Year in consumables: 2011 music

Hurry Up, We're Dreaming.So, let’s dispense with the lame blogging to you and your future self theme for the 2011 posts. It was fun for one post and a little forced for another, so time to move on. Plus, it is just about another month later and I’m sure I have something better to use. Which is to say I do not have any ideas and do not want to keep up with trying to hold to a theme. Just going to do a dump of content.

I had a rough year with the music this past year. I went a very long amount of time at the start of the year not listening to anything new, at least in album format. Sure, the radio bombarded me with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes‘–I’m guessing that’s the spelling because I don’t care to look and find out–gawd awful single; in two versions. Yes, they must not have a single other good tune on their album. And I absolutely hated it the first time I heard it as much as the one thousandth. Of course, then there is the everlasting love of Beck, Sublime and the White Stripes–anything Jack White really–that they play way too often as everyday staples. I appreciate Beck for the most part and Sublime is good, but can we keep the Sublime play to four-twenty everyday? (Actually, they haven’t been playing them much lately.) But, I hate me some Jack White. HATE. I just never get why people think he’s talented. To each their own.

Tangent over.

My point was I wasn’t really picking anything up last year until I got an invite to Spotify, which was only about a month before it went full public on Facebook. In any case, what a beautiful thing Spotify is. Pay ten bucks a month and listen to pretty much any band you want. Unless they hold out for new releases like Adele, Coldplay, The Black Keys, Snow Patrol, et. al. (Although Coldplay went the Netflix route and released a few months later.) I get that those artists don’t think they are getting paid enough, but the paid user sub numbers are going up and I think that says a lot about people not wanting to steal when there is a good alternative. Certainly they do better with iTunes, but hopefully Apple eventually comes around and offers a sub service as well. At any rate, I am in love with Spotify.

What I don’t like about Spotify is the playlist only format in their apps. Sure, you add the whole album as its own playlist, but it isn’t quite enough when you need to do things like find out the date of the release. I can’t sort on that, so it makes this list difficult to build. Clicking on each album title to see release year is painful. But I will do it just to confirm things as I go and therefore not be wrong about a release year and invalidate my list. Not that anyone cares. (Including me.)

Yeah, this list:

  1. M83: Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.
  2. The Horrors: Skying
  3. Frank Turner: England Keep My Bones
  4. Cults
  5. The Drums: Portamento
  6. Foster the People: Torches
  7. Friendly Fires: Pala
  8. Coldplay: Mylo Xyloto
  9. Kasabian: Velociraptor!
  10. Nero: Welcome Reality

If you are keeping count, that is five new-to-me bands in the top six and six overall. That makes 2011 a very good year to me for new music and it really did feel that way if I think back to that radio diatribe. Which, I left out the fact that I wasn’t really listening to much music at work until the summer. (Maybe I mentioned that in the previous post about 2010 music.)

Bands that were also new-to-me that released good stuff: The Naked and Famous, The Vaccines, Viva Brother, The Dears, The Joy Formidable, Neon Indian, Real Estate and Das Racist. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds fits in between new and known. His brother Liam’s band does not. I did not like. Known band releases: Beastie Boys, Foo Fighters, Digitalism, Death Cab for Cutie, Ryan Adams, Justice, Dropkick Murphys, Mutemath, Arctic Monkeys, The Wombats, The Kooks, Gomez, The Streets, The Strokes, Butch Walker and Owl City.

Now, do I write blurbs about any of those? Maybe that there are some really good albums there from very established bands that I had a hard time pushing off the list, but it was so hard not to think in terms of it being a new band, new music year. If I’m honest, Foo Fighters is there somewhere and probably those old geezer Beastie Boys too.

Write about just the top 10? I’m feeling lazy right now. All I could do to type this much so far was I had nothing better to do while doing laundry, but I’m done with that now and I’m not feeling it anymore.

Okay, fine… a sentence or two for each:

M83: Straight up 80’s movie soundtrack. Maybe even softcore soundtrack with that sax work. No, not really. Definitely has that vibe and it was disconcerting at first because Saturdays = Youth was just so good that I wasn’t looking for a change up or mild departure. Continued listening changed that and obviously it made the top of the list, so what else can I say?

The Horrors: If that was 80’s then this is early 90’s? Maybe still late 80’s. Has a feel of Echo and the Bunnymen mixed with Jesus and Mary Chain to me. Absolutely fell in love with the single “Still Life” and I think this might have been my first playlist add ever on Spotify. It was difficult not to put this #1.

Frank Turner: “If I Ever Stray” was the first single I heard, but then they played “I Still Believe” one morning on FNX as a special and I was hooked. That tune is insanely good. This whole album has that drinking in a pub with your mates feeling. Or something. Maybe just because he’s English? So very good. And so is the recent back catalog I have tuned into on Spotify. See what I mean about Spotify yet?

Cults: “Go Outside” being the single, but the whole album is great, even if a bit on the short side. Which there is nothing wrong with when it is all so good. Except for when you want more. Which I do.

The Drums: The single is “Money” and I will readily admit that I was not enjoying it at first. I think I still have reservations about it, but the next song I heard convinced me to listen to the whole album and I loved it. I think it is the chorus that was a little grating, but whatever.

Foster the People: Is there a song on this short album that hasn’t been played on the radio or as a television commercial? Seriously good, but it did get a little old pretty quickly. That doesn’t have to be bad either. It’s one of those moment in time experiences that may not hold up. Looking forward to their follow up to find out.

Friendly Fires: Another early add once I had Spotify. “Hawaiian Air” is a great single and this album is just as good as their first. Which I have played to death too.

Coldplay: So, I already complained about the delayed Spotify release and I did wait a long time before finally having to have it before it did make it on Spotify. Luckily I received it as a gift. I just remember not loving “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” when I first heard it. Didn’t sound very Coldplay to me. But, of course, as I predicted, it grew on me. “Paradise” being the second single was certainly better, and would have been a better choice as the debut, but its Coldplay and it doesn’t matter. They will all do well eventually. Now when I listen, I think “how could this not have sounded like Coldplay?” Its like that.

Kasabian: Definitely a better album than West Ryder, but still not like the self titled or Empire in continuous playability. I probably just have not listened enough to get there. It would be cool to do so. But I’m okay if not. Still a good one, just their third best.

Nero: Heard them the first time on the London Calling (?) show Sunday nights on FNX. Instantly Shazammed it to find out who they were and then Spotified it when I got home that night. Good coding music. Maybe a little to dancy sometimes. Looking like an idiot moving my butt around in my office chair. Passersby probably think I am a weirdo. Which I am.

That wasn’t so bad I guess. After all that, did you start using Spotify yet? They aren’t even paying me. Here, get started with #1:

And, I got this post in mere weeks after the previous one in which I half joked it wouldn’t be done until 2014. Very good on me.

How about now? Are you using now?