Consequence of Sound’s top albums of 2011 list came out today! Always intense, always exhausting, always a labor of love. To make the list, each CoSer creates his or her own top list and that is integrated into the whole. My list is missing some key players due to me simply not having had the chance to explore them. Case in point: I haven’t listened to the new Bon Iver or St. Vincent and I know I know… I really freaking need to. Catching up with the music of 2011 is what 2012 is for and so on and so on for ever and ever and ever.
1) Gotye - Making Mirrors
One-by-one the countries of the world are falling in love with Gotye. The Austrailian multi-instrumentalist’s third album, Making Mirrors, has found its way into U.S. playlists in the wake of his video for “Somebody that I Used to Know” featuring Kimba. In it we see Gotye, with the charming anarchistic boyishness of Sting, singing with the heartrending honesty of Phil Collins. Ultimately it’s Collins’ bandmate Peter Gabriel that Gotye gets compared to the most, and for an obvious reason - the album is a musical wonderland of deeply layered and sophisticated pop sounds the likes of which we haven’t heard since So. From the Miracle Mile-like nuclear romance of “Eyes Wide Open”, to the lavish electro-reggae of “State of the Art”, Making Mirrors is sonically diverse, and with Gotye’s disarmingly genuine lyrics, it pulls madly at our heartstrings. Making Mirrors officially hits U.S. shores January 31st.
2) Thomas Dolby - A Map of the Floating City
3) Astronautalis - This is Our Science
4) Grace Jones - Hurricane [Originally released overseas in 2008, US this year]
5) The Strokes - Angles
6) The Non-Commissioned Officers - Money Looking For Thieves
7) My Morning Jacket - Circuital
8) Kate Bush - 50 Words For Snow
9) M83 - Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
With Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, M83 set out to capture the stuff that dreams are made of – and succeed. This is nothing new in the world of dream pop and electronica, but M83’s ability to distil childhood longing and teenage nostalgia into spirit lifting, anthemic, synth opuses is second to none. He captures it. If you were a dreamy kid, adventuring at night, and trying to live out your dreams in the day – these songs crystallize that special feeling, that certain time, that tragic, beautiful, ever-fleeing youth. It’s an incredible thing to put on some headphones, curl up in bed, and go back.
Picking up where Saturdays = Youth left off, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’s sound matures while its subject matter remains in the same vein. That said, this is not a repeat performance. Anchored by far more analog instruments, and a thematic concept that spans two discs, M83 uses the space he’s created to its fullest with both gripping singles like “Midnight City” and affecting, transcendental instrumentals and interludes. “Claudia Lewis” recaptures the lavish art pop production of the 80s and lovingly reinstates it as the ideal sound for rooftop dancefloors. “New Map” couples epic modern synth tracks with a smooth 70s flute and sax arrangement for an exciting new sonic experience. With Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming M83 has proven himself as the most exciting electropop act of the current age – a musical mind inevitably looking back, but always pushing forward.
10) Tom Waits -Bad As Me
11) Yip-Yip - Bone Up
12) Yes - Fly From Here
13) Peter Gabriel - New Blood
14) The Cars - Move Like This
15) Marc With a C - Motherfuckers Be Bullshittin’
16) The Decemberists - The King Is Dead
17) R.E.M. - Collapse Into Now
18) The Aquabats - Hi-Five Soup!
19) Bjork - Biophilia
20) They Might Be Giants - Join Us
Consequence of Sound’s songs list came out yesterday. Always intense, always exhausting, always a labor of love. To make the list, each CoSer creates his or her own top list and that is integrated into the whole. This isn’t a full top 20 list and I’ve certainly missed some. Case in point: I haven’t listened to the new Bon Iver and I know I know… I really freaking need to. Catching up with the music of 2011 is what 2012 is for and so on and so on for ever and ever and ever.
1) Astronautalis - “Midday Moon”
2) Paul McCartney - “Blue Sway”
3) Grace Jones - “This Is”
4) Goyte Feat. Kimba - “Somebody That I Used to Know”
5) M83 - “Midnight City”
6) The Strokes - “Two Kinds of Happiness”
7) The Non-Commissioned Officers - “Rich Stuff”
8) Future Islands - “Give Us the Wind”
9) Thomas Dolby - “Evil Twin Brother”
10) Yes - “Fly From Here Prt. III - Madman at the Screens”
11) My Morning Jacket - “Victory Dance”
12) Yip-Yip - “Day Off”
13) Kate Bush - “Wild Man”
My write-up for the CoS list:
50 Words for Snow is a rare album themed to winter holiday months while not being pigeonholed as a Christmas album. “Wild Man” is a testament to that. It’s a seven-minute journey through the snowy crags of Tibet, name-dropping countless faraway places and romanticizing the fabled Yeti as only Kate Bush could. That said, it’s a very different Bush song in a lot of ways, with guest vocalist Andy Fairweather Low providing the chorus and Bush swapping out her usual vocal stylings with a husky Mark Knopfler-esque dialogue for most of the track. The sweetness of Bush’s words and the song’s misty, musical veil make it easy to mistake “Wild Man” as a love song, but that’s not quite it. It’s a tribute to the mysteries still hidden in the natural world and the figments we chase, rounding the corners of distant hills, just out of reach.
14) Decemberists - “This is Why We Fight”
15) Marc With a C - “You’re My Princess”
16) Weird Al Yankovic - “Party in the CIA”
17) They Might Be Giants - “Protagonist”
18) Sweet Lights - “You Let Me Down”