Jul 9, 2011

2011 (A Review So Far)

Each year brings expectation. Hope. Hope that new experiences will bring new delight. Sometimes there will be disappointment, sometimes joy. There will be new discoveries and the return of old friends. So what has 2011 delivered. Plenty I would think. Plenty to absorb and digest. Sometimes too much it would seem. So this list is somewhat incomplete. Albums by the following artists are not included here. Handsome Furs, Woods, Gillian Welch, Shabazz Palaces, WU LYF. All have produced work that I have listened to and enjoyed, but to be perfectly honest I haven't had the time to take them in completely. Give them their full deserved attention. No doubt, most of these (especially Handsome Furs), will make their make onto my end of year list. Given time. Time, oh time. Where does it go? I sometimes feel that the year is whizzing past me and I don't have the time to listen to all the new music produced, let alone write about it. Still there has been plenty to enjoy. Then, there is the live scene. I was thrilled by the first time visit of Menomena, charmed by the subtlety of The Books, bewildered by the heavenly Sufjan Stevens, blown away by the incredible The National and depth charged by the explosive Grinderman.
So yeah, it's all been pretty good, hey?

Top Ten Albums of 2011 (So Far)
1-Helplessness Blues-Fleet Foxes
No second album blues here. Just sublime and incredibly beautiful music. In fact, I think they have bettered their astounding debut. Joyous.

2-S/T II:The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT-Akron/Family
A feast, a cornucopia. A smorgasbord of unending delight. This three piece continue to serve up music that is directly emotional and creative.

3-Take Care, Take Care, Take Care-Explosions in the Sky
They return again. Nothing too much changes.. Only one constant. Music that is serene and emotional. Superb and unique. Don't ever change.

4-Burst Apart-The Antlers
2011 has seen me come to love this band. I love this album too. Hospice was great and this is just as good. Searing and intense.

5-I Am Very Far-Okkervil River
A return to the more directly emotional for this band. It's full on though. Lyrically and musically. A thunderstorm of sounds of ideas.

6-Bon Iver-Bon Iver
This could rise in time as I am still getting to know the beauty of Justin Vernon and his music. I think an even better effort then his stellar debut.

7-No Color-The Dodos
If their previous album was a slight letdown, this is pretty damn fine. Great melodies, great drumming add up to a musical feast.

8-Tomboy-Panda Bear
We waited a long time seemingly. But it was worth it. Even though it was near impossible to top Person Pitch, Noah has given us plenty to like here.

9-Degeneration Street-The Dears
I really don't understand the negative reviews. Sure, it's bombastic, over the top. But that's why I love it. The songs are super catchy as well.

10-Smoke Ring For My Halo-Kurt Vile
Kurt Vile has made his best album yet. An intoxicating, unique blend of sounds of vocals. Shining guitar work makes this a consistent delight.

Honourable Mentions
Apocalypse-Bill Callahan
New History Warfare Vol 2: Judges-Colin Stetson
Celebration,Florida-The Felice Brothers
Departing-The Rural Alberta Advantage
I Want That You Are Always Happy-The Middle East
Strange Hearts-Secret Cities
The King Is Dead-The Decemberists
Codes And Keys-Death Cab For Cutie
Nine Types Of Light-TV On The Radio
Canary-Southeast Engine
White Wilderness-John Vanderslice
Dye It Blonde-Smith Westerns
Civilian-Wye Oak
Circuital-My Morning Jacket
Tamer Animals-Other Lives
Diaper Island-Chad VanGaalen

Music To Anticipate...
Last Summer-Eleanor Friedberger
In The Mountain In The Cloud-Portugal. The Man
Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I'd Hoped-Moonface
Out Of Love-Mister Heavenly
Slave Ambient-The War On Drugs
Still Living-Ganglians
Mirror Traffic-Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
The Rip Tide-Beirut
American Goldwing-Blitzen Trapper
Dreams Come True-CANT
Lenses Alien-Cymbals Eat Guitars
A Creature I Don't Know-Laura Marling
Wild Flag-Wild Flag
Hysterical-Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
The Whole Love-Wilco
The Year Of Hibernation-Youth Lagoon


  • At July 11, 2011 , Blogger Lucas Pachuta and Marty Corcoran said...

    You should give Native Speaker a look by the band Braids. We have similar lists and I put them at Number 1 of 2011 so far :)

  • At July 11, 2011 , Blogger James said...

    Hey Wayne,

    Yeah, Bon Iver and Kurt Vile will likely be in my eventual top 10, great records each. You should check out Antiques' JWNS, which is totally flying under the radar so far. Also The Vaccines' debut is a really fun listen.

  • At July 11, 2011 , Blogger James said...

    oh, and Yuck. That one's pretty great too.


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