I hope you enjoyed Stereo Typing's Top 50 Albums of 2011 and explored all the featured bands. It's now time to take a look at the other aspects of 2011 which made it a special year. Below are a few lists of my favorite EPs, 7"s, reissues, shows, disappointments, comedies, movies, and some other categories of interest. I've included a few quick words and plenty of media where available. Check it all out after the jump.
1. Alabama Shakes – Alabama Shakes
I wrote a lot about Alabama Shakes in 2011. They were at the forefront of the soul/R&B revival movement and were poised to break. Little did I know how quickly it was going to happen. By the end of the year, they were featured by Mtv and had their song "You Ain't Alone" in a Zales commercial. These, among other things, had them vastly increasing their visibility and audience. Although the Zales commercial is cringe-worthy, this is a band that deserves all the success they get. Give the four tracks in their debut EP a spin and I guarantee you'll be hooked for life. If you have a chance to see them live, you'll really be blown away.
2. Big Business – Quadruple Single
Big Business returned in 2011 with their four strongest and most memorable songs yet. Although juvenile on the surface, the explosive final track "Guns" and it's chants of "Guns are better than everything else!" is probably the best thing they have produced yet.
3. Future of the Left – Polymers Are Forever
Polymers Are Forever was a stopgap EP full of Future of the Left's signature sardonic lyrics and angular riffs. The unmistakable vocals of Andy Falkous and creative songwriting made it another standout in their excellent catalog. The release leaves you dying to know what will show up on their upcoming 2012 full-length, The Plot Against Common Sense.
4. Grass is Green – Chibimoon
Grass is Green continues to be one of Boston's flagship bands with their unique brand of math rock. The songwriting on Chibimoon twists and turns in all the right ways and is a step forward from their excellent 2010 debut, Yeddo. I had a chance to see them perform some tracks from their upcoming album, Ronson, and it's shaping up to be one of 2012's finest.
5. Ovlov – What’s So Great About the City?
What's So Great About the City is laced with good ol' guitar rock in the vein of Dinosaur Jr. The band has made a name for themselves with their strong releases and impressive live shows. However, they are retiring the moniker and starting a new band. Do not miss their last performance on January 28th with the aforementioned Grass is Green and the mighty Pile at O'Brien's in Allston.
6. Conveyor – Sun Ray
One of the more impressive debuts of 2011, Conveyor's Sun Ray EP sounded like a mature effort from a band that had perfected it's craft. All four tracks are unique and intriguing while showing off their songwriting chops. Their live show solidified them as one of the bands to keep an eye out for in 2012.
7. Phantogram – Nightlife
Phantogram's debut Eyelid Movies was one of my absolute favorites of 2010. Nightlife follows admirably, building upon their unique trip-hop sound. Sarah Barthel has become an even more confident singer and her vocals beautifully carry the glitchy beats on this EP.
Phantogram - "Don't Move"
8. Richard Swift – Walt Wolfman
Richard Swift continues to make a case for being the most underrated American songwriter. Walt Wolfman is another strong set of tracks rooted in classic American pop and driven by his R&B falsetto.
Richard Swift - "Whitman"
9. Jens Lekman – An Argument with Myself
Jens Lekman broke his long hiatus after 2007’s Night Falls Over Kortedala with this satisfying six track EP. It contains 2011's best inner dialogue song ("An Argument with Myself") and the best song about stalking Kirsten Dunst ("Waiting for Kirsten").
10. 2:54 – Scarlet
This London duo of sisters Hannah and Colette Thurlow seemed to come out of nowhere with a solid fusion of stoner rock and shoegaze. Although I was initially turned off by their name, I began to warm up to it when I learned that it came from the thundering 2:54 mark of the Melvins' "A History of Bad Men".
1. Pile – Big Web 7"
Pile's Big Web 7" contains three tracks of grunge and post-punk perfection. The striking handcrafted packaging and green marble vinyl make it one of the finest in my collection. I expect to see anyone reading this at their show on January 28th with Grass is Green, ovlov, and Fat History Month at O'Brien's in Allston.
2. Quicksand – Quicksand 7" [Reissue]
This was the best Record Store Day Surprise. Quicksand's debut 7" is one of the most underrated releases of the 90's and has held up the test of time. It was pressed on blue vinyl and the four tracks within till sound spectacular.
3. The Evens – 2 Songs 7”
These two tracks are among the best we have heard yet from the duo of Ian MacKaye and Amy Farina.
4. Converge / Dropdead – Split 7”
This release pairs two legendary powerviolence bands in celebration of their twenty years of bruising hardcore. It is a must-have for fans of either band.
5. Giants – Giants 7”
Giants' self-titled 7" is another great release and gorgeous pressing from the folks at The Mylene Sheath. It contains four flawlessly constructed post-rock gems.
1. The Smashing Pumpkins – Gish / Siamese Dream
Siamese Dream is one of my all-time favorite albums. The improved recording and accompanying demos are a dream come true. This was one of the most important albums to me when growing up and hearing it in this light is an unreal treat. Gish, although I don't hold it in the same regard, is still one of the best records of the 90's and is made even better with this remaster.
2. Archers of Loaf – Icky Mettle
One of the overlooked gems of the 90's, Archers of Loaf's masterpiece, Icky Mettle, never quite got the recognition it deserved. Merge Records did the album some justice by reissuing it in 2011, giving the cult classic a whole new audience. Songs like "Web in Front" and "Wrong" are bound to wow people who missed it the first time around.
3. Sebadoh – Bakesale
Lou Barlow and Jason Loewenstein were at the top of their game on Bakesale. The album finds them writing one of the best 90's singles with "Skull". The remastered edition features essays from Barlow and Loewenstein as well as all the murky lo-fi recordings that Sebadoh fans want/expect.
4. Queens of the Stone Age – Queens of the Stone Age
Fans rejoiced that Queens of the Stone Age's long out-of-print debut was finally made available in a fantastic remastered package in 2011. There's no mistaking that "Regular John", "Walkin' On The Sidewalks", and "You Can't Quit Me Baby" are among their best songs and contain some of their more unforgettable riffs. The bonus tracks are interjected flawlessly into the sequencing and never detract from the flow of the record. The album is a stoner rock masterpiece and a must-have for fans of the genre.
5. Pearl Jam – Vs. / Vitalogy / Live at the Orpheum Theatre
This is my favorite period of Pearl Jam. Yeah, I know, Ten blah blah blah. When it comes down to it, I'll take Vs. and Vitalogy over their debut any day. The Live at the Orpheum Theatre disc features a dream set at a venue I have been to many times, which adds a level of intimacy to it. Even though I was too young to experience the actual show and didn't live in Boston at the time, I still love visualizing them perform such a legendary show. The live recording does the set justice and features production so good you have to hear it to believe it.
1. Dinosaur Jr. / Henry Rollins Interview / Off! – June 22, 2011 @ Paradise Rock Club
2. The Dismemberment Plan – January 28, 2011 @ Paradise Rock Club
3. Omar Rodriguez Lopez Group (The Mars Volta) / Zechs Marquise – March 30, 2011 @ The Middle East Downstairs
4. Okkervil River / Titus Andronicus / Future Islands – June 8, 2011 @ Royale
5. North Mississippi Allstars / Alabama Shakes – October 21, 2011 @Paradise Rock Club
Artists that I 'didn't get':
1. A$AP Rocky
A$AP Rocky is one of the most perplexing entries into the over-hyped rapper arena. Apparently, you can get $3mil for getting high and mumbling over a lazy ass beat… and I’m still unemployed.
2. The Weeknd
The Weeknd isn’t revolutionary R&B. It’s just annoying.
3. Tyler, The Creator
Tyler has potential but unfortunately he has nothing to say.
The annoying loud end of the dubstep spectrum. Every song sounds like a robot with explosive sonic diarrhea after it ingested a bit too many breakbeats.
5. Lana Del Rey
It’s beyond me as to why Lana Del Rey has blown up in the way she has. Many people complain that it's because of a coordinated push from her industry connections. Frankly, I don’t care. I find her music uninteresting and it falls short of many of her indie counterparts.
As one’s mother might put it, "I'm not mad; I'm just disappointed."
1. Dredg – Chuckles & Mr. Squeezy
2. Architecture in Helsinki – Moment Bends
3. Lupe Fiasco – Lasers
4. Jane’s Addiction – The Great Escape Artist
5. Justice – Audio Video Disco
Actually, now that I look at that list, those are all pretty unforgivably bad albums.
1. Marc Maron – This Has to be Funny
2. Louis C.K. – Hilarious
3. Patton Oswalt – Finest Hour
4. Doug Stanhope – Oslo: Burning The Bridge To Nowhere
5. Rory Scovel – Dilation
3. Win Win
4. Midnight in Paris
7. X-Men: First Class
9. Attack the Block
10. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Artists with albums announced for release every year that are likely never coming out:
Notice these are the same ones from last year. I can't wait to never hear these albums!
1. The Avalanches
2. The Wrens
4. Dr. Dre
Show-stealing guest rap verse of the year:
El-P on Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire’s “The Last Huzzah (Remix)”
Thankfully, El-P posted the lyrics on his blog to this verse and they are killer:
straight shots of the sterno plus, wick stuck in the bottle empty. 3 blocks to the target we light it and lob it hard at centry, 4 pigs of the oinking variety guard the market entry, 5 minutes of flames and then aim the whistle my father lent me,
6 oclock we meet up and divi the shells among the youngins, 7 continents in the shit and smoke like its fuckin london,
just before they 8 up the funds our harmony love was bumpin, now goverment issue 9's are pointed where your blood is pumped in,
ten(d) to mop up these muttering zombies talker pieces
el'll ven(t) on you harder than fukashima breezes,
in the end when a dozen or so adjourn to reason, youll find the verdict return corrupted in murderous seasons,
with inverted 31's and other unlucky omens,
thats why i chugg 7 and 7's till im fuckin homeless,
and every time you think my 15 minutes of fame are up i spit another 16 and prove to the world i fuckin own it,
Freddie Gibbs on Curren$y’s “Scottie Pippen”
“I’m gangbang affiliated, federal investigated, self-educated, all my co-conspirators catchin’ cases / I dropped straight out of college and I majored in home invasions.”
Sexy time jam of the year:
Active Child – "Playing House" feat. How to Dress Well
Active Child gets the win even though “Playing House” comes dangerously close to being this:
tUnE-yArDs – "Powa"
These are the reasons to get excited for the first quarter of 2012.
The Big Pink – Future This [4AD]
Matthew Dear – Headcage EP [Ghostly]
Chairlift – Something [Columbia]
Craig Finn – Clear Heart Full Eyes [Vagrant]
Lamb of God – Resolution [Roadrunner]
Nada Surf – The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy [Barsuk]
Pulled Apart By Horses – Tough Love [Transgressive]
Grimes – Visions [Arbutus]
A Place to Bury Strangers – Onwards to the Wall EP [Dead Oceans]
Air – Le Voyage Dans La Lune [Astralwerks]
Dr. Dog – Be the Void [ANTI-]
Fucked Up – Year of the Tiger Single [Matador]
Mark Lanegan Band – Blues Funeral [4AD]
Of Montreal – Paralytic Stalks [Polyvinyl]
Royal Baths – Better Luck Next Life [Kanine]
Sharon Van Etten – Tramp [Jagjaguwar]
The Twilight Sad – No One Can Ever Know [FatCat]
Earth – Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II [Southern Lord]
Field Music – Plumb [Memphis Industries]
Islands – A Sleep & A Forgetting [Anti]
Shearwater – Animal Joy [Sub Pop]
Tennis – Young and Old [Fat Possum]
Archers of Loaf – VeeVee [Merge] (Reissue)
Cursive – I Am Gemini [Saddle Creek]
Lambchop – Mr. M [Merge]
Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror [Mom + Pop Music]
Memoryhouse – The Slideshow Effect [Sub Pop]
Plants and Animals – The End of That [Secret City]
School of Seven Bells – GHOSTORY [Vagrant]
Andrew Bird – Break It Yourself [Mom + Pop]
Magnetic Fields – Love at the Bottom of the Sea [Merge]
The Men – Open Your Heart [Sacred Bones]
Spiritualized – Sweet Heart Sweet Light [Fat Possum]
White Hills – Frying on This Rock [Thrill Jockey]