Of course I am going to have a top 10 list for my favorite albums this year. Remember I do have an insatiable ego that assumes everyone hangs on my every word and opinion.1
Childish Gambino - Camp - I really enjoyed Freaks and Geeks and Culdesac, so I was looking forward to Camp. All in all, it is a pretty solid label debut, but there was just enough “meh” songs that I kept it off my list.
Track(s) to download - Bonfire & Heartbeat (below)
B-Bot’s Top 10 or so Albums of the Year:
10. Of Monsters and Men - Into the Woods EP - I have this undying love for all things Icelandic. I started hearing the buzz for this band on NPR2 in the late summer, then they made waves at this years Iceland Airwaves in October. The EP just came out on iTunes earlier this month and I expect Of Monsters and Men to be an indie darling, a la Arcade Fire, by this time next year. They did have a full-length album called My Head is an Animal come out in September, but that was only available in Iceland. If you get a chance to give them a listen, I definitely recommend it.
Track to download - Little Talks (which is currently free on iTunes)
9. Drive OST/Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross -The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo OST 3 - I went to school for Communications & Film and I have worked in radio, so I have a soft spot for a very good score/soundtrack for a movie. In the past, some of my favorite albums have been There Will Be Blood, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Inception & The Social Network. So I wasn’t surprised at how much I loved The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo OST as Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross won me over with The Social Network. However, I was completely blown away at how awesome the soundtrack was for Drive. The movie was really fucking amazing and a large part of that was the perfect soundtrack it had. The 70s B-movie vibe and 80s synth score is right up my alley and was impeccably executed in Drive (I should be doing my top 10 movie list in a week or so, I still have some films I need to see, but Drive will be in the top 3).
Track(s) to download - Drive OST: Kavinsky - Nightcall (below); The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo OST: Immigrant Song (feat. Karen O)
8. M83 - Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming - I am a big fan of ambient/instrumental/electronic music. The kind of the music that would be a soundtrack to my life, if indeed it were a movie. I hadn’t listened to a lot of M83 previously, but I did enjoy their remix of Bloc Party’s Pioneers that was released on Silent Alarm Remixed. So I went into Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming with fresh ears and thoroughly enjoyed the entire LP. A big thing for me with this list is that I can put the CD/vinyl/mp3 on and listen to an entire LP without jumping from track to track and M83 provided a great album from start to finish.
Track to download - Midnight City (below)
7. Gene Hunt Presents - Chicago Dance Tracks Part 1 - I unearthed this gem of unreleased house tracks when I visited Amoeba Music in Los Angeles this past July. This Part 1 of a 2 part series that Gene Hunt has curated of rare, uncut and unreleased tracks of the Chicago House scene. These two vinyl only LP’s are tracks from 1982 to 1989, which is considered to be the golden age of house in Chicago. If you are into house, techno or electro I definitely recommend checking out these vinyls as they are pretty kick ass and you can’t help dancing when you listen to them.
Track to download - Mr. Fingers - Finger Fuck (below)
6. Raphael Saadiq - Stone Rollin’ - This album has such a great soulful vibe to it. Add to the fact that my favorite track had a video directed by Bret McKenzie4 from Flight of the Conchords and starred Danny Pudi from Community and you have an explosion of all the things I enjoy. I didn’t think I would enjoy this album as much as I did, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Track to download - Day Dreams
5. Feist - Metals - I love Leslie Feist. I was worried that when she blew up with 1234, she would change her sound to fit more into the guise of a pop singer. I was happy to see that she returned to what she does best, singing with that sultry voice of hers, on Metals. One gripe, as was with the case with one of the other top 4 artists, is that the song I liked most was a b-side or not included on the original tracklisting.
Track to download - Pine Moon (below)
4. Radiohead - The King of Limbs & TKOL RMX 1234567 - Radiohead is one of my favorite groups and I will always enjoy most anything they put out. This past year they were quite busy with the release of The King of Limbs and its subsequent remix album. I really like The King of Limbs a lot, but if it hadn’t of been for the TKOL RMX 1234567 album I am not sure if they would’ve sneaked in my top albums of the year. The remix album features great remixes by Caribou, Four Tet, Modeselektor & SBTRKT. As mentioned above with Feist, Radiohead also had an instance of releasing additional tracks/b-sides that are my favorites and would’ve been the best tracks on the album, if included on the original tracklisting.
Track(s) to download - The Daily Mail (b-side & featured below), Lotus Flower (remix by SBTRKT) & Give Up the Ghost
3. Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes/St. Vincent - Strange Mercy/Zola Jesus - Conatus5 - This is my trifecta of indie ladies who made kick ass albums this year. All three of these albums are great demonstrations of how strong the women in the indie scene right now are straight up killing it. If I had to pick one over the other I would probably choose Lykke Li, but Annie Clark of St. Vincent and Nika Rosa Danilova of Zola Jesus both made strong albums and on any given day I would prefer any of them. I think each album has its definite strengths and each one is a go to album depending on the mood I am in.
Track(s) to download - Lykke Li - I Follow Rivers (below) & Unrequited Love; St. Vincent - Cruel (below) & Cheerleader; Zola Jesus - Vessel (below) & Seekir
2. Tycho - Dive - This album completely blew me away. I didn’t know much about Scott Hansen until I saw a link to his song “Hours” posted on the Ghostly International Facebook. Once I spent some time listening to his back catalog, I was hooked and eagerly awaited the release of Dive. Out of all the albums I’ve listened to and enjoyed this year, I do believe that this is the most beautiful record of the year. This is an album that I put my headphones on, close my eyes and drift away for fifty minutes, all the while letting my imagination run amok. Tycho definitely gets the added bonus of having my favorite album cover of the year.
Track(s) to download - All of them, this is definitely an album that needs to be listened to from start to finish. However, I definitely suggest “A Walk” (below) as a standalone track.
1. Bon Iver - Bon Iver - I feel like an even bigger hipster than I am with this choice, and even though it has been on the top of a lot of “best of 2011 lists” I truly enjoyed Bon Iver’s self-titled album the most this year. In a lot of ways I felt like I was late on the Bon Iver express, but when I really immersed myself into his catalog I knew I was listening to something that was on a different level than most music out there. In a lot of ways 2010/2011 has been a banner year for Justin Vernon, with the Kanye West collaborations and the four Grammy nominations, which probably came as a weird surprise to him. It will be interesting to see where he goes next, especially after all of the critical acclaim he’s received this year. The whole Bon Iver LP is filled with his delicate voice and poignant lyrics but perhaps the most beautiful song released this year was the b-side of him covering Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me/Nick of Time.” Additionally, he gets bonus points for shooting the video for “Holocene” in Iceland!
Track(s) to download - Holocene (below) & I Can’t Make You Love Me/Nick of Time
1. I assume these things and yet I don’t try to get more followers on Tumblr or Twitter. Maybe I need to be more egotistical to widen my audience.
2. For as much shit that NPR gets for being for left-leaning hippies, the music portion of the NPR website has awesome content and lot of new music I wouldn’t find on any other mainstream website. The best part is the full-album streams they put up a week or two before an artists release. It’s nice to know those pledge drive dollars are going to something worthwhile.
3. I hate listing more than one album for a certain spot, but it is really hard to pick one album over the other when they are somewhat equals. In addition, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo OST has 39 songs, which is pretty fucking ridiculous. Also, the movie was pretty awesome and will be featured on my top films of the year & I had a huge blast participating in the ARG/Viral for the movie, so it was a banner year for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in my life.
4. My man Bret from Flight of the Conchords had a banner year. Aside from directing the Raphael Saadiq video for “Day Dreams” he was also responsible for doing The Muppets OST which should get an Oscar nomination. Plus, he was the voice of the muppet that Jason Segel thought he’d be in the video below:
5. Again, I hate having more than one artist for a spot, but it is my Tumblr, so I make the fucking rules!