sand is overrated

all songs posted are for evaluation only. if you hear something you like and would like to hear more, please go ahead and support the artists by buying their music--i will always include links for you to do so. copyright holders: if anything on my site needs to be taken down, please email me and it will be removed immediately.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

2011 albums of the year : #1

the whole love


dbpm/anti, september 27, 2011

"art of almost"

if i had made my list in december, as i usually do, the whole love would have been number 3, behind the deeply personal connections i feel to bon iver, bon iver and we are the tide. however, while listening to it on a long drive in early january, i decided that i wanted the whole love to be number 1. it could be more for symbolic reasons more than anything, as in the end i wanted to try to remember the year for something other than heartache and pain. however, it is certainly not undeserving of the title of my favorite album of the year, as it may just be my favorite album that wilco has ever made. which is saying a lot, since wilco has long been one of my two or three favorite bands. the album is bookended by two quintessential wilco songs--"art of almost" and "one sunday morning (song for jane smiley's boyfriend)". the opener is the current (and hopefully last) incarnation of the band at the absolute peak of its powers--creatively, experimentally, musically, and, somehow, face-shreddingly...awesome. while the closer is a meandering 12-minute stroll through a painful paternal relationship, made breathtaking and heartbreaking by the intimacy of the quietly dueling acoustic guitar and piano. with a nod to yankee hotel foxtrot, the whole love may just be my favorite wilco album of all, and a gift that i will always be grateful to have received in the midst of such a terrible year. thank you, wilco. thank you.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

2011 albums of the year : #2

we are the tide

blind pilot

expunged records, september 13, 2011

"new york"

when bon iver, bon iver was released in june, i remember thinking that i would be very happy if it wasn't my favorite album at the end of the year, because that would mean that some truly great music would have been released during the second half of the year. to be honest, i'm not sure that we are the tide qualifies as "great" in the traditional sense, although blind pilot do what they do and they certainly do it very well (but let's be fair--it is an expertly crafted album by a tremendously appealing band, and certainly at least "very, very good"). rather, we are the tide is my second-favorite album of the year because of what it represents--with 2008's 3 rounds and a sound, it's the other blind pilot bookend to the most significant period of my life. it's the kind of relationship that can truly be appreciated only by me, but seeing as how this is my list, i get to determine how much weight it is given. and it means a lot. similar to bon iver, bon iver, i do have some reservations about assigning such importance to an association that is, no doubt, painful to recollect. however, i know that with time comes distance, and one day i hope those memories will serve only as reminders of what i have survived, and help me to appreciate the future present.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

2011 albums of the year : #3

bon iver, bon iver

bon iver

jagjaguwar, june 21, 2011


shredding the mythology of the cabin in the woods, justin vernon returns with an album of surpassing beauty, both in its clarity of vision and the muscular confidence with which it is presented. lyrically abstract and sonically dense, the album seemed to evolve even as it is constrained to a silver plastic disc, shape-shifting and folding in on itself to reveal unheard sounds, unseen visions, and unfelt emotions. during a period in my life that was tumultuous and completely opaque, i found myself returning again and again to bon iver, bon iver, always with a different feeling and sometimes within the very same song ("calgary" comes to mind: "you know that all the rope's untied", then "the demons come, they can subside", then "there's a fire going out / but there's really nothing to the south"). in some ways it was tortuous, and it seems a shame to associate something so beautiful with a period so painful. but that's what it--music--is for me, and for that i know that bon iver, bon iver will always hold a special place inside.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2011 albums of the year : #4

helplessness blues

fleet foxes

sub pop, may 3, 2011

"helplessness blues"

if not for the difficulties i faced this year, helplessness blues would no doubt be higher than number 4. who knows--given my current state and the questions i have been left with concerning life and happiness, i can see myself developing a more personal connection to this album as time goes by. but what i know today is that helplessness blues is one of the most purely enjoyable and satisfying albums that i've heard in a long time. robin pecknold's vocals are given more prominence, with the vocal harmonies that so defined fleet foxes now more of a background flourish. and they are simply sublime, lending a serenity that belies the difficulties of the existential questions being considered.


Monday, January 23, 2012

2011 albums of the year : #5

on the water

future islands

thrill jockey, october 11, 2011


here is where it got tough. deciding between several shades of why and on the water at number five was a particularly difficult decision. future islands was a new band for me, and samuel herring's bear of a voice is never short on histrionics. on the other hand, histrionics may be what the subject matter requires. on the water played a big part in an altogether conflicted month of october, as i found my mind and my heart turned upside down by lines such as "if things hadn't changed / i would have buried you deep in my arms", "if you let me be there again / i'll be still, won't say a word", and "look back, hold onto the last / don't let today push out the past". in the end, although the associations are a bit uncomfortable, the impact was undeniable, and the question begs--is number five even too low?


Sunday, January 22, 2012

2011 albums of the year : #6

several shades of why

j mascis

sub pop, march 15, 2011

"several shades of why"

i hadn't listened to j mascis since the mid-90s, with dinosaur jr., and so it was a surprise to hear him turn up again on my radar nearly twenty years later. it was even more of a surprise to see him now, a little heavier and hair all grey. but, in some ways, the effects of time more neatly befit the weariness in his voice, and the combination is perfectly suited for a mostly acoustic record.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

2011 albums of the year : #7

el camino

the black keys

nonesuch, december 6, 2011

"gold on the ceiling"

near the end of a mostly dark year came el camino, with its swagger and style fully intact. just the kind of record i needed to close out a bad year and look forward to the hopes of a new one.


Friday, January 20, 2012

2011 albums of the year : #8

love notes/letter bombs

the submarines

nettwerk records, april 5, 2011

"where you are"

blake hazard and john dragonetti do what they do and they do it very well. in the midst of a challenging year, there they were to remind me "to remember where it was you said you'd go".


Thursday, January 19, 2012

2011 albums of the year : #9

thao & mirah

thao & mirah

kill rock stars, april 26, 2011


a dazzling collaboration between two gifted singer-songwriters who complement each other so perfectly in their contrasting styles and personalities.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

2011 albums of the year : #10

this was supposed to be a list of only five albums, but there were three or four albums that i couldn't decide on for number 5, so naturally the list expanded to ten.



captured tracks, november 15, 2011


an album that helped to satisfy my craving for mazzy star while the real thing continues to work on its comeback.


all songs posted are for evaluation only. if you hear something you like and would like to hear more, please go ahead and support the artists by buying their music--i will always include links for you to do so. copyright holders: if anything on my site needs to be taken down, please email me and it will be removed immediately.

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