This exercise of putting together a best of 2011 list was much more fun than I expected and the outcome surprised me a bit. As I rolled through my iTunes library and added songs to the playlist, I noticed that this was a great year for the women in music. Lots of girls gravitate to female artists but my music collection has always been very male dominated but this year that trend flipped. You just can’t deny the ever impeccable Lucinda Williams, the in your face fun rock of Wild Flag and Dum Dum Girls, the creativity of St Vincent and Eleanor Friedberger and the throw-back with a modern twist of Cults. Cheers ladies.
Vintage tinged artists perked my ears this year as they often do. Perhaps it was the release of Wall of Sound: The Very Best of Phil Spector 1961-1966 that put me in the mood. “Honey Bunny” is without a doubt my favorite song this year and it has a certain 60’s surf rock quality. Abducted by Cutls could well have come out decades ago but it still feels fresh and has a dark quality that can be captivating.
It was like visiting with old friends with the new releases from some of my long-standing favorite bands. Urge Overkill who I have loved for years released a great new album and “Mason/Dixon” ranks up there with their best songs. Sloan always manages to make me shake my head and sing along and “Unkind” is no exception. Often underappreciated, I am just grateful that Sloan is still at it and making great music.
Three songs on the list should be filed under, “Songs 92.1 WZEW should have in heavy rotation”. For those of you who have never been to my former home of Mobile, AL, 92.1 wzew is the radio station that helped shape my musical taste and is still brining good music to the southern airwaves. Dawes, Megafaun and Iron & Wine are the perfect fit for the station that provides the laid back soundtrack for days by the water and nights at drunken field parties.
One of the 2011 trends that i really hated is still represented in one of the songs on the list. “Holdin on to Black Metal” has the chior/big group sing along part that has appeared in soooooo many songs this year but they managed to do it well. It feels natural which may be because they recorded the album in a gym they temporarily converted into a studio. The whole album has a natural big open sound and I had to debate which song from the album to put on the list. The title track, “Circuital” was another favorite song from this year as well but it felt unfair to have two of their songs on the list.
With luck you will find something new you haven;t heard yet or will give something a second chance. Go forth and listen!
- Honey Bunny – Girls, Father, Son, Holy Ghost
- Unkind – Sloan, The Double Cross Rock 2011 5/10/2011
Time Spent in Los Angeles – Dawes, Nothing Is Wrong
- Romance – Wild Flag, Wild Flag
- The Party Line – Apex Manor, The Year of Magical Drinking
- My Mistakes – Eleanor Friedberger, Last Summer
- Mason/Dixon – Urge Overkill, Rock & Roll Submarine
- In Love – Ringo Deathstarr, Sparkler
- Holdin On to Black Metal – My Morning Jacket, Circuital
- Half Moon – Iron & Wine, Kiss Each Other Clean
- Buttercup – Lucinda Williams, Blessed
- Always Looking – Dum Dum Girls, Only In Dreams
- Abducted – Cults, Cults
- Where I Found You – Future Islands, On the Water
- Real Slow – Megafaun, Megafaun
- Cheerleader – St. Vincent, Strange Mercy
For a top 100 albums of 2011 list check out the NPR All Songs Considered Blog
Another great blog & podcast to get more best of 2011 is J’s Indie/Rock. I look forward to this podcast every week because I know he will throw in some new stuff I haven’t heard along with older stuff I love (Pulp etc)