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2011 In Music
December 17, 2011 9:23 PM   Subscribe

It's December so it must be time to list the best songs of the year. Pitchfork's Top 100 Songs and Top 50 Albums, MTV's Top 10 Songs of 2011, Billboard's 20 Best Singles, Spin's 20 Best Songs and Top 50 Albums, AARP's Top 10 Albums For Grown Ups, The A/V Club's Best Music of 2011, Rolling Stone's 50 Best Singles and 50 Best Albums, NPR Music's 100 Favorite Songs of 2011, BET's 100 Best Songs of 2011, NME's Best Albums of 2011, MixMag's Tunes of The Year, Metacritic's Top 10 Albums of 2011, Pop Matters 75 Best Albums, Songs and more.

But don't take their word for it. All of the following songs appeared in at least one top ten list. (In no particular order.)

Til The World Ends - Britney Spears
tUnE-yArds - “Bizness”
TV On The Radio - You
"Give Me Everything," Pitbull
Motivation - Kelly Rowland feat. Lil Wayne
James Blake - “The Wilhelm Scream”
EMA: "California"
“Sure Thing,” Miguel
Radiohead - Lotus Flower
The Decemberists - Don't Carry It All
Real Estate: "It's Real" [Domino]
Nicki Minaj: "Super Bass"
“Racks,” YC Worldwide feat. Future
Azealia Banks: "212"
"Pumped Up Kicks," Foster the People
Florence and the Machine - “Shake It Out”
"Firework," Katy Perry
Tyler The Creator - Yonkers
Destroyer: "Kaputt"
Foo Fighters - These Days
“Run the World (Girls),” Beyoncé
Preservation Hall Jazz Band & The Del McCoury Band - “I’ll Fly Away”
Bon Iver: "Holocene"
Hyuna - Bubble Pop
Lykke Li - Get Some
Lil Wayne feat. Cory Gunz, 'Six Foot Seven Foot'
M83: "Midnight City"
Fleet Foxes - “Helplessness Blues”
Beyonce - Countdown
Paul Simon - Rewrite
Edge of Glory - Lady Gaga
"Party Rock Anthem," LMFAO
Novacane - Frank Ocean
“I’m a Boss,” Meek Mill feat. Rick Ross
“Motivation,” Kelly Rowland
DJ Khaled [ft. Drake, Rick Ross, and Lil Wayne]: "I'm on One"
"Rolling in the Deep," Adele
The Rapture - How Deep Is Your Love
Someone Like You - Adele
Cass McCombs: "County Line"
"Born This Way," Lady Gaga
"Look at Me Now," Chris Brown
Clam's Casino - I'm God
“Otis,” Kanye West & Jay-Z
“Hustle Hard,” Ace Hood
"Niggas in Paris," Kanye West and Jay-Z

Bonus: My personal favorite song of 2011
posted by empath (154 comments total) 192 users marked this as a favorite

 
My favorite favorite list is usually TinyMixTapes. They don't disappoint this year either.

My favorite track of the year: EMA's Marked. Runner up would be Colin Stetson's The Righteous Wrath of an Honorable Man.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:31 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Adele has a voice I can not place. It just resonates with me. Something like Nina Simone does. Like Etta James. Not that they are the same at all, but that they just hit me in the same hidden away place, in the same hard way.

Being in the Twin Cites, our local Cities 97 radio station does a local charity album, the Cities 97 sampler.

Adele did a track of "Someone Like You" live, in studio here, that astounds me. It destroys me. It may be the best song I have heard in the last 10 years. And it's on Youtube.
posted by sanka at 9:41 PM on December 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


My pick for song of the year:

Alabama Shakes -- Hold On
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:42 PM on December 17, 2011 [23 favorites]


My serious favorite album of the year is M83's. It's like he took all the music I'm kind of embarrassed to love and threw it in a blender and served in on a big waffle cone with sprinkles, and I'm listening to it out in my front yard on a boombox and i'm 10 years old and I just saw Return of the Jedi and I'm wearing a baseball t-shirt and my whole life is still in front of me...
posted by empath at 9:45 PM on December 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


Unfortunately, my best albums of 2011 were released in 2010... Kid Cudi's Man on the Moon II and Mondo Cane, Mike Patton's traditional Italian popular music album. I'm a year behind, which I think is pretty good for a 42-year-old. From 2011, I think the Foo Fighters Rope is pretty sweet.
posted by Huck500 at 9:48 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I mean just listen to this. It's glorious.
posted by empath at 9:48 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like how the tags Synthgasm and Dreampop describe that music perfectly, empath... not my cup of tea, but I comprehend the appeal.
posted by Huck500 at 9:53 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


BitterOldPunk, you're so wrong. The song of the year is Alabama Shakes - I Found You.
posted by ghharr at 9:54 PM on December 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


Here's my favourite song of the year, "Stamp" by The Rural Alberta Advantage. (My actual favourite is actually Barnes' Yard from the same album, but there isn't a YouTube video that has the full band and decent sound.) Who puts that much drumming into an indie pop song? And by drumming I really mean awesome.

Frankly, I'm old and out-of-date and really just glad to have a favourite song that isn't by a dinosaur artist that I've liked for a decade but its their new album.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 9:55 PM on December 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


i have just for the very first time heard of alabama shakes. this thread is awesome already.
posted by nadawi at 9:59 PM on December 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


My favorite songs of the year are 212 (mentioned above) and Ms. Dynamite's "Neva Soft".
posted by LSK at 10:54 PM on December 17, 2011


I have loved M83 for years. Their newest album is a big change because there are so many tracks with actual vocals. Saturdays = Youth was already going that way, and Hurry Up, We're Dreaming builds on that album's 80s-ish aesthetic without overdoing it. I was surprised to see Midnight City on top of Pitchfork's list, but it really is that good. If you're into seeing live shows, try catching their tour in the spring. tickets have been selling out like crazy. the live show is simply incredible. i'm not exaggerating, I went to their show at Lincoln Hall in Chicago a few weeks ago (the..hmm, 4th time I've seen them live). i've never felt an entire crowd have their breath literally taken away like that before.
posted by ninjew at 10:55 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Large Hearted Boy is doing a pretty good job at conglomerating all of these lists.
posted by HumanComplex at 11:10 PM on December 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Favorite single song? That's impossible. But planningtorock's I Am Your Man is pretty easy to get excited about.
posted by philip-random at 11:15 PM on December 17, 2011


Thanks for this. It's like as soon as I hit my "upper" 20s I lost track of new music.

I did buy Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost this year (Jamie Marie, Love Like a River)

Also, like it or not "Party Rock Anthem" is the song of the year.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:19 PM on December 17, 2011


... and Selene's You Are Here (from his album of MOON related stuff) is pretty strong as well.
posted by philip-random at 11:21 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was here.

and this happened.

i'll stop now.
posted by ninjew at 11:24 PM on December 17, 2011


Also, like it or not "Party Rock Anthem" is the song of the year.

Disposable trash. LMFAO is the Venga Boys of 2011.
posted by empath at 11:28 PM on December 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oh, Homeboy Trouble, you were so close. The highlight of the RAA's (uniformly excellent) 2011 release, Departing, however, was "Muscle Relaxants."
posted by gompa at 11:31 PM on December 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


this year i can't get enough of centro-matic's latest album.

iso residue
only in my double mind
shadow, follow me
posted by nadawi at 11:39 PM on December 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


spotify playlists ahoy

SPIN's 20 Best Songs of 2011

Pitchfork: Top 100 Tracks of 2011

Sasha-Frere Jones: 2011 BEST OF

The A.V. Club: Best Music of 2011

Resident Advisor: Top 100 Songs of the 00's
posted by jcruelty at 11:48 PM on December 17, 2011 [15 favorites]


Best Drake Sweaters of 2011
posted by jcruelty at 11:49 PM on December 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Worst Rap Tracks 2011
posted by jcruelty at 11:49 PM on December 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


empath: " Disposable trash. LMFAO is the Venga Boys of 2011."

Heh. 6 weeks at Billboard #1, tied with Lady Gaga's Born this Way. 25 weeks in the top ten. Video has been out since March, has 323 million+ views on YouTube and counting.

There's nothing new there. But someone like it. A lot of someones.
posted by zarq at 11:56 PM on December 17, 2011


Heh. 6 weeks at Billboard #1, tied with Lady Gaga's Born this Way. 25 weeks in the top ten. Video has been out since March, has 323 million+ views on YouTube and counting.

Macarena spent 14 weeks at #1. Novelty dance records don't tend to have staying power. Daft Punk those guys are not.
posted by empath at 11:59 PM on December 17, 2011


Cocaine Blunts: Best Rap, 2011
posted by jcruelty at 12:07 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


empath: "Novelty dance records don't tend to have staying power.

Which makes them different in what way from most records that are released these days, which only manage one or two big hits? Most music that's released these days is garbage.

Daft Punk those guys are not."

They don't need to be. They'll get out there, tour, make money and sell the rights. Same as everyone else.
posted by zarq at 12:14 AM on December 18, 2011


Most music that's released these days is garbage.

Same as it ever was.
Crap remains crap. Revenue and quality have only ever been incidentally related.
posted by philip-random at 12:26 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Which makes them different in what way from most records that are released these days, which only manage one or two big hits? Most music that's released these days is garbage.

It just makes it not the best song of the year. I actually like the song, but it's trash.
posted by empath at 12:28 AM on December 18, 2011


My personal favorites from this year:

"Shuffle" by Bombay Bicycle Club
"Shake It Out" by Florence and the Machine
RAC's remix of "Houdini" by Foster the People
"Irresistible Force" by Jane's Addiction
"Cough Syrup" by Young the Giant
"Lights" by Klaypex
"Middle of the Bed" by Lucy Rose
"Young Blood" by the Naked and Famous
"Three Bullets" by Snowgoons feat. Esoteric, Mykill Miers and Qualm
"Colours" by Grouplove

and a lot of stuff already mentioned
posted by mightygodking at 12:35 AM on December 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Wow. Pop music is fucking shit these days. I will forever envy my parents for having been able to hear real musicians perform at Fillmore East. Today's equivalent? Circus music. With few exceptions, the level of musicianship and talent is sorely lacking in many acts these days. I'm HAPPY to be a curmudgeon in this regard. I can't stand how people think a chorus is called a "hook", and that the worth of a song is based on this so-called "hook". And how, for example, people say "Yes but Lady Gaga can actually sing!", when all they mean is that big-nosed-broad from NYC can sort-of carry a tune without falling on her face. Anyone with a modicum of talent and the right exposure can become a superstar now. Previously, you needed talent AND musicianship.
posted by ReeMonster at 12:36 AM on December 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Who needs musicianship when you have Max Martin?

Producers (Dr Luke and Benny Blanco I'm looking at you assholes) are so fucking lazy that they don't even bother hiding it anymore.
posted by Talez at 12:41 AM on December 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Foo Fighters' Wasting Light got shafted. I don't see how any list can leave that off with all the other bullshit they include. Whatever, this further solidifies my opinion that critics don't know what they're talking about. As usual, I love what they hate, and I hate what they love. And that goes for all media.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 12:59 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd sooner have circus music than 4000 hours of guitar wank.
posted by PinkMoose at 1:00 AM on December 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


And how, for example, people say "Yes but Lady Gaga can actually sing!", when all they mean is that big-nosed-broad from NYC can sort-of carry a tune without falling on her face.

And she can play piano, etc. There's also Adele on that list. And radiohead. The problem that 'real musicians' have breaking through is even with an entire band, you kind of can't compete with the soundscapes that a 22 year old kid with a laptop can create.

You can't make a dubstep bassline with 10,000 bass guitarists... you can create a sound as soaring and rich as m83 with a symphony orchestra, and no funk drummer is going to create bass as booming as LMFAO can. Sound is more and more being divorced from the physical source, just like painting became less and less interested in representation. There's always going to be a market for real musicians playing real instruments and unprocessed vocalists, but I think it will get to be more and more of a niche over time..
posted by empath at 1:00 AM on December 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Not heard that Nyan Cat song before and will now be hearing it in my dreams. That was mildly traumatising and also fascinating at the same time, and full of sparkles.

I'm rather fond of Snow Patrol's Called Out In The Dark, if only for the surprise Jack Davenport in their music video.
posted by zennish at 1:03 AM on December 18, 2011


i love end of year music lists. it's my favorite thing. thanks for putting this together.
posted by Avenger50 at 1:03 AM on December 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have resolved not to read these lists this year because they only annoy me. In spite of that I couldn't help glimpsing a couple of the names above and even that was enough to set my blood pressure off:

Tune Yards is there...well I should think so...oh God, Fleet Foxes...overrated bollocks!...WHAT?LADY FUCKING GAGA?....

I just have to accept that I'm too old to be putting myself through this sort of stress.
posted by Decani at 1:36 AM on December 18, 2011


I can't wait til the Foo Fighters win a Grammy for a record they recorded in a garage to analog tape. How many of those records from any of those lists were recorded that way? (That's an actual question if anyone happens to know.)
posted by XhaustedProphet at 1:37 AM on December 18, 2011


The Quietus has their "Albums Of The Year So Far 2011", released in July, and the final list "Albums Of The Year 2011". There are a few differences between the lists, and it seems to be pretty interesting music, which is what they mostly go after, and why they're currently my favourite music site. I'm liking The Haxan Cloak - if you like :zoviet*france: and Shinjuku Thief, you may take a shine to it. Snowman does some interesting ethereal/ambient stuff, and has an amazing video to go with the title song on the album "Absence". The new Amebix album Sonic Mass seems to be, on first listen, the same big, black, evil machine it always was, only a bit better (maybe??). Cool and appropriately apocalyptic video here. The rest of the list I haven't had a chance to get through. Yet.
posted by Zack_Replica at 1:56 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Most music that's released these days is garbage.

Three words: Bay City Rollers.

'Nuff said.

Not that I paid much attention to new music this year myself; my best albums of the year were all made before I was born like e.g. 1969's Spooky Two.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:59 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not enough Danny Brown.
posted by palidor at 2:09 AM on December 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Surprised to see Holocene do as well as it did (#2 on Pitchfork's list).

My song of 2011, as far as it goes (I generally play through the entire album, but it was the first song that struck me).
posted by flippant at 2:26 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ha Ha! I want to be around when the people who like these songs are 80 years old, and they try to sing them in nostalgic reverie!! Ha haaaaaaa!!!!

.

RIP - great music
posted by Vibrissae at 3:11 AM on December 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't want to be the one to do this, but can we cut it out with the "music today sucks" stuff? No one cares, just like they didn't care last year, or the year before that, or all the way back to when the first elderly caveman told the cavebrats to get off his lawn with their rock-banging hoodlum music. Seriously, it just makes you look ignorant and scared of change.
posted by palidor at 3:24 AM on December 18, 2011 [43 favorites]


I'll throw up some UK sites: Drowned in Sound's top albums (75-50, 49-21, 20-6, 5-1) and The Stool Pigeon's top albums (50-11, 10-1), The Fly (stupid "view magazine online" format, you can browse to the list but I'll tell you Antlers were #1 with Metronomy, The Horrors, the Smith Westerns and Bombay Bicycle Club in the top 5).
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:24 AM on December 18, 2011


I like it when people make idiotic statements about how All Music Today Sucks, because then I know exactly how boring and negative they are and it saves me the trouble of ever taking anything they say about art or culture seriously. They also tend to be the kind of people who look at non-representative art and say "my kid/nephew/dog could do that!".
posted by cilantro at 3:25 AM on December 18, 2011 [9 favorites]


How sad it must be to longer feel excited about music or film or art or life. I want to be like John Peel and still get excited about Norwegian grindcore when I'm 60.

I love these lists as most of my music loving friends are no longer around in my life, so these give me chance to learn and listen to new stuff!

Hardly a new artist, but the new PJ Harvey is fantastic.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:51 AM on December 18, 2011 [11 favorites]


I don't want to be the one to do this, but can we cut it out with the "music today sucks" stuff? No one cares, just like they didn't care last year, or the year before that, or all the way back to when the first elderly caveman told the cavebrats to get off his lawn with their rock-banging hoodlum music. Seriously, it just makes you look ignorant and scared of change.

Or is it that some people are averse to criticism. And we should have for music critics people who know something other than MTV-influenced, over-souled and over-sold (sic), over-produced, mostly-vapid-lyric crap for tunes - for the sake of those who survive to other side this Dark Age of music history. All change has to go through filters to gain long term sustainability, someone has to start, somewhere. That said, there are some good voices, and a few good tunes on that lest, but just a few. How the other stuff made it to any top-100 list is beyond me. I listened to most of the tunes that made all the lists. Seriously, most of that stuff is so highly compressed that it's ear-fatiguing!

btw, Lil Wayne needs go fuck himself - as many times as possible. How any music critic, unless they're deranged, can put his crap up as something to emulate is beyond any more words.
posted by Vibrissae at 4:00 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


How sad it must be to longer feel excited about music or film or art or life.

Eh, it's not so bad. Plenty of good video games this year.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:28 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


more personal favorites:
Michael Kiwanuka - Tell Me A Tale
Sandro Perri - Changes
Neon Indian - Polish Girl
Robot Koch & John Robinson - The Future
Bill Callahan - Riding For The Feeling
One Hundred Dollars - Where The Sparrows Drop
techno/electronic stuff:
Sepalcure - Pencil Pimp
Blawan - Getting Me Down
Marco Shuttle - The Vox Attitude
John Convex - Falling Again
Inxec & Droog - Unhinged
James Blake - Love What Happened Here
Cosmin TRG - Plaisir Interdit
Surgeon - Radiance
Miles - Primer
Mark Ernestus - Meets BBC
posted by p3t3 at 5:00 AM on December 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


The one that fascinates me is the AARP list of albums for Grown-ups. Growing up may be worse than you ever feared, kids. Watch out.
posted by .kobayashi. at 5:05 AM on December 18, 2011


Most overlooked album of the year: The Mountain Goats - All Eternals Deck.

Cokemachineglow says it's because the American dream is dead:

"The argument at hand is, on the strength of “Damn These Vampires” alone, All Eternals Deck deserves a place somewhere on Cokemachineglow’s—and other’s—Top 50 lists. But you won’t see it there, and why? Because “Estate Sale Sign” is less caustic and immediate than “Southwood Plantation Road”? No. It’s because Darnielle is prolific; because he’s a known commodity; because he’s put out so much exquisite material over the last decade that we expect it from him, like we expect some well-meaning uncle to get us an iPod shuffle for Christmas and want it to blow our minds. Well, it should blow our minds. That little hunk of metal is a goddamn marvel of modern engineering. But, like Darnielle, it’s been too good and too consistent for too long, and now no one gives a shit."
posted by oulipian at 5:11 AM on December 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


I don't want to be the one to do this, but can we cut it out with the "music today sucks" stuff? No one cares, just like they didn't care last year, or the year before that, or all the way back to when the first elderly caveman told the cavebrats to get off his lawn with their rock-banging hoodlum music. Seriously, it just makes you look ignorant and scared of change.

The thing is, the music industry is in a really weird place over these last ten years, and right now we're seeing these very frightened death throes. Which isn't to say that the music business will ever completely die, but I think that that worry is influencing music of today.

So yes, mainstream American music of 2011, for the most part, does indeed suck.
posted by keithburgun at 5:13 AM on December 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


As others have said, my music enjoyment has changed over the years. When I was a young, music was like pastry -I wanted it hot and fresh. Now that I am middle-aged, I want it like scotch, aged and not too sweet. 12 months is too short a time to tell if I want to let these songs into my life.

Thanks for the great post.
posted by acheekymonkey at 5:14 AM on December 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


I will freely admit that, in my dotage, I am very out-of-touch with new music. However, I still hear enough music to know that any list that Katy Perry's "Firework" appears on as a "best of" is immediately delegated to my "doesn't know their ass from a hole in the ground" mental scrap-heap. My god, "Firework" is the shrillest, most un-listenable arrangement of auto-tuned twaddle ever committed to a hard drive.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:18 AM on December 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm grateful for these year-end best of lists. It would be shameful to like the wrong things.
posted by rain at 5:21 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


2011, the year my leisure listening was dominated by remixes of rewrites of Sondheim tunes sung by ponies.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:49 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


So yes, mainstream American music of 2011, for the most part, does indeed suck.

I'd be pretty comfortable saying that mainstream music from any year has always sucked. I mean, here is a list purporting to be the Billboard top 100 songs of 1960 (a year I pulled totally out of my ass). There's some good stuff on there, but there are some crazy bad songs, too, the total musical equivalent to the worst of 2011. As someone who follows new music almost not at all, beyond listening to college radio and enjoying music FPPs on MeFi, I enjoy these year end lists because they are always full of new surprises for me.

I don't know when the actual song was released, but my own most amazing music discovery of 2011 was Spoek Mathambo's (FPP) cover of She's Lost Control. He turned out to be great live, and opened my eyes to an entire new genre to love.
posted by Forktine at 6:02 AM on December 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


There was music this year?
posted by jonmc at 6:32 AM on December 18, 2011


Thanks for this great collection. These will keep me busy until Said the Gramophone does their list.
posted by Xalf at 6:41 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


The problem that 'real musicians' have breaking through is even with an entire band, you kind of can't compete with the soundscapes that a 22 year old kid with a laptop can create.

I'm not going to argue what music is better, it's a waste of time and a boring conversation. ("You don't like guitar wank?" "Really? That's cool. I never liked okra.") However, I've played instruments my entire life. I'm also an IT guy, so I'm far from being a luddite. With that said, the "22 year old kid" with the laptop would benefit from picking up a non-digital, conventional instrument and learning to play it. Shit, she or he would learn a lot and from just struggling to tune and play simple changes to a metronome with it. I can guarantee the kid will be begin to hear things in music (melodically, harmonically, rhythmically) that he or she never knew were there. It will widen the horizon. Words won't do it justice.

Also, I have no idea what you mean by "breaking through".
posted by rain at 6:41 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


No release kicked ass as much as Mastodon: The Hunter
Nothing sucked ass as much as Metallica & Lou Reed: Lulu
posted by Renoroc at 6:48 AM on December 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm sure this has been somewhere on the blue already but I don't think I've seen it in this post: The 20 Unhappiest People You Meet In The Comments Sections Of Year-End Lists.

For me, I listened to a lot of fantastic music this year and some of it is even high up on these lists. I'm glad I'm getting a review of some of the albums I missed.
posted by immlass at 6:57 AM on December 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


ghharr: "BitterOldPunk, you're so wrong. The song of the year is Alabama Shakes - I Found You."

You're both wrong, the song of the year is Alabama Shakes - You Ain't Alone.
posted by octothorpe at 7:01 AM on December 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Most of these should be labelled "Top Ten Albums by Artists Who Are About the Same Age as Our Writers."
posted by davebush at 7:08 AM on December 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


I know it falls outside the normal parameters for popular music on this site, but if you have any love for twang, Saving Country Music's Essential Albums for 2011.
Also Saving Country Music's Nominees for 2011 Album of the Year.
Not nearly as much overlap between these lists as one might expect.
Of the ones he lists, I like Slim Cessna's Auto Club's Unentitled (Here is A Smashing Indictment of Character) and Rachel Brooke's Down in the Barnyard (The Barnyard).
posted by Seamus at 7:17 AM on December 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is the first year I can remember my favorite album (Virtue by Emmy the Great) not showing up on any of these lists (though my second favorite, Whokill by Tune-Yards, did). This is also the first year that I'm 30 years old. There may be a connection here.
posted by Kattullus at 7:22 AM on December 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't listen to the radio or watch music television myself to discover new music, so what music I do discover each year is largely at the mercy of my aged landlord, who does listen to radio, and at such volume that I unavoidably catch snippits.

For the last few years before this one he listened to a hardcore "golden oldies" station, which meant my "new" favorite discoveries were songs like Steve Lawrence's rendition of Portrait of my Love, Dean Martin's Sway, and numerous renditions of World War II-era songs like The Vict'ry Polka by The Andrews Sisters and Sentimental Journey by just about everybody.

This year, whether due to boredom or poor eyesight (believe me, I've offered to buy him a digital radio with presets) he tends to flip between multiple formats, which means that I'm suddenly exposed to a three or four-year backlog of "new" music... like Hey There Delilah by the Plain White T's, Little Lion Man by Mumford & Sons, and various bowdlerizations of Fuck You by Cee-Lo Green.

If I were to confine my favorites among the songs I've heard on that station to those that were actually released this year, the two Adele songs would certainly feature, as well as Pumped Up Kicks by Foster The People, all of which have already been mentioned.

I do keep up with Country music by reading related blogs and websites, but my recent enjoyment of the genre has been hampered by the rise of "Shake 'dat Country Ass", "Those Durn' Cityfolk", and "Look How Country I Am" as subject matter, as well as some artists' wholesale abandonment of traditional instrumentation. I'd identify Miranda Lambert and The Band Perry as artists that notably buck that trend, but both were more successful in the country genre in 2009 and 2010... and The Band Perry had great success this year by remixing their signature song If I Die Young for the pop market.

With that said, this is my favorite Country song released in 2011, although it stalled at only #18 on the charts. Its '90s ethos, country instrumentation, and stellar harmonies sufficed to overcome my knee-jerk dislike for its religious framing.

Eden's Edge - Amen
posted by The Confessor at 7:32 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Having the Amazon MP3 store on my phone has really gotten me back into listening to new music in the last two years. It's probably not been good for my wallet but it's just so easy to buy albums.

Some of my favorites of the year:

Donora - Mancini's dance hall

Gillian Welch - Scarlet Town

Wilco - Art of Almost

Black Keys - Lonely Boy

Mountain Goats - For Charles Bronson

Formula412 - Step to the Rear

The Decemberists - Rox In The Box

The Black Angels - Bad Vibrations
posted by octothorpe at 7:36 AM on December 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think that M83 wins, handedly, just because of the sax solo at the end. My favorite song off that album is actually "Intro" with Zola Jesus singing.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:36 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


my recent enjoyment of the genre has been hampered by the rise of "Shake 'dat Country Ass",

I dunno, I think asses, and the shaking thereof, will always remain a worthy topic.
posted by jonmc at 7:52 AM on December 18, 2011


I am always nervous about saving country music, and i love a lot of that shake yr country azz type stuff, here is my country list as it stands. (this is my proto nashville scene poll)


Top Country Albums
Blake Shelton Red River Blue
Baseball Project Volume 2
Pistol Annies Hell on Heels
Jason Isobell Here We Rest
Kate & Anna McGarrigle - Tell My Sister
Eric Church Cheif
Miranda Lambert For the Record


Top Country Singles
Who ARe You When I'm Not Looking--Blake Shelton
Are You Going to Kiss Me Or Not--Thompson Square
Homeboy--Eric Church
Red Solo Cup--Toby Keith
You and Tequilla-- Kenny Chesney and Charolette Grace
Love Done Gone--Billy Currington
Soilder Song--Steve Azar
Hell on Heels-PPistol Annies
Laura Cantrell--Kitty Wells Dresses
Big KRIT Country Shit
Gillian Welch The Way it Goes

and the more general list:
Top Albums
Pistol Annies
Let England Shake
Sulla Solla
Van Dyke Parks Arrangement
Book Of Mormon OST
Thank You, Happy Birthday CAge the Elephant
The National High Violet
So Beautiful or So What--Paul Simon
In Your Dreams--Steve Nicks
Clams Casino Instrumental Mix Tape
Top Country Albums
Blake Shelton
Baseball Project Volume 2
Pistol Annies
Jason Isobell
Kate & Anna McGarrigle - Tell My Sister
Eric Church
Miranda Lambert


Top Singles

Britney Spears Criminal
Lana Del Ray Video Games
Mastadon Burl the Curl
Inna Modja French Can CAn
Bon Ivor Holocene
Patrick Wolf House
Robyn Call Your Girlfriend
PJ Harvey Words That Maketh Murder
Fleet Foxes Helplessness Blues
Adelle Rolling in Deep
EMA California
Frank Ocean Novacane
Kreshayshawn Gucci Gucci
Big Freedia ALmost Famous
Vannessa MAosia Gossip
Azeillia Banks 212
posted by PinkMoose at 7:58 AM on December 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


My favorite album of 2011 is "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" by Neutral Milk Hotel.

Yep, I'm really that out of it.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:07 AM on December 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


You can't make a dubstep bassline with 10,000 bass guitarists... you can create a sound as soaring and rich as m83 with a symphony orchestra, and no funk drummer is going to create bass as booming as LMFAO can. Sound is more and more being divorced from the physical source, just like painting became less and less interested in representation. There's always going to be a market for real musicians playing real instruments and unprocessed vocalists, but I think it will get to be more and more of a niche over time..

Last night I dreamed I was back in my high school orchestra in the late 80s. Except we were playing some dubstep thing or other, and it rather impossibly sounded like some kid running Massive on a laptop. It was a pretty kick-ass track really.
posted by Foosnark at 8:16 AM on December 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't argue with anyone who picked M83 as album of the year. It is pretty damn thrilling and in a less fragmented cultural landscape, it'd could have been a new "Frampton Comes Alive" - blasting from every other car, on every strip, on carefree Friday nights.
posted by davebush at 8:17 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


This makes me not at all cool, but I'm really fond of "We Found Love" by Rihanna. It's so simple - some might say dumb - but something about the combination 90s-style dance production and the sparse and poignant but hopeful lyrics just gets me. I can't not turn it up when it comes on the radio.
posted by lunasol at 8:17 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Turns out my favorite album of the year came out in 2009, but I'm getting right on that Alabama Shakes thing. BOP, I've been ignoring your Twitter proselytizing for a few months, and I apologize.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:23 AM on December 18, 2011


The album I listened to the most this year was "The King is Dead" by the Decemberists, and I noticed that songs from that album appeared on many lists, but every list seemed to have a different song: Rox in the Box, Down by the Water, June Hymn, Don't Carry it All, Calamity Song" lots to enjoy, and great to have a an album with more than one or two cuts.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:26 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm really impressed with the Onion AV club for picking Wye Oak as number one. I got to see them in a tiny little venue back in March, and it was an astonishing experience. Jenn Wasner is a force of nature.
posted by MrVisible at 8:30 AM on December 18, 2011


Blawan's Getting Me Down (linked by p3t3) was Resident Advisor's track of the year, and I'd agree. The story behind it is neat (scroll to bottom). Like so many catchy classics, it was made as a throwaway, from the artists perspecitve
posted by bendybendy at 8:37 AM on December 18, 2011


>The problem that 'real musicians' have breaking through is even with an entire band, you kind of can't compete with the soundscapes that a 22 year old kid with a laptop can create. <

They are indeed two different things sound wise, but the real issue is that a band of musicians cannot realistically afford to work. It’s always been hard to keep a band together, now it’s much more so. There is no pay off. You can’t compete financially with a 22 year old kid with a laptop, because he will work for nothing.
posted by bongo_x at 8:49 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is no pay off. You can’t compete financially with a 22 year old kid with a laptop, because he will work for nothing.

Regrettably, making a comfortable living based solely on one's music was probably a short-lived historical anomaly that's now over-and-done. On the positive side, if you were in it for the money, then we probably won't miss you anyway.
posted by rain at 9:07 AM on December 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Vibrissae: "Ha Ha! I want to be around when the people who like these songs are 80 years old, and they try to sing them in nostalgic reverie!! Ha haaaaaaa!!!!
"

You know. If we didn't adopt the same level of historical vanity as the baby boomers, I'd be pretty okay with that.

If there's some music from the past few years that's pretty good and stands the test of time, it'd be pretty neat if it stuck around for a little while longer. If not, that's just water under the bridge, and I could really care less.
posted by schmod at 9:17 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can’t compete financially with a 22 year old kid with a laptop, because he will work for nothing.

Because it costs him almost nothing but time to make music. This is a good thing.
posted by empath at 9:18 AM on December 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


On the positive side, if you were in it for the money, then we probably won't miss you anyway.

Oops. By you, I mean people that are in it just for the money, and not you, bongo_x. I'm quite sure you are peachy keen and wonderful!
posted by rain at 9:19 AM on December 18, 2011


you kind of can't compete with the soundscapes that a 22 year old kid with a laptop can create.

Which is all well and good if you're into soundscapes. While I like some of that approach, it wears really thin on me pretty quickly and tends to sound all pretty much the same after while. Which is why I appreciate musicianship, and will continue to do so until quantum computers (or whatever) can actually replicate the real experience of hearing a person play an instrument.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 9:42 AM on December 18, 2011


At least for me, music originating from a 22 year old's laptop is never going to replace real musicians playing real instruments in a live venue. As long as there are still human voices singing and bands playing guitars, basses and drums, I'll be listening to them.
posted by octothorpe at 9:49 AM on December 18, 2011


As I've said before, until one can easily download pussy, dudes will always play in bands.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:59 AM on December 18, 2011


At least for me, music originating from a 22 year old's laptop is never going to replace real musicians playing real instruments in a live venue. As long as there are still human voices singing and bands playing guitars, basses and drums, I'll be listening to them.

I always think it is weird when people just arbitrarily pick some time/tech period, declare it the peak of humanity, and think everything that comes after as some sort of non-musical techno-abomination.

For instance, electric guitars are a new invention. The very first one ever was made in 1931 (younger than my grandmother!). And it didn't even resemble in form or in playstyle from what you're likely talking about. Modern guitar playing started in the 50s (younger than my parents!). Jimi Hendrix with his single-coil+Marshall stack feedback squeal was looked down upon just as much as you're looking down at synths.

Anyway, these things are just tools to create music. People can and do make the most organic music that has feeling with synths and computers just as good as some guy with a violin or Stratocaster can. People can use tools to make good and bad things. There is horrible "techno" music and there's always going to be a somewhat silly fad like jungle (or dubstep, ZING!) that some or many just don't like.

And then there are people abusing guitars drums basses and the human voice like Nickleback.

And what's with the "22 year old" being a putdown? You don't need to be over 30 to make good tunes.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:05 AM on December 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Nothing against 22 year olds, just music from laptops.
posted by octothorpe at 10:15 AM on December 18, 2011


silly fad like jungle

It's still around (as Drum and Bass), and much of the really consequential music of the early days of rave was 'jungle'.
posted by empath at 10:15 AM on December 18, 2011


And what's with the "22 year old" being a putdown?

I can't speak for anyone else, but I was just quoting empath. For me, the age of the musician isn't even a factor.
posted by rain at 10:16 AM on December 18, 2011


Anyone (even 22-year-olds!) who makes music really is a musician, anything (even laptops!) they use to make music really is an instrument. Anyway, for those who are interested in plain text discussion of music on a professional white background might be interested in the ILX Magazine/website/record store BEST OF 2011 end-of-year list pile-up, featuring several professional critics sniping at each other in a bad-tempered fashion.
posted by Dim Siawns at 10:19 AM on December 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's still around (as Drum and Bass), and much of the really consequential music of the early days of rave was 'jungle'.

Yeah, but the Amen break is like nails on a mid-90s chalkboard to me. Nothing against sampling though! Just sample some different stuff, please! Heh.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:19 AM on December 18, 2011


Your favorite method of making music sucks.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:26 AM on December 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Regrettably, making a comfortable living based solely on one's music was probably a short-lived historical anomaly that's now over-and-done. On the positive side, if you were in it for the money, then we probably won't miss you anyway.
posted by rain


Not so. Live musicians were the entirety of Tha Moosic Biz for the bulk of its existence (cir. 5000 BC or so to now), and until the mid 20th century, they were craftsmen no less able to earn their bread than bricklayers or painters. Certainly hi-fi recording put them into a slump, as automation can do in any industry (poor plasterers, supplanted by sheetrock).

What's transitory is the period of earning rental income on mass-marketed musical objects. That gold rush is over. And, paradoxically enough, that augurs the return of live music as a viable income source, albeit on enormously different terms than before. Without the ready-made market of restaurants and bars which now hires machines instead of people, the live musician needs to build their own market like any other entrepreneur.
posted by tspae at 10:28 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I found the worst song of the year.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:32 AM on December 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wasn’t saying that 22 year olds are bad, laptops suck, or anything like that I said that is the easiest way to make sound, and is much more financially viable, and everything else is going away. In our current world only the cheap and easy is allowed to survive and is sold to you as progress.

There is a widespread illusion that the world will be full of great art made for free by people in their spare time, even though that has never happened before, because "we have the internets now, we’re smarter!"
posted by bongo_x at 10:43 AM on December 18, 2011


Dear god, there are actually people who find inspiration in early naughties Nickelback?
posted by MartinWisse at 10:43 AM on December 18, 2011


Anyway, these things are just tools to create music.

That's rather the point, actually. Empath suggested that computers would largely supplant actual instruments, and historically it's pretty easy to see that instruments tend to stick around, even if there form morphs over time, because they each do different things. It's not like the electric guitar made acoustics obsolete.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 10:45 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Every year I spend a couple weeks digging through year-end lists in the grey January haze, and invariably find some real treasures that I'd missed during the year. A couple years ago, I found the first Tune-Yards album pretty deep on the Pitchfork list and totally fell in love. Also got into Dan Deacon, Woods, and Destroyer this way. So this is a time of year I look forward to.

I still think we're in an incredibly fertile period for music, and those who aren't finding things that they love are really just not looking. It takes more work to find love these days, thanks to market fragmentation and the absolutely horrid state of radio and mainstream distribution channels, but there's really amazing stuff out there...

(Here's an absolutely fantastic mix a friend of mine put together from some great songs he found this year.)
posted by kaibutsu at 10:52 AM on December 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


It was EMA's Past Life Martyred Saints that hit me the hardest this year, after Let England Shake, which is I believe an inarguable masterpiece (not the mention the only recent album I can think of which looked the Iraq war square in the eye, which also made it the most relevant).

Seeing EMA in a small club in Vancouver-- as the supporting act to Wild Beasts, who are not wild and not in the least beastly-- was something I will remember for a very long time. She was incandescent.

Otherwise, songs and albums I loved this year included Gang Gang Dance's Glass Jar (from Eye Contact); Lana Del Ray's Videogames; Shara Worden's (My Brightest Diamond) gorgeous All Things Will Unwind; Destroyer's Kaputt; Tune Yard's whokill (the other live show that knocked me over, this spring); Gillian Welch, The Harrow and the Harvest; Thundercat, The Golden Age of Apocalypse; Julia Holter, Tragedy; Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter, Marble Son; Go! Team, Rolling Blackouts; Vetiver, The Errant Charm; Radiohead, The King of Limbs (and a good number of the remixes).

Biggest disappointment for me was St. Vincent's Strange Mercy.
posted by jokeefe at 10:59 AM on December 18, 2011


Tom Waits is on the AARP's top ten list! Burn on him!
posted by msalt at 11:00 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


my nomination for album of the year is Ungdomskulen's Gimme Ten, the greatest 10 minute rock opera ever made.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:04 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Terrorizer magazine's top rock stars of 2011.

NPR's top metal of 2011.
posted by NoMich at 11:11 AM on December 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I found the worst song of the year

I was on the road last night and found one of those modern rock stations that call themselves "THE X" and they had that song on repeat. Fuck an a, that's a terrible song.
posted by NoMich at 11:12 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is a widespread illusion that the world will be full of great art made for free by people in their spare time, even though that has never happened before, because "we have the internets now, we’re smarter!"

The internet is full of great art being made by people for free in their spare time. Where is the illusion part?
posted by empath at 11:15 AM on December 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Empath suggested that computers would largely supplant actual instruments

Almost every one of the songs on the top of the year charts from every critic this year was largely created on a computer. Even the ones with 'real instruments' were chopped up and sequenced and heavily processed. I don't know what your definition of 'largely supplanted' is, but I think we passed that point sometime in the mid 80s. And the complete death of rock music in the past couple of years was the final nail in the coffin, at least as far as pop goes.
posted by empath at 11:18 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I found the worst song of the year

I was on the road last night and found one of those modern rock stations that call themselves "THE X" and they had that song on repeat. Fuck an a, that's a terrible song.
posted by NoMich at 11:12 AM on December 18


What. The. Fuck?

It makes one nostalgic for Nickleback. Anything capable of making Nickleback sound better is truly vile.

Oh, and to make it better (worse?) the tune was originally used in a Canadian kids cartoon, "The Cat Came Back." (And confirming before I post, I see the cat came back was written 115 years ago and has been popular with kids (aka really dumb people) for years. Weird, I always thought it was exclusively a canuck thing.)

Regardless, that is easily the shittiest song of the year, I think we can all agree on that.
posted by Keith Talent at 11:26 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, the really awesome musicians aren't making music because they can't get rich doing it? That's a laugh.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:44 AM on December 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


It was EMA's Past Life Martyred Saints that hit me the hardest this year

Me too. It also introduced me to her previous band Gowns, who are just as great.
posted by eyeballkid at 11:49 AM on December 18, 2011


In an era where all songs have a video, it's handy to know which are the best music videos of the year: NME's top 50 are here, musicforants' 30 best here, and Antville is currently voting for their annual awards (full nominees here).
posted by progosk at 11:51 AM on December 18, 2011


Fred Penner did the definitive "Cat Came Back" is you ask me, Keith.
posted by maryr at 12:00 PM on December 18, 2011


Or is it that some people are averse to criticism. And we should have for music critics people who know something other than MTV-influenced, over-souled and over-sold (sic), over-produced, mostly-vapid-lyric crap for tunes - for the sake of those who survive to other side this Dark Age of music history. All change has to go through filters to gain long term sustainability, someone has to start, somewhere. That said, there are some good voices, and a few good tunes on that lest, but just a few. How the other stuff made it to any top-100 list is beyond me. I listened to most of the tunes that made all the lists. Seriously, most of that stuff is so highly compressed that it's ear-fatiguing!

But it's not criticism. It's just dreary closed-mind bleating.

And MTV? Jesus, does MTV even play music anymore?
posted by Sebmojo at 12:14 PM on December 18, 2011


There is a widespread illusion that the world will be full of great art made for free by people in their spare time, even though that has never happened before, because "we have the internets now, we’re smarter!"

But... the world is full of great art available for free. It's also full of crap, so the onus is on one to track down the diamonds in the midden.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:22 PM on December 18, 2011


There was a ton of great music released this year - Bon Iver, Tuneyards, TV on the Radio, Radiohead, Little Dragon, White Denim, Beyonce, Tom Waits, Florence and the Machine.

The most overrated record of the year was by far Adele's 21. She can sing, sure. But the good in that record ends about there.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:35 PM on December 18, 2011


What's funny about these lists is that they always inevitably skip all the songs made more than four or five months ago; or at least that's what it seems like.

To my ear, the best song released this year was Kenton Slash Demon's “Daemon.” This seems so obvious to me – down to the awesome video – that it's ridiculous to me that it's not on any of these lists. I guess maybe my ear is broken, but I've listened to that song literally hundreds of times and it has not gotten old. But it was released in March, so – not on these lists.
posted by koeselitz at 12:56 PM on December 18, 2011


Ugh, I got Nyan-rolled o_O, but thanks for the round-up.
I know Wilco was dad rock, but now suddenly they are grandpa rock. Hm, ok.
There were some great albums released this year, and I have to agree with Pitchfork's Bon Iver assessment...but 2011 was marked more for me by several phenomenal live shows [can't say as much for the quality of some linked vids, which is a phenomenally bad thing pervading music in 2011].

Godspeed You! Black Emperor at Metro, Chicago (3/29)
Odd Future at Pitchfork (7/12) [LANGUAGE/MISOGYNY/ETC., but the dude did a stage dive in a leg cast.]
Cut Copy,
Washed Out at Pygmalion Music Festival (9/23)
Amon Tobin at the Congress (10/21)
posted by obscurator at 12:58 PM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, nice post. Thank you, empath.
posted by mrhappy at 1:37 PM on December 18, 2011


I wouldn't argue with anyone who picked M83 as album of the year. It is pretty damn thrilling and in a less fragmented cultural landscape, it'd could have been a new "Frampton Comes Alive" - blasting from every other car, on every strip, on carefree Friday nights.

That pushed me over the edge into trying M83, who I hadn't heard off before -- excellent album, put a smile on my face.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:00 PM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


That Araabmuzik album is really quite good, even if it is assembled out of the kind of trance you might hear at 1:30 am in Hoagie Haven (itself a guilty pleasure, don't hate).
posted by en forme de poire at 2:08 PM on December 18, 2011


Please note Sturgeon's Law: "90% of Everything Is Crap", truer than ever in an era when there is a proliferation of Everything, thanks to Internet-based communication, and effective filtering devices become even more important than ever, yet more elusive, so even 90% of the "Best Of" lists are crap. You have no better chance of finding the non-crap, but once you do, it's easier to assemble a large collection of it... which makes it really easy to stop listening to new music (or watching new movies or even reading new books). The sad march of Progress.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:15 PM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was over at my boyfriend's family's place yesterday, making Christmas cookies. We had the SomaFM Christmas Lounge station on for a while, alternating with Rhapsody's Merry Indie Christmas. An aunt was complaining that no-one made good, listenable, danceable, sing-along-to-able songs anymore.

So we put on The Love Language, and the whole kitchen was dancing around exuberantly for the next forty minutes. There was flour everywhere, which made doing the twist even more fun than usual.

Music is awesome.
posted by MrVisible at 2:38 PM on December 18, 2011


You can’t compete financially with a 22 year old kid with a laptop, because he will work for nothing.

There is something to this, but if this kid can't make good music, musicians with real instruments (or more talented 22-year-olds with laptops) will indeed compete with him. People will in fact pay for good music instead of listening to crap for free.

A few years ago, Ween solicited music from their fans through their website. The goal was to find bands to sign to Chocodog Records or something, I forget. They eventually just asked people to stop sending music because it was just shit, all of it. It's easy to make "music," but it was easy 20 years ago with a $200 4-track machine... I still have one in my closet. There were people who made utter crap on them, and people who made major-label records on them.

Anyway, I forget what the point was, but your favorite music sucks, for sure.
posted by Huck500 at 7:12 PM on December 18, 2011


Dear god, there are actually people who find inspiration in early naughties Nickelback?

Someone, I forget who, tweeted:
"If you see a tweet with a link they claim is a new Nickelback song, DON'T CLICK ON IT. It actually is the new Nickleback song."
posted by msalt at 7:21 PM on December 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


My favourite album of the year is "6 Volts" by Fred Eaglesmith.

I only mention this because one of my favourite songs on the album is a track called "Johnny Cash" which is a full frontal assault on many of the themes being discussed in this thread - the nature of popularity, authenticity, and trendiness in music.

Here's a couple quotes from the song:

"Where were you in 1989/When it looked like Johnny was on the decline/His career was fading/His shows weren't selling/You were listening to heavy metal/But you sure do like Johnny Cash now/Now that they've laid him in the ground."


Or this:

"You sure did like it when he sang the Nine Inch Nails/When it looked like he was dying in that video/You liked that picture, he was giving them the finger/Too bad about all that religion/But you sure do like Johnny Cash now."

posted by Jaybo at 7:24 PM on December 18, 2011


empath: “The problem that 'real musicians' have breaking through is even with an entire band, you kind of can't compete with the soundscapes that a 22 year old kid with a laptop can create. You can't make a dubstep bassline with 10,000 bass guitarists... you can create a sound as soaring and rich as m83 with a symphony orchestra, and no funk drummer is going to create bass as booming as LMFAO can.”

The problem with sonnets is that you can do so much more with words when you write prose without rules, so sonnets are categorically an inferior expressive medium. Is that what you mean?

“Sound is more and more being divorced from the physical source, just like painting became less and less interested in representation. There's always going to be a market for real musicians playing real instruments and unprocessed vocalists, but I think it will get to be more and more of a niche over time..”

Well, first of all, there's a wild assumption in there that I really don't think is warranted: the assumption that the market tracks along with what is possible and what is greatest in music. I don't think this is true; plenty of people who were capable of very great sonic flexibility and range and depth have been almost completely ignored. So, even if I grant your point that computer music simply has more possibility and flexibility and range than instrument-made music, I don't think that's any reason at all to assume that the market will recognize that fact and go all-out for electronic music. The market seems, in fact, to continue to mire itself in old and hackneyed forms, even when it does avail itself of electronic production techniques. Nothing in the top-selling songs represents an interesting use of electronic sound to me; maybe you can point some out to me. And that's just how it is; the public's taste just isn't great, and never has been.
posted by koeselitz at 8:09 PM on December 18, 2011


empath: “Because it costs him almost nothing but time to make music. This is a good thing.”

I don't get this point. What does it cost to get four people together and play a song into a microphone? That same laptop is a recording studio now, don't forget. Seems like every five minutes these days a little band or duet or whatever is getting 'internet famous' because their youtube video gets a million hits or whatever. Again – what exactly is this massive overhead you seem to be hinting at involved in old-fashioned acoustic music?
posted by koeselitz at 8:13 PM on December 18, 2011


> You can’t compete financially with a 22 year old kid with a laptop, because he will work for nothing.

This is true of many industries these days.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:42 PM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ooooh, thank you all for introducing me to Alabama Shakes. Love love love it
posted by brian o'blivion at 9:49 PM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


When future critics write about this era, they'll call it something like "The Age of LOLCats".
posted by Twang at 10:27 PM on December 18, 2011


What I like about music and the internet and now, is that I can be obsessed with music, and constantly seek out new music, via the internet, or your local record stores (and in Portland I feel extremely fortunate), and I can go through that list of songs up there and only recognize ONE! (that Lil Wayne, "six foot seven foot" song) song that I know for sure I have heard. Yeah, I'm sure there are a few more I've heard; I go out with friends, I stop and get a coffee, I'm not holed up here in the house constantly. But if you were to ask me what I thought of anyone on that list, I'd have an opinion on only a few of those musicians. The rest I've seriously never heard of. That means THERE IS SO MUCH MUSIC. Isn't that cool?

I bought a bunch of records this year and not one of them is listed on any of these lists and I don't feel like I'm missing a thing.
posted by rainperimeter at 12:37 AM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


⌘ - F 'skrillex' 0 of 0

i approve.
posted by ninjew at 1:12 AM on December 19, 2011


Said the Gramophone's list is up. I always enjoy theirs - it's miles off my own list but with one or two absolute gems that I won't have heard before.
posted by carbide at 1:12 AM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


My favourite song of the year:
Bill Callahan - One Fine Morning.

Oh god, it makes me want to simultaneously burst in to tears and celebrate everything.
posted by Theta States at 7:24 AM on December 19, 2011


Renoroc: “Nothing sucked ass as much as Metallica & Lou Reed: Lulu”

This really is nonsense. That was the album everybody loved to hate most, but it's the best thing either of them have done in years. Just hearing James yell "I AM A TABLE!" is totally worth the price of admission. People just love having something fun to heap derision on, but it really wasn't even a tenth as bad as a lot of the dreck out there.

I mean, come on. You don't even have to look far to find things that suck more ass than that. That song that Pruitt-Igoe linked above, for instance, actually makes me ashamed to be a human being. It's miles and miles beyond however bad Lulu might be.
posted by koeselitz at 11:19 AM on December 19, 2011


I like these end-of-year lists because they give me a chance to check out bands I missed, especially in genres I don't follow closely, like hip-hop. Saigon has been the coolest thing I've found from them so far this year.

This one song from Chad VanGaalen is the one that got stuck in my head the most this year, even though it completely falls over when it should have a bridge, it's like he meant to go back and add one but just spaced it out or something.

The Gang of Four comeback album of 2011 was fucking awful, but the Wire comeback album was actually surprisingly good. Beyond that I was a little surprised to not see Gloss Drop by Battles a little higher on these lists, but like kostelitz was saying these tend to be "best of the last four months" lists rather than "best of the year since the last one of these" lists.
posted by whir at 8:19 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


My favorite album this year is "Live in France" by Rodrigo y Gabriela.

Tamacun, from that album, is wonderful.
posted by A dead Quaker at 11:55 PM on December 19, 2011


So am I the only one here who really, really likes the new Portugal. The Man album In the Mountain In the Cloud? I'd never heard of them before but it's pretty easily my favorite of the year and I've had their discography on repeat for months.

Sleep Forever/Got it All(This Can't be Living)
has a video that's more short movie than music video. It's astounding.

So American

RE: rainperimeter's point- sometimes I get discouraged that there's more great art than is possible for a single mortal to consume, and then I'm really excited for a few hours because so many people are constantly producing great art that it's impossible to keep up in any field and the whole world is just covered in talent.
posted by sandswipe at 12:16 AM on December 20, 2011


I've really enjoyed some of the music in this thread, so thanks, people. I've also enjoyed skimming past all the pathetic comments moaning about the lovely music on offer this year.

De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum.

Here's one people seem to have missed:

Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi - Two Against One - starring Jack White
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:11 AM on December 21, 2011


I've also enjoyed skimming past all the pathetic comments moaning about the lovely music on offer this year.

I am at least happy that no one has offered up a comment like "this year was really dissappointing for music". I think we've come to the realization that with an increasing population that is increasingly networked and increasingly curated, that every year for music will be more exciting and prolific than the one before.

When things were more limited and distribution was controlled by far fewer players and you had major chokepoints for how you'd get your music, back then people would sometimes complain "this year wasn't as good as last year for new music". Now, I think statements like that are wholly impossible to make, except as a reflection of your interest in / experience of music.
posted by Theta States at 6:00 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been going through the TinyMixTapes list, and I like a lot of their picks and the fact that their list doesn't look exactly like all the others, but my god some of that writing is bad. Really, you're going to start off a one-paragraph capsule review with this?

"As with Derrida’s interrogation of pharmakon, one likewise arrives into contradictory double-meaning of capital. Defined, on the one hand, as disposable, a means, producing; and on the other as a primary, uppercase, crowning. We still cannot escape Sean McCann’s Capital and its double."
posted by whir at 8:45 AM on December 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Look, if you want college students to write for free, you can't be sniping at everything they produce...
posted by Theta States at 12:38 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Guardian: readers vote Matt Cardle (from the X Factor tv show) as album and single of the year, thanks to an organised campaign: "It is with this same air of jubilation that we must name Matt Cardle, winner of series seven of the X Factor, as our readers' favourite act of the year, scooping the number one position for both album, with Letters, and single, with Starlight.

Preliminary investigations suggest that the Cardle campaign was largely down to posters on the Matt Cardle Appreciation Thread (Part 42) running on the website Digital Spy. So well done guys. Great stuff. Great."

The Independent (UK) publishes a rather strange article which complains that the artists that top critical polls are not the biggest-selling artists in the country: "Don't expect to see any big names, let alone ones you might recognise. For Britain's music critics have outdone themselves in finding some bands so obscure they wouldn't even be famous in their own homes.

One, tUnE-yArDs (sic), has sold just a few thousand copies of its Whokill album. And the back catalogues of acts such as Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Wild Beasts, Kurt Vile, James Blake and the Horrors are not exactly troubling the bestseller charts."
posted by Infinite Jest at 7:18 AM on December 22, 2011


tUnE-yArDs can't be too obscure if I know about them (and bought the album) and I'm not exactly a cutting edge music enthusiast. And if good music isn't selling, wouldn't that be more the fault of the music buying public and the record companies and not the critics?
posted by octothorpe at 9:36 AM on December 22, 2011


I'll need to read this; I haven't kept on music this year.

While some may disagree that this is the general trend, the electronica musicians I do know have a background in playing 'real instruments' (clarient, upright bass, classical training in music). And it takes not just a laptop, but very sophisticated software, and most used pedals, custom boutique controllers to play a set. There also experiment with hybrids (e.g., adding a saxophone, bass, etc to the electronic, as well as vocals/keyboard.) I personally love more songs with cellos or electric guitar than those don't have them, but I can't discount the musical talent and the community around the genre (check out soundcloud, turntable.fm, etc).
posted by ejaned8 at 2:48 PM on December 22, 2011


Noone's mentioned Yuck--a couple of their (more distorted, less boy-girl hipster harmonizing) songs are pretty great, albeit in a nostalgic-for-certain-era (the Painful/Electro-Pura/I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One trifecta) Yo La Tengo, Pinebender, Bardo Pond, a certain shining-in-the-dark '90s Darla/Sealed Fate/Merge/etc. aesthetic. It's a sound that's currently mostly dead, so seeing someone want to revive it is a little touching. Mia Doi Todd had one out this year too. Otherwise, nthing Earth and Gillian Welch. I really need to get around to hearing the stuff from the Fall, Battles, Mastodon, Aidan Moffat, Low, and Mogwai, though those last 3 have disappointed me greatly on the last two+ outings to a point I sort of gave up (after adoring earlier stuff to pieces...when Mogwai said that thing in an interview about how they regret being so "noise wanking" and "boring" in their early records it was like a stab in the heart). I kinda liked Destroyer in college, so that's on the list too.

Radiohead's was nowhere near as good as In Rainbows but I wouldn't expect it to be as IR was so good (an album that roped me back in after nearly a decade of avoidance and made me realize what an idiot I was being to ignore Kid A), and it certainly wasn't bad.

Never heard of Moonface or tuneyards, should also investigate.

I want to love Bill Callahan's prettier, gentler, "wiser" newer stuff but I just don't, at least not compared to younger teenage-earnest weirdo-awkward Smog. And I love PJ Harvey to death so it broke my heart I didn't love Let England Shake (and unlike some fans this isn't entirely a "her raw older stuff is all to love"; there's plenty to mine on White Chalk, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, even Uh Huh Her, etc. and despite my unholy love for snarling Four Track Demos songs all hours of the night maybe my all-time favorite song of hers is a b-side from the Is This Desire? era). Perhaps it will grow on me.

Oh, and dug Wild Flag! And it probably doesn't really count but I dug the soundtrack to Drive.
posted by ifjuly at 8:33 AM on January 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Drive: Longest, most violent music video ever.
posted by maryr at 8:35 AM on January 3, 2012


Yuck is fabulous. #12 on my top 40 for sure.

And Bill Callahan has earned your patience. Just go with it. :)
posted by Theta States at 10:30 PM on January 4, 2012


I saw it on Pitchfork's (!) list, even though I hadn't heard that it existed yet. I promptly ordered a nice vinyl copy direct from Kompakt in Germany. It arrived last week.

I can now say, without reservation, that the best album of 2011 was The Field's Looping State Of Mind.
posted by koeselitz at 11:18 PM on January 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey koeselitz, thanks for the tip. Am enjoying those links a lot (not surprising; Kompakt's been putting out excellent stuff for over a decade), planning on investigating further now.
posted by ifjuly at 6:08 AM on January 5, 2012


so, then i went through a k(ompakt)-hole and have emerged expecting a buncha new cds, hooray. crossing my fingers the walls and kangding ray records are as good as they seem upon sampling. considering getting my husband some vladislav delay because "lauma" is pretty great, and byetone because they're right up his autechre-lovin' alley.
posted by ifjuly at 7:19 AM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Pretty sure I was put on to Tuneyards(sic) by Metafilter. So... thanks for that.


I always check out the Sound Opinions Music Board for their top albums of the year. I get a figurative ton of great suggestions to check out, and there are so many knowledgeable music folks with wildly different opinions that I stick around for the discussions (/fights). This year it has been a bit quiet, and I still miss Paul, but it's still worth taking a look at.
posted by squared at 11:57 AM on January 6, 2012


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