I like Houston rap as much as the next guy. But sometimes a man enjoys Henroc out of a stryofoam cup instead of lean and sprite. Prodigy is home, and he is voting for Ron Paul like some sort of Q-Boro Vince Gallo. While I am not voting for Ron Paul this EP knocks.
Category Archives: 2011 Favorites
The biggest struggle when putting together this list is how to rank the albums. What exactly is the difference between a #1 and a #2 album? Without doubt, Viva Brother’s “Darling Buds of May” was the song I listened to the most in 2011 and the album it comes from is pretty damn good. But is it my favorite album as a whole? The Damnwells have consistently put out great material and I’m sure I listened to No One Listens to the Band Anymore more, front to back, than any album on the list but did I do that because it’s the best album of the year or because I know the guys personally and listening to them makes me happy?
So, I decided the best way to do it is to list the albums alphabetically, showing no favoritism and not being forced to rank anything. A few comebacks, a few previous favorites, a couple of new UK bands, some metal, some country, some hair metal. Pretty typical for me.
AA Bondy – Believers (Fat Possum)
Not as barebones as early solo material, not as scuzzy as his ‘90s alt-rock band Verbena, AA Bondy split the difference on this moody, late night listen.
Listen: “The Heart is Willing”
Anthrax – Worship Music (Megaforce)
The legendary NYC thrashers pick up where they left off the last time Joey Belladonna sang lead vocals (1990’s Persistence of Time) on 2011’s best (and most surprising considering some internal issues Anthrax had with short-timer vocalist Dan Nelson) metal album.
Listen: “In the End”
AWOLNATION – Megalithic Symphony (Red Bull Records)
I would never have checked out this band had my old friend Christopher Thorn (Blind Melon) not been playing guitar. A complete 180 from Blind Melon’s sound, AWOLNATION’s slickly-produced techno-soul-pop shows a wide range of diversity from one track to the next.
Listen: “Soul Wars”
Two thousand and eleven has been an odd year for me, and I think for music as well. Between acclimating to a completely different environment and being fully immersed in the music world, I foresaw a serious evolution and transformation of my music tastes prior to compiling my “Best of” lists. After the completion of said lists, it seems that not much has actually changed – not only in the last year, but the last five, when observing which names were included.
To be honest, it was quite difficult to decide on 10 full albums I really enjoyed listening to from start to finish. This could be the fault of BBC6 radio, and it’s persistent nature of turning an “OK” song into a real banger after playing it enough. It could also be the fault of so many let downs and gimmicks. Never in a single year have I looked forward to so many albums that panned out to be so disappointingly average. In a market so over saturated by bands trying to “out-cool” one another and being more conscious of what they wear than how well they play, it’s no wonder that some of names keep recurring year after year or that the best single tracks list was so much more enjoyable to assemble.
But this is it, I’ve done it. I’ve decided what 10 albums and 20 tracks have been the most enjoyable, the least pretentious and will hopefully be a memorable depiction of 2011 – five, ten and fifty years from now.
As for ranking, I must digress to the one brutal truth of end of year lists that my good friend Wes pointed out recently. Ranking is, in fact, arbitrary and simply a tool for building suspense in pinning down one’s judgement on any particular topic. So to avoid that (as you may not know who I am nor care about/for my taste in music), I’ve decided to post my lists chronologically. My hope is for you to have a listen to anything you’re not familiar with and ideally find something to enjoy. That’s why you’re here, right?
This year’s list of favorites is fairly sedate (even for me), with just a little ruckus here and there. Lots of morning-coffee music, which I guess says something about my 2011. But music’s strength is its pliability. It can be whatever you need it to be at the moment, especially when we have instant access to virtually any song ever recorded, often for free. Judging by this list, I needed music to be a salve more than a release valve this year.
I also never expected my favorite album to come from someone who held the spot previously, but the iTunes “most played” playlist doesn’t lie. It’s a divisive one, but people who like it really like it.
I picked 15 favorites and several honorable mentions, plus a Favorite Columbus Albums list below — separate but equal in enjoyment and quality. As usual, I limit my lists to albums, so some EPs and 7”s I liked (e.g. Envelope, Sundown, Malefactors of Great Wealth, Dolfish) aren’t listed.
That is all.
MP3: Grand Champion Steer
As Chip said about Wussy’s Chuck Cleaver, “One wouldn’t expect the heavily tattooed Cincinnati songwriter to produce his best collection of songs this late in his already highly-prolific career, but that’s exactly what he’s done.”
MP3: Come to the City
I’ve never been a Tom Waits fanboy, but this record grabbed me and didn’t let go. Continue reading
Metallica and the cartoon named Lou Reed collaborating in what boiled down to the joke of the year.
Let me be your guide on ill shit. Ditch the beard and drop out of your burrito metal band.
No order. Follow my orders and cop. You’re welcome. Continue reading
What a great, interesting year for music consumption. Spotify gave me the ability to discover tons of new music and keep up with the current scene, while iTunes Match allowed me to rediscover music that was collecting dust on my disconnected external hard drive.
My favorite albums of 2011 are filled with the usual suspects that I’ve come to love over the years (Wilco, The Decemberists), but this year, more than ever, are a bunch of bands that are completely new to me. Here’s a list, complete with MP3s, streams, videos, and whatever relevant links I could put together.
Bonus: Spotify playlist featuring all of the albums plus a few others that didn’t make the top 10 cut.