On a down note, 2011 saw the end of what is probably the second most influential and important American bands of the past 30 years, Sonic Youth. Love them or hate them, their reach and circle of influence is only eclipsed by The Velvet, and depending on how important you think knowing how to actually play your instruments is, they might even be stronger.
Another downer, the ever growing toilet clog that has become country music… For every Hayes Carll out there, we end up with five Lady Antebellums or The Band Perrys which lower the curve so dramatically you would think country radio is a GED night school. Seriously, Jerry Sandusky’s locker room conversations have to be more entertaining and listenable than anything by Jason Aldean or Thompson Square. And while “alt-country” has seemed to flourish on satellite and the web, 2011 was not the brightest year for the genre. There were some bright lights like the latest from Those Darlin’s, Blitzen Trapper and the Old 97’s, unfortunately the Old 97’s disc was offset by the abysmal release of Rhett Miller’s cover collection.
Anyway, without further ado here are my picks for Best of 2011, the write-ups were thrown together in a hurry as I somehow just realized that the year actually ends in a couple of days. Oops...
EMA – Marked
2. Wild Flag – s/t If you were to do a search for Riot Grrrl, the first three results you get back should be Kathleen Hannah, Carrie Brownstein and Allison Janney’s pussy. Inarguably the best rock and roll album of 2011; essentially Sleater-Kinney with keyboards, Wild Flag chugs along like Pac-Man gobbling Adderall and chasing spiders instead of ghosts. Added bonus, the mom from Home Improvement can totally tear up a set of drums.
Wild Flag – Romance
Peaking Lights – All the Sun That Shines
5. The Weeknd – Thursday Imagine if Luther Vandross had an ounce of swagger in his 400 or 150 pound frame (you pick the era). Granted his songs might have all been geared around cocks or chocolate or meatloaf, or meatloaf cocks full of chocolate but his tunes would have been legendary panty droppers, the likes of which would put Barry White to shame. So 2011’s entry into Babymaking 101 is The Weeknd. Within the last eight months the elusive producer has dropped two classic discs (this the second, “House of Balloons” being the first) of lo-fi bedroom production soul, raised the bar on Drake’s “Take Care” disc, and made this year’s equivalent to Massive Attack, mirrored ceilings and cocaine. Plus he was able to make, “Baby, I can fuck you right” the “You complete me” of 2011.
The Weeknd – Lonely Star
Yuck – Get Away
Jessica Lea Mayfield – Our Hearts Are Wrong
Danny Brown and Black Milk – WTF