Music in 2011 – A few of my favorite things
It’s hard to believe that 2011 has come and gone. This year brought us a lot of great music. Before I get to my list of favorites here is a quick recap of a few of the things that happened in music this year…(some of these facts & figures borrowed from my friends at SPIN)….
-The White Stripes broke up. Let’s hope it isn’t for good….
-Nate Dog dies at the age of 41 years old.
-LCD Soundsystem play for the final time at MSG
-Flav’s place – Flav’s Fried Chicken closes after being open for 4 months.
-Clarence Clemons dies and the sound of the E-Street band is forever changed
-Converse Rubber Tracks opens its doors to its first artist. Thanks to all of the people who poured their heart & soul into making the dream a reality. To date, we’ve hosted more than 120 artists in the studio. 2012 promises to be an even better year.
-Rilo Kiley, one of my favorite bands, broke up for good.
-Amy Winehouse dies of alcohol poisoning at age 27
-Riots in London
-Stages collapse at festivals in Indiana & Belgium, killing 10 people.
-R.E.M. announces their breakup after being together for 31 years (we’re getting older folks).
-The world is sad to learn that Steve Jobs has died at the age of 56. Plenty has been written about the man and his legacy. It’s true – there will never be another who will have as big an impact on the world of music & technology. RIP.
-Thurston Moore & Kim Gordon announce their separation after 27 years of marriage
-Heavy D dies at the age of 44
-Death Cab front man Ben Gibbard & Zoey Deschannel announce their separation after two years of marriage. Who knew they were married, and did anyone care?
While these things were happening, people occupied Wall Street, Portland, Boston, and virtually every other major city – demanding that the 99% be heard.
There was also a heck of a lot of great music released this year. Here is a list of my favorites in no particular order:
RADIOHEAD – The King of Limbs
My favorite record of the year, from my favorite band in the world. Surprised?
I’ll admit the first four times I listened to it, I didn’t love it. But, as with any great Radiohead record, its not until the 6th or 7th spin that it grabs you around the neck and never lets go.
The tracks Codex & Separator are not to be missed.
The video for Lotus Flower is great as is the song.
The Decemberists – The King Is Dead
One of my favorite bands these days. Portland’s finest, in my opinion. I had the opportunity to attend a show in NYC as they were releasing the record, followed by drinks in the bar at the Ace. These folks are the nicest (and funniest) people I’ve met in a long time. We sat there for an hour & a half and no one recognized them. Classic.
Wilco – The Whole Love
When these guys get it right, they are hard to beat. This is a rock solid record.
The Black Keys – El Camino
Perhaps the best two man rock band I have ever heard (note: The White Stripes don’t qualify as a two man band). These guys bring it. They are outstanding live. This is a solid effort.
The Head And The Heart (self-titled)
Another new artist coming out of the Pacific Northwest. These guys come from Seattle. No doubt, one of my favorite records in a long time. It almost makes me miss living in Seattle…..almost. Very mellow record. Great driving music. Lost In My Mind is perhaps my favorite song of the year.
Foster The People – Torches
It was impossible not to hear “pumped up kicks” three times a day for a period of about 6 months. Even after that happened, I still like the track. The rest of the record is also great. They should enjoy themselves at the Grammy Awards this February.
Bon Iver (self-titled)
Alt-folk/country at its finest. We’re going to hear a lot about this guy in the next two years. No doubt about it.
My Morning Jacket – Circuital
Two words: Southern Rock.
Dawes – Nothing Is Wrong
Mid 70’s, Laurel Canyon alt-rock at its finest. Reminiscent of Jackson Brown, Eagles, CS&N
Gary Clark, Jr. – The Bright Lights – EP
We’re going to hear a lot about this guy in the coming year. I had the opportunity to see him live at an event for MyMusicRx. He was amazing. Sometimes bands without talent get a lot of buzz at the expense of one who have talent. This guy has massive talent and my hope is that people notice him….because he deserves it.
Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
These guys come from Seattle. They’ve been kicking around there for a few years and outstanding. They represent the best of what’s going on in the beautiful Pacific Northwest these days. A revival of 70’s style folk-rock. Their music fully captures the essence of Seattle for me.
Gillian Welch – The Harrow & The Harvest
Simple, beautiful, haunting. She could sing the phone book and I’d buy it. Nice record.
Laura Marling – A Creature I Don’t Know
21 years old, from the UK. This is her third record. This record is not to be missed. Great songwriter. She appears to be the real deal.
PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
She is back in a big way. MOJO’s “Album of the Year” described as “she still fizzes with originality and brilliance”. Enough said. This chick simply rocks. Always has. Check out her old track with Thom Yorke called “The Mess We’re In”. One of my all time favorite songs.
Honorable Mentions – other artists to check out and keep an eye on in the coming year…
Lana Del Ray’s single “video games” is amazing.
Jonathan Wilson, M83, Girls, The Joy Formidable, EMA, Beast Make Bomb, Tennis.
And don’t miss the Converse “Three Artists, One Song” track – I’m a Goner by Matt & Kim, Soulja Boy, and Andrew WK. A strange mix of artists and styles that comes together to create a song that rocks.
Reissues of the Year:
Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On
Rolling Stones – Some Girls
The Smiths – Complete
REM – Life’s Rich Pageant
Ok, so there you have it. People say that the music business is in trouble. Maybe it is BUT music isn’t. It was a very good year. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that 2012 gives us as much as ’11 did.