, or under-appreciated a lot of records this year. And looking back on some of the more highly acclaimed music sites’ end of the year lists just remindeds me of how much catching up I still have to do. But that is not to say that I didnt get a lot out of this year- discovered new artists, fell in love with reincarnations of bands I’ve loved from the start, and felt more in touch with so many more records than I ever imagined I could in just 12 months.

Architecture in Helsinki - Moment Bends
From the first time I heard “Contact High” in my friend’s car before I even knew Architecture was releasing a new record, I was obsessed. I played the track for anyone who would listen, had it pretty much on repeat on my iPod for longer than I want to admit, and my anticipation for the record to come out was borderline hysterical. I’m only slightly exaggerating. And while Moment Bends is certainly a far stride from where the band started in the early 2000’s, it is no less valid and should be no less appreciated than their more abstract and dare I say less accessible records of years past.
Architecture In Helsinki - Contact High

Cut Copy - Zonoscope
While this record may not have a track that will ever replace in my heart songs like “Hearts on Fire,” “Time Stands Still,” and “Lights & Music,” (this list could go on...) I don’t think Cut/Copy can physically make music that I am not going to like. They just do it for me. An all-time favorite.
Cut Copy - Take Me Over

M83 - Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
Like the soundtrack to an epic movie. Each song connected to the one before it, flowing like a beautiful landscape of peaks and valleys. Possibly the best record to date from 30-year old Anthony Gonzales. Put on a pair of headphones for this one and get carried away to a dreamlike state or see it live and feel the energy pulse through you like a shot to the vein.
 M83 - Midnight City

Holy Ghost! - Holy Ghost!
Possibly my breakout record of the year (but will have to compete with MEN for that). They make killer remixes and dare I say an even more killer original album. Hook-filled electro pop with slamming beats and pronounced hint of disco. A staple on my exercise playlist.
Holy Ghost! - Do It Again

MEN - Talk About Body
The new project from Le Tigre’s JD Samson had my office headphones held hostage for about a month after I first got my hands on the record. Some really incredible stuff here. Political and fun at the same time. Party jams with serious attitude. Couldn't find this on Soundcloud, so I'm posting a video instead. You can thank me later.

Lo-Fi-Fnk - The Last Summer
Bubbly Swedish electro pop at it’s best. This record is the kind that slaps a smile on your face so hard it hurts. Danceable and charmingly sweet.
Lo-Fi-Fnk - Want U

Wild Flag - Romance
What is there that Carrie Brownstein can’t do? Did she not have her hands full creating and staring in Portlandia? Yet she has time to write a record and embark on a nation-wide tour? And I thank her much for that. Seeing Wild Flag at the 40 Watt this fall was a killer experience. Rock and roll! The raw power of the songs (and Brownstein’s relentless shredding) was felt throughout the whole room and it wasn’t a show that leaves you when you walk out the door. I still get pumped every time I put this record on the stereo.
WILD FLAG - Romance

St Vincent - Strange Mercy
This record is like a beautiful infection. Something that grows inside of you, even haunts you, but still maintains an eerie sense of flawlessness. “Surgeon” is one of the most gut wrenching and powerful songs I’ve heard to date and I simply can’t get enough.
St. Vincent - Surgeon

Mount Moriah - Mount Moriah
This neo-folk record from Heather McIntyre and Jenks Miller (both formerly of Un Deux Trois) finds a meeting ground between gothic and gospel with songs depicting the strain of lost relationships using traditional southern style delivery. McIntyre’s vocals dominate the record, resounding with pain and motifs that hit me close to home.
Mount Moriah - Lament

The Antlers - Burst Apart
While Burst Apart is a notably less depressing follow up to Hospice, the 2009 concept album from the Brookyln based trio, with tracks like “Putting the Dog to Sleep”, it would be a stretch to say frontman Peter Silberman is moving towards cheerful songwriting. My personal favorite is “I Don’t Want Love”. I’ll not explain why. The Antlers - I Don't Want Love

Also Awesome:
Is Tropical - Native To
Real Estate - Days
Toro y Moi - Underneath the Pine
EMA - Past Life Martyred Saints
Dum Dum Girls - Only In Dreams
Portugal. the Man. - In The Mountain, In The Cloud
Mates of State - Mountaintops
Cults - Cults
Bon Iver - Bon Iver
CSS - La Liberacion
Prophets & Kings - Prophets & Kings
Astronautalis - This Is Our Science
Destroyer - Kaputt
Yelle - Safari Disco Club
James Blake - James Blake
Bon Iver - Bon Iver
Washed Out - Within and Without

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