Sunday, December 11, 2011

Best of 2011

It's time again to pause, reflect and remember what we enjoyed listening to the most this year. My friend and co-blogger Fletcher again introduced me to terrific new bands, including Dawes, and Wye Oak, I also enjoyed new music from bands I've enjoyed for years, and I have a new band to introduce, Girls, that I think is terrific. In my 2010 post I mentioned that I was looking forward to new Decemberist and Damnwells albums. Both made it to my top 10 list this year.

Here's my list of my favorite albums of the year. Fletcher's post and list follows mine. Fletcher and I would love to see your comments, both pro and con, about our lists and we invite you to share your favorite music for 2011 in the comments section.

Top Albums of the Year (alphabetical by band)

The Damnwells, No One Listens to the Band Anymore-- This is one of my favorite bands. Alex Dezen's songwriting just continues to improve. Alex recently received an MFA from the University of Iowa and the results can be heard in his writing.
Dawes, Nothing is Wrong--Thank you Fletcher! What a treasure.
The Decemberists, The King is Dead-- Another unexpected and wonderful musical turn from this band. They prove time and time again that they can play any style of music. This album came out last January and still made my top ten. That says a lot!
Deer Tick, Divine Providence--Young, wild, innocently (or not so innocently) Dyonesian. This band has an incredibly high energy. Their music is terrific for working out.
Destroyer - Kaputt-- I love the tapestry of sounds on this album. One can hear a venerable smorgasbord of diverse forms of jazz and rock influencing the songwriting and performing on this album.
Drive By Truckers, Go-Go Boots-- More terrific stories from DBT. Sadly, I just learned that Shonna Tucker is leaving the band. I wish both her and the band the best as they move on.
Girls, Father, Son, Holy Ghost-- I love listening to this San Francisco band as they create a new sound from various vintage rock sources.
Tedeschi Trucks Band, Revelator-- I reviewed this amazing band earlier this year. I've enjoyed this album numerous times.
Wilco, The Whole Love-- Great songwriting returns, the band members are performing as rock-n-roll virtuosos, and the band is incredibly tight. Note: This has also been a terrific year for guitarist Nels Cline and Drummer Glenn Kotche. Nels Cline has rightfully claimed his place among Rolling Stone's top 100 guitarists of all time and Glenn Kotche was featured playing amazing original compositions on a Radiolab concert.
Wye Oak, Civilian-- Quiet, yet forceful with delightfully unexpected musical turns. This album was selected as the best album of the year by AVClub.

Honorable Mentions:
The Jayhawks, Mockingbird Time-- Old friends, Gary Louris and Mark Olsen and writing and harmonizing again. Enough said...
Nikki Jean, Pennies in a Jar-- Terrific debut by this songwriter. Her debut includes several guest performances and a song that she co-wrote with Bob Dylan.
Fountains of Wayne, Sky Full of Holes-- FOWs lyrics always bring a smile to my face. Their songwriting is solid throughout.
Amos Lee, Mission Bell--This singer/songwriter's 4th studio album highlights Mr. Lee's folksy bluesy sound.
Portugal The Man, In the Mountain, In the Cloud:--Signing with Atlantic has not changed this band. Sonic landscapes abound.
Lucinda Williams, Blessed-- My favorite LW record in years. This album is blessed with strong songwriting musical performance.

Best Musical Moment
Rhett Miller and Alex Dezen put on an amazing show in front of a small but highly enthusiastic audience at Fizgeralds in Houston. I filmed them performing American Girl together.

Looking Forward to 2012
Esperanza Spaulding will be releasing Radio Music Society during the first quarter of 2012. I can't wait to hear where her musical muse is taking her. She's so eclectic that it could be almost anywhere.

Fletcher's Best

It is my favorite time of a musical year. It is the time when we get to go back and remember and reflect on all the great music, bands, songs, and moments. 2011 was a fantastic year musically. We saw a growth in the readership of our blog from both the US and other foreign countries. Larry and I both really appreciate your readership and will always try hard to try to turn you on to our favorite bands and music. We both take this responsibility seriously. It is a joy to just be able to write about bands that we care about and want you to learn about if you haven’t already. I really appreciate all your comments that you sent to me personally. Well let’s get on to the reason you read this.
I loved 2011. It brought back some great bands that I love and it brought some remarkable new bands. This year some of my favorite songs came from my favorite albums. So here is my top five albums with my two favorite songs from each one.

Fletcher's Best of 2011 Picks
Top Albums of the Year (listed alphabetically by band) I have spent a lot of time putting in links for every song, so please take a while and enjoy them. I want this to be interactive and you to be able to spend some time with this great music!!

The Damnwells, No One Listens To The Band Anymore-- Coming back after a few years, Alex Dezen is one of the best songwriters and voices in the business. "Heart beats on the fault line of love and doubt and wasted time"are the opening lyrics to "Werewolves". Whole album is full of these type of lyrics. Doesn't get better than this. Listen to “Werewolves” and “The Great Unknown”. You won’t be disappointed.
Dawes, Nothing Is Wrong-- A great sophomore album. Strong from top to bottom. Taylor Goldsmith is at the top of his game and is going to have a long career. Listen to “Time Spent in Los Angeles” and “If I Wanted Someone”.
Givers, In Light-- This band kills it live and has earned a well deserved reputation. I loved their debut album. Their time changes and syncopation draws you right in. Very young band out of Louisiana and very very good. Listen to “Saw You First” and “Up,Up,Up”. I love everything about them. Potential to be huge.
Ha Ha Tonka, Death of a Decade-- This band out of Missouri also kills it live. A bunch of really nice guys who are talented as hell. Listen to “Usual Suspects” and “Westward Bound”. Do not miss the opportunity to see them live. They also have my favorite t-shirt ever!!! Sell a ton of them whenever I work their merch table.
Portugal the Man, In the Mountain, In the Cloud-- This under rated band just keeps putting out great music. This album is simply breathtaking. So much going on. Listen to “Got it All” and “Head is Flame (Cool with it)”. Brings you back to the psychedelic 60’s.

Top Songs of the Year (listed alphabetically by band)

Nicole Atkins, Vultures-- This opening track must be talking about her troubles with her former major label. After a few years dealing with those issues, it is great to have her songs and marvelous voice back.
Birds and Arrows, Mountain Air-- More great harmonies from this North Carolina husband-wife team. I love their sound especially with the depth of a cello in a folk rock band. Not to mention they are the nicest and kindest people. Check them out.
Decemberists, Calaminty Song---A great roots album from this band. Really went out on a limb and it all worked.
Dirty Guv’nahs-Baby We Were Young- A Southern rock and blues based band out of Knoxville. Lots of guitars and strong songwriting. Great voices. Great guys.
The Head and the Heart, Lost In My Mind--This Seattle bands album was a real surprise. Love the way this song builds. My idea of a perfect song.
The Jayhawks, She Walks in so Many Ways-- It is so great to have this band back with their beautiful harmonies and melodies.
Vandeveer, Dig Down Deep-- It is stunning what a guitar and two hauntingly gorgeous voices in perfect harmony can do. Stark and striking. Become familiar with them, please.
We Are Augustines, Chapel Song-- Just a great song from this high energy band. They leave everything on the stage live. Joe Strummer would be proud.
Wilco- Art of Almost- I have been a huge Wilco fan from the beginning. Haven’t really liked the past two albums. After hearing this opening song I knew they were back in form. One of the best opening tracks to an album I have ever heard. Wow!!
Wye Oak-Civilian- A great song from the musical pride of Baltimore. This album made a ton of critics year end lists and deservingly so. They had an amazing year. Don't miss this band live if you ever get the chance. Will blow you away.

Best Musical Moment
I had the honor and privilege of working the merch table for a series of East Coast dates with two of my favorite bands- The Damnwells and Harper Blynn. Had a blast with all these great and talented guys. Would do it all again in a heartbeat. Thanks for making me feel like I was 29 again.

Thanks to all the bands who trusted me working their merch tables this year. Always great meeting you and your fans. Always grateful.

Looking forward to in 2012
New albums dropping from Heartless Bastards, Delta Spirit, and Harper Blynn. Have had the fortune to hear a lot of the new Harper Blynn songs. It won’t disappoint.

No comments:

Post a Comment