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Recomendar

Jan 2 2012, 5h35

I liked a ton of stuff this year, thus the long list. 30 albums could
have been in the top 10. Then again, I like the top 10 so much I'm
not too torn about the choices either...


1. Kathryn Calder - Bright and Vivid

I've been in love with her music/voice ever since hearing Immaculate
Machine's song "Jarhand" about 5 years ago. Herfirst solo album, "Are You My
Mother?" took me completely by surprise last year. I wasn't even sure she
wrote any of the Immaculate Machine songs. Turns out she must have,
because this woman can write a song. And sing. Her last album was one
of my favorite records of 2010, so I had high expectations for the new one.
On the surface, this album is a big departure from last year's, which had a fit pretty
solidly in the folk-rock realm. It was recorded in her mother's living room
while her mother was sick and dying, and that shows in the songs.
This one has the same tuneful songwriting and interesting (if not
always clear in meaning) lyrics, and seems to deal more with death
than her first album. The big change is that the songs are awash in
all kinds of electronic experimentation. On paper, that sounds like a
problem. Why cover up great songs with noises? But somehow it is not
overdone in the least to these ears. The sounds are organic, and any
electronics only adds to the songs. They're interesting as hell to
listen to, and I find new, cool sounds every time. But underneath it
all are the songs, which are excellent throughout, and without solidly
excellent songs, well, it just wouldn't work. This isn't The Matrix
producing. It's just some noise experimentation (much more on some
songs than others) that makes this batch of excellent songs more
interesting and fun and...just better. In sum, I love this record.
Calder is growing, changing, experimenting. That is all good.

Incidentally, this was also recorded in a living room. In the
apartment above the living room where she recorded "Are You My
Mother?" where she now lives. So the living room vibe lives on...


2. Wild Flag - Wild Flag

I loved Sleater-Kinney. I loved Corin Tucker's album last year. I've
been waiting to hear Carrie Brownstein for 5-6 years now, wondering
and hoping she'd get back to making music after the break-up of
Sleater-Kinney. This woman is a guitar god, and she teamed up with
another in Mary Timony. So we've got the guitar riffs and melodies
covered. Former S-K drummer Janet Weiss is also in the band, and she
is a phenomenal drummer. Along with keyboardist Rebecca Cole, they
form a hell of a rhythm section. So what we have here are a bunch of
songs that rock and are played with abandon. Love it!


3. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake

I've dabbled in her music and liked what I've heard, but this is the
first PJ Harvey album I've really sunk my teeth into. (I will be
re-visiting her catalog very soon.) This is basically an album about
England and war. I think I read that it's supposed to be about WWI,
but I am not sure that really matters, since war is war is war, and
the same shit applies to them all. There's nothing so specific that
it rules out this being about Iraq, but it could indeed be about any
war at any time. There is some troubling imagery about limbs in trees
(these were in some old poems as well) and such, which helps make
these songs powerful. The tunes help as well. For most of the year
this was going to be my #1, but Calder and Wild Flag blew me away.
I've been listening to this thing repeatedly since it came out
(April?) and have only grown to love it more. Powerful stuff.


4. Tom Waits - Bad As Me

Best Waits since Bone Machine, I say. This one has better brawlers
and bawlers than I've heard from Tom Waits in a long time. (And
that's saying a lot, since his recent stuff has been very good.) No
one but Waits can sing about the Rolling Stones without losing all
credibility. But Tom Waits just can. convinces you. Hell, yes, I'm
gonna find satisfaction. Before I'm gone! How he's still putting
out such quality stuff 40 years into his career baffles me. As much
as I love his 70s barfly stuff, he has remained vital and interesting
by moving away from that, which began with Heartattack and Vine or
Swordfishtrombones in the early 80s (arguable which was the start of
the shift...) and has been a great ride ever since.


5. David Kilgour & The Heavy Eights - Left By Soft

Kiwi guitar goodness. This guy is on a roll. The last album by his
band The Clean was awesome. So is this. Did I mention guitars?
Jangly, awesome guitars. Yet no wankery. Every note serves the
songs. And all the songs are great. New Zealand is a good place. I
know that because of the music.



6. Title Tracks - In Blank

Eleven exceptional power-pop songs that I listened to all year and
never tired of... Quite the contrary. Tunes and guitars with neither
bell nor whistle in earshot. Just great songs.


7. Chang-a-lang - No Clean Rock and Roll

I know very little about this band... They're from Canada, it's a man
and a woman both singing and playing guitar/bass, and a drummer.
Endlessly enjoyable power pop goodness with a nice edge. An EP they
put out last year was also awesome.


8. Gold-Bears - Are You Falling in Love?

Another band I heard of, purchased, and just enjoyed the hell out of
this year while knowing very little about them. It's a little bit
twee, I suppose. But I love the sound, and all the songs are
consistently great. That's important for an "album."


9. Mind Spiders - Mind Spiders

This is the main guy behind the Texas punk band Marked Men. I like(d)
that band quite a bit, but these songs are more varied and
interesting, yet don't stray far from the punk aesthetic. Lotta power
chords, and some great organ thrown in. A slow song. But mostly fast
songs.


10. The Feelies - Here Before

I never *loved* this band but always really liked their stuff. This
new one sucked me in, though. It's slightly mellower than their late
70s/80s albums, and I've heard some complaints about that from fans.
Works for me, though. Guitars!!! Jangly guitars!!!! Can't get
enough of those. (See David Kilgour...)



11-30: At various points during 2011 I was sure each of these would be
in my top 10. Stupid math...

11. Fucked Up - David Comes To Life
12. Sleepy Kitty - Infinity City

No particular order on the rest:

Sonny & The Sunsets - Hit After Hit
La Sera - La Sera
Mike Watt & The Missingmen - Hyphenated-Man
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - Belong
The Vaccines - What Did You Expect From the Vaccines?
British Sea Power - Valhalla Dancehall
The Babies - The Babies
The Decemberists - The King is Dead
Wussy - Strawberry
The Capstan Shafts - Kind Empires
Dum Dum Girls - Only in Dreams
Destroyer - Kaputt
Centro-matic - Candidate Waltz
Pettybone - From Desperate Times Come Radical Minds
Vivian Girls - Share the Joy
Mannequin Men - Mannequin Men
JEFF the Brotherhood - We Are the Champions
Deloro - Deloro


EPs I loved:

Alabama Shakes - Alabama Shakes
Biters - All Chewed Up
Preacher Roe - Diner Booth
Prime 8s - Prime 8s (Boyracer on drums)
Tricia Yates Fanclub - Tricia Yates Fanclub (Boyracer's new band)
Reigning Sound - Abdication...For Your Love
Archers - Eggy Tape
Cristina Bautista - Gold Parts
The Heavenly States - Oui Camera Oui
Colleen Green - Cujo and Green One (can't wait for a full-length)
Pujol - Nasty, Brutish, and Short


Needed more time with these, but like what I'm hearing quite a bit:

Bry Webb - Provider
The Bats - Free All the Monsters
Roger Bryan and the Orphans - 37
Joe Henry - Reverie
Deer Tick - Divine Providence
Eleanor Friedberger - Last Summer
Obits - Moody, Standard, and Poor
Bad Sports - Kings of the Weekend
Wye Oak - Civilian


And here's to a 2012 even remotely as musically interesting as 2011...


THE COMP

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=EQ7SOVQ0

01 The Feelies - Nobody Knows
02 Wild Flag - Romance
03 Kathryn Calder - Who Are You?
04 The Vaccines - If You Wanna
05 PJ Harvey - The Last Living Rose
06 Fucked Up - Running on Nothing
07 In Good Company - Harmony's Double
08 Gold-Bears - East Station Attendant
09 David Kilgour & the Heavy Eights - Way Down Here
10 Sleepy Kitty - Dykula
11 Biters - Otherside
12 Chang-A-Lang - Save the Environment
13 The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - Girl of 1,000 Dreams
14 Tom Waits - Last Leaf
15 The Decemberists - January Hymn
16 Deloro - Joy Joy
17 Title Tracks - No Air
18 Mike Watt & the Missingmen - Hollowed-Out-Man
19 Mind Spiders - Going Away Tonight
20 PJ Harvey - In the Dark Places
21 La Sera - Left This World
22 Sonny & the Sunsets - Home and Exile
23 British Sea Power - Observe the Skies
24 Wild Flag - Electric Band
25 Kathryn Calder - Younger Than We've Ever Been


And since the year-end comp I make needs to fit on a CD for my wife, I made
a Spotify playlist with some different choices and extra songs in case anyone wants to listen:

http://open.spotify.com/user/drylightning/playlist/6BdQpI1WbtgcC4VOjuBE7K

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