Skip to main content

2011: 10 Albums I'm Glad I Bought

Though it surely wasn't reflected in my blogging frequency, 2011 found my relationship with music rebounding from the slump of the last few years.Though most new artists and I remain strictly platonic, several old flames rekindled the passion.

As has been tradition the last couple of years, here're the albums that stuck with me the most. Along with my thoughts, I've listed my personal highlights.



Adele: 21
One of those rare records that find simultaneous commercial, critical, and personal success. Though the album flirted with overexposure in the months after its release, I believe it will endure a long time.
Faves: Rollin' in the Deep, Rumour Has It, Set Fire to the Rain, One and OnlySomeone Like You

*

The Cars: Move Like This
Reunion albums tend to have an air of desperation and the sweat of trying too hard to recapture past glories. Move Like This manages to avoid that completely. Ric, David, Greg, and Eliot pick back up and zip through these 10 songs as if it'd been 24 hours, not 24 years, since they last recorded.
Faves: Blue Tip, Too Late, SoonSad Song, Take a LookHits Me

*

Death Cab for Cutie: Codes and Keys
For me, their previous album, Narrow Stairs, was a slow-grower, revealing its considerable charms after many many listens. This one got to me quicker, but I have a feeling it will make less lasting impression. Even so, it's got a lot to recommend it.
Faves: Codes and Keys, You Are a Tourist, Unobstructed Views, Underneath the Sycamore, St. Peter's Cathedral, Stay Young,Go Dancing


*

The Decemberists: The King is Dead
The Decemebrists past work has felt too affected to me, but this one is straight ahead and irresistable. Straddling the middle ground between Americana and indie rock, the album is a gem from front to back.
Faves: The whole thing, but especially June Hymn. I don't typically have emotional reactions to songs, but that one gets me.

*

Fountains of Wayne: Sky Full of Holes
Less bombastic than F.O.W.s last couple of albums, Sky Full of Holes has quieter charms. The songwriting, however, is as sharp as ever.
Faves: The Summer Place, Acela, Action Hero, A Dip in the Ocean, A Road Song


*

Kaiser Chiefs: The Future is Medieval
Kaiser Chiefs have quickly and quietly (at least in the U.S.) been building up a pretty amazing oeuvre. The Future is Medieval (released in 2012 as Start the Revolution Without Me) is a great addition. The band initally offered a "make your own album" via their website, with 20 tracks to choose from. Then they released their own 12 song version. The 8 songs they left off are equally (and in some cases more) worthy.
Faves: Things Change, Long Way from Celebrating, Out of Focus, Man on Mars, Heard it Break, Howlaround, Problem Solved, I Dare You, Can't Mind My Own Business, My Place Is Here

*

Rogue Valley: False Floors
This is pretty amazing. In a one year timespan, Minneapolis songwriter Chris Koza and his bandmates released four proper albums, one for each season. Winter's entry, False Floors, was the only one to come out in 2011, but it's also my favorite.
Faves: False Floors, Blueprints, Orion, The Scattering Moon

*

Sloan: The Double Cross
Sloan's 10th album (which came out in their 20th year, thus the punny XX title) is typically great.
Faves: The Answer was You, Unkind, Shadow of Love, Your Daddy Will Do, Beverly Terrace, Laying So Low

*

They Might Be Giants: Join Us
I'll admit, I'd all but written TMBG off. But Join Us is a strong return to form, with John Linnell especially bringing his "A" game. It's a diverse album, bringing to mind their Flood glory days most, but with the more musically mature touches of John Henry and Factory Showroom. When Will You Die immediately belongs in their top ten singles of all time.
Faves: Can't Keep Johnny Down, You Probably Get That a Lot, Canajoharie, Let Your Hair Hang Down, When Will You Die, Judy is Your Vietnam, Never Knew Love, You Don't Like Me

*

Wilco: The Whole Love
Wilco continue to surprise. The third album with this iteration of the band manages to happily marry their pop sensibilities to their need to experiment.
Faves: Art of Almost, Sunloathe, Dawned on Me, Open Mind, Capitol City

Comments

Anonymous said…
http://www.mediafire.com/?6pvhud1gm34i6ji

Popular posts from this blog

Big Bad Eddie (Is Sweet Edward Now)

I wasn't surprised this week when I heard the news that Eddie Van Halen had left our mortal realm. For one, 2020 has been such a parade of awful news that nothing terrible is shocking anymore. For another, I knew Eddie had been reckoning with cancer for a long time. And for yet another, we're all just visitors here, but Eddie was especially so. We were lucky to get him for as long as we did. * With the inordinate number of monumental musicians we've lost since David Bowie's death in January 2016, it feels like my music writing has been approximately 75% eulogies. These essays have developed a predictable formula wherein I detail my personal history with that person's music. I fear the familiarity of that risks diminishing their impact, so for Eddie I wanted to honor his sense of innovation with my own. But there's a reason that formula came about. Ever since I was a teenager, the primary goal of my writing has been discovery. In the process of writing, I learn w

REO Speedwagon: Nine Lives (1979)

Where We Left Off: With Kevin Cronin back on lead vocals and Bruce Hall replacing Gregg Philbin on bass, REO Speedwagon were finally building sales momentum with two successful albums in a row. * Nine Lives  was released in July of 1979. The title was likely a reference to the fact that it was the band's ninth album (if you include You Get What You Play For ), as well as the fact that they'd survived a level of turmoil that would have been the end of a band with less fortitude. There are also nine songs on the album. Perhaps the most interesting and puzzling thing about this record - both in sound and in presentation - is how much it represented a swerve away from You Can Tune a Piano... .  You'd think that having finally hit on a successful formula REO would want to repeat it. But on the whole the music on Nine Lives abandons the countryish pop rock of the previous record in favor of a faster, harder sound, way more "Ridin' the Storm Out" than "T

REO Speedwagon: Life As We Know It (1987)

Where We Left Off: Wheels Are Turnin' was REO Speedwagon's third consecutive multi-million selling album, producing the #1 hit "Can't Fight This Feeling." * Produced by the same team as Wheels Are Turnin' (Cronin, Richrath, Gratzer, and David DeVore), Life As We Know It was recorded while when Kevin Cronin was going through a divorce. He says making the album was a welcome distraction from his family falling apart. At the same time, his relationship with Gary Richrath was fraught with tension. That set of circumstances played a huge part in the album's lyrical content, and knowing the record was the last one for the band's classic line-up makes for an intriguing listen. For example, it's commonly held that "Too Many Girlfriends," a tune about someone running too hot for too long, is Cronin taking a shot at Richrath. This is most evident in the self-referencing line, "he better find the one / he's gonna take on the run