So here is the meat. The best albums and songs of 2011. Actually, that's wrong - they probably aren't the best, but they surely are the stuff I liked most. This year, you can go on Spotify to see if/how full of shit I am.
2011 ALBUMS I LIKED MOST: Gonna limit this to 20. Was a pretty good year overall. What shocks me is how much of the stuff I listened to is (what I would call) either electronica or dance music. I usually find my ears much more organic stuff than I did this year. Not saying it is bad - just sayin'.
M83 - Shut Up We're Dreaming: Huge. Sprawling. Gonna take another year to fully digest, but the dood behind this band balances the dense and complex within the pop structure so well it is scary. To say it is dance music misses the point, yet dancing to it doesn't. No small feat.
Handsome Furs - Sound Kapital: They keep getting better and better. While the first Wolf Parade album is a top 5 of the last 10 years from me, they never got close to that quality again. The closest any of them came is Handsome Furs, especially this album. Another album that can pass you by like it is disposable dance music until you actually hear the song craft. The perfect tits on the cover don't hurt either.
Girls - Father Son & Holy Ghost: This is called Indie, but at any other time, this woulda been considered an excellent art damaged, but mainline, rock album.
Holy Ghost - Holy Ghost: Excellent. I don't like dance music really, but I love this. As I have said many times, if only I Will Come Back had been included, it woulda been my #1 album this year.
Band Of Bees - Every Step's A Yes: Shamelessly derivative, but sometimes people do retro better than the real thing. This band can do that.
Thurston Moore - Demolished Thoughts: Produced by Beck, which makes me biased in its favor. Real songs, organic arrangements, and very human performance. It took me 20 years to "get" Sonic Youth. If I'd heard this first, I woulda hit the ground running.
Papercuts - Fading Parade: I am a sucker for this sorta soft AC alt.folk stuff. This is almost 70s big too. They are getting better.
Yacht - Shangri-La: I love See Mystery Lights so much I had too high of expectations for this album. If this had come first, I would probably love it more. Some A-list stuff, but not all killer. Killer enough for you I am sure.
Wild Flag - Wild Flag: I was late to Sleater-Kinney love, but I definitely got it. This isn't SK-like in sound as much as feel. Great to just have on with frequent hits of the back button. Woulda been perfect with the Patti Smith cover included.
Jeffery Lewis - A Turn In The Dream Songs: I expect no one will like this like I do. I pretty much like his last 3 and will buy his new ones each time they come out. Yes it is sloppy and affected and navel-gazing, but dammit, so am I often enough!
John Maus - We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves: I actually find this guys stuff terrifying sometimes. It is sorta sinister tongue in cheek on the album before this one, and I am still not quite sure which side of the good/evil line this guy's center is. Either way, this is dark synth done exactly right.
High Places - Original Colors: Lovely little band getting better at being lovely and somewhat less little. They can safely drop the last of the twee if this is what they are capable of.
St. Vincent - Strange Mercy: A little over-wrought and not something I lyrically relate to now that I am not in my late 20s, but I can't deny her skillz. She synthesizes so much good stuff, it is hard to pin it down. I always feel like this is like the Prince-Kate Bush collaboration that shoulda been, meaning, it needed some Johnny Rotten too - if only in spirit.
East River Pipe - We Live In Rented Rooms: Dark, but beautiful. I always feel drained by the human misery he sings of. I wish he didn't wrap it so appealingly. In small doses, it has been a constant companion all year.
Moonface - Organ Music: Spencer Krug is so talented his throwaway stuff is excellent. Still waiting for THE ONE from him.
Destroyer- Kaputt: More wispy affected and foppish than most, they really have to be good because I am usually repulsed by that kinda thing, but this is unimpeachable. A great modern warping of 70s AM radio standards.
Panda Bear - Tomboy: No Person Pitch, but still excellent.
Wooden Shjips - West: I think I like everything from them. Certainly if one likes one specific thing from them, nothing else they do is too shocking. Wonder if the outside world will ever hip to this sorta thing. It feels like classic rock to me, but then I am weird.
2011 SONGS I LIKED MOST: Limiting it to 20 and trying to stay away from stuff on the albums list. I put a Spotify playlist together of most of these plus some honorable mentions. Call BS on me if you want. It''s here.
East River Pipe - Cold Ground: This came out right at the beginning of the year, and I still love it so.
Band Of Bees - Silver Line: I think this is the song I listened to most this year. Beautiful.
Real Estate - It's Real: Not sure if this will hold up over time, but I listened to it a lot this year. The little instrumental b-side is excellent in the same ramshackle way.
Kurt Vile - Jesus Fever: Better than original stoner rock.
Drums - Days: I liked what I heard from their first album. This is a nice step forward - less bratty, more song-craft. Gotta think they have a great album in them coming soon.
TuneYards - Gangsta (Ad Rock Remix): Excellent Excellent Excellent
Dum Dum Girls - Coming Down: I am such a sucker for these huge sing-a-long alt.power-ballads.
UNKLE - Natural Selection: Sounds old and new.
YACHT - I Tripped & Fell In Love With You: Didn't love the new album end to end, but this one I bumped since the day I got the disc.
Cold Cave - The Great Pan Is Dead: Such drama! For my inner-16-year-old.
Warpaint - Billie Holliday: Hope Smokey Robinson is getting royalties here. Mary Wells too come to think of it.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Little Blue House: If you are male and are yet to see the video, that is the best way to see the beauty of the song (NSFW)
Wilco - I Might: Wilco are the most over-rated band in alt.dom, but this (and a few more) from the new one are pretty darn good.
Papercuts - Boys Of Summer: Don Henley won't be excused from hell based on the quality of this song. A natural in Papercuts' hands.
Battles - Ice Cream: I liked some of their first album's songs a lot too.
CSS - City Grrl: I feel bad for being a pig sometimes because of songs like this. So smart.
Beck - Stormbringer: It is a cover, but sounds like Sea Change/Mutations vintage stuff, therefore, I like it.
Foster The People - Pumped Up Kicks: I wish I didn't have to include this, especially since they seem like reactionary dicks, but of all the songs on endless repeat in the world this year, I did like this one.
Crystal Castles - Celestica: I use it to wipe their shitty Robert Smith collaboration out of my head.
Paul Simon - The Afterlife: I can't decide if my interest in Paul Simon is a guilty pleasure or if he is one of the righteous squares, a la Lindsay Buckingham. He is great when he is great. This coulda been a Graceland album cut of considerable weight.