Wednesday, January 04, 2012

2011 Music Lists (2)

Favorite Albums of the Year #10-6

10. Deerhoof - Deerhoof vs. Evil
Ranking among the most accessible collections in their run of great albums, Deerhoof still hold true to their sprightly garage rock sound. At this point, I’ve stopped wondering whether I’m going to enjoy their releases or not: just purchase and enjoy. Satomi Matsuzaki’s youthful vocals continue to be counterbalanced by other band members’ chimings-in, which lends the band broader emotional dexterity. Consistent, inventive and playful. This is Deerhoof.

9. Youth Lagoon - The Year of Hibernation
This series of warm-blooded broodings flickers best in interior spaces: hollows, hallways and nestled dens. However, I feel confident that, given the ability to embed speakers into the ground, this album would thaw my wintery yard over 42 minutes. As such, it’s been a grower for me over the cooler parts of the year, and its soft melodies have soundtracked many early winter sunsets.

8. Real Estate - Days
Can my catalogue possibly hold another guitar-driven indie band? Yes, apparently. A good jangle here, some wholehearted melodies there, and you’ve got Ways. Standout “It’s Real” is a top five song-and-video of the year both for combining its theme (love’s sobriety) and sound (textbook jangle rock) with the joyous memories of family dogs. These guys may be LATFH material, but they’re also a kind of Shins Light – and that ends up not being such a bad thing at all.

7. ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead - Tao of the Dead
It’s been nearly ten years since 2002’s once-in-a-decade burner Source Tags and Codes. Since then, the Trail of Dead have received a couple of second looks from me, but nothing has (nor could ever) come close to that enduring record. It’s time to recognize that even though they may never repeat that, they shouldn’t be expected to – and furthermore: this album rocks pretty damn hard and without some of the overwrought tendencies they’ve become known for. Rocking and getting rocked: this defines our relationship. That’s how it should have always been.

6. Wilco - The Whole Love
After a forgivable misstep in the eyes of many (2009’s Wilco: The Album), Wilco once again cement themselves in my mind as one of the most consistent bands churning out albums today. I keep wondering just how deep Jeff Tweedy’s song well can reach, cause he’s still pulling out gems (“I Might”, “Born Alone”). The biggest, though, is the 12-minute acoustic closer, “One Sunday Morning.” Like a 12-mile drive down a sun-baked gravel road, the scenery doesn’t change much, the sounds consistent, the hills rolling in rhythm, an apex on the horizon only opens up to more of the same, vast and unending. “One Sunday Morning” weeps softly with well-earned laments about religion, family and death. Nearly 20 years in, Wilco show no signs of letting off the gas.

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