1. Merry Christmas + Tasty Leftovers

    Monday, December 26, 2011

    Hope everyone who celebrates Christmas had an awesome one! Shout out to Hanukkah too, for which I chilled with a lot of drunk Jewish appreciators (and a couple of actual Jews as well).

    I will have the final spot on my 2011 countdown up tomorrow, but in the mean time, I though I would post a few selections that almost made the cut. These are all great tracks in their own right, and it pained me to only have five slots to play with.

    Without further adieu, the Top 5 of 2011 Leftovers (in no order):

    Chasing It Down - Mother Mother

    Eureka is an awesome album, but I like this track better than either of the two singles that were pumped so heavily ("The Stand" and "Baby Don't Dance"). The organ, the drums, the 3/4 over 4/4 section... it goes on and on. The definition of intelligent pop/rock.

    Kiss Cam - The Arkells

    Great melancholy riff in the verse, and a fucking indelible chorus. Although thematically, it's still about the Arkell's second-favorite topic (losing love by being a bit of a jerk), this one shows some nice growth. Cool key change on the bridge too.

    The World Is Yours/Brooklyn Zoo - Bad Bad Not Good

    BBNG gets it, I think. I will spare everyone the rant, but I really feel that the history-obsessed-backwards-gazing-ken-burns take on Jazz music that people like (the immensely talented) Wynton Marsalis are putting out lately is causing the music to stagnate. While Soil & Pimp Sessions is busy kicking people's ass over in Europe and Japan, leagues of talented youngsters in the US and Canada are still releasing album after album of 50-year old standards. 

    Not BBNG. Their disc of Hip-Hop covers and improvised originals was a real gem for me this year. Personally, I think they may be a bit too much in 'fuck the past'/'destroy our idols' mode (cue 'Giant Steps' rant and a Tyler the Creator cameo), but they sound fresh and have serious chops. I'm inspired.

    You - Evidence 

    Evidence and Premier. Dope.

    Green Gardens, Cold Montreal - Sloan

    What a comeback! To my own detriment, I had never gone back and listened to Sloan (It was years after Sloan's heyday that I was into music remotely like theirs), and The Double Cross suddenly put them roaring back on Canadian radio. "Unkind" cannot be denied - but it's this ballad that really stuck with me. Short and wonderful.

    Bedouin Dress - Fleet Foxes

    This album was solid, but not much of an overall step for Fleet Foxes. Bedouin Dress is one of the moments where I really felt they had done something noteworthy with their sound, and the fiddle in particular bring this track to life. The entire disc is quite good, but the moments of excitement are spaced between lots of comfort. Not a bad thing necessarily, but Bedouin Dress stands out for it's risk-taking.

    Lippy Kids - Elbow

    Elbow can be rough and indie sounding at times - but more and more, they just sound classically beautiful to me. "Lippy Kids" is an anthem to youth that's cheeky, nostalgic, reverent and a little sad all at once. Great material played and recorded really well. Nothing at all wrong with that.

    That's It, That's All - We Are The City

    Constant stop/starts like this should be gimmicky. The fact that "That's It, That's All" sounds totally compelling all the way through speaks to the serious talents of We Are The City. Not everything on "High School" works, but the stuff that does is very promising. I keep being impressed by this band. Shout out to Steve for putting me on to them.

    Change The Sheets - Kathleen Edwards

    How do you make a great thing even better? Add Justin Vernon.

    Darken Her Horse - Austra

    I've already gushed over Austra, so I will only say this: The beat drop in "Darken Her Horse" is one of the most satisfying musical moments for me in 2011.


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