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2011 Year End Best Of

Minion Name:

2011 is gone, at long last.  Let me start by listing a few ...

Trends that Annoyed me this Year

  1. Not enough touring acts.  Seriously -- this was the worst year for concerts.  A lot of indie bands just seemed to not tour at all, which left me with not a lot to do.  Come on people -- i'm bored.  You need to get back out on the road.

  2. Back to the late hours.  Although The EARL in general seems to continue to run on a human time schedule, there were too many shows where i stood around at 10 PM wondering where the hell the band was at.  Granted, many of these shows were at 529, but still. Let me make it perfectly clear to all the club employees out there:  the people in the crowd most likely have to get up at 6 AM to go to work.  If the headliner isn't going to start until 1 AM, go ahead and tell us up front and we will just stay home.  You want people to come to more shows -- start them early and have them over by midnight.

  3. Retro-grunge acts.  I am not sure if this is a trend or a strange coincidence, but in the past month or so i have seen at least 2 local bands in opening slots play mid 1990s grunge.  This really pisses me off.  I lived through Pearl Jam once and dammit people, i am not doing that again.  Pick another trend to rip off.  Please.

    Whew, thanks for letting me get that off my chest.  Now on to:

Top 10 Albums of 2011

  1. Take Time by Jupiter Watts
    Jupiter Watts have been slogging it out in the local scene for years, and i have enjoyed watching them evolve. Take Time gathers together the slow, melodic music they have been doing live for the last few years. It is well-recorded and, quite simply, beautiful. They took the time to do it right.

  2. Bordeaux by Harold Budd and Robin Guthrie
    Budd and Guthrie have been working together off and on for 25 years now. This latest collaboration is a stunning instrumental set, both of them at ease and just riffing. It sounds like they had a good time hanging out in the studio, and the ease with which they collaborate shows.

  3. Fluorescence by Asobi Seksu
    Hanna and Chikudate take what they have learned on their previous three records and years of touring and release a tight, noisy yet catchy disc. If you have liked what they have done over the years, then you need to check this one out.

  4. Native Speaker by Braids
    Youngish Canadian act makes strangely beautiful music. No seriously, this is kind of different, and very pretty.

  5. A Winged Victory for the Sullen by A Winged Victory for the Sullen
    I have enjoyed many Adam Wiltzie projects over the years, but this, his collaboration with Dustin O'Halloran (who i have also enjoyed for many years) is one of the finest. This has been the soundtrack to most of my year, a soft beautiful drone in the headphones as i go about my life.

  6. The Hunter by Mastodon
    Of course, sometimes even i get sick of the slow drones, and when i do i need something fast and angry. No punk albums really grabbed my attention this year, so it was metal that had to fulfill my inner rage. Mastodon are a local act, and they make metal that is fast and complex. Thinking man's metal, if you will.

  7. September Sun by Grimble Grumble
    And sometimes i need a drone that is more psychedelic in nature, one that repeats and lets the mind wander free. Grimble Grumble are great for that sort of thing, man.

  8. Emeralds by Robin Guthrie
    It is kind of cheating, having two releases featuring Mr. Guthrie on this list, but i honestly spent a lot of time with each record. Emeralds, his fifth solo release (although he has tons of collaborations, like Bordeaux

  9. Undeveloped by OhGr.
    OhGr making an album that borders on happy -- what the heck? And yet, this is really catchy stuff.

  10. Ziq Zaq by Boom Bip
    Technically, i think, this is considered hip hop. Don't let that put you off -- this is an amazing mostly instrumental album, with strangely meandering songs and a lot of catchy beats.

On the other hand, there were some records i wanted to like, but didn't. In no particular order:

  • Content by Gang of Four
    I loved their reunion show and record, and so i kept thinking i would like this record. Each time i would think that, i would listen to a track here or there, and then stop. It's awful, unfocused, and droll. So i guess they needed more money, having spent the money from the reunion tour?

  • Seefeel by Seefeel
    This isn't bad per se, but every time i listened to it, i would get nostalgic for the old Seefeel, and so i would just end up taking it off and listening to Quique or Succor again. I appreciate that they are still trying, and perhaps this will grow on me.

  • Valhalla Dancehall by British Sea Power
    BSP records seem to alternate between ones where they just shut up and rock out, and ones where they try to push themselves as songwriters. This is an album where they are pushing themselves, and while there are some great moments, for the most part the ideas just aren't fully formed yet. I bet their next album is excellent though!

  • Red Barked Tree by Wire
    I never thought that i'd say this, but this was a generic Wire album. If i put this and Object 47 on shuffle, i wouldn't be able to tell you what was from what album, and that is truly disappointing.
  1. What Happened To Your Fire, Tiger? by What Happened To Your Fire, Tiger?
    Local supergroup that makes oddly compelling music that ebbs and flows in odd ways. I hope they have an album out, and soon.

  2. Bible Belt by Dry the River
    Soulful, folkish with beautiful vocals and lush instrumentation. What's not to love?

  3. Secret Serf by Tape Deck Mountain
    Great debut release from this psychedelic shoegaze act.

  4. Strays by Wire
    Wire's album of 2011 might have come across as generic, and part of that might have been them also recording this tour-only EP, collecting four older songs done with the current Wire lineup and style. The EP works because it takes old songs i know and makes them jammier and fresh sounding.

  5. Beau Celeste by Rx Gibbs
    I miss Auburn Lull, but at least i have this more electronic version of it still making music.

  6. Passed Me By by Andy Stott
    A lot of dubstep is just too dark and oppressive to really listen to, and, let's be honest, Andy Stott is one of the darkest of the bunch. Of his three releases this year, this one keeps dragging me back. It is as if Mr. Stott looked into the abyss, it looked back at him, and then they both shrugged and decided to dance, slowly. Very lovely stuff.

  7. Perfectly Crystal by Asobi Seksu
    Xiu Xiu and Mirrors give Asobi the remix treatment. Great fun.

  8. Ego / Mirror by Burial and Four Tet and Thom Yorke
    Burial and Four Tet collaborate very well, and adding Thom Yorke to mutter some words over top of their beat heavy mix was a brilliant idea.

  9. Sailors by Rah Rah
    I just love this band, and this year's release was a catchy little EP.

  10. Covers by Franz Ferdinand
    This is not FF covering some of their favorites, but rather other people covering their song Live Alone. With LCD Soundsystem and Stephen Merrit on the same EP, how can you go wrong?


  1. Rah Rah at Paradise Cafe on Thursday.17.March.2009
    When i tell people about my love for this band (and i tell lots of people), i always mention seeing them at the convention center with the animatronic cat. However, the full set i saw the next day, at noon, standing in a mostly empty bar, was perfection. They played their hearts out, and it was great. I will remember this show for a long time.

  2. Archers of Loaf at The EARL on Friday.22.July.2011
    Wow, who knew that Archers of Loaf would be even better after a long hiatus? This show was simply incredible, and i danced like a fool.

  3. Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun at 529 on Friday.25.November.2011
    TTM, TTS have evolved a good bit in the last few years, becoming a powerful live act, cranking out dance music at high speeds and high volume. I will definitely be going to see them again.

  4. Superchunk at Buckhead Theater on Thursday.6.September.2011
    Superchunk put on a wonderful show, but was it really the best Superchunk concert i have ever seen? I have seen this band so many times that i tend to overthink things, and for each song i liked this night i can add "But in 1999 they did this…." It was an amazing show, at any rate.

  5. Maps and Atlases at Red-Eyed Fly on Thursday.17.March.2009
    St Patrick's Day was actually my favorite music day of the year, and it all ended with this band, who i was unfamiliar with. They are some amazing musicians though, and i am very glad i stuck around to catch their set.

  6. Braids at The Drunken Unicorn on Saturday.10.September.2011
    I didn't think that their music would translate so well to the stage. I guess i thought that more of it was done on a laptop. I am glad that i was mistaken, and i was very impressed by their performance.

  7. Resplandor at 512 on Thursday.17.March.2009
    I love this band -- they make that huge swirling guitar sound so well. Seeing them was a treat.

  8. Sharks and Minnows at The EARL on Friday.21.January.2011
    This was probably the last time i will ever get to see this band. Still, it was great to see them one last time.

  9. Gold Motel at Rusty Spurs on Friday.18.March.2011
    The second time i had seen them in three days, and they were great. This was a fun dance show.

  10. JUPITER WATTS w/ What Happened to Your Fire, Tiger? and Spirits at The EARL on Saturday.23.April.2011
    This was the best overall concert i saw all year. All three bands were really impressive live. It was good to see Jupiter Watts rock again, after all this time.
  1. Muppets
    I grew up with Kermit and the gang, and it was wonderful to see them on the big screen again.  Whoever is doing Kermit now has the voice down right.  This was silly fun and it made me very happy.

  2. The Social Network
    I went to see this with friends because i was moderately curious, and as i sat there watching the opening i thought, "The music is great."  And then they splashed up that Trent Reznor worked on the score.  I probably payed more attention to how the music was used in the film than the acting and dialog, but i still really enjoyed it. Excellent soundtrack too.

  3. Kung Fu Panda 2
    I actually went to the theater to see this before i had ever seen the first movie.  I loved it, and have since watched the first film as well as the new TV show spin-off, Legends of Awesomeness.  This is Jack Black's best role.

  4. X-Men: First Class
    I am an old school comic nerd, having grown up with The X-Men.  This was actually a pretty decent movie with interesting characters and a neat plot. However, they messed with the storyline a lot, and that really bothered me as i watched the film.  If you are not that into The X-Men, you won't notice or care. If you know the story from pouring over comics as a teenager, the changes might annoy you too.

  5. Hugo
    Martin Scorsese makes a really pretty movie that is, in fact, a movie about how movies are awesome.  I liked the story, the characters, and the plot okay, but at the end i felt that he was kind of lecturing at me.

  6. True Grit
    I had not seen the original of this movie in many years, but i liked this remake.  It moved at a pretty quick pace, and all of the actors did fine jobs.
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