Best Sounds of 2011

I dropped the ball. Music this year managed to escape my ears. I look at the top whatever music lists for 2011 and I have heard of only a fraction of what is out there. I guess I am where the masses are. No… I know I’m better than that. I have heard some stuff this year through my old reliables: Slacker, Paste Magazine (with their new m-player) and radio. But from all I’ve heard, even through the new album streaming resource, Spotify, it is not enough to compile a top ten albums list.

Perhaps I need to preface, I really feel let down by music this year. Things that have been exciting most of my lovely music freaks, did not ring my bell this year. I’m not sure why. Have I narrowed my musical preferences? I surely hope not. Is this what happens when you get old? I know instinctively that can’t be true. I guess I have to chalk it up to a bad year for my ears, and that’s more true than told. I have been living with ringing in my ears for almost two months now. Tinnitus settling in. Sigh, best just to distract myself and  move on to the good stuff… the good music I did listen to this year. No list, some songs, some albums, all stuff I loved.

Rachael Yamagata: “Starlight”

I heard this song a few months back on Paste Magazine’s m-player. Her voice reminding me of Johnette Napalitano had me rushing out to by the CD and checking out when she played next. After listening to her album a few times, it didn’t catch me like I had hoped. When she came to the Casbah, I decided to pass and I’m still ok with that decision.

The Head and the Heart: “Lost in My Mind”

I really wish I took the time to see these guys when they were in town.  This song tugs at my own heart, reminding me of the hard work my grandfather did to get my family where it is today. Perfect song to truly get “Lost in your Mind.”

Maren Parusel: Artificial Gardens

I had the chance to catch Maren at several venues this year and was pleasantly surprised when I heard her album, as I always am when an album lives up to or surpasses a live performance. I feel her music is somewhere between The Sundays and Metric. She is local so go see her perform or hit up M-Theory for her record.

The Beach Boys: Smile Sessions

I’m a sucker for Brian Wilson. This is one more open door into his psyche. Comparing Brian Wilson’s Smile versus The Beach Boys’ Smile will now be one of those music geek convos similar to movie nerds’ comparing the various directors’ takes on Batman.  BTW… Love this animated video. Even though it was made recently, you could totally see it being made in 1967, when the Smile album was originally intended for release.

The Belle Brigade: “Losers”

This song is super catchy and made me by the album, but only last night so I haven’t given the album a good listen.  This music video doesn’t give me the same empowerment as I feel just listening the the song, but maybe it will for you… just imagine the dogs don’t stop running after the car and have a better life abandoned in the middle of nowhere. Sorry, still not doing it.

Foo Fighters: “The Rope”

I’m glad that this song was the radio hit. The drums hitting at off times and the song broken into distinct sections just rub me the right way every time. We have the album and I like most of what I hear, but this song feels miles above the rest. P.S. from this point on I will never, ever miss a Foo Fighter’s show. I have such a great time and endless energy when they hit the stage. Their live concerts are up there with The Rolling Stones and Rush: timeless and I can totally imagine David Grohl and Pat Smear in their 70’s rocking out.

After taking a recent listen to some of the Paste top 50, I have some listening to do in 2012.  I’m especially intrigued by Beirut, Seryn and Tom Waits new album (I just bought the Tom Waits and Beirut albums last night at M-Theory). Next up, tackling Pitchfork‘s top songs and albums released this week. There is hope for me yet finding the needles in the haystack of sound.


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