Best Music of 2011

You guys heard about this thing called music? It’s gettin around, eh? Coming into it’s own. This year was a bit strange for me and music. I felt this year I really had a relationship in some manner with music. Like we were getting somewhere. We seem to be understanding each other a bit better. Letting each other be ourselves, you know? We had some wild rides, fun times, sad sighs, created memories and just listened to each other this year. I snuck tastes of it when noone was looking like Cliff Huxtable with a dagwood. I forced my toddler son to ingest it like it was cooked vegetables or spinach. I stayed up until 4 or 5 on numerous occasions just to be alone with it. To me this year was a GREAT year for jams.

So I felt like I wanted to give something back to this “thing” that continually gives me gifts like a well off grandma. I decided I was going to copy a friend of mine and make my “best of” list at the end of the year and actually buy albums (vinyl if available, yeah!) from my top 5 or ten. It made for much more pressure in making my rankings emotionally knowing that financially I will backup my decisions. Anyway, I’ve already purchased my top album of the year and can’t wait to get the rest.

I was going to post something totally different this year. I was going to rerank the songs from last year because I was soooo far offf. I mean, Erykah Badu is still obviously #1 but how could I not rank Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings and Best Coast. Lia Ices, Polar Bear (not Panda Bear), ceo, Miami Horror and Drake should have all been at least in my top 20. But I realized the reason that noone reranks lists is because it’s totally boring and mostly dumb because we all fail at lists but they are always right because they’re our opinion. All that to say, here’s my 2011 list. Again, this is what I felt were my favorites of the year. I can’t play an instrument besides a weak beatbox and a little cornet from middle school. So I don’t pretend to know the technical ish. In the words of the Apple Jacks sleepover teens, “We eat what we like!” Right?

Honorable mention (worth checking out):
When Saints Go Machine (wins worst name of the year!) – Konkylie
for fans of: Hercules & Love Affair, electropop, The Knife
If you can get over that name you can enjoy some sweet Danish jams with tons of great vocals and electonic sounds. Recommended for people who are awesome.
Watch/hear “Parix” here

Big K.R.I.T. – Return of 4eva
for fans of: Goodie Mob, Devin the Dude, Scarface, Big Boi
Southern Rap is still alive! Has some good stuff here. This young dude has a head on his shoulders and still knows when to goof with the parental advisory shiiiiiiiiiz.
Watch the video for “R4 Theme Song”

Booker T. Jones – The Road From Memphis
for fans of: Funk, Southern Soul, Charles Bradley
I mean the dude fronted Booker T. and The MGs, gimme a break. This is that real good soul. Cover of Lauryn Hill, Gnarls Barkley, even has that dude from My Morning Jacket on a nice summer style jam. Sick organs.
Performing the Lauryn Hill song “Everything is Everything” with the Roots. Yes.

Thundercat – The Golden Age of Apocalypse
for fans of: Psychedelic Jazz & Funk, George Duke
One of my most anticipated albums of the year. Thundercat is a sick bass player who’s played for Badu, Flying Lotus, Suicidal Tendencies, German Boy Bands and Snoop. “I do believe that hip-hop can be the new jazz, and I’m helping create that.”
He also put out one of the top songs of the year

Others I couldn’t fit on the list but are great are: Julianna Barwick (ambient church choir drones), Feist (you know her), Junior Boys, Ambrose Akinmusire (yay Jazz), Mark McGuire, The Weeknd ( hubba hubba) AND MORE! They just weren’t good enough to make it. Kinda like Tyler Palko (this reference will be lost on everyone in two months).


And Now, what you’ve all been waiting for…stuff you can make fun of me for. My list of best 20 albums of 2011!! Yay!

20. Youth Lagoon – The Year of Hibernation
for fans of: Beach House, Real Estate, Toro y Moi, the xx
Dream Pop is the new term this year. This Boise teen put out 8 songs that sound exactly like that genre sounds. Here’s a taste!

19. Roots – Undun
for fans of: Hip hop, stories, sufjan (yes Sufjan)
We all know who these guys are. ?uestlove put out a concept album for the bands 13th album.
It’s short. and really good. And Sufjan plays on it. Here’s a short film sample. Heath, you should get this.

18. James Blake – James Blake
For Fans of: Antony, jamie xx, Mount Kimbie, Dubstep
The tennis star jokes are over. The tempo has slowed. Milky smooth sounds with bits of beaty goodness.
Check it out.

17. Washed Out – Within and Without
for fans of: Chillwave, Toro y Moi, a laid back M83
This guy is good. Creating layered echoey (?) soundscapes that make you relax and enjoy that you don’t have a job. I feel like going to the beach or wearing sweats all day when I listen to this.

16. Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
for fans of: Feist, Florence & The Machine, Indie Pop, Stars

I mean that song is fire as they say. I’ve listened to it more than I’ve showered this month. Which isn’t much but still more than most songs, maybe.? There are more great songs where that came from.

15. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
for fans of: Bon Iver, Tallest Man on Earth, the 70s
You all know about this

14. Frank Ocean – nostalgia/Ultra
for fans of: The Weeknd, Drake, Ne-Yo, R Kelly, that new kind of R&B that you’re not sure about
Erica introduced me to this thinking that I knew about it. Finally an R&B album I can be proud to push on someone. He hangs out with Tyler, The Creator though so take that for what you will.

13. Holy Ghost! – Holy Ghost!
for fans of: Cut Copy, Miami Horror, Bag Raiders, awesome party electro dance funk
This was produced by my favorite DJ, U-Tern. It has a song with Michael McDonald, sometimes sounds New Order-ish. And makes you wanna get down like a toilet seat in an all-female apartment. Paco, seriously get this now!

12. The Black Keys – El Camino
for fans of: The White Stripes, Blues Rock, Left Lane Cruiser (hahaha)
Y’all know these guys are like whiskey in your ears.

11. Wye Oak – Civilian
for fans of: St. Vincent, Yeasayer maybe?, The Rosebuds, shoegaze?
Reppin’ women lead singers this year in my list, eh? This album is rediculous (in a great way) and makes me kinda wanna like IndieRock again.

10. Adele – 21
for fans of: Amy Winehouse, Beyonce, Jill Scott, good singin with some soul tinge.
Don’t hate, it really is that good. Screw you elitist indie fools.

9. Real Estate – Days
for fans of: Neil Young, Midlake, Girls, dogs, hangin’ out in hoodies
I hadn’t really heard of these guys enough to actually check em out till now, but wow. I love how this is the ultimate in camping music. Right? I mean think about it. Sorry I don’t have anything better to say than that but it’s great.

8. Tennis – Cape Dory
for fans of: Best Coast, Real Estate, Girls
funny how these last two sound so similar. This is technically 2011 so I threw it on here because I love the retro feeling of this lo-fi music. Plus the band is a married couple! Yay.

7. Mayer Hawthorne – How Do You Do
for fans of: Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Jamie Lidell, Raphael Saadiq
Detroit soul that sounds like modern Smokey Robinson from Stones Throw Records. He’s awesome with a tight falsetto and a great band behind him. The song with Snoop is probably the worst. And that song’s pretty good. I will be getting this on vinyl. Debating putting this in my top 3.

This is not his band but this performance is awesome.

6. Drake – Take Care
for fans of: the hip-hop kinda music that makes you think rap is dead and simultaneously think that whatever this is could be nice too, also Lil’ Wayne, The Weeknd, dbags who think they’re cool
Drake is an addiction for me. I sometimes just have to listen to him but I would never do it in public and assuredly would be ashamed later but the entire time during the experience is amazing. He makes me hate myself, but love certain things about his music (which honestly wouldn’t be that good without “40” producing 90% of his tracks. He can’t rap at all. But the sing/rapping is where it’s at. I love it, I hate it. Plus Stevie Wonder has a harmonica solo. I mean just look at this guy. What a douche but…still he’s got game of some kind. Canada!

5. Cut Copy – Zonoscope
for fans of: 80s pop, Miami Horror, The Neverending Story, Holy Ghost, The Rapture
This is awesome! Dance with your toddlers for an hour to this and you’ll never go back. At times sounds like Duran Duran, INXS and every awesome 80s new wave dance and then sounds totally new the next minute. At times the lead singer sounds just like my buddy Jon Keller. Which is good since he’s really a great musician too. Dance your toes right through your Toms off you hipsters. BTW, Toms is a good brand.

4. Slow Club – Paradise
for fans of: joyous, charming, folk-pop, necessary good jams
This was the most surprising album of the year for me. I’d never even heard of them until I just read a decent review on like AV Club or something. Seriously, this album is INCREDIBLE! It grows and grows on you like chesthair or Christmas pounds but in the best way possible. Please listen to this and enjoy it as much as I have. Please.

3. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
sounds like: Jonsi, Fleet Foxes, James Blake, The National, ethereal folk
Not much to be said that hasn’t already been. The sound is great, I even like the 80s Chicago-esque Beth-Rest. Y’all know about this.

2. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
for fans of: The Field, Washed Out, Air France, great life soundtracks for doing anything at all
M83 is great. This album is a double so it will probably cost me some extra when I buy it. But it can’t be denied. Do you hear this? I hear it in my dreams. My waking hours. I breathe it. Indulge yourself. This video will hook you, then go get the album and love it forever.

1. Charles Bradley – No Time For Dreaming
for fans of: retro soul, Menahan Street Band, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, James Brown, stories of tough times
Charles Bradley was a child who lived on the streets, got shipped around, fell in love with the energy of James Brown, was a chef, finally started a band, then they all got drafted to Vietnam, then he went back to being a chef, then a handyman, then had his brother killed by his nephew, then finally found Daptone Records. This man is a miracle, his life, his voice, his studio band (my favorite group in music today, Menahan Street Band) his pain his lyrics are all real. This is the best album in 3 or 4 years.

I’m proud to say I’ve already bought this record. I mean that literally.

So there you have it. The best of the best. Enjoy it while it lasts. You can’t take it with you. Plus, I’ll probably change it tomorrow. But honestly, thanks for at least reading this. You’re a great friend and/or person. Peace be with you, and also with you.


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