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Saturday, December 31, 2011

If nothing else 2011 had some fine music...

Now on to 2012 please.

Good bye Kardashians and Katy Perry/Russell Brand.  Be gone Casey Anthony and Amanda Knox.  Enough with the Republican debates and candidates for that matter.  

Good night Mel Gibson.  Good night Regis.  Good night Lexus ads and their jingles contagious.  

Good night Iraq.  Good night Kim Jong Il.  Good night Berlusconi and his mistress times a mill.

A time to move forward and progress.  No more double lives and money troubles.  No more ill health and second guessing.  Gone with gray hairs and stress.  Truth.  Honesty.  Fun.  

I embark on the last year of my 30s with a steady brain and beating heart.  May the struggle to keep that all together become less difficult.  May my ability to learn and grow far surpass any weakness and doubt. May others look to me as an example and not as sad cliche.  

May you all find strength, joy, good health and prosperity in 2012 and beyond.     Join me some more as this humble blog looks for clarity, release and goofy fun.  If nothing else, come here for some diversion and art.  

Carson Daly and Ryan Seacrest are going to be showcasing some music in hours.  Lady Gaga and Bieber are just fine and go ahead and join the countless Little Monsters and your kids friends as they eat it up like Marcia Brady to Davy Jones.  Pop music is very much in our collective frontal lobes.  It's cool...  I have drank the Rhianna "We Found Love" Kool-Aid for the better part of a month so I get it!!!

The good thing is there is far out there than meets the ear.

In no particular order I give you 20 tracks that stood out for the year that was.  Enjoy and please join the discussion.  Happy New Year everyone!!!  

Real Estate:  "It's Real"  NJ suburban kids bringing the fellow vibe.  How can I not like, er, love it.  Playing the NYC area in 2 weeks.  Get on it!!!
Not sure what to make of the MySpace account being their primary contact...  but we can all help change that with some downloads.  

Lykke Li:  "Get Some"  Sultry, somber, sexy, Swedish...  super cool groove with the perfect amount of percussion and attitude.  Although I must confess it is very distubing hearing your 9 year old daughter singing "I'm your prostitute/you gonna get some."  Would be worse if she knew what it meant.  Or is she was actually telling a client that!!!

AWOLNation:  "Not Your Fault"  Easily one of the finest live shows I witnessed this year.  Frontman Aaron Bruno is a force of charisma and bravado.  He can sing as well as he brings all that.  Looking forward to much, much more.

Decemberists: "Rise to Me"  Colin Meloy's writing is always a pleasure.  This tune, from the wonderful LP The King is Dead, hits you like a a warm fire on a cold winter's night.  Pedal steel and soft acoustic guitars marry themselves nicely to Meloy's voice, hear live and at its finest.   Need a do over since their Prospect Park show was a rainy mess.  But this is American songwriting at its apex.

Ryan Adams:  "Do I Wait?"  Happily married, drug free, and content are not something you usually associate with Mr Adams.  If it produces songs like this sign me up.  A man and his guitar can be quite rewarding.

Dawes:  "A Little Bit of Everything"  Another fantastic live version from another fantastic act from 2011.  Dare you to find a more polished effort than this one.  Jackson Browne and Warren Zevon are very good mentors/influences.  Now, they need to not beat up Darryl Hannah or die too young.

M83:  "Midnight City"   This track, and the album Hurry Up, We're Dreaming, has appeared on several alt blog top 10, top 5 , top 1 lists.  Hard to argue.   HBO's terrific series 24/7 featured it last week and it gave me goosebumps.  The show is powerful, but this song has a toe tapping, get up and do something feel that is palpable.  Love, love, love it!!!

Cut Copy: "Need You Now"  Australia and Synth haven't been this good since Men At Work.  The campy and downright silly video still puts a smile on my face.

Foster the People: "Houdini"  They might very well be the breakout band of the year.  While "Pumped Up Kicks" got all the love the rest of the album, Torches, has plenty of better moments.  This track for instance has a great 80s reminiscent of, say Wham meets Darryl Hall.  They have been overplayed and run the risk of flame out.  But you cannot discount what a fine debut album this is.  Oh, and Kenny G guests on this spot from Saturday Night Live...  and there is indeed more cowbell!!!

Deerhunter:  "Desire Lines"  Not sure what to say about Bradford Cox and his many bands, many talents, many moods.  It can be said this song is rock personified.  A live performance here that can be best described as, um, awesome!!  Hate to give props to someone from the comments section but, if the shoe fits...  From 3:07 on "Desire Lines"  is simply absolute joy. Completely, utterly wonderful.

White Denim:  "Street Joy"  Eerie and effective.  Moody and soulful.  Worthy.

Wilco:  "Born Alone"  Jeff Tweedy has battled his own demons and lives to tell, er, sing about it.  One can't help compare his quest for clarity to the aforementioned Ryan Adams.  Tweedy's still very much pessimistic.  These days who could blame him.  To wit:  "The kids are unabashed /Loneliness postponed/My eyes deceiving glory/I was born to die alone."!/

Givers:  "Up,Up, Up"  Whereas Tweedy can be Flatland down-ness, these Louisiana youngsters are just out for a good time.  Or, at the very least, a good beat.  Rhythm and bayou with a hint of pop.

Joy Formidable:  "Whirring"  More Nordic songstresses bringing some heat, here the blonde pixie Ritzy Bryan.  An absolutely fantastic rock star name and a performer more than up to the name.

Young the Giant:  "My Body"  A little bit of high school locker room pent up energy with a dash of John Hughes chase scene.  Exciting and bold without the pretension.

The Naked and the Famous:  "Young Blood"  I thought the musical giants out of New Zealand had come and gone (apologies The Flight of the Conchords.)  This album was an indie darling and it's easy to see why.  Keyboards and melodies are still very comforting.

Foo Fighters:  "These Days"  Dave Grohl is a freaking beast.  He says this track is his finest moment.  Not gonna argue with him...  let's let Courtney Love handle that.

Adele: "Someone Like You"  You're a giant tool if you fail to realize the brilliance behind this record.  Get well soon you velvet voiced prodigy.

Amos Lee:  "Windows are Rolled Down"  Much love to Philly and its new favorite son.  Kids might not know what it means to roll a window down...  but who cares?  Lee's got a nice little thing going for him.  Hard not to root for the troubadour with a 6 string.  Love the lyric "I'm fixin to die."  Who talks like that????

Caveman:  "Old Friend"  Without question my favorite find of 2011.  Moody, tribal, percussion filled ambience and jam is but one way you can describe these guys from NYC (with one southern transplant.)  They are mere weeks away from their first headlining gig at Bowery.  That gives you plenty of time to jump on board.

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Honorable Mention...


1 comment:

  1. Nice list, Henry! I missed a lot of these - so it looks like I'll have some good stuff to dig into to start the new year. Thanks. Enjoyed your writing this year - keep up the good work! Happy New Year. - Rico