2011 music wrap-up, and mixtape 107

In only approximate order of favoriteness, here is my year-end wrap-up. As usual, a few of the entries on the following list were released earlier than 2011, but that is when I discovered them, so I'm allowing some slack. Though most were actually released in 2011.

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:

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.).

Tags: , , , ,
Current Music: as noted

17 Responses:

  1. kkrv says:

    I *really* miss your radio mixes. I still get a ton of mileage out of them. I don't personally care about videos.

    • jwz says:

      Well, the videos also have audio in them.

      I found the audio mixtapes to be a lot more work to assemble for some reason. Maybe I put more work into them.

      The fact that there's no easy way to post audio-only mixtapes that don't have to expire in two weeks was a real drawback and disincentive. So, since the video mixtapes are easier and don't expire, there's not much chance I'll go back to doing it the old way...

    • Curtis says:

      I use Youtube-dl to snag all of the videos and an ffmpeg script to convert to mp3. That way I have the videos if I care to watch them but also have an audio-only version I can toss onto my mp3 player...

      Using something like this works great:
      ./youtube-dl.py --auto-number --title https://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=A9CB9AD89A9FA00F&playnext=1

      (You can snag the playlist url by going to the mixtape page and right-clicking the "Watch" link.)

      • jwz says:

        As Dennis Hopper said, "Python? Fuck that shit. Pabst Blue Ribbon." youtubedown.

        • Curtis says:

          For some reason your youtubedown script only snagged 33 of them, while the Python one grabbed 41 files... (Personally I prefer perl though, I didn't know you had that so thanks!)

          • kkrv says:

            I've found the cclive suite of tools the most reliable, not that I've tried jwz's script.


          • jwz says:

            If it grabbed 41 videos, it's doing something crazy, because that playlist has only 34 videos in it.

            Mine is only downloading 33 because for some reason Youtube is pretending that the Austra video doesn't exist at all when I ask it what's contained in the playlist. Who knows.

      • Adolf Osborne says:

        I never really paid attention to the video mixtapes, though I did automagically snag all of the mp3 mixtapes as they occurred and still listen to them from time to time.

        I'm now midway through downloading mixtape 107 with youtube-dl, watching them with VLC. It's so much more pleasurable than Youtube's hellish interface that I might actually start taking local archival storage of music videos seriously.

        Thanks, I think.

  2. Rick O says:

    When did Simon Le Bon start looking like Wil Wheaton doing a Simon Le Bon impersonation?

  3. body.four says:

    Mix tape years:
    * is "In The City" really from 2006? The 12" came out in 2010.
    * "Pop The Glock" is actually from 2006, though. I used to play that track at Pop Roxx.

    • jwz says:

      Youtube says the "In the City" video was uploaded in Dec 2006. I didn't see any copies of the "Pop the Glock" video older than 2011, but wiki says the video was released in 2009.

  4. Injector says:

    Oh, OK doing a little searching I found out Bloodgroup is different than The Blood Group who released an EP and album back in 2001/2002. Though, I like what I hear from these new guys too.

  5. Joe says:

    Didn't like Beating Dead Horses?

  6. Preston Cummings says:

    I see your point about the Uffie video being cool, but Uffie was definitely the worst live show I have ever seen.

  7. DFB says:

    Jamie, you're going to love the new Rolling Stone cover. It's like every comment you've ever made about music on YouTube.

  8. whatwasit says:

    Thank you very much for mixtapes. I've listened to all of them. It has been an interesting experience. My English sucks, sorry.