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  • My Musical Top List of 2011

    Dez 20 2011, 5h24

    My Top Ten Albums of 2011

    1. Bon Iver- Bon Iver
    No other album has made me look and listen to music differently this year than this album. This album is haunting, gorgeous, and most of all brilliant. From the first guitar lick that seems to have appeared from behind a mountain, to the true magic of “Holocene” this album is a work of art. Justin Vernon (who essentially is Bon Iver), took the ideas he laid down in the first album and made them bigger. Expansive to say the least. Honestly, even if he never tops this album, I wouldn’t blame him.
    Key Tracks: Holocene, Perth.

    2. Suck It and See- Arctic Monkeys
    The Arctic Monkeys have been through a lot of changes since they began/exploded on the music scene. One thing however, has always stayed the same. The lyrics are always witty, and absolutely fantastic. The music, always moving and interesting. Truly a good modern band to show all the people that believe rock and roll is dead, that they are dead wrong. This is very grown up for the Arctic Monkeys (after the fast punky quick talking first two albums, then to the dark mysterious lo-fi of “Humbug”). This is a greatly crafted album, and has been on my play list since it came out.
    Key Tracks: Piledriver Waltz, She’s Thunderstorms.

    3. El Camino- The Black Keys
    I’ve been a fan of the Keys since slightly before “Attack and Release” was released. I’ve also been a huge Danger Mouse fan since “Demon Days (Gorillaz).” After really opening their minds to writing catchier songs, they then showed off the new writing craft in “Brothers.” Back with the Mouse they’re open to being larger, and slightly goofier. This IS their best album, but for some reason can’t beat my love of “Brothers”. The point is this album is exactly what the world wanted, and the Keys and the Mouse delivered.
    Key Tracks: Lonely Boy, Little Black Submarines.

    4. So Beautiful Or So What- Paul Simon
    Paul Simon is rock and roll history. He is an amazing musician. Most importantly, he’s a master of the written word. This album brought back the worlds faith of how good at song writing he really is. When you learn what Rewrite is really about (explained in the song section below) you shiver and the light bulb goes off to his brilliance. I’ve very biased and especially picking my favorite things from this year, you’re only going to get praise. But out of all of these albums and artists, you’ll never hear me say a single bad thing about Mr. Simon.
    Key Tracks: Rewrite, So Beautiful Or So What.

    5. Watch The Throne- The Throne (Jay Z and Kanye West)
    This album has made most music critics list, and for good reason. When two of the biggest names in popular music comes together, the album (flop or not) is going to be huge. But it isn’t a flop. Everything about this album is to the extreme and in a good way. Production itself makes this album for me, everything else is just a bonus. The two rappers are on their game, Jay is the older wise man about to have a kid and reflecting at what he’s learned. Kanye is still in his maturing stage since his mother’s passing (which help craft the AMAZING “Dark Twisted Fantasy” album). This album brings up tough subjects, and also has some songs that are lighter and goofy. This is one of the few albums that “Bros and Indies” can both listen to and enjoy.
    Key Tracks: No Church In The Wild, Ni**gas In Paris

    6. Mirror Traffic- Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks
    I love Pavement, they’re one of my favorite bands. Stephen Malkmus’s post Pavement solo stuff (not really solo as his backing band is called The Jicks), is enjoyable but at the end of the day not what I wanted to hear. This album changes that. Recorded right before the Pavement reunion tour, this is the most pavement like album. So many moments of not knowing what he’s talking about, but understanding it and loving it anyway makes me feel the Pavement like lyrics. These are great pop songs, and even if it’s just a hint of Pavement, I’ll jump on it.
    Key Tracks: Tigers, Senator.

    7. The King Of Limbs- Radiohead
    I’m not going to go into too much detail of why I love this album. My favorite Radiohead album is “Kid A”, so my choice in this album should be self explanatory. This album is another piece of art, and another reason to love Radiohead as an important band in modern pop musical history. This album at the end of the day is the ideas put together in “Kid A”, with the production and ideas created during “In Rainbows.” Bravo, Yorke and friends, bravo.
    Key Tracks: Lotus Flower, Morning Mr. Magpie

    8. Sky Full Of Holes- Fountains Of Wayne
    If you don’t like pop music, you won’t like this album. Fountains Of Wayne are kings of writing storytelling pop music, and I love it. The lyrics are a big part of taking what would be a normal power pop song, and turing it into more than that. This album especially, is dark for them. Which is an interesting, and gorgeously pursued idea. For a band only known for one hit about a MILF, they sure are a damn good band.
    Key Tracks: Richie and Ruben, The Summer Place

    9. What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?- The Vaccines
    The Vaccines do sound like every other band like them. A little dark, a little dance, very punky and choruses are king. However, for some reason I see a lot of individuality in them. This band isn’t trying to be anything other than a pop punk band (think Arctic Monkeys not blink-182 when I use that term). This band WAS over hyped by NME (surprise, surprise, right?) but after seeing them live I can happily say they’re a good band. With their new song “Tiger Blood” produced by Albert from the The Strokes (surprise, surprise, right?), they take their musical abilities to another level and that single is also worth a listen. I can’t wait to see what they do next.
    Key Tracks: Post Break- Up Sex, Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)

    10. Rome- Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi
    As stated earlier, I have a man crush on Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse. Waiting for this album seemed to go on forever (especially after hearing Jack White would be on it). When it came out I was content with what I heard. It wasn’t Danger Mouse’s best, but he didn’t take a step back either. It’s a good album, but it can’t be anything more than that. The songs with Jack White, and Norah Jones (the songs they sing on are the only songs with lyrics) make the album, and help you get through the instrumentals (which are enjoyable if you’re just relaxing but aren’t good to play at parties, trust me). Danger Mouse actually writes the lyrics to the Norah Jones songs, which give me an even larger erection. Jack White holds his own lyrically and adds the Rome-ness to Rome. It’s a soundtrack to a movie that isn’t real, and Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi did a great job with that concept.
    Key Tracks: Two Against One, Seasons Trees.


    My Top 10 Songs Of 2011

    1. Holocene- Bon Iver
    Justin Vernon saved music with this song. A huge statement, but I stand behind it. It’s as if Justin took a picture of a time and a location that is frozen in time. You see the world, and the people in this scene. You understand their pain, their dreams. You see the sun rise, and the sun set on the nature around you the sun seems to surround you in. It’s as if you’re standing on a hill looking down at the world below. “I can see for Miles, Miles, Miles.” That line haunts this song, in an amazing way. As if you’re looking out at the horizon as the sun begins to set and the wind slightly blows. I believe in the future this song will be more than just “a song that made a few critics top lists of 2011” and become an anthem for a time and place of Folk/Indie music.

    2. Under The Cover Of Darkness- The Strokes
    Whether you liked “Angles” is irrelevant, this song is amazing. This song was a glimpse that The Strokes were truly back and in a big way. Before Angles come out we all believe the album would be as strong as this song. Even though this song tricked us, it still gave us that feeling that old Strokes songs use to. For a minute, we felt “Is This It” would happen again. With this song, we can still hope they can do it again. With Julian back at the helms of writing the music as well, hopefully this song wasn’t just a fluke in an other wise boring album (I still enjoy the album and there are strong songs, but Angles as a whole is the weakest Stroke album).

    3. Piledriver Waltz- Arctic Monkeys
    I’m going to sum this up as easily as I can. Alex Turner’s lyrics + Matt Helms’s drumming + overall greatest of the mature “Suck it and See” vibe= A great pop song.

    4. Lonely Boy- The Black Keys
    From second one, I heard that intro I felt the new direction of speed the Black Keys began to dabble in. They added speed but kept their feel, the great blues influenced lyrics, and the howling vocals. We all felt as the character, that idea of waiting for this love. At the end of the day, it’s just a damn good song.

    5. Rewrite- Paul Simon
    Paul Simon got me. He made me think this song was just about an old man rewriting a novel he has been working on. After a few listens you realize this song is much darker, and deeper. A Vietnam veteran whom hurt his family, and longs to rewrite his life. Musically this song is very rich, and has all the components of a great Paul Simon song. It’s funky, light, airy, and has whistling. At 70 years old, he’s still got it. Not many people that have been around as long as him keep writing new material, or keep writing GOOD material. He is the exception, and very much so.

    6. Otis- Watch The Throne
    The two of the biggest names in pop music gave us a taste with “H.A.M.” and got mixed reviews. They then put out “Otis” and the music world was set on fire. It was great, a great tune and foreshadow what would be a great album. Both of the rappers hold their own, and the sampling from Mr. Otis Redding himself makes the song that much more strong. It’s Hip Hop, not rap music. It’s talent, not a drum machine and one synth. The best line personally is when Kanye claims that writing Jesus Walks means he won’t go to hell. Sophisticated ignorance at its strongest.

    7. After Midnight- blink-182
    After putting up with bad side projects (I’m looking at you Angels and Airwaves), and constant recording deadlines pushed back many old school blink fans lost hope in a band they use to have faith in. The album “Neighborhoods” dropped to mixed reviews (I personally was not a fan myself). However, this song is a dramatic and fantastic pop song that makes you believe they still know what used to make them great and they still have it in them. It has the hooks, it has the chorus that puts it all together, it has the constant bass, the pushing power chords, and the punishing drums. It’s blink-182 as 40 years olds trying out the old formula and seeing that it still works. Too bad they didn’t do it for the whole album.

    8. Lotus Flower- Radiohead
    This is Radiohead doing what they do best. A “sweet” beat, strong atmospheric hooks, and most importantly, Thom Yorke. You are carried through this song, this song has been heard by Radiohead fans for years, and when it is finally recorded it has been perfected.

    9. Seasons Trees- Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi (With Norah Jones)
    This song always gets to me. It’s sweeping, and you can only imagine what point in the “movie” this song would be in. It’s mysterious and well written lyrically. Danger Mouse himself wrote the lyrics (one of first times since he’s always pairing up with strong lyric writers like Cee Lo, or James Mercer) and it comes out great. Norah Jones holds this song together strongly and makes it a great pop song.

    10. Pumped Up Kicks- Foster The People
    Whether you like this song or not, you can’t escape it. Starting out as a pop dance indie rock band, this song put them on just about every radio station. For the first time since Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” soccer moms, hipsters, jocks, and nerds all could listen to this song. The best part is really listening to the fact it’s about a young boy shooting people at recess. Maybe it’s the disturbing issue being held by such poppy music that makes it ok to enjoy.

    Top Two Reissues of 2011

    1. Smile Sessions- The Beach Boys
    The album that never was, is released. You get to hear Brian Wilson at one of his greatest peaks, you hear an album try and be constructed by a man being drowned in his own madness and perfectionism. Yet, it’s always warm, everything in this album is light and bright. It’s as if these sessions have been waiting to be heard, waiting for people who would truly appreciate it for what it
    is, an unfinished album. I know I did.

    2. Nevermind 20th Anniversary Edition- Nirvana
    Nevermind was one of the first albums I ever fell in love with. In fact the copy I own has so many scratches it’s a miracle it reads at all. This reissue has everything you’d want. Some B-sides, some live tracks, and most importantly, the original mix. Butch Vig did a hell of a job with the original mix, before the record company forced it to be glossy. Like the “Smile Sessions,” the original mix has been in waiting for a long time to finally be heard by people who WANT to hear it. For the people (like me) who think the raw-ness of “In Utero” makes (“In Utero”) it a better album. Kurt Cobain, would be proud of what he’s done I think. He was a tortured soul, and he wrote great music. This album deserves the celebration it’s getting.

    Top Greatest Hits Collection Of 2011
    1. The Singles Collection 2001-2011- Gorillaz
    If you know me, you know the Gorillaz are my favorite band. They’re not critically acclaimed, or (only time can really tell) very influential. However, they were the first band I ever fell in love with (at the age of 8) and this collection is more of a memoir than a great hits collection. With many of these songs I have stories, feelings, and moments. I have learned all the lyrics, and music to most of these songs. I remember being little and hearing the “F word” in the “Clint Eastwood” rap and getting all giddy that I heard a swear. I remember seeing “Feel Good Inc.’s” music video on “Yahoo Music” when it premiered and loving every minute of it. Going on the Gorillaz.com website and search all over Kong Studios. Gorillaz were MY first band, and my feelings for them will never change. However, as I grow older and with the impending future of the Gorillaz always mysterious, I learned to enjoy Damon Albarn more and more out of the Gorillaz name. Though I’m sure many fans would have chosen different songs for the greatest hits, this is entirely based on what they put out as singles (if I had made the track list :Donacamatic” would have never made it, not EVER. How it beat “Rhinestone Eyes “off the listing is beyond me). You progress through the tracking listing and really get a feel for how the band has changed over time. It ends with the “19-2000 Soulchild Remix” which is one of the few remixes as good as the original. It shows Damon Albarn is a great pop music writer, even as a bunch of cartoons.