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?
PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
MP3: Let England Shake
Secret Cities – Strange Hearts
MP3 – Always Friends
Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
MP3 – The Shrine / An Argument
Posted in 2011 Favorites
Tagged Amor De Dias, Atlas Sound, BBC6, Beirut, Bill Callahan, Bon Iver, DJ Shadow, Eleanor Friedberger, Fleet Foxes, Girls, Laura Marling, Let's Wrestle, little dragon, Metronomy, Michael Kiwanuka, NZCA/Lines, PJ Harvey, Race Horses, Real Estate, Secret Cities, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, The Black Keys, The War on Drugs, tune-yards, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Wild Beasts
MP3: Let’s Wrestle – Dear John
While the indie/DIY scene continues to over saturate itself day after day with “really cool bands”, I can’t help but feel that most of these bands are missing the point. These days you can be hard pressed to find artists putting more effort into the quality of their music than their general aesthetic.
Thankfully, gems like London-based Let’s Wrestle (vocalist/guitarist Wesley Patrick Gonzalez, bassist Sam Pillay and drummer Darkus Bishop) shine through all the flimflammery and leave you with charming, unpretentious rock.
Upping the ante since their first full-length in 2009, In the Court of the Wrestling Let’s, the trio recorded their sophomore album with Steve Albini at Electrical Audio. Nursing Home was released last month on Merge.
I caught up with Wes last week to find out more about the band and their experience with Albini.
Wikipedia tells me (and genuine sources confirm) critics have compared you to The Fall and early Wedding Present. While I’m sure it’s partially because they must be influences of yours, how do you feel about comparisons like this when you read about bands?
I think these are reviews of early singles or something before the 1st album. People haven’t really said this much recently. I will analyze each reference way too much. For instance, with those two Mark Smith can’t sing. I think I can. the guitar sounds on early Fall records are really cool but I don’t think my guitar playing is like that and they also may be talking about the last Fall album which would be horrible. As for being compared to The Wedding Present, I don’t like them I think they are lacking songs. I don’t give a shit about how we sound. I mainly want people to acknowledge that it is pop music.