Best Of 2011

These are my favorite albums of 2011. As always my rules are that they have to have been released during the calendar year, they have to be proper albums, not compilations, and that I have to have listened to each a lot during the last twelve months. That last one, along with the formality of the release date, should be the two main criteria in determining an album of the year. I also tried to pick only one release from each band or label. No real reason for that, I just felt like having as much variety as possible.

The list goes band/album/label for those with questions of that nature.

01. AIDS Wolf - Ma vie banale avant-garde - Lovepump United - Fugazi could do no wrong for me in the 1990s. AIDS Wolf is at that point for me in the 2000s. 24 songs on two LPs of heavy duty unknown wave music. Brilliant. The cover art is by Robert Beatty. Beatty also does Three Legged Race and his "As Ed Sunspot" tape on Night People is great.

02. Cave - Neverendless - Drag City - Proving the earth is not a cold dead place, Cave take you on a warm and bouncy ride that you don't want to get off. This is epic driving music.

03. Disappears - Guider - Kranky - Old fashioned 1990s Space Rock a la Bailter Space. And it's on Kranky, the original home of all things far away sounding.

04. Factums - Gilding The Lily - Assophon Records - Gilding The Lily is a double LP of murky and weird Krautrock tunes. They only made 700 of them and I grabbed one at Spiral Scratch in November after hearing their tape on Night People. I wasn't sure what to expect as it was somewhat of an impulse buy. I'm glad I got this record as it became the best purchase of the day. I feel like I use the word Krautrock too much and it might not even be the right word, but I feel it vaguely fits what I'm liking.

05. Kitchen's Floor - Look Forward To Nothing - Siltbreeze - This Australian band reminds of Guided By Voices and Pavement in a way. Not that they are trying to copy either, but it sounds as if they could have been contemporaries of the two in the early 1990s. There's a big difference between being inspired by and flat out copying.

06. Sightings - Future Accidents - Our Mouth - Sightings make utterly massive and abrasive noise as a power trio. It took me a while to get into them for some odd reason and it finally clicked with this record.

07. Six Organs Of Admittance - Asleep On The Floodplain - Drag City - Ben Chasny has blended a good mix of mostly instrumental acoustic guitar songs with smidges of random sounds here and there for texture. This is probably my favorite Six Organs album as whole from the last couple of years since it feels a little lighter and looser than other recent releases.

08. Pete Swanson - I Don't Rock At All - Three Lobed - Pete Swanson used to be in Yellow Swans. "I Don't Rock At All" was released as a bonus CD with the deluxe edition of Three Lobed's 10th anniversary box set. Swanson recorded a few tracks of swirling guitar atmospheres for the project. It has the best album title ever.

09. Trailblazer - Successor - Night People - I'm a sucker for things that are honestly done in a lo-fi manner. I've been getting more into analog and/or cheap synthesizers, too. As always repetitive driving beats are great. Treating the vocals as another instrument by keeping them even or down in the mix is how I prefer my singers. Trailblazer does all of these things.

10. Woods - Sun & Shade - Woodsist - Yes, I like Woods. It doesn't seem like I should, but I do. In particular I want them to make an all instrumental album of Neu! sounding songs similar to Out Of The Eye and Sol Y Sombra.


These were things that I liked a real lot, but weren't necessarily proper albums, although some were. The same rule of listening to a lot over the year still applies.

01. Cloaked Light/Pale Blue Sky - split 12" EP - Arbor Infinity - Blissed out drone. This is two beautiful pieces of music to crank first thing in the morning.

02. Dirt Eyes - You Are A Kind Magician, Indeed - Bad Drone Media - Three songs of non-techno drum and bass destruction. I always listen to Dirt Eyes on the iPod on the walk downtown to the bars. Sometimes it gets depressing to go from listening to this to whatever music is playing at the bar.

03. Medecine Rocks - cassette - self released - This is a collaboration between John Elliott of Emeralds and Alex Moskos of AIDS Wolf. Elliot plays synths and Moskos plays guitar. There's drumming, too. It's awesome. Also deserving a mention is the Outer Space/Alterity Problem split cassette on Deception Island. Anything with Elliott's analog synthesizer magic is worth buying.

04. Slutever - Pretend To Be Nice 7" - Bantic Media - Slutever is two girls from Philadelphia playing skuzzy and fun punk rock. They played the best show I saw all summer at Sugar City in Buffalo.

05. various artists - Not The Spaces You Know, But Between Them box set - Three Lobed - Three Lobed Records made a box set to celebrate their ten year anniversary of releasing Bardo Pond albums. It is a four record set featuring unreleased material from Sonic Youth, Comets On Fire, Eternal Tapestry, Mouthus, Bardo Pond and a couple others. The cover art for each record is a dated piece of technology, such as a rotary telephone, typewriter or film camera.