Oh Gawd...Best Music I Heard In 2011

I always want to do a Best Of music list each December, but I swing back and forth between being too lazy, and too dismissive of any computer use that's flagrantly time-wasting. As if my time is so supremely important. Anyway, I just have to make one for 2011, after reading Andy Mills' list.  His picks are all recent releases, but I miss a lot of new music, so I'm just using the "added on" dates from my iTunes to look through things I bought or downloaded in the past year, and whatever has the most hits, wins. Also, I almost never have an album listening experience, I just use a little ipod mini, so I'm just doing favorite tracks, which makes sense in the modern era. 

Does anyone give a shit about my favorite songs from 2011? If your rampant internet consumption is anything like mine, you probably will read this whole thing. So I'll try to do a good job. Top ten, I guess? Or until I get bored and go get more ice cream. I'm giving up all sweets in 2011 to stave off the diabetes which runs in my family and which I'll never afford to monitor in our horrible economy, so this week I am truly binging. My gut is already hanging over my belt. In no particular order...

1. Bill Callahan, Drover

This record came out about a week before I moved back to America from England, and was the most poignant listening experience I've had since I bought Dirty Projectors' Bitte Orca for the week I toured Tokyo a few years ago. This song is perfect to me, and I was shocked as always at just how weird Bill is getting as I listened. Weirder with every album. Suddenly he's inexplicably quite funny, now? Also this is the first song I ever heard that made me think proudly of America.

2. Amen Dunes, Lower Mind

I just got this record, Through Donkey Jaw, which is on Sacred Bones. For whatever reason, everything about the whole record is perfect to me, even though most people probably won't dig this too much. It's lo-fi and messy, so whoever likes that sort of thing, he does that just right. I think the guy is from New York, but he lived in China for several years.

3. Nobunny, I Am a Girlfriend

Another very new one for me, though I think this song is actually a couple years old . This song is perfect and catchy, a good one for riding the subway in your leather jcket, but most of this guy's songs are pretty lousy, honestly.

4. Sleeping Bag, Slime

I love this god damned song so much. My old pal David Woodruff is in this Bloomington, IN band and they seem to be getting press and lots of hits, etc. I hope they come play in Chicago sometime.

5. Amanaz, I Am Very Far

This is a Zambian psych-rock album that came out in 1975. This song is so fucking chilled out and was very good to me this past summer. A lot of the record is recorded all out of tune, but this song is just right.

6. Radiohead, Little By Little

Oh right! Radiohead put out my favorite record I've ever heard from them. Finally trumping Amnesiac. This record is so great, I don't even listen to any of their old stuff anymore. My friend Adair was all tripped out about how there's two very separate beats going in this song, which I hadn't noticed til he said something, and now I'm always listening real hard to the percussion when I hear this one. The thing this record has really done is ruin cheap digital effects for me. They take so much time crafting completely precise and original, almost...organic keyboard tones and effects, that when I hear someone just throw a digital reverb or flange on something now, it almost grosses me out. Thus my contnued obsession with very lo-fi bedroom recordings, which tend to be so noisy they hide the cheapness of the effects themselves...I guess tape hiss and roomsound is preferable to bad computer effects, to me. My room i so fucking cold.

7. Tinariwen, Cler Achel

This is a few years old but I discovered them this year. I posted a live version of this song. The original is great, but in this video they kind of slow it down a little and it really grooves, plus you see how unbelievably cool these guys are. The band has been together for like 30 years, they're politically radical nomadic Algerians. Look at his turquoise electric guitar. His haircut. His desert-hardened face. The white performance robes. Listen to his playing style. There is nothing else like this on Earth.

8. Fosdyk Well, Slumber

What do you call this stuff? I feel like there might be a special genre name. It's goth folk for lack of a better term. Pretty strange. My old pal Scott Ferguson, another Bloomingtonian, wrote this album. He's a social and political radical who doesn't use the internet. He's very funny and silly, but these songs are very, very dark. My friend Sean recorded this incredible record, put it out, and now he has to ship copies of it to Italy and Germany all the time. They like this sort of thing.

9. Creedance Clearwater Revival, Someday Never Comes

Ugh. This is embarrassing, but I am doing this list by my set rules. Being from Indiana, CCR reminds me of asshole young men driving around in minitrucks and cranking Born on the Bayou while pounding on the dashboard to the beat,  and going either to the mall, the Portage 9 Cinema to see a horror movie remake, or to a girl's house to lie on top of each other while watching DVD's for ten hours. This particular song fell into my running regiment over the summer, and I nearly reached euphoria several times while listening in 100-degree heat and wondering how the fuck I was going to get out of Indiana. What a pretty song.

10. Sammy Cropper & His Wire Connections, Mensonomu

And here it is, really, my favorite record of the year. I found it on some Nigerian Highlife fan blog, and have listened to it about 300 times. Perfect for long fast runs, but also for working or writing. Every song is perfect, strange, intricate, beautiful. Sammy Cropper is a session player in lots of Ghana Highlife records, especially a great band called Vis-a-Vis. This, however, is his only solo release. It's so much more magnificent than anything else he's ever played on that I've heard. I don't know too much else about him, but this is one of those instances in African music where it unknowingly overlaps with the most radical kinds of modern Western underground music (I think he uses home-rigged synthesizers, for example). I dunno, if I can stress one thing in this travesty of a time-waster, it's to download this one here.

Have a happy New Year and a very blessed anniversary of the birth of the American Saviour, Lord Jesus, both the Son of God and a god in his own right, I guess. That shit is so confusing. I have successfully refrained from saying Merry Christmas even a single time this year, by the way. Isn't that great? Happy holidays.

1 comment:

J. said...

Uh, I favorited this post.

-Pat's friend