Friday, January 06, 2012

My Favorite Music of 2011

This is very strange - I don't think I can even pretend to make list of favorite records this year. I bought a modest number of new records - 30 or so - many of them by bands I like and respect, some for a long time (REM! a new Feelies record!), some more recent (Battles? just found them...) - more than a few serious favorites - Feelies, Gang of Four, PJ Harvey, Tom Waits, Boris, Damon and Naomi, REM, Earth, Bill Frisell, 6 Organs of Admittance, TV on the Radio.... But I have just not listened to them. Maybe a song here or there, coming up on the iPod, but only a handful got beyond that. I mean - being honest, I think I might have listened to a grand total of - what - 6? all the way through? somewhere along the line?

PJ Harvey
Josh Pearson
The Feelies
Gang of Four
Iron & Wine

I think that might be it. It's a question of habits, really - of not putting on the iPod every time I get on a train, say. (Which has other implications - I've read a lot more in the last couple years than I had been - I pull out a book when I step on the subway, these days.) It will change back, I know - somewhere in the next few years, I will get obsessive about music again. When it does, I will have to come back to 2011 and try a more serious ranking. For now? I can make a list, but the first two are the only ones I feel confident will be on any future top 10:

1. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
2. Josh T. Pearson - Last of the Country Gentlemen
3. Gang of four - Content
4. Tom Waits - Bad As Me
5. Feelies - Here Before
6. Times New Viking - Dancer Equired
7. Iron & Wine - Kiss Each Other Clean
8. Wire - Red Barked Tree
9. Boris - Attention Please (the Wata record)
10. TV on the Radio - Nine Types of Light

Okay - the one good thing about listening to music on an iPod is that you do, in fact, get to hear songs. So I can, I think, offer a fairly convinced version of my 10 favorite songs of the year:

1. PJ Harvey - Words That Maketh Murder
2. Wire - Please Take
3. Iron & Wine - Big Burned Hand
4. Battles - My Machines
5. Boris - Spoon [sounding remarkably My Bloody Valentinish]
6. Gang of Four - She Said 'You Make a Thing of Me'
7. PJ Harvey - On Battleship Hill [I could have limited myself to one song per artist - I've left out a few I like, REM's Discoverer, the Feelies' When You Know, maybe Radiohead's Lotus Flower, etc... - but this is just too good - one of the most distinctive tunes of the year...]
8. Mogwai - Mexican Grand Prix [I remain a sucker for a nice bit of motorik]
9. Tom Waits - New Year's Day
10. Times New Viking - It's a Culture

Good enough. One thing I will commit to - PJ Harvey's Let England Shake is a damned Great Record. I liked it enough when I got it - it's grown since. I like it as much as any of her records, and that is saying something. I will add - it was the occasion for some outstanding videos as well - here is "Let England Shake":

And on that subject - here is another great one, that might be my favorite video of the year, after, or along with, Polly Jean's. Gary Numan singing with Battles, on "My Machines". (And another note - while I bought a fair amount of music, but didn't listen to it - what I bought was almost all stuff I am very familiar with already. I think this record - Battles' Gloss Drop - is just about the only record I got this year from a group I don't already own the rest of their catalogue. Battles and Josh Pearson. And nothing at all that's genuinely new, since they've both been around a while - and of course, I bought up their back catalogue too.):


Ed Howard said...

Pearson's really fantastic. I've been looking forward to more music from him for a solid decade now, ever since Lift To Experience's mind-blowing only album, and it was worth the wait. An absolutely heartbreaking album. Agreed about Harvey, too.

I was disappointed in the new Battles, I loved Mirrored but Tyondai Braxton has left the band since then and I definitely miss him.

weepingsam said...

When you're listening to an iPod on a crowded subway, it takes some doing for a 10 minute acoustic song you may never have heard before to keep you from hitting the forward button, but Pearson pulls it off.