Thursday, January 5, 2012

Top 5: Albums of 2011

Soo....I totes lied about updating my blog while I was Maine.  Oops.  Sorry, got busy.

But now I'm back south in Virginia after a crazy experience doing documentary radio at the Salt Institute in Portland, Maine.  And I'm back to what's really important...making Top 5 lists!

Which maybe will help me in my life goal of being a relevant alt/indie blogger, surpassing the fame of Carles or Aquarium Drunkard

I realized while compiling this list that I've actually listened to a ridiculous amount of music this year.  Probably not as much as I feel I should have, but enough that narrowing this list down to five was actually quite difficult.

So, without further Top 5 of 2011.

5. tUnE-yArDs - w h o k i l l

I got irrationally pissed off at this band that I had to look on Wikipedia to make sure I typed out their name and album correctly with the correct lower-case and upper-case spacing and whatnot.  But this album is crazy and amazing, fusing together different musical genres and playing around with different arrangements.  Horns come in and out.  Sound cuts out sharply and comes back in.  In "Gangsta", vocalist Merrill Garbus layers her voice to sound like a police siren.  There's a sense of calculated randomness to the proceedings which turned me off at first, but then after 2-3 listens I was completely sucked in.

4. Wild Flag - Wild Flag

I was a big Sleater-Kinney fan and was super-stoked when I went to see Wild Flag in concert this year, curious to see a sort of girl band super-group, taking Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss from the aforementioned Sleater-Kinney, along with Mary Timony from Helium and Rebecca Cole who played with The Minders.  This band made me so happy and this album is pure, catchy, energetic rock.

3. Destroyer - Kaputt

Please forgive the video posted above, which starts out like an ad for American Apparel and then just gets weirder.  Kaputt combines elements of smooth jazz (a genre I normally find repellant) with 70s/80s-esque dream pop to create a rich collection of songs that wash over you.  I feel like it's something that shouldn't work but it totally does.

2.  Active Child - You Are All I See

Active Child is the moniker of Pat Grossi.  And I have a hard time describing this album, but the best sort of genre description I can come up with is "ethereal R&B".  There's beautiful orchestrations, and Grossi's vocals sound sort of church-like, if that makes any sense.  Everything here is lush and ghostly.  Also, Grossi plays the harp.  THE HARP.  You gotta love the harp.

1. Twilight Singers - Dynamite Steps

It's the Twilight Singers and motherfuckin' Greg Dulli.  There's no way this could NOT be my favorite album of 2011.  After most of the members of TS took time to do the Gutter Twins (the Dulli/Mark Lanegan collab of awesomeness), they came back this year with an album that was well worth waiting for.  Dynamite Steps is a dark, hypnotic brew of solid, cinematic rock songs, the perfect soundtrack for a bar fight with your ex-lover who did you wrong or a melancholic last call on your last day on Earth.

In related news, the freakin' AFGHAN WHIGS are reuniting for at least two shows this year - one in London and one in New Jersey.  I need to find a way to go.

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