This year I acquired about the same amount of new music as last year: roughly 130 new releases, and just about all of it was released within the last 3 years.
Number of these bands that I saw perform this year: 37.
Number of these bands that performed at DNA Lounge this year: 2.
So, that's two more than in the last four years combined. Go Team.
Here's your shopping list:
- The Naked and Famous - "Passive Me, Aggressive You"
This album is so great that I saw this band three times this year, and one of those times was at a large outdoor festival, which I normally can't tolerate. So that says a lot. In addition to being the best album I heard this year, these were also the best live shows I saw. I love both of the singers' voices, and they have a great drummer. Huge favorites are Girls Like You, which rises to Common People levels of bitterness, Punching in a Dream, All of This and The Sun which gives me chills.
- Fight Like Apes - "The Body of Christ and the Legs of Tina Turner"
I saw these guys at SXSW in 2009, and this album might be even better than that year's "And the Mystery of the Golden Medallion", and the lyrics and song titles are just as hilarious. I'm especially fond of Pull Off Your Arms And Let's Play In Your Blood.
- Chromatics - "Night Drive"
The first of these bands who actually played at DNA Lounge! Let's have a slow clap for that.
- The Joy Formidable - "The Big Roar"
They're in that vaguely "4AD" part of the sonic world, but when they rock out with the wall of guitars and bombastic power chords, it's kinda like if the Cocteau Twins started channeling Metallica. No, it's nothing like that at all, and this is why I don't often try to write about music.
- Le Butcherettes - "Kiss & Kill" & "Sin Sin Sin"
These guys are very much in the vein of PJ Harvey back when she was awesome (which is to say, Dry and Rid of Me). The singer is actually frightening live. She's got this stare that makes you think that she might just dive off the stage, tear off your face, and wear your skin as a hat. Then she dives off the stage...
- My First Earthquake - "Friction"
The second of these bands who played at DNA! I also saw them three times this year. They are a lot of fun.
- Ema - "Past Life Martyred Saints"
This music is hard to characterize, but it's disturbing and creepy and catchy. There's a lot of high-octane crazy in these lyrics. I like her voice a lot; reminiscent of Kim Gordon, I guess.
- Warpaint - "The Fool"
Dreamy, slo-mo and a little spooky, like their first. This album might be better, but it's at least as good. Go see them live! They are fantastic.
- The Coathangers - "Larceny & Old Lace"
It's a bit more polished and less raw "punk" than their previous releases, but it's a more solid album over all.
- Niki and the Dove - "The Drummer"
There are a number of recent bands who sound a lot like this, and many of make music videos with a similarly-strange visual style. What are they putting in that Scandinavian water? If we imported more Voss, would music and clothing go that way here, too?
- Stripmall Architecture - "Feathersongs for Factory Girls, part 2"
Part 1 made the 2010 list, so it's only fair that the second half get a mention this year. This was probably their sneaky plan all along.
- Julie Christmas - "The Bad Wife"
This has kind of a 90s riot grrrl feel to it. It reminds me a little of Babes in Toyland, or more accurately, the spookier stuff on Kat Bjelland's Songs of the Witchblade album.
- Uffie - "Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans"
I really like the music and vocal style on this album, but man, this has some of the most inane lyrics ever written. As a friend said, "Yeah, you pop that glock, you little Kylie Minogue-looking motherfucker. Who's a little gangsta! You are! Aren't you just adorable!" It's kinda like that.
- Yelle - "Safari Disco Club"
These songs sound exactly like every other Yelle song, so if that's what you're looking for, this is that. (That is was what I was looking for.)
- Ume - "Phantoms"
A great indie-rock band I've seen live many times over the last few years have finally released a full length. It's good, but it doesn't quite capture the energy of their live shows.
- M83 - "Hurry Up We're Dreaming"
This album definitely feels like a single unit rather than a collection of songs. Earlier M83 stuff has been hit or miss for me; a few great songs and a lot of stuff that I barely notice. This has fewer stand-out tracks than the previous ones, but it's more pleasing as a whole.
- Los Campesinos! - "Hello Sadness"
This is a good album, but it's not nearly as good as their previous efforts. There's not a lot of range on this one, I think; all of the songs kind of run together for me, and the lyrics seem less clever.
- Emika - "Emika"
It's kind of trip-hoppy (which is a rarity these days) with a whiff of the dirgeyness of witch house.
- Grimes - "Halfaxa" & "Geidi Primes"
I really like her cartoony little voice. Halfaxa is a much better album than Geidi Primes, but I'm a sucker for Dune references.
- The Dogbones - "The Dogbones"
This band is the remains of Daisy Chainsaw with a new singer. If you were thinking to yourself, "Wow, I really wish there was a new Daisy Chainsaw album", here it is. If you weren't thinking that, it's probably because you haven't listened to enough Daisy Chainsaw.
- Steed Lord - "Heart II Heart"
The vocals here are way house-ier than I usually go for, but this album grew on me. It's possible that I was unduly influenced by the amazing music video for 123 If You Want Me. The chunky analog synths are nice.
- The Soft Moon - "The Soft Moon"
This is an actual goth band recording new material in the Twenty First Century, frsrs. When I saw them live, I felt that I had been physically transported back to House of Usher in 1993, specifically that tiny 3rd floor room at DV8 where they did smaller bands. Maybe it was the smoke machine. The smoke machine was epic.
- Cold Cave - "Cherish the Light Years"
Similarly, though I haven't seen these guys live, if you told me that Cold Cave was a mopey 80s synthpop band that had been decanted from cold storage and given modern production gear, I would probably believe you.
- Duran Duran - "All You Need Is Now"
Seriously, what? Ok, you may think it's surprising that I put a new Duran Duran album on this list, but it's actually a pretty good album that sounds a lot like their early stuff, but that's not the most surprising part. The most surprising part is that there was also a new Gang of Four album released this year, and it's awful. Yes, it's Two Thousand God Damned Eleven, and both Duran Duran and Gang of Four released new albums, and the Duran Duran album was the good one of the pair. What the eff.
And... now I've run out of steam. Writing these micro-reviews is really difficult for me. Here are a few more bands that I enjoyed and that you should check out despite me not having been able to squeeze out a sentence about them after having written the above:
- Excuses for Skipping - "Tonic for Hysteria"
- Viva City - "Phobia"
- Bloodgroup - "Dry Land"
- Go Chic - "I Am Confused"
- We Are Enfant Terrible - "Explicit Pictures"
- Masquer - "Cover My Face as the Animals Cry"
- Tamaryn - "The Waves"
- Austra - "Feel It Break"
- White Lies - "Rituals"
- The Airborne Toxic Event - "All At Once"
And finally, here's mixtape 107, which includes one track by each of the above artists (at least until the various dinosaur record labels pull them off of Youtube or retroactively prohibit embedding or something, as they do constantly.).