Sunday, January 01, 2012

Top 50: 2011

For this year, 2011, I initially balked at the idea of making a top 50 list.  It was the first calendar year I can remember where keeping up with and listening to new music as it arrived seemed just too daunting.  I occasionally retreated into old favourites or my bulging folder of ambient music that helped calm the waters at the edge of the world.  Eventually, and as usually occurs, I took December to reflect upon the year and it's individual moments... to listen to some of the 2011 albums that I'd been curious about or had generated glowing reviews... and to isolate the albums that stayed in heavy rotation all year long.

So below is a slightly different list: 27 albums and 3 live shows that, for very different reasons, earned spots in my listening life... then a more conventional top 20 list of the ones that rose to the top of my playlist pile.  I encourage you to check all these out if you haven't already.

Old Favourites that had good but not perfect albums:
The Mountain Goats - All Eternals Deck
Woods - Sun and Shade 
Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring for My Halo
Stephen Malkmus + The Jicks - Mirror Traffic
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Wolfroy Goes to Town
Vetiver - The Errant Charm
Low - C'Mon
Beirut - The Rip Tide
Alexander Tucker - Dorwytch 

Newbies / New to Me-bies / Artists I'd kinda ignored with great albums
Girls - Father Son, Holy Ghost
Say Hi - Um, Uh Oh
Little Scream - The Golden Record
Wavves - Life Sux
PS I Love You - Figure it Out
Dum Dum Girls - Only in Dreams

Great Dreamy Pop Artists that I'm still figuring out how to rate:
Gold-Bears - Are You Falling in Love?
Washed Out - Within and Without You
Maria Minerva - Cabaret Cixous
M83 - Hurry Up We're Dreaming
Banjo or Freakout - S/T

The "Other" Stuff: Avant Garde artists I loved:
Tim Hecker - Ravedeath, 1972 
M. Ostermeier - The Rules of Another Small World
Clams Casino - Rainforest
Ezekiel Honig - Folding In On Itself
Walls - Coracle
A Winged Victory For The Sullen - S/T 
Barn Owl - Lost in the Glare

Three Favourite Live Shows of 2011:
Pixies - Doolittle Tour, Moncton Casino
Godspeed You Black Emperor! - Reunion Tour Montreal
Evan Parker solo show - Gallery Connexion Fredericton

Top 20
 01 Crooked Fingers - Breaks In The Armor

 02 Thurston Moore - Demolished Thoughts

 03 James Blake - S/T

 04 Destroyer - Kaputt

 05 Dog Day - Deformer

 06 Telekinesis! - 12 Desperate Straight Lines

 07 J Mascis - Several Shades of Why

 08 13 & God - Own Your Ghost

 09 Bill Callahan - Apocalypse

 10 Siskiyou - Keep Away the Dead

 11 Shotgun Jimmie - Transistor Sister

 12 Nils Frahm - Felt

13 Bon Iver - S/T

14 The War on Drugs - Slave Ambient       
 15 Bry Webb - Provider

       16 Grouper - A I A: Alien Observer / Dream Loss

17 Real Estate - Days

 18 Atlas Sound - Parallax

 19 The Rural Alberta Advantage - Departing

20 Eleanor Friedberger - Last Summer