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Old 2011.12.16, 10:11 PM   #1
Tokyo Jihad
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Default 2011 favorite music thread and more - the thread I wait all year for.

Alright, it's time to do this shit. This year my new years resolution was to do my best at keeping up with new music so that I could do a for real deal best of list. (Yes, this an actual decision I made with that specific goal; don't judge me.) So for basically the whole month of December thus far, I have been reviewing all the music I have amassed, and done my best to pick up the ones that slipped through the cracks.

The result is an ordered compilation of the top 30 albums that I would recommend people check out from the year of 2011. For your skimming pleasure:


30. Andrew Jackson Jihad - Knife Man: One of the most entertaining records this year. Arguably one of the most accurate statements on the American condition. Recommend if you liked Titus Andronicus’ The Monitor last year, but thought it could stand to be more biting.

29. Panda Bear - Tomboy: There ARE some hooks underneath all the chorus and reverb! Recommend for people looking to get into “pitchfork” music, after they hear Person Pitch.

28. WU LYF - Go tell Fire to the Mountain:
Diis albm, Dis albm iis guuud. Ma free-he-hend. Dis albm, lov yu forev hah. Recommend for fans of The Stone Roses, Kasabian, and other British bands whose first album ride a tidal wave of hype and almost immediately dissolve a year later.

27. tUnEyArDs - w h o k i l l:
Certainly an album that might put people off at first. But tUnEyArDs’ breatkthrough album is full of catchy songs (“Gangsta,” “Bizness,”) and deft musicianship. Recommend for those that find The Dirty Projectors too easy.

26. Yuck - s/t: One of the better 90’s revival acts. Solid album through and through. Recommend if you know Stick Stickley’s address.

25. Beirut - The Rip Tide: The prettiest, crispest record this year. Lush instrumentation throughout. This record I expect to come back around to more than I got to this year. Recommend if you didn’t get enough Sufjan Stevens last year.

24. Wilco - The Whole Love: Wilco can’t quite kick sounding their age, but they can still push some envelopes. It’s not quite A Ghost is Born, but one of their most expansive records. Check out that title track, or that 12-minute album closer! Recommend for fans of... Wilco?

23. Mark McGuire - Get Lost: I really wish I could have put this album higher. One of the most interesting albums, that never ceases to draw me in to its soundscapes. Part ambiance, part traditional song structures. Recommend if you think you need to try something different.

22. The Antlers - Burst Apart: The Antler’s album that met with a decent splash earlier this year, and kept creeping into my rotation throughout. May not be the feel good hit of the year, and might resonate more with you than their Hospice record. Recommend if you have reoccurring dreams of losing your teeth.

21. Okkervil River - I am Very Far: An album that smoothly shifts from classic rock to chamber folk. Almost every song has the ability to stick with you. Recommend if you like Neutral Milk Hotel as much as this band does.

20. Feist - Metals: There’s no “Mushaboom” or “1234” on this record, but I could see some arguments for this record being better than 2007’s The Reminder to some people. You have to look a little more intently for the hooks on this record, like that earth shaking swell on “Anti-pioneer” -- oh my lord. Recommend for fans of... Wilco?
19. Smith Westerns - Dye it blonde: The first noteworthy album of 2011 has enough steam to still be notable in December. Shiny lo-fi pop feel good music. Who can say no to the opener, “Weekend”? Recommend for those that thought Yuck were missing a little something-something.

18. The Weeknd - House of Balloons: The Weeknd was the “it” act of 2011, and House of Balloons has become his flagship statement. Interesting, perverse, and sexy (but not really.) Recommend if you thought Babyface should have grown restless.

17. The Dodos - No Color: Unbelievably underrated album. Early in the spring, a glut of “indie-folk” records seemed to hit at once, and this might have got lost in the shuffle. Is only “folk” in the widest of sense, thick drum beats and swirling atmospheres abound. Recommend if you think every band would benefit from Neko Case’s presence.

16. Bon Iver - s/t: This isn’t an album for any time. It can be appreciated any time, but to be fully swept up into it, I think one has to have a certain balance of joy and sadness. I don’t remember if it was Sputnik or AV Club that said of the controversial “Beth/Rest” that since the indie scene has been so obsessed with sounding like and glorifying the 80’s, Justin Vernon gave back a more accurate depiction of that aesthetic. That made me laugh mightily and made me love that song ever since. Recommend if you are in despair with first world problems.

15. Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - s/t: To some, Noel Gallagher is a dinosaur. To others, he is a dinosaur that may be on the precipice of evolution. I am a huge Oasis fan, and more specifically, a Noel Gallagher fan. I was really hoping for the man to sprout wings and ascend on his first solo effort. For better or worse, it was more of what we had come to expect. At the same time, he shows he’s still the guy that wrote “Live Forever,” “Wonderwall,” and “Champagne Supernova.” The front half of the record is one of the best collections of Noel-brand music since ‘97. Recommend for people who recognize the name Noel Gallagher. Also, fans of Wilco.

14. Atlas Sound - Parallax: Bradford Cox does not sleep or take days off. Nor does he seem to know how to write any clunkers. Parallax is one of the few albums that I had to replay immediately after the first listen. Recommend if you hadn’t realized Bradford Cox has been the current most successful rock frontman for quite some time now.

13. Thao and Mirah - s/t: Thao Nguyen of The Get Down Stay Down teams up with Mirah (of Mirah) to make the best pop record of the year. Though it is primarily acoustic, the by Merrill Garbus of tUnEyArDs ensures it is far from straight forward. Some of the highest quality pop songs of the year can be found here. Recommend for those that like to jam out in their car.

12. Cut Copy - Zonoscope: Though the album came out in February, I got into this album really late. Shiny, upbeat, 80’s romanticized, electronic music is not my forte. Considering that, and where I’ve placed this album should indicate the first rate song writing featured here. Recommend for those that are still showing up to 80’s parties, no matter how late, and those that would never in a million years attend one.


11. Wye Oak - Civilian: Wye Oak’s Civilian is unassuming and great. It’s like that girl known-in-passing in your history class, maybe you got a few answers off of her once or twice. Then she’s absent one day, and you’re freaking out for no reason because its a history class and she’s not there and you realize you have a massive crush on her out of nowhere. This album is that girl and you are the moron who will now trip over every word spoken in her presence.Recommend if you like moody music coming from a band that only superficially fits that dream-pop, boy-girl mold.

10. James Blake - s/t: James Blake took his sound up a notch this year, and you’d do well to quiet down and listen. It is far from pounding or aggressive, yet still overwhelming at times. His deconstruction of “Limit to your Love” as well as the choral “Measurements” are great treats. Recommend if you like chasing hype trains after they’ve hit full speed and don’t like Skrillex.

9. Be Forest - Cold: I know next to nothing about this band except they’re italian. I believe they are a trio, but I can’t remember how I got that idea. Be Forest is a melodic gothic shoegaze outfit, and while Cold is not earth shatteringly new, its a great, short, listen. “Florence” and “Buck & Crow” should persuade you. Recommend for people that like atmospheric guitar music and want to impress the shit out of their friends.

8. m83 - Hurry up, Were Dreaming: Once again, not a great fan of electronic music or synth music in general, but Hurry Up, Were Dreaming did not even once let me question what I was listening. A large, expansive, bombastic record that is full of surprises. Electronic music that sounds live and acoustic. Recommend for twenty-somethings that don’t listen to Pink and have friends.

7. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Mirror Traffic: Stephen Malkmus offers up his strongest solo record in 2011. Mirror Traffic sounds like Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain - Dad rock version. You might scoff since “Dad rock” has such a negative connotation, but come on, Crooked Rain. Every song on Mirror Traffic could be a radio single as far as I’m concerned. Every song is best heard underneath your own singing. Recommend for fans of Wilco.

6. Fucked Up - David Comes to Life: Fucked Up’s double album is an amazingly inclusive album from a “hardcore” band. Of course, as the pre-release media would go well out of its way to state, Fucked Up really isn’t a hardcore band; more like an alternative band with a hardcore singer. But really, David Comes to Life just is not the same without Damian Abraham’s gutterances. Isn’t his singing what love and loss really feel like? A very intelligently constructed concept album with it’s own reoccurring motifs and narrative logic. In the album’s closing track, Abraham proclaims to the album’s doomed love interest “I'll see you again when our story gets retold” and then you discover the outro segues perfectly into the album’s opener. Recommend for anyone who has put Siamese Dream in sync with Fantasia.

5. The Joy Formidable - The Big Roar: For my money, there was no bigger album this year. The Big Roar is the album I had been waiting for since The (original) Smashing Pumpkins broke up in 2000. The Joy Formidable go full out on the whole record, punctuated by just a few well-placed soft moments to keep the albums momentum ever hurdling to the great closer. Any year is a great you when you find a new favorite band, which I did. Recommend for those who haven’t lost the faith that rock is still alive somewhere.

4. Mikal Cronin - s/t: There should always be a place in the music for traditional, pop-rock, verse-chorus-verse music. The funny thing is that what used to be the dependably prevalent mainstay of radio has become the underground of underground. Mikal Cronin’s debut is full of the best, timeless, old fashion rock and roll you could have hoped to find in recent years. It amazes me how below the radar this record was this year, especially when other albums that didn’t showcase as fine a craft reached a larger, quickly fizzled, spotlight. Recommend for people that own Beach Boys, Elvis, and Weezer records.

3. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues: Forget Miley Cyrus, if anything should be the soundtrack for the Occupy protests it should be Fleet Foxes’ Helplessness Blues. This album speaks like no other to the now mid-to-early twenty somethings struggling to find footing. A beautifully bewildered album, who doesn’t feel every sentiment in the title track. The good news is, there is a happy ending -- at least according to Fleet Foxes. Recommend for anyone who plans to spend time crafting a unique cover letter and tightening their resume for a part-time, un-paid position

2. Radiohead - The King of Limbs: King of Limbs gets much flack I feel is unwarranted. Yes, Radiohead-expectations are one thing, but Hail to the Thief this is not. What makes The King of Limbs great is that it is a soundscape. It is a very specific location, and feels like a story of that place. You hear the trees, the hills, the swampy texture -- from songs you can sing along to. Not even an album full of “Treefingers,” it contains some of the bands most accessible work. Recommend for those that remain absolutely pissed this wasn’t In Rainbows part 2.

1. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy: St. Vincent’s growth as an artist continues to bloom. The album rockets out of the gate with a trio of incredibly catchy songs. From there, Annie Clark digs into the meat of the record. Songs that stick with you, even if not in the way you immediately found “Cruel” and “Cheerleader.” Songs littered with manic fret work, sudden explosions and cool downs. “Diletantte” is just an absolute stumper-slash-marvel to listen to. The densest track on the record, there are so many hooks and riffs, different tones cutting in and out coming from different sources littered all throughout the song. It is hard to keep track of, but you’re not really supposed to. The song works on your subconscious. All a reflection of Annie Clark of course, the album wraps up with the cute and catchy “Year of the Tiger.” She clearly states she is the tiger, waiting for her time to shine, elsewhere in the album she muses it might be the hour. I wouldn’t oppose the idea. Recommend for those oblivious to Annie Clark’s appearance and those who can’t use Google Image Search.


I do have some "honorable mentions and gripes" but thats another post.

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Old 2011.12.16, 10:48 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Tokyo Jihad View Post
Recommend for those that remain absolutely pissed this wasn’t In Rainbows part 2.
My main gripe was that.... it didn't stray far enough from In Rainbows for me. Decent album all up though. I think the dumbest complaints about it however were the running time... this is piss weak reason to whine.

And I'll give some of them on your list a go, though I do smell a fair amount of whats on the 'fork.
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Old 2011.12.16, 10:49 PM   #3
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2011 Honorable mentions time!


PJ Harvey - Let England Shake: I'm going to go ahead and clear this up before anything. I am just one man and tried my darndest to listen to every noteworthy album in anyone's book. Let England Shake was pimped by many including by many who have far better taste than I do. I'm sure when I get to properly listen to this record, it will own me hard. Unfortunately, for my worthless list, it was a victim of my human disposition and I didn't make proper time for it.

Bad Lip Reading: This year we had records from The Lonely Island and Weird Al. They were completely neutralized on arrival as Bad Lip Reading blew them out of the water with their own brand of parody. Here's a link to their take on Michael Buble's "Just haven't met you yet", "Russian Unicorn." The best pop song I heard this year. Their take on Taylor Swift, also transcendent.

Lady Gaga - Born this Way: I kind of feel Lady Gaga was a victim of her own success as this album just doesn't seem to get the love I think it deserves (when The Fame Monster did, what?) She met some resistance when she debuted the title track with people calling out the "Express Yourself" likeness. Sometimes its a cop out to hide behind the word homage, but this is a case that is clearly apt -- was the overt nod with the gapped-teeth in the music video not blunt enough. An homage to one of her idols -- isn't that some of the highest forms of respect an artist can give another? Anyway, the album also is full of interesting homages to specifically european dance and industrial-tinged music. I thought it was pretty ballsy for a high profile pop record and more in line with her debut i reality.

Oneohtrix Point Never - Replica: This is a wonderful record. The only reason this wasn't in my list is because I didn't find it until after I had finalized my list. It is a minimalist ambient record, so it probably isn't for those that need to sing along with their music. But I do find it extremely accessible. The title track and "Sleep Dealer" are must hears.

Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact: A very groovy, fun record that becomes more interesting as I listen. The 11 minute opener, "Glass Jar" is a surprisingly fun and enjoyable listen and segues nicely into the standout "Adult Gothic."

Shabazz Palaces - Black Up: Odd Future/Tyler's Goblin was kind of long in the tooth, and Watch the Throne was fun for a cheap thrill, beyond that I thought it was a rather slow year for rap. Enter Shabazz Palaces. I implore my cousins (who are more in to that scene than I) to give this record a chance. I know in a couple years they'll recommend the album back obliviously.

SBTRKT - s/t: I have been told by several people that I carry no dance music. Is this at least a start?

The Flaming Lips - 7 Skies H3: aka the 24 hour song. I wish I could say I knew this thing front to back, but alas.

Chelsea Wolfe - Apokalypsis: A gothic pop record (kinda) -- the 90's are coming back kids! A very solid listen, doesn't drone on, ironically. Wish I could have put it on my list.

The Beach Boys - The SMiLE Sessions: How could I forget the REAL best album released this year? Since it is unclear whether to consider this a new release or not, I omitted it. But really, if you only listen to one record this year, make it this
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Old 2011.12.16, 11:12 PM   #4
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One last entry for the night

Jihad's 2011 playlist (in no particular order)
  Gang Gang Dance – “Adult Goth”
  Radiohead – “Give Up the Ghost”
  Oneohtrix Point Never – “Replica”
  The Joy Formidable – “Whirring”
  Tyler, The Creator – “Yonkers”
  Panda Bear – “Last Night at the Jetty”
  M83 – “Midnight City”
  Yuck – “Georgia”
  Radiohead – “Morning Mr. Magpie”
  Lady Gaga – “Marry the Night"
  tUnEyArDs – “Bizness”
  Fleet Foxes – “Helplessness Blues”
  Ty Segall – “Goodbye Bread”
  Bon Iver – “Perth”
  Alina Simone – “Beautiful Machine”
  Wye Oak – “Holy Holy”
  Battles – “Ice Cream”
  SBTRKT – “Wildfire”
  The Dodos – “Don’t Try and Hide it”
  Thao and Mirah – “Eleven”
  Bad Lip Reading – “(Rockin’) All Night Long”
  Eisley – “Better Love”
  Smith Westerns  - “Weekend”
  Youth Lagoon – “17”
  Fucked Up – “The Other Shoe”
  Cass McCombs – “County Line”
  St. Vincent – “Cruel”
  Typhoon – “The Honest Truth”
  Be Forest – “Blind Boy”
  St. Vincent – “Year of the Tiger”
  James Blake – “Curbside”
  St. Vincent – “Cheerleader”
  Bad Lip Reading – “Russian Unicorn”
  Grooms – “Tiger Trees”
  Chelsea Wolfe – “Demons”
  Beirut – “Santa Fe”
  Stephen Malkmus – “Tigers”
  Adele – “Someone Like You”
  Lykke Li – “Silent my Song”
  Cut Copy – “Take Me Over”
  The Flaming Lips with Lightning Bolt – “I Want to get High But I don’t want Brain Damage”
  WU LYF – “Spitting Blood”
  Nicki Minaj - "Super Bass"
  Wilco – “Whole Love”
  Twin Sister – “Gene Ciampi”
  The Weeknd – “House of Balloons”
  Okkervil River – “Your Past Life is a Blast”
  Neon Indian – “Polish Girl”
  Kimbra – “Settle Down”
  Mikal Cronin – “Apathy”
  M83 – “Wait”
  Feist – “How Come you Never go there?”
  James Blake and Bon Iver – “Fall Creek Boys Choir”
  Atlas Sound – “The Shakes”
  Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – “Dream On”
  Kanye West and Jay Z – “Otis”
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Old 2011.12.17, 09:03 AM   #5
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At the beginning of the year I consciously decided to spend less time worrying about finding 2011-new (chronologically new, rather than just new-to-me) music I liked, because it's been becoming obvious that for all the effort I put into checking out new music, I come up with very little I like. Even so, I've spent the last three months playing catch up with the year. Sorry, no point to make here. Maybe I'll post my short list with comments later.
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Old 2011.12.17, 03:58 PM   #6
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you can call it overrated but I would say 21 by Adele warrants mention, as does my favorite album of 2011, Ceremonials by Florence and the Machine. Time named No Light No Light the track of the year and the album as the second best of the year. I wouldn't be surprised if she gets nominated for another Mercury Prize although who knows if she will win it.

I think saying Strange Mercy is the best album of the year is a kind of a push for me. It just don't see the progression or evolution of sound from her. Cruel is a fantastic track though.

this is probably my personal pick for song of the year. the studio version kicks my ass every time I hear it and the stripped down acoustic version is a whole other beast.

What the Water Gave Me (acoustic)
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Old 2011.12.17, 04:23 PM   #7
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21 was good. I didn't expect much, and I was surprised. The songs are very same-y, but her voice is amazing. Florence has the same problem but for some reason I liked Adele more.

I also really liked Strange Mercy. I haven't listened to most of those albums yet, but I will.

Hm, here are a couple that I enjoyed (not loved)
1. Strange Mercy
2. Night of Hunters
3. Biophilia
4. soundbeams (salyu)
5. Vows (Kimbra)
6. Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under (Track 4 to 7 Only. Rest is shit)
7. Wounded Rhymes

Even though I liked Dai-Hakken, I don't think it's worth mentioning. Also boo to Perfume's JPN. Not that great.

With this I realized my interests in music are very surface. I should dig deeper to discover better artists, not just well-known ones. I'll listen to these albums, Jihad.
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Old 2011.12.17, 04:35 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by TurtleFu View Post
21 was good. I didn't expect much, and I was surprised. The songs are very same-y, but her voice is amazing. Florence has the same problem but for some reason I liked Adele more.

I also really liked Strange Mercy. I haven't listened to most of those albums yet, but I will.

Hm, here are a couple that I enjoyed (not loved)
1. Strange Mercy
2. Night of Hunters
3. Biophilia
4. soundbeams (salyu)
5. Vows (Kimbra)
6. Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under (Track 4 to 7 Only. Rest is shit)
7. Wounded Rhymes

Even though I liked Dai-Hakken, I don't think it's worth mentioning. Also boo to Perfume's JPN. Not that great.

With this I realized my interests in music are very surface. I should dig deeper to discover better artists, not just well-known ones. I'll listen to these albums, Jihad.
in Adele's case I would generally agree but in Florence's case I'd say that I disagree with that statement. Mainly because she has a very distinct sound but I don't think that causes the songs to sound "samey." There is no way a song like Seven Devils sounds like Shake It Up, and Dog Days does not sound like Blinding. There wasn't a tremendous difference in sound between Lungs and Ceremonials, but I think Florence is still figuring out what type of artist she wants to be. She was awarded the Critics Choice Award before she had even recorded Lungs so she had massive pressure without even putting her name on anything. I think Ceremonials was her stepping into her skin as an acclaimed and well received artist and it kind of took what she was playing with on Lungs to a more realized and direct sound, more aggressive. But that said, other than her distinct use of harp and percussive elements, the song structures are all quite different. A song like What the Water Gave Me has more in common with 80's goth and a song like Lover to Lover is straight from the 60's. But that is just one guy's opinion.
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Old 2011.12.17, 05:04 PM   #9
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Your lists are all weak. No mention of Gold Cobra by Limp Bizkit. For shame :-p

No but in all seriousness:

1. Let England Shake (PJ Harvey)- this is the one and only, truly amazing album I heard all year. The atmosphere, production, just plain everything is good about it.
2. Reform (Jane Zhang)- yes, I'm a sorry sop for this woman, her voice makes me go a big wet one everytime she hits her high notes, and in general, she's just plain better than the rest of the Chinese popstars
3. Heritage (Opeth)- I am a sucker for Opeth, this is no exception. They decided to go 1970s prog sounding, and in turn released the first non-brickwalled album ever on Roadrunner records :-p
4. Pain is a Warning (Today is the Day)- Heavy, heavy and wait, country/southern? From the mind of Steve Austin (not the wrestler)? Sold!
5. Daihakken (Tokyo Jihen)- yeah, yeah, you knew it was gonna be on my list.

You have no idea how hard I found it to even think of 5 albums I liked enough to rank as besties this year. Daihakken I liked, then meh'd, now like again, and by looks of it, it's my most played 2011 album by far on last.fm so I guess I like it more than I actually think I do, so that's why I decided to put it in there. And also, can't think of anything else I actually played as much. Nope, my 2011 was made up of collection filling and re-releases of Togawa stuff :-p

With that said

Best reissue of 2011:
Jun Togawa YEN Collection

Best music DVD:
Midori- Sayonara Goto San
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Old 2011.12.17, 05:18 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by kuro_neko View Post
I think saying Strange Mercy is the best album of the year is a kind of a push for me. It just don't see the progression or evolution of sound from her. Cruel is a fantastic track though.
I think the progression is from her as a musician. Before I think the songs centered around her vocal performance where Strange Mercy was more centered around her instrumental performance.

I mean, its a little bit of a push, sure; just depends on what you're expecting to take home from an album.
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