Tuesday, December 20, 2011

So Many Great Records, Part 1

Here we are once again. At the end of the year, reflecting on all that we’ve been through. Scrolling through the longlist I’ve been keeping on Notepad in my iPod, 2011 has been an especially good year for new music – in fact, this is the longest longlist I’ve had since I started keeping track this way about 5 years ago.

Once again, my Top 20 (albums and songs) will be recapped on a countdown show on UMFM beginning at 4pm CST on December 31, 2011. Until then, I've got four posts of about twenty albums I'm going to list alphabetically, starting with A-D. Maybe you should fix and drink before you settle in...

A.M. Overcast - Shepherd Moon [Independent]

The best Pinback album Rob Crow had nothing to do with. Still hoping to get the band in for a live session at UMFM.

A.M. Overcast - Haystacks Northbound by A.M. Overcast

Acid House Kings - Music Sounds Better With You [Labrador]

Their last album was my #1 record of 2005. This was solid, just not as mind-blowing ear-worm packed as Sing Along With… You're going to see several past Top 20 artists amongst the longlisters as the 20-of-11 features a lot of the newness.

Akron/Family – Akron/Family II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey on Shinju TNT [Dead Oceans]

Sometimes albums are able to overcome the ludicrous nature of their title. This was one instance.

AM & Shawn Lee - Celestial Electric [ESL]

Shawn Lee is the friggin’ king of collab. After fantastic results working with Clutchy Hopkins and Bei Bei, he teams up with AM (no relation to A.M. Overcast) and drops another funk-bomb.
AM & Shawn Lee - City Boy by AMSOUNDS

Antlers - Burst Apart [Frenchkiss/Transgressive]

“Putting The Dog To Sleep” gives “Bear” a run for its money as the most heartbreaking song Antlers have recorded so far.

Arbouretum - The Gathering [Thrill Jockey]

This may be the first time a Thrill Jockey artist didn’t make my Top 20, but there are a few more from the label on the longlist. First up is this big, ballsy rock record.

Atlas Sound – Parallax [4AD]

Bradford Cox just got a “Gummy” as one of the Top 10 Indie Rock Crushes of 2011. I didn’t submit his name (*cough, cough Feist cough*), but maybe I should have. Though based on prior appearances by Atlas Sound and Deerhunter on my year-end lists, I should probably just name the award after him.
Atlas Sound - Parallax - 03 - Te Amo by Moonpixel

Balam Acab - Wander/Wonder [Tri Angle]

Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten older and expend energy keeping up with a toddler, but I just can’t keep up with all the micro-genre distinctions we seem to be making these days. Could I tell you what ‘witch house’ actually is? No. But apparently Balam Acab makes witch house and I know that Wander/Wonder is really good. So I guess I like witch house.

Baseball Project - Vol. 2 High and Inside [Yep Roc]

I play in a fantasy baseball league with a bunch of other folks involved in the music ‘business’ (I use that figure loosely since I’m including myself) so I can tell you that an album of indie-rock songs about baseball is most definitely target-marketed.
C'mon Prince (Stay In Milwaukee) by The Baseball Project

Battles - Gloss Drop [Warp]

While Mirrored ranked at #8 in 2007 Gloss Drop didn’t really blow me away like the debut. It’s solid, but it left me wondering what they were up to beside touring during those four years.
Ice Cream (Featuring Matias Aguayo) by BATTLES

Ben Westbeech - There's More To Life Than This [Strictly Rhythm]

Listening to this album is dangerous. End-up-with-a-baby-in-10-months dangerous.
ben westbeech - inflections (produced by henrik schwarz) by frau.hirsch

Black Keys - El Camino [Nonesuch]

It used to be you knew that December was a waste-land of Best Of compilations and Christmas albums so you didn’t have to worry about any last-minute entries on your list and could spend the month whittling it down. But the Black Keys had to go and make me question my Top 20.
The Black Keys: El Camino by -gaga

Bog River - Hands In The Ground [Independent]

I reviewed the record from this local roots trio for Airtimes, and I’d encourage you to give it a read.

"Before I Let You Go" can be heard here.

Braids - Native Speaker [Flemish Eye]

I had the great pleasure of recording Raphaelle Standell-Preston at UMFM years ago in a late-night session after a show. I knew then that she (and her band) were bound for greatness. Native Speaker is that greatness.
BRAIDS - Native Speaker by BRAIDS

Charles Bradley - No Time For Dreaming [Dunham/Daptone]

The story behind Bradley and this album is almost as good as the music itself. Almost.
Charles Bradley by Dunham Records

Christine Fellows - Femme De Chez Nous [Six Shooter Records]

Fellows always releases sleepers. And by that I don’t mean albums that put you to sleep (although she does write some lovely lullabies). I mean the great albums that fly under the radar.

Cut Copy – Zonoscope [Modular]

This album nearly made it on the strength of one amazing song, but there’s some other really solid stuff if you can get past hitting repeat endlessly on the best Talking Heads song David Byrne didn’t write.
Cut Copy - Blink And You'll Miss A Revolution by modularpeople

Dawes - Nothing Is Wrong [ATO Records]

This seems to be one of those bands that are finding their way onto a lot of disparate year-end-lists. Folkies and roots rockers love it as much as the indie set. Not sure which camp I belong to though.

Deer Tick - Divine Providence [Partisan/Dine Alone]

One of those records that feels like it should have a layer of dust on it - like you found it in your cool uncle’s old collection. These are songs that have been lived in, and still have life in them.
Deer Tick - Chevy Express by flamgirlant

Devotchka - 100 Lovers [Epitaph]

This was the great leap forward for Devotchka. They eased off on the straight-up gypsy sounds and found their own, distinct sound that incorporated their past but pointed to an exciting future.
All the Sand In All the Sea by Mad Guru

Dominant Legs – Invitation [Lefse]

I wrote pretty glowingly about this record back in September, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see it make the longlist…
8. Dominant Legs - Hoop Of Love by wepromised

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