Thursday, December 08, 2011

Albums I liked from 2011

In 2011, I ended up with 213 hours worth of music. Here is my list of the 20 albums I listened to most. There were other albums I liked a lot, but usually for only a song or two. It was a good year for music.

In alphabetical order, then, I give you my 2011:

A.A. Bondy – Believers

A.A. Bondy - Believers (Album Preview) by PIASGermany

Blind Pilot – We Are the Tide

We Are The Tide by Blind Pilot Music

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Bon Iver, Bon Iver by boniver

Caveman – Coco Beware

Caveman -Old Friend by emn2

David Bazan – Strange Negotiations by David Bazan

Destroyer – Kaputt

Destroyer - Kaputt by The Line Of Best Fit

East River Pipe – We Live in Rented Rooms

East River Pipe - Cold Ground by fearurself

Elbow – Build a Rocket Boys

Elbow - Lippy Kids by gwehen

EMA – Past Life Martyred Saints

EMA: California by -gaga

Feist – Metals

Feist - Graveyard by Arts & Crafts

Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost

vomit // girls by sexmusic

Lindsey Buckingham – Seeds We Sew

Lindsey Buckingham - Seeds We Sow by ronnierocket

The Middle East – I Want That You Are Always Happy

13 Deep Water by themiddleeast

PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

Pj Harvey Let England Shake 2011 by gaia-clerici

R.E.M. – Collapse Into Now

R.E.M. "Oh My Heart" by Warner Music Group DE

Radiohead – The King of Limbs /
Radiohead – The King of Limbs (Live from the Basement)

Radiohead - The Daily Mail (From The Basement) by amomentofclarity

St. Vincent – Strange Mercy

St. Vincent - Cruel by Posh Magazine

Viva Voce – The Future Will Destroy You

Viva Voce - The Future Will Destroy You by LANDSHARKPromotion

The War on Drugs – Slave Ambient

The War on Drugs by NYLONmag

Wye Oak – Civilian

Wye Oak by -gaga


At 12/08/2011 5:32 PM, Blogger BDR said...

Thanks for the generosity.

At 12/09/2011 8:00 AM, Blogger David Grove said...

I tried Let England Shake, but I couldn't get into it. I prefer early PJ Harvey, e.g., Rid Of Me. But maybe I'll give this new album another try.

At 12/09/2011 8:42 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


Yeah, I went back and forth on it, kind of how I went back and forth on the Lindsey Buckingham. Is it nostalgia I'm liking them for, or real value?

Wilco didn't make my list, besides having one fo my favorite songs of the year "Art of Almost," becasue the rest of the album feels pretty phoned-in to me. Though the "Jane S Boyfriend" song at the end is pretty good as well, it seems to me people are liking that album because they so want to like Wilco right now.

Maybe that's what's happening with me and PJH. I'll find out sometime next year when I've either gone back to it or not . . .

I often find out much later what i really like.

At 12/09/2011 12:31 PM, Blogger Fuzz Against Junk said...

It's always fun to see someone else's take on a year of music, because mine looks completely different, even if I think we're interested in the same things, though maybe in name only. Woods put out a good album this year, as did Real Estate, the new Atlas Sound is good as well.

Re: Wilco. "I Might" is the only thing I listen to with any regularity, mostly because of the driving organs.

At 12/09/2011 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I have a longstanding crush on Ms. Harvey, but Let England Shake drives me up the wall.

I love the music and vocals. Unfortunately, they create expectations for lyrics that are at least endurable. Instead they strike me as heartfelt, self-important, and hackneyed.

Nick Cave said some unkind things about Harvey's development as an artist. This album makes me wonder if there was more to his remarks than bitterness.


At 12/09/2011 5:11 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

I will admit that my liking of the PJ Harvey might have more to do with my memories of Rid of Me and To Bring You My Love. But, in my defence, I will say that there is no love of Bjork's early work that could get me to make it through Biophilia.

But I'm listening to "The Last Living Rose" right now and I'm feeling kind of like bopping along. I dont' know, maybe I'll still defend it after all.

At 12/09/2011 5:22 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


Yeah, you went for Woods and Real Estate and I went for Caveman and The War on Drugs . . .

I also liked the Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., We Were Promised Jetpacks, and Arctic Monkeys albums.

I used real easy criteria for my best of list this year, which is, I didn’t try to make a “best of” list. I just looked back at what I listened to the most. This list probably has a lot to do with the fact that I like to listen to music while puttering around town. Bands like Bon Iver and St. Vincent seem to make things specifically for me to clean house and shop to.

At 12/09/2011 5:45 PM, Blogger David Grove said...

I like Hank Williams for driving around town. I don't clean anything.

At 12/09/2011 6:10 PM, Blogger Fuzz Against Junk said...

Woods are just a great live band. One of the few who do better in person than their records, which have all been great since Songs of Shame.

Real Estate's new album took a few listens to click, and I still miss the swagger of their first effort, but it's this wonderful cross between The Beach Boys bubblegum pop and something like The Shins' first record.

You know what was disappointing? Fleet Foxes. I threw down on the Record Store Day single of Helplessness Blues and Grown Ocean, which were great, but the album just wasn't my cup of tea. Same with Bon Iver, but I think that's because I expected more of For Emma, Forever Ago, which I have very fond memories of whilst driving around the Rocky Mountains.

2011, like most years for me, is always a mix of some new and some old. I rediscovered tons of old punk rock I had either forgotten about, or flat out ignored.

At 12/09/2011 6:23 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

I feel similarly about the Fleet Foxes. And, funny you should mention getting into some old punk. Some of the stuff I listened to the most wasn’t “new” this year either. I picked up the anniversary deluxe copies of Mott the Hoople’s live album and Ian Hunter’s You’re Never Alone with a Schizophrenic, along with Sonic Youth’s “best of.”

There were a lot of surprises (Destroyer! I loved it) and disappointments (I expected much better from Iron & Wine) this year. Like most years, as you say.

We should get a radio show.

Bon Iver hit me right in the black hole of my high school memories of Bruce Hornsby & the Range, but, for me, it's like he went back there and did somethign good with it. It's like he fixed something. I will always now love him for that.

At 12/09/2011 6:35 PM, Blogger Fuzz Against Junk said...

Is it just me, or do you find the albums that remain important to you are the ones that you may have been ambivalent about at first? Last year's Deerhunter album is one of those, even though their previous one, Microcastle, holds the record for my favorite listening experience ever.

Yes, let's do a radio show.

At 12/09/2011 7:09 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Last year's Sarah Jaffe is like that for me. I thought it a pale Sharon Van Etten. Actually, I kept getting them confused. Now I find it (Suburban Nature) one of the 2010 albums I listen to most often.

And sometimes an album I like I continue to like a lot, or even more, over time. Last year's National is like that. I still listen to it.

Maybe this means I'll like The Decemberists and the Ryan Adams next year? Nah.

The moment you had with Fleet Foxes I also had with The Low Anthem. I was waiting and waiting for it and then when it came out I was almost instantly ambivalent.

I wonder why no one's putting R.E.M. on their list this year? It was a fine album. When the critics turn on you, they really turn (watch out, Wilco).

At 12/10/2011 1:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you listen to music like a dickman twin writes poetry --retro 70s tearjerking weepies. finally, we agree. thanks for everything you do.

At 12/10/2011 1:51 PM, Blogger David Grove said...

"retro 70s tearjerking weepies"--that's what I like. I sit in the dark blubbering to Badfinger's "Without You."

At 12/10/2011 2:21 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


Well I’m pretty OK with the existence of the Dickmans. Is there a retro vibe to the albums I like? Well, I’m 47 next month, so I can claim the retro as my own. The Bon Iver and the Destroyer, especially, are going back to the mid 80s for a lot of their sound, but they lyrics . . . I don’t know, the lyrics could be called skittery even. Here are the lyrics to "Kaputt," for instance:

Wasting your days,
Chasing some girls all right,
Chasing cocaine
to the back rooms of the world all night
Wasting your days,
Chasing some girls all right,
Chasing cocaine
through the back rooms of the world all night

Sounds, smash hits, melody maker N.M.E.
All sound like a dream to me,
All sound like a dream to me,
All sounds like a dream.
Sounds, smash hits, melody maker N.M.E.
All sound like a dream to me,
All sound like a dream to me,
All sounds like a dream.

Step out of your toga and look to the folk
You are a prince in the ocean,
In the pit, in the sky, in your eye.
Step out of your toga and into the ocean, look
They got your prince on the phone,
In the point, in the sky, in your eye.

To the song … I wrote a song for America, who knew?
Ohh no, ohh noo.

At 12/10/2011 2:32 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


My favorite mid-70s weepie is Eric Carmen's "All By Myself":

At 12/10/2011 2:32 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

"Love's so distant and obscure."

I meant to add to that.

At 12/10/2011 8:50 PM, Anonymous djm said...

yeah, that war on drugs is great.

At 12/11/2011 6:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alone Again, Naturally is a real heartstomper. Al Stewart's stuff is also good at bringing out the meloncholy; have you ever been in the aisles of Super Saver when Year of the Cat pours out of the supermarket speakers.

There's an excellent poem up on Verse Daily this morning that kind of gets at some of your recent posts here on NTSASI, John, titled Erik Satie Watusies His Way Into Sound, by Jeff Alessandrelli (hope I got that name spelled right).

I'd add a few albums to your list, just because. Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside, Dirty Radio, is a very good album by a band out of Portland I think. And Jason Isbell's new one, Here We Rest comes to mind ...



At 12/11/2011 8:15 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


I was waiting for it. I liked their earlier stuff and was wondering what this was going to be like without Kurt Vile. Turns out, it was just fine without Kurt Vile!


Today, if I were making this list, I would have switched Lindsey Buckingham out with James Vincent McMorrow. I liked it a lot when it came out, but the Bon Iver kind of wrote over the top of it, and it’s only been the last few days where I’ve been able to hear it as itself again. It’s really quite excellent.

That’s great to hear about Jeff. I met him last year and liked him a lot. Good to hear he’s up on Verse Daily. I’ll go check it out.

I didn’t hear anything about these albums. Now I’ve something to go look for. That’s the kind of homework I like getting.

I also liked the new one from Other Lives, titled Tamer Animals. My real list of albums I liked is more like 50 than 20.

I liked 2011 in music. In other ways, it was terrible. But the music was good.

At 12/12/2011 3:58 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Here's a very good top ten list, from Obscure Sound. I'm pleased to see Destroyer at #1. If I had ranked my top 20, I would've put Destroyer there as well.

Fuzz! They agree with you on Real Estate:

At 12/12/2011 9:49 PM, Blogger Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

Where is Paul Simon's new CD 'So Beautiful or So What'?

I heard on the radio that it's the best thing he's produced in decades.


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