in Top Ten

I wasn’t as engaged with music in 2011 as I have been the past few years. Without all the busywork of being a student, the time I spent listening to music declined. So I was a bit surprised to see that I had over 50 albums to choose from for my list. More surprising is that a number of my favorite bands released albums that didn’t even crack the list. No Radiohead! No My Morning Jacket! What a brave new world we’re living in.

Normally, this is where I’d list honorable mentions, but there are way too many for it to be worth a damn. It doesn’t help that I didn’t hear a few of the year’s greatest albums until they started popping up on other peoples’ best of lists, and as such haven’t given them the time they deserve.

With that depressing disclaimer out of the way, let’s get on with it.

10. TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light

Like I said when I reviewed Nine Types of Light last April, this album is kind of a departure and kind of exactly the same thing TV on the Radiohead has always done. Woah, that TV on the Radiohead typo sounds like a pretty good idea. Someone tell all those guys wasting all their time on dubstep remixes of the wrong music to start mashing up TV on the Radio and Radiohead. Hold on, let me search on YouTube. Yeah, I’m not seeing anything. Anyway… Nine Types of Light. Hmn. Kind of lost my train of thought. Did you know I bought this on iTunes and it came with a few bonus remixes of “Will Do”? It’s true. I wouldn’t lie about something like that. Nothing to gain, everything to lose.

9. Low – C’mon

You listen to this shit? No? C’mon, man. C’mon. Come on! Damn it, I thought that gimmick would last longer. I guess I should write something about Low, since as far as I can recall, this is the first time they’ve been mentioned on the blog. Well, they’ve been around since the 1990s and this is the first album by them I’ve actually listened to. It sounds like a lot of critics that actually know the band’s history have lukewarm feelings for C’mon, but for a newcomer like myself, it sounds pretty great. Not that exciting or upbeat, but plenty lush and absorbing, if you know what I mean.

8. Telekinesis – 12 Desperate Straight Lines

Hey look, a local artist. Telekinesis is a power pop band with a slick-ass sound. 12 Desperate Straight Lines is 12 tracks that deserve to be celebrated the way Chinese people do when they hear Americans raised the United States’ national debt ceiling. Remember that whole debt ceiling debacle? Some people were really freaking out, they genuinely thought the economy, and by extension, the country, was on the brink of total destruction. Just imagine what horrible surprises 2012 could have in store for us! We’re going to have to fuck with the debt ceiling again, you know. Just like the Mayans predicted.

7. Cut Copy – Zonoscope

If there was one song I identified 2011 with, it would be would be “Party Rock Anthem” by hit uncle-nephew duo LMFAO. If there was another song, it would be the Homeland-endorsed “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People. But if there was a third song, it would be “Need You Know” off Zonoscope by Cut Copy. Why, even now, I can listen to it and think fondly to that time my friend ran into Subway while I went through the Carl’s Jr. drive thru in McMinnville. Good times. Also, I still don’t know what the deal with Mick Jagger moves is.

6. Destroyer – Kaputt

Let me tell you man, this album is casual. Casual as hell. Damn near soothing. It’s so cool. Out of all the albums on my list, this is probably the one I would most recommend everyone listen to, even though it wasn’t my favorite of the year. It’s just so unique, at least among the music I tend to listen to. Sort of disco-esque, I guess? Lots of horns and sax. Tight beats, funky guitars. Synthesizers. I don’t know, I’m not a musician. I know the name makes it seem like a Swedish death metal band, but it’s not!

5. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

When Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming came out, I listened to the first few tracks, liked them, then moved on. I saw that M83 had put out a really long album, and I simply wasn’t trying. But, a few days ago, when I decided I needed to listen to it all the way through, I realized I really, really liked this album. Yes, it is over an hour. Yes, it is way too self-serious, going as far as to include a little girl talking about how great it would be to become a frog (no little girl would actually say this). But this is basically what the kind of music I want to listen to sounds like. For some reason, there being a lot of it seemed like a bad thing in October. It seems pretty great right now.

4. Wye Oak – Civilian

Unlike M83, Wye Oak had completely flown under my radar. When I finally did listen to them in early-mid December, and I saw that Civilian had come out March, I was like, “What the hell everybody? Why didn’t anyone tell me about this.” Then I mentioned it to Colin and he was all, “I’m not that into it.” And I was like, “Fair enough.” But secretly, in my brain, I was thinking about how I wish I had been listening to Civilian instead of whatever Colin was talking about. Screw you Black Keys, Wye Oak is my two-person band of the year.

3. Washed Out – Within and Without

I remember listening to Within and Without after dropping my brother off at the airport. According to iTunes, that’s the last time I listened to the album. So, how fitting that I’m listening to it now, on a day when I had to go pick him up from the airport at an hour so early that now I’m struggling to spell airport and not make a run-on sentence. I know John is really good at hearing songs on the radio and turning them into albums he enjoys, but I’ve never had a knack for it. So I’m kind of proud that I heard Washed Out on KEXP one day this summer and managed to remember him long enough to look him up. And chillwave still is an awesome name for a genre.

2. The Antlers – Burst Apart

I don’t know guys, I think the Antlers are pretty good. If you remember my review, the popularly titled Antlers in My Pantlers, I explained that Burst Apart bust apart my appreciation for the new Fleet Foxes album by being so good I basically forgot about them. That’s Antlers power, baby. This album was the only one I was listening to for a few weeks. That just doesn’t happen to me that often. Now, sure, it’s been a few months since I last listened to it, but I’m pretty sure I still like it. I mean, what do you want me to do, listen to it again? OK. You first.

1. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy

What the hell happened at the end of that Antlers thing? Oh well, sleep deprivation. The last St. Vincent album, a.k.a. the only other one I listened to, opened strong but finished less so. Strange Mercy is a work of genius that makes me happy I have the power of hearing. Each of its 11 tracks has something going for it. Here, I’ll pick one randomly. I got the last song on the album, “Year of the Tiger.” Well, that’s an interesting one. She talks about a lot of things, but “Oh America, can I owe you one” is the recurring line that sticks with me. Oh St. Vincent, you don’t owe me a thing.

  1. Well done, I always enjoy reading your album reviews they’re always unpredictable in the best way. And KEXP is a good station to find new bands, I’d listen to it more often but I can never remember the station number.

Comments are closed.