Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I narrowed it down to these...

So here it is – the crème de la crème of my 2011 listening. Now that this is out of the way, I can focus on 2012 – which is already shaping up to be pretty good from the numerous records I’ve received so far.

20 Gem Club - Breakers [Hardly Art]

I wrote about this onetwice; once on each of my blogs. Which should be a strong sign that it would end up here.
Twins by Gem Club

19 Herajika Tracks - Love Universal [Introducing Production]

Yup, same thing with this album (though just here on Ear To The Sound).
Herajika tracks - Shigure by aresistencia

18 The Middle East - I Want That You Are Always Happy [Missing Pieces]

They may want that you are always happy, but it's clear that The Middle East aren't always in a positive frame of mind. My wife referred to #20-18 as my 'mope-y' section of the Top 20. It gets more upbeat at the top!
The Middle East: Very Many by -gaga

17 Kathryn Calder - Bright and Vivid [File Under: Music]

I thought 2010’s Are You My Mother? was pretty strong, but it didn’t prepare me for how amazing Bright and Vivid is. Strong songwriting, strong voice, strong, strong, strong.
Kathryn Calder - Who Are You by File Under Music

16 Slim Moore & The Mar-Kays - Introducing Slim Moore & The Mar-Kays [Marlow Records]

Phe-nom-en-al. Fans of the Daptone label, Lee Fields, Syl Johnston, etc. should be all over this one. Moore’s got a rich baritone, and the band supporting him is stellar (it includes members of the Souljazz Orchestra – who you also need to check out).
Slim Moore and the Mar-Kays - steppin' all over me (Cosmic Groove) by SOFA RECORDS SHOP

15 Beirut - The Rip Tide [Pompeii Records]

This is Zach Condon finding his own sound after borrowing heavily from the Eastern European gypsy sound for Gulag Orkestar and The Flying Club Cup. It took a while to get into it after loving those first two records, but The Rip Tide is a great step forward.
Beirut - Santa Fe by Revolver USA

14 Dum Dum Girls - Only In Dreams [Sub Pop]

This is the Runaways produced by Phil Spector.
Dum Dum Girls - Bedroom Eyes by subpop

13 Wild Beasts - Smother [Warp]

My wife calls this “Gandalf rock” since she thinks Hayden Thorpe’s vocals are reminiscent of a certain Lord of the Rings wizard (for the record, she puts Future Islands and vocalist Samuel T. Herring in the same category). Yes, Thorpe’s vocals are peculiar, but they are perfectly married to the music.
Wild Beasts / Reach A Bit Further by Constellations Festival

Here's a bonus version of "Reach A Bit Further" live on the BBC. A bit different but no less lovely.
Wild beasts - Reach a bit further (BBC session) by mysteryfallsdown

12 Cannon Bros. - Firecracker/Cloudglow [Disintegration Records]

Alannah & Cole are twenty-years-old. This would make me sick with jealousy if I didn’t know them and know what great people they are. Look for them to blow up big in 2012.
Left in a Hurry - Cannon Bros by anecha

11 Thundercat - The Golden Age Of Apocalypse [Brainfeeder]

This is the 2011 answer to my #6 of 2010. Thundercat picks up where Flying Lotus left off.
Thundercat - Is It Love by Madison House

10 Bon Iver - Bon Iver [Jagjaguwar]

This ended up being one of the most divisive choices on year-end lists. Which kinda surprises me.
Calgary by boniver

09 Secret Cities - Strange Heart [Western Vinyl]

Fargo rock city represent!
Secret Cities, "The Park" by The FADER

08 Washed Out - Within And Without [Sub Pop]

Could’ve likely made the list on the back of “Amor Fati” alone, but the rest of the album is pretty brilliant as well.
Washed Out - Amor Fati by subpop

07 Wye Oak - Civilian [Merge]

I saw this band in Windsor several years ago when their Merge debut was about to drop. They played to a crowd that was smaller than the number of magazines that declared Civilian one of the best records of the year. Glad to see they got big.
Wye Oak - 'Holy Holy' by SpunkRecords

06 Louise Burns - Mellow Drama [Light Organ Records]

Reviewed this for Stylus, and as I said in that piece, this would’ve been my pick if I had a Polaris vote. But I don’t. Hmmmm.
Louise Burns - Drop Names Not Bombs by Light Organ

05 Destroyer - Kaputt [Merge]

Dan Bejar is one of those “love him or leave him” artists. I love him.
Destroyer - Chinatown by mouxlaloulouda

04 tUnE-yArDs - whokill [4AD]

Merrill Garbus played the West End this fall – whokill was primed to make the Top 10 anyway, but that live show pushed it a few spots higher.
My Country - Tune Yards by tracks_arte

03 James Blake - James Blake [Polydor]

One of the earliest releases of 2011, this one was unrelenting in how good it was. Probably the record I listened to most in the past year.
James Blake - The Wilhelm Scream by UMPG

02 Austra - Feel It Break [Paper Bag Records]

My toddler can sing along to “Lose It,” which speaks volumes to the number of times this album was played in my home. Katie Stelmanis’ performance at the West End was another jaw-dropper.
Austra - Lose It by Annie Mac Presents

01 Freddie Cruger and Anthony Mills are Wildcookie - Cookie Dough [Tru Thoughts]

I may be the only person with this album at the top of my list – I honestly haven’t seen it on any others. But I am happy to be out on my own on this one. I wrote a glowing entry about it ages ago, and still feel exactly the same about Cookie Dough.
WildCookie "Serious Drug" by Raven Supreme-Green

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