2011 has been flush with stellar new releases. Some hit below the radar, others are big topping charts and such. I thought it would be wise to take notes on a bunch of my favorites so far this year so that when November rolls around I can reference this list and remember some of these gems for my year end list.
Hopefully you'll find some treats of your own in my recap of the last 2 months.
The Decemberists - The King Is Dead
A nice Americana album from Meloy and crew. This album is full of well-crafted alt-country pop songs that will get stuck in your head for days, and that is a good thing. I love that The Decemberists can change their style and output from record to record. This may not be as risky as Hazards of Love or as quirky as Picaresque, but it is a fine album to add to any music collection.
Fergus & Geronimo - Unlearn
This little gem comes from a label that is full of 'em, Hardly Art. It is a nice poppy garage-rock album full of toe-tapping beats, perfectly distorted guitar, and retro-esque vocal stylings. If you haven't heard this yet, you probably should. It is that sort of underground album that will win you all sorts of cool points next time you play it at a party.
Esben and the Witch - Violet Cries
The songs on this album start quiet and slow and build into epic swells of dark matter. It is like post-rock Blonde Redhead with a dark side. The album is intense and beautiful, depressing and uplifting. Recommended on a turntable with the volume cranked.
Yuck - s/t
There is something oddly familiar about the songs on Yuck's debut release, yet it is a distant enough memory that the album doesn't feel like a rip off. Maybe in the same way that the Girls LP, Album, swelled their listeners full of nostalgia Yuck is doing the same...just in a slightly more subtle fashion. You'll want to keep an eye on this band, I think they are going to shoot up from here.
Bright Eyes - The People's Key
I've been getting a lot of questions about "how" the new Bright Eyes album is. And truth is, it's good. It isn't "classic" Oberst with strong political/personal/religious undertones and howling for change and revolt. But it is a step up from his last solo effort, in my opinion. I like to think of it as a better version of Cassadaga. If you're at all a Bright Eyes fan, this is definitely worth owning. If you are on the fence with Bright Eyes...I think this one is a good one to have in rotation between I'm Wide Awake It's Morning and Lifted.
Destroyer - Kaputt
Oh, Dan Bejar, how do I love thee? When we went to the Matador at 21 festival and snuck into the VIP box to watch Guided By Voices I was RIDICULOUSLY distracted because I was just feet away from Destroyer's Dan Bejar. I love him. That said, I wasn't a super fan of his last release. I own it, but have barely listened to it. So when Kaputt came out I wasn't sure what to expect. BUT I've been thrilled to fall in love with this album. I predict it will easily be in my top 10 of 2011. The songs, the sax, the voice...Buy this album, thank me later.
Akron/Family - S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT
After the deep psychedelic trip on their last record, Akron/Family has mixed it up and come back strong with a less fuzzy and more beautiful album that is deserving of your ears.
La Sera - s/t
Retro pop songs with a soft modern vocal touch and the perfect amount of distorted guitar make this album a 2011 must-have. This is everything that the Best Coast album *should* have been. Smart, catchy, retro-pop. Buy now, save for summer.
Mogwai - Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
I wouldn't really call myself a Mogwai "fan". I don't mind them, but I, prior to this record, have never found myself *wanting* to listen to a Mogwai album. But Hardcore Will Never Die changed everything. I think about it ALL THE TIME. I want to hear it when I read, when I shower, when I work, when I sleep. The drama is toned down to a subtle and powerful climax and the soundscape is just beautiful. Sigh...
Eat Sugar - Levantense!
A little punk rock, a little electro, a little distortion - this album will get you off of your ass and get you doing something because you just can't sit still while listening. I'm guessing that is where the album title came from...My only complaint is that Mush didn't put this fun album onto vinyl.
TITLES I LIKE BUT WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH BEFORE I WRITE ABOUT THEM BUT YOU SHOULD STILL CHECK THEM OUT:
Telekinesis - 12 Desperate Straight Lines
Cave Singers - No Witch
Twilight Singers - Dynamite Steps
John Vanderslice - White Wilderness
The Luyas - Too Beautiful To Work
Now it is your turn. What am I missing!?