1. New Monsters Collective- Spaceland
2. The ACB’s – Stona Rosa
3. Nerves Junior-As Bright As Your Neon Light
4. Double Wedding
5. The North Decade- What You’d Give Up Tomorrow You’ll Pay For Today
6. Telekinesis- 12 Desperate Straight Lines
7. Lonely Forest- Arrows
8. Ha HA Tonka- Death of a Decade
9. Yellow Ostrich- The Mistress
10. Dolfish- Your Love is Bumming Me Out
(#4 is a song I recorded with some 3rd graders at an elementary school songwriting camp)
Best thing that happened to you in 2011:
I went to the dentist for the first time since 9/11/2001 and the Pujols trade.
What you’re looking forward to in 2012:
Dragon Inn 3 (my nu thang)
Ghoul School (a new movie by Brook Linder)
Truth and Justice for the 3 missing women
When Vitamin Water buys out Pitchfork and Yeltsin headlines VitaminWaterFest
Best Holiday memory from when you were a kid:
I got a dope David and Goliath action figure set one year.
Music We Liked From This Year:
Mike Quinn – Magico
Key Losers – California Lite
Generationals – Actor Castor
Langor – Ladyblade
They Might Be Giants – Spoiler Alert
Music we liked this year that came out in another year:
Penguin Cafe Orchestra – Penguin Cafe Orchestra
Al Green – Tired of Being Alone
Sybylle Baier – Tonight
Raymond Scott – Soothing Sounds for Baby
John Prine – In Spite of Ourselves
The Would-Be-Goods – The Camera Loves Me
Nina Simone – Little Girl Blue
Pic-Nic – Callate Niña
Konono Nº1 – Congotronics
Billy Meshel – I Blew It
Best thing that happened to you in 2011:
I lived through 11/11/11 the last fully binary day of our lifetime (when you write out the date). also, I found out that every year 11/11 is national corduroy appreciation day. – nick
What you’re looking forward to in 2012:
Releasing our new album, Shy Pursuit and all the fun stuff that comes with that.
Best Holiday memory from when you were a kid:
Eating cookies my mom makes, some are little meringue things, others are balls that have powder sugar on em, and some are just sugar cookies. now she has started making springerle cookies…which are the best holiday cookie ever created. i’m learning how to make em this year…so that will be nice. – nick
1. Phantogram – “Don’t Move”
2. YACHT – “I Walked Alone”
3. Blood Orange – “Champagne Coast”
4. Class Actress – “Weekend”
5. Discodeine – “Synchronized”
6. Grimes – “Oblivion”
7. Holy Ghost! – “Hold My Breath”
8. Drake – “HYFR”
9. Slowdance – “Les Reines”
10. Beyoncé – “Party”
#1 has to be “Rolling In The Deep.” Though thanks to modern American
radio playlists, I’ve heard it so many times in the last year, I’ve
developed a strong hatred for it. But there is no denying it’s one of the
best songs in the past few years. Great production, great songwriting,
great execution….and of course, a tremendous vocal.
Bon Iver – “Holocene”
The Strokes – “Gratisfaction”
Foo Fighters – “Rope”
Tally Hall – “A Hymn For A Scarecrow”
Young The Giant – “My Body”
Noel Gallagher – “The Death Of You And Me”
Foster The People – “Pumped Up Kicks”
Beyonce – “Love On Top”
Britney Spears – “Till The World Ends”
Best thing that happened to you in 2011: Only having a few chipped teeth
as a result of diving into shallow water.
What you’re looking forward to in 2012: More touring…stateside and abroad!
Best Holiday memory from when you were a kid: In 1989, it snowed in
Florida a couple of days before Christmas. It was the first and only
white Christmas I’ve had in Florida to this day.
ARMS (Todd Goldstein)
1. Wild Beasts – Smother
I was initially suspicious of Wild Beasts’ new album – too much space, too few “songs”, the weirdness of their past albums somehow lost… but somewhere in there I fell in love. Smother is sexy and strange and immaculately produced and arranged – it’s also ineffably sad, and it’s that just-out-of-reach tone that kept me searching the sound, coming back to this album over and over again this year.
2. Nicolas Jaar – Space is Only Noise
3. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
4. Richard Buckner – Our Blood
5. Kate Bush – 50 Words for Snow
6. Sandro Perri – Impossible Spaces
7. Robag Wruhme – Thora Vukk
8. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
9. Liturgy – Aesthethica
10. James Blake – James Blake
Best thing that happened to you in 2011: After months of work and struggle, we self-released our new album, Summer Skills. I just got a new tattoo to celebrate!
What you’re looking forward to in 2012: Touring, and writing more songs.
Best Holiday memory from when you were a kid: The absolute, all-encompassing joy I felt upon receiving Mario Bros 3 for Chanukah. I had just seen “The Wizard” with Fred Savage, and this was pretty much the best present a 10-year-old could ask for. I think I cried with joy, which is retrospect is kind of weird.
Josh T Pearson – Last of the Country Gentlemen
Bon Iver – Bon Iver
Wye Oak – Civillian
Real Estate – Days
Telekinesis – Desperate Straight Lines
Little Light – The Winter EP
Dan Mangan – Oh Fortune
King Creosote & Jon Hopkins – Diamond Mine
Explosions in the Sky – Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
St Vincent – Strange Mercy
I’ve known Josh T Pearson since I was a teenager. He’s always been an inspiration to me in music and life. The man lives and breathes every note he plays, every word he sings, every soul he swoons. I’m in awe of his talents and spirit. Instead of breaking rules, he makes new ones. Texas is the reason and Last of the Country Gentlemen is the way home.
Note: These aren’t really in any particular order (because music isn’t a competition, duh).
Deerhoof – “Deerhoof vs. Evil”….Like 2007’s ‘Friend Opportunity’, this album is tied for being Deerhoof’s most ‘produced’ sounding record, but still has its moments of chaos. If Deerhoof isn’t your favorite band on the planet yet, check out their free live record, “99% Upset Feeling” that was released as a companion piece this year (and then buy everything they’ve put out from ‘Reveille’ onward). My personal favorite band of the new millennium, and while not my favorite of theirs, “Deerhoof vs. Evil” is a stellar addition to their discography with some totally banging singles.
Delicate Steve – “Wondervisions”….An album of spastic, world-influenced guitar-led instrumentals that breathe and climax in ways that have been largely forgotten by indie rock. Some of my favorite background music ever. Wonderful ‘vibes’ (pardon the phrase) all around.
Yellowbirds – “The Color”….Sam Cohen’s debut ‘solo’ record (guitarist of Apollo Sunshine), and the results are brilliant. Great songs, wonderful guitar playing, and a sound and mood that nobody else is occupying at the moment. This album is total musical poetry to me.
TV on the Radio – “Nine Types of Light”….Great songs, great album, great band. Future music worthy of the hype.
They Might Be Giants – “Join Us”….As silly and scatterbrained as any of their early records, ‘Join Us’ managed to worm its way into my brain in ways I wasn’t expecting. “When Will You Die?” belongs on a list of top 10 songs John Linnell has ever written.
Jay Z/Kanye West – “Watch the Throne”….No explanation really necessary here.
Grateful Dead – “Europe 72, Vol. 2″….I love the Grateful Dead. Accept this as something you can’t change and move on (I know you’re angry). This album was released as a companion to “Europe ’72”, an album I’ve worn out from spinning over and over again. The hour-long Dark Star/Drums/The Other One that makes up the bulk of the second disc is hypnotic and otherworldly. And the ‘Playing’ that closes the first disc totally shreds.
Ahleuchatistas – “Location, Location”…Reduced to a duo for this record, they’ve trimmed away a lot of their old math-rock tendencies (which I also loved) and emerged with something resembling an instrumental political/noise/punk/free-jazz record. A great (and totally overlooked) record that belongs in anyone’s collection who likes adventurous and ugly guitar playing.
Fleet Foxes – “Helplessness Blues”….I didn’t love self-titled, but this album is gorgeous and imaginative. In spite of being the type of band that you could claim was heavily and directly influenced by other bands (CSNY, Simon and Garfunkel, etc etc), they’ve really created their own world on this album and I love hanging out in it.
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – “Mirror Traffic”….To put it bluntly, this album sounds like Pavement. So therefore, it’s really, really great. “Senator” is one of the funniest and best songs I’ve heard all year….And though I’d like to say only Stephen Malkmus can get away with singing a chorus with the lyric “I know what the senator wants: what the senator wants is a blowjob”, I think I’m just mad that he thought of it first.
White Denim – “D”….Between Yellowbirds, Deerhoof, Delicate Steve, and White Denim, it’s really good to hear aggressive and tasteful guitar playing. With all of the shoegazey/dreamy stuff going on, it’s incredibly refreshing to hear a band that kinda sounds like…well…Yes. Proggy and loopy, with some great guitar playing and solid songwriting. I’m a new convert to White Denim.
St. Vincent – “Strange Mercy”….I didn’t fall for it quite like ‘Actor’, but this record is still great. St. Vincent is going to be making great records for decades to come (I have a hunch), so you might as well jump on the bandwagon now.
Deleted Scenes – “Young People’s Church of the Air”….One of my friends said it best when he described the sound of this album as ‘one of the best albums you’ve ever heard playing in another room’. While their live performances are totally in-your-face indie rock a la other DC icons the Dismemberment Plan, this album is really subdued and beautiful. ‘Bedbedbedbedbed’ is such an amazing song. This album should be vastly more popular and you should buy it immediately.
Tereu Tereu – “NW EP”….’Savage Love’ is one of the sickest rock songs I’ve heard all year (in every sense of the word SICK), and the EP is great from top-to-bottom. Heavily DC-influnced, with delicious little bits of Medications, Fugazi, and D-Plan. Totally stoked for their next full-length….And NOT just because they’re my friends. I swear.
Norwegian Arms – “Trimming of Hides EP”/”Sibir EP”….Once again, another friend….But I happen to know a lot of people making great music, OK?? Analog-made freak folk with unusual percussion and tastes of what I would describe as a more spastic Neutral Milk Hotel. I WANT A FULL LENGTH ALBUM FROM YOU, BRENDAN…OK? But in the meantime, get these EPs because they’re sick.
Trawler – “Northern Star EP”….Dear friend of mine, recorded in Nashville. Old school folk music with some 60s rock influence thrown in. ‘Kill Olympia’ is unreal. I’ll wait and bestow more praise when the full-length comes out.
The Psychic Paramount – “II”
Hella – “Tripper”
Tuneyards – “Whokill”
Cave – “Neverendless”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – “It’s a Corporate World”
Traffique – “Endless Weekend Mixtape”
Kate Bush – “50 Words for Snow”
Trouble Books and Mark McGuire – “s/t”
Radiohead – “The King of Limbs”
Marissa Nadler – “s/t”
Joe Lally – “Why Should I Get Used to It”
Joan of Arc – “Life Like”
10) Time New Viking – Dancer Equired
9) Pujol – Nasty, Brutish, and Short
8) Yuck – Yuck
7) Stephen Malkmus & The Jick – Mirror Traffic
6) Fucked Up – David Comes To Life
5) OFF! – First Four EPs
4) Tyler, The Creator – Goblin
3) The Black Keys – El Camino
2) Bon Iver – Bon Iver
1) JEFF the Brotherhood – We Are The Champions
JEFF the Brotherhood are so fucking loud, it’s awesome. We got to play with them back in August and it ruled. One of the best live shows around.
10. The Rotten Jazz Quartet “Sing Damnit”
These guys have such a unique sound and draw from so many different influences. Its like a real rockabilly Tom Waits on acid.
9. Fleet Foxes “Helplessness Blues”
Good stuff to relax to.
8.V THE VIPER “IIIIV (ONE)”
Some good mash-ups for when you’re in the mood to party.
7. The Downtown Struts “Sail the Seas Dry”
These dudes take the punk rock road that bands like Social D, Rancid, and NoFX, paved and take it step further.
6. The Rolling Stones “Some Girls Reissue” I guess this doesn’t really count but I’m so into the tune “No spare parts” which TECHNICALLY is new.
5.Porches “Scrap and Love Songs Revisted”
My buddy Aaron is one of the most talented people I know.
4.Biters “All Chewed Up”
This band is one of the tightest I have ever seen. See them live.
3.Social Distortion “Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes”
This is my all time favorite band, so they are automatically guaranteed a spot in the top three. I’ve been waiting for this album for so long.
2.Liquor Store “Yeah Buddy”
These guys fuckin’ rule. Really epic punk songs.
1.The Booze “At Maximum Volume”
I’m sorry to say that these guys have recently disbanded. This was my album of the summer, I wore this thing out.
Best thing that happened to me in 2011:
The best thing that happened to me in 2011 was releasing our first full length album. We are all so proud of that sucker, and its been getting a good response which is all we can ask for. Also, opening for CJ Ramone at Webster Hall was so cool. I can remember listening to the album “Mondo Bizarro” on cassette,which he played and sang on when I was 12, so to be able to share the stage with him was surreal.
In 2012 I’m looking forward to finally getting on the road again. We haven’t toured in a dog’s age.
1. The Low Anthem – Smart Flesh
2. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
3. The Felice Brothers – Celebration, Florida
4. Bright Eyes – The People’s Key
5. Blind Pilot – We Are the Tide
6. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
7. Sam Roberts – Collider
8. Chris Bathgate – Salt Year
9. Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire
10. Jessica Lea Mayfield – Tell Me
Best thing that happened to me in 2011: My first UK tour was undoubtedly a major highlight of the year. The crowds were amazing, and I couldn’t have asked for better traveling companions than Jesse Malin & the St. Marks Social.
What I’m Looking Forward to in 2012: Releasing my new album! Recording’s almost done and I’m so excited about sharing it. Definitely a different feel than ‘Down Wires.’
Best Holiday Memory from When I was a Kid: Eating myself into a homemade ravioli coma at my grandparents’ house annually. I plan to keep the streak alive this year.
Black Lips – Arabia Mountain (Vice) – While longtime fans keep expecting a drop-off, and new converts still yell for on-stage peeing (annoying said longtime fans), the Black Lips continue to traverse the globe for inspiration while always holding a stash of huge yankee garage-pop hooks in their ass-pocket. So much so this time, that this is probably the most fully enjoyable Lips album to date, after 10+ years in the game!
Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring for My Halo (Matador)
After dishing up some of the cooler scruffy garage-art of the last couple years with his Violators around him, Vile dishes up this beautiful, subtly brazen solo salvo, fogged-up with 12:45am ruminating folk, best left to your weakest mood points on the rainiest nights. Though it all retains enough scruff, snarl, and thrift store demeanor to be enjoyed on a 6pm ride home. So sink into this stuff before the inevitable focus-destroying Kanye photo opp and DJ of the Week remix.
Acid Baby Jesus – S/T (Slovenly)
A more scarred, psych-pep take on all that fuzzy, echoey, melancholy early-60s melody garage-plop churning through the indie underbelly (I call it “Hardly Artcore”), and unwittingly suffused with the oddly inspiring empty pockets of the Grecian economy nosedive. Layers of frightened bellowing and otherwordly distortion, with sticky, oily hooks outta nowhere, make it the most intriguing debut of the year.
OBN IIIs – The One and Only (Tic Tact Totally)
Tykes from down Texas-way, with probably too many side projects (all of them good!), slingin’ killer slash’n’burn, with structure smarts, way more-than-required sweat, and that elusive, effortless ability to make you think R’nR has a pulse.
Last Laugh Records
Label head honcho and sole employee, Harry Howes, really went cuckoo with the reissues of ultra-obscure, first-era punk rock that are truly cracked and a genuine hoot, as opposed to just, y’know, ultra-obscure. He spread his Red Bull wings out into early-70s glam, power pop, and even some new shit – like the house party punk of Liquor Store’s debut, Yeah Buddy! – with his Almost Ready and Mighty Mouth imprints too. But Last Laugh has resurrected the whole “Killed by Death” pinhead impetus for yet another generation of louts.
Othermen – Just Pallin’ Around With (Killer Diller)
Calling it crazed shockabilly brings to mind lame flame-skull tattoos and leopard print creepers, etc. But it ain’t that exactly. Aside from singer Max Frechette’s pompadour recalling the torn innards of a post-hunt leopard, and his hot licks hollow-body guitar having been taped and stapled back together like Michael Yonkers taught him the Eddie Cochran catalog, the band drunkenly dissects-then-discards any mid-century nods, making a fast racket that wears you out quick. And the 15-minute chat with a very sauced Rico (bassist) at the end is the perfect respite. Who needs more songs anyway?!
Human Eye – They Came from the Sky (Sacred Bones)
(and some Timmy’s Organism singles…)
Timmy Vulgar, Detroit’s alien heart of now-times punk, continues to produce on the level of Ford in the ‘50s, while his sounds – via his Human Eye and Timmy’s Organism projects – evolve into the noise of those dead ol’ axel factories being torn to bits by the drunken arrested adolescents of that new planet they discovered this year. The Human Eye live shows were as consistently id-invigorating of any band this year.
The hopped-up hopes of the year, this Austin trio frisbeed out a few singles, but it’s the surprisingly searing sounds of their debut LP on Twistworthy, Muscle Pop, that can really electrify the ears of someone who thinks OBN IIIs could save R’n’R.
Death of Samantha reunion show, Dec. 23, Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland, OH
The first, and probably last, reunion of the original lineup of my favorite local Cleveland band (one of my fave bands period) from my formative years. So yeah, kind of a personal pick here, but DoS remain one of the more underrated indie acts of the late-80s, a monster mash of glam gloop, punk pissed, and leader John Petkovic’s lounge lizard leering that put them in the pantheon of great Ohio bands that just didn’t fit into prescribed rock world peg/hole prescripts. On this Xmas Eve eve, the band had a ball and masterfully blasted out tunes from all their releases, and generally lifted the packed faithful up and into 1986 and back again, like maybe they should consider erasing that “and probably last” line from the first sentence here.
Guilty Pleasures – Summer Strange (Dusty Medical)
L.A. Times – s/t 7” EP (Smash It Up)
Long never-unleashed recordings from two of the most savage and sorely under-known bands of the whole late-90s lo-fi garage-punk undie-explosion. Having crawled from somewhere around Bloomington, IL, around 2000, the Guilty Pleasures put out one insanely screechy 7” single, a few brain-gutting gigs, and sometime inbetween recorded this album that sat around for some damn reason, until now. Same goes for L.A. Times, a Devil Dogs-worshipping bunch from, ahem, L.A., who were too young to be told that 60 beers in one night is in fact a lot to drink for one band. Finally quit waiting for someone to dig up their AOL email address and ask ‘em, so they finally just released this sick 4-song slab this year, 300 copies only, so get hunting!
Ed Wood’s Sleaze Paperbacks show at the Boo-Hooray gallery, NYC
An amazing amassing of not just the paperbacks of Ed Wood’s end-of-existence career of porn-pulp writing – featuring astonishingly eye-burning cover art – but loads of personal family/friend photos, magazine articles with more wild cover graphics, and a short film, readings, and recollections from fans at the closing party that revealed that “sleaze” is in the mind’s eye of the beholder
The general proliferation of fun, fuzzed-out R’n’R combos splattering the less pretentious edges of the, well I wanna say “indie underground,” but I probably have to start getting used to saying shit like “blogosphere” and “Twitteratti” and other childish words that sound dated the second they leave your lips. Anyway, there are loads of new/ish bands who kept huffing Black Lips and King Khan & BBQ fumes that were let go circa mid-2000s; and exhaled grimey swirls of early-60s girl group and doo-wop dredged melodies, Goner/In the Red/Crypt-rooted garage-punk spasms, some spooky, echoey undertones, and a deep, ceaseless love of the Ramones – all with a cheap-ass trash production style that has as much to do with accidentally mirroring our broke, on-your-own freelance times as Scion or Sailor Jerry blowing cash for cred. Most of it still kicks nasty, though shit is edging a little too cutesy (Jacuzzi Boys, maybe switch to 60-minute IPAs or something). And the shark has been flossing his chops waiting to be jumped (is a Hunx & His Punk song on Two Broke Girls inevitable…?) But for now, it’s a pretty fun party.
So keep it up, The Hussy, Davila 666, Mean Jeans, White Mystery, Strange Hands, Mouthbreathers, No Bunny, The Eeries, Bare Wires, Mark Sultan, Dum Dum Girls, Tandoori Knights, K-Holes, Shannon & the Clams, FIDLAR, Peach Kelli Pop, Jail Weddings, Los Vigilantes, Radar Eyes, Wax Museums, Ty Segall, Useless Eaters, Thee Oh Sees, Royal Headache, and more, etc…