By Alex Brenner
Best of 2011 (in no particular order)
Well it’s been a pretty good year for music I guess. Some real strong releases and of course some real turds, thanks Metallica. So here is my list of what I liked about 2011.
1. Wye Oak – Civilian.
This band is phenomenal, live they are amazing. Great songs but also very dynamic and sonically always surprising. I guess a great mix between country and shoegazing if you can put that all together. Check out their live shows on nyctaper.com. They do a version of Danzig’s “Mother” that will blow your mind.
2. Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong
Always been a big fan of power pop bands. Way more Smashing Pumpkins-esque this time around. The Pains get heavy yet remain truly catchy.
3. Yuck – Yuck
One of the best releases this year for me. Everything about 90′s indie rock and Brit pop wrapped into one record, what more can you ask for? Very cool songs and great feedback guitars. A must if you have not heard it.
4. Surfer Blood – Tarot Classics
Technically an EP but still pretty cool. The single “I’m not Ready” is super catchy. The band seems to be growing, very cool arrangements and once again really throwing back to late 90′s indie rock without plagiarizing.
5. David Bazan – Strange Negotiations
A record that really had to grow on me, it did not really sink in until I saw him perform it live. One of the best songwriters of our time without a doubt, he has put out consistently great records for the last 10 years. If you have not really checked him out before very worth it.
6. Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire
As much as you want to hate this guy, Ashes & Fire turned out to be pretty good. Even at his most douchiness (is that a word?) the dude can write a hook and a few words that will just slay you. It’s not Heartbreaker but its pretty damn close. Backed by Benmont Tench of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers does not hurt either. If you had given up on Adams maybe you should give him one more shot.
7. Cymbals Eat Guitars – Lenses Alien
This one slipped by a lot of people; a very strong second record for this band. Most bands that come out of the gate with this much hype pretty much fall into the sophomore slump but not these guys. The perfect mix of Built to Spill and Swervedriver but still sounding fresh and exciting.
8. Wilco – The Whole Love
Finally on their own label, Tweedy and Co. release yet another solid effort. These last few Wilco records have been growers but very worth the time to listen. This band seems to have no bounds what so ever, they can go from soft folk and jazz to Sonic Youth inspired mayhem all within the course of 4 minutes. Very exciting to listen to, they could be the Zeppelin of our time.
9. We Were Promised Jetpacks – In the Pit of the Stomach
A very fitting title, this band can play so hard at times it feels like you’ve been popped in the gut. Getting even harder on this sophomore effort these Scottish lads blast sonic anthems without being too hooky. I guess if Snow Patrol were trying to kill people this is what you would get. Killing is their business and business is good.
10. tUnEyArDs – w h o k i l l
I’ll tell you, I’ve seen and heard a lot of music but this band really impressed me. It’s so organic, raw and fully of energy. Who would have thought you could make all that music with just one looper pedal? While this is not my go-to record I was really taken back by it and the single “Bizness” is pretty catchy without being a shtick. I watched a bunch of their live performances to see if the showers of adulation were well deserved and all I can say is yeah, they deserve it. It’s just something totally fresh, something no one is doing. Worth checking out for sure.
I would also like to take this time and say Thank God for the reissues. Some great stuff to check out.
1. Archers of Loaf – Icky Mettle
2. Smashing Pumpkins – Gish and Siamese Dream Deluxe Editions
3. U2 Achtung Baby Deluxe Edition
4. Megadeth – Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?
5. SeBADoh – Bakesale
6. Suede – Suede Deluxe Edition
7. Ride – Nowhere