Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mid-Year Report

It's already July and it seems like the first half of the year went by in a flash. It's time to look back at the last six months and examine the albums that had the biggest impact on me. Narrowing the list down to 20 was harder than I thought it would be as 2011 has been an exceptionally good year for music. The year has been full of surprises both good and bad. I never could have predicted half the bands and albums that appear in the list below.

Yuck has won this round with their record combining the best of Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth in their heyday. They encapsulate everything I love about 90s style alternative/indie rock and have unleashed one hell of a debut upon the world. Destroyer is close behind featuring some of the best songwriting Dan Bejar has presented over his long and prolific career. 2011 has also fueled my love for crazy, complicated instrumental rock with excellent records from Adebisi Shank, And So I Watch You From Afar, and Mogwai.

The top 20 turned out to be a very diverse list. Beastie Boys appear with the first rap album on the countdown and were one of the biggest surprises this year releasing one of the best of their career. Seriously, how are three white dudes in their 40s some of the best MCs right now?! Mind-boggling. The second rap album is vastly different. The noisy beats and shouted vocals that make up Death Grips present some of the more original rap I have heard in some time. Of course there has to be a metal album and Cave In's White Silence is killing the competition. Their combination of spacey rock and brutal, technical metal puts them far ahead of their peers. Likewise, Fucked Up's David Comes to Life is the obvious hardcore album of the year. Not only has the album won over the hardcore punk fans but the indie world has been singing (or screaming?) it's praises as well. Rounding things off is one excellent and highly overlooked trip-hop album from Wagon Christ.

The list contains my personal favorite records along with a standout track from each. You can pull out the player on the left and watch the music video for the track where available. I also included some other appropriate categories which includes full streams of some of the year's best EPs. Enjoy!

Top 20 Albums:

1. Yuck - Yuck

“Holing Out” 

2. Destroyer - Kaputt


3. Adebisi Shank - This is the second album by a band called Adebisi Shank.

“Genki Shank” 

4. And So I Will Watch You From Afar - Gangs

“Gang (Starting Never Stopping)”

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


6. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues

“Grown Ocean” 

7. J Mascis - Several Shades of Why

“Is It Done” 

8. Bill Callahan - Apocalypse

“Riding for the Feeling”

9. TV on the Radio - Nine Types of Light

“Will Do”

10. Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Part Two

“Make Some Noise”

11. Radiohead - The King of Limbs

“Lotus Flower” 

12. Man Man - Life Fantastic


13. The Antlers - Burst Apart

“Rolled Together”

14. Mogwai - Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

“George Square Thatcher Death Party”

15. Cave In - White Silence

“Summit Fever”

16. Fucked Up - David Comes to Life

“The Other Shoe”

17. Death GripsExmilitary


18. The Death Set - Michel Poiccard

“Slap Slap Slap Pound Up Down Snap” & “Yo David Chase! You P.O.V. Shot Me in the Head (featuring Diplo)”

19. Mr. Dream - Trash Hit


20. Wagon ChristToomorrow


Top 5 EPs:

My favorite EP so far this year comes from the relatively unknown group, Conveyor. It is one of those hidden gems I stumbled upon while perusing the internet. It has the perfect sound for summer and has proved highly addicting. The second comes from Grass is Green who has stepped their game up with Chibimoon where the songwriting is tighter but no less interesting than their impressive debut Yeddo. The Appleseed Cast always flies under the blogosphere radar for some reason but their Middle States EP has provided one of the best listening experiences of 2011. Every time I listen to the song "Three Rivers" on vinyl, my mind is completely blown. Go buy the record and see for yourself! Therapies Son is another group that is fit for summer with a bright and dreamy sound on their remarkable debut. Futurebirds put together two originals with must hear covers of "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak and "Wild Heart" by Stevie Nicks to create an enjoyable EP of endless replay value.

1. Conveyor - Sun Ray

2. Grass is Green - Chibimoon

3. The Appleseed Cast - Middle States

The Appleseed Cast 'Middle States' by Graveface Records

4. Therapies Son - Over the Sea

5. Futurebirds - Via Flamina

Top 5 Performances:

1. Off! / Henry Rollins Interview / Dinosaur Jr. - June 22, 2011 @ Paradise Rock Club

2. The Dismemberment Plan - January 28, 2011 @ Paradise Rock Club

3. Zechs Marquise and Omar Rodriguez Lopez Group (The Mars Volta) - March 30, 2011 @ The Middle East Downstairs

4. Future Islands / Titus Andronicus / Okkervil River - June 8, 2011 @ Royale

5. Fucked Up / JEFF the Brotherhood / Iceage - June 24, 2011 @ Royale

Top 5 Artists I “Didn’t Get”:
  1. The Weeknd
  2. James Blake
  3. Washed Out
  4. Tyler, The Creator
  5. Mount Kimbe
Top 5 Disappointments:

As a mother might put it, "I'm not mad; I'm just disappointed."
  1. Dredg - Chuckles & Mr. Squeezy
  2. Architecture in Helsinki - Moment Bends
  3. Panda Bear - Tomboy
  4. Cut/Copy - Zonoscope
  5. Bon Iver - Bon Iver, Bon Iver
Top 5 Movies:
  1. Win Win
  2. Hanna
  3. Source Code
  4. Bridesmaids
  5. The Lincoln Lawyer

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