Saturday, December 17, 2011

2011 Year End Review

Let's talk 2011 for a moment. Usually as I stop and ponder all that happened during the course of a year, I'm left with the nagging suspicion that it really was nothing to separate it out from the previous 2 or 3 or 5. I worked a job that I really didn't give shit about, worked with people I hated and was making little to no money etc. Those years just blend together and the only thing that separates them out is what annual conference you attended. 2006? Cancun. 2005? Dublin. One would think that seeing some international locations would be pretty amazing and I'd be lucky to have done so. Well, you'd be 100% right. It was great, but that was a 5-7 days out of 365. Do the math and calculate a happiness quotient from those numbers. 2011 turned out to be one of those years that will be extremely easy to remember. I got a new job, one that (a) I like and (b) I'm good at. One doesn't get those two in balance very often so at this point, I'm ready to destroy lives in order to protect. Also, I bought a house and by house, I mean a domicile that is not sharing a wall with some piece of shit I'd rather see in a gas oven that outside my step. Does that sound harsh? Fifteen years of living near students and associated scum has elevated a loathing in me previously suspected but never realized. This probably sounds a bit elitist and perhaps I consider myself to be "better" than them. Well, once again you'd be 100% right. But I digress, that is slipping into the remote past and 2011 is near past and will be fondly recalled. The photo above is the fire that threatened my beloved domicile last month. 2011 will not be soon forgotten.

What about music? For the second year in a row my year end album list is populated largely by Canadian artists. This was, once again, not intentional but wholly welcome. My favourite album of 2011 is from Regina's Library Voices Summer of Lust is 32.35 minutes of pop perfection. Would this be my album of the year if I wasn't in a better place so to speak? It's a gloriously happy record or at least that's the affect it evokes, strongly I might add. 'Anthem for a New Canadia"? It rivals Martha & the Muffins' 'Echo Beach' for the elicitation of that aforementioned emotion. I love this record.

What about the others? A few highlights: Dirty Beaches' Badlands is the soundtrack for a very dark night, literal and figurative darkness. It's the soundtrack for planning a murder, but this is a murder of necessity and not desire. 'Lord Only Knows' sounds like something I've heard before in a THC induced hallucination where I depersonalized and stared out a window for probably 2 min but it felt like 2 hrs.

Cam Penner's Gypsy Summer is another absolutely wonderful record. 'Driftwood' might be my favourite Neil Young song not written and performed by Neil Young. 'It's gonna get worse before it gets better…'. That's a universal truth if there ever was one. He recorded it here in southern Alberta and you can kind of feel that in here. This is beautiful country, so I'm not surprised it inspired a beautiful album.

I heard Imaginary Cities on CBC3 at some point in 2011 and immediately bought the record. It's another nearly perfect pop album. This band and LIbrary Voices just decided to nail the pop song this year and write some great melodies, amazing hooks and keep it under 4 min 99% of the time. They're like Navy Seals, they're in, they're out and it's over before you even realize it, leaving double taps of pop shrapnel in our brains.

I should probably mention all the Attack in Black alums on the list as well. Shotgun Jimmie, Daniel Romano and Marine Dreams all released some stellar albums as well. Sleep Beneath the Willow feels like it sprang fully formed from the late 60s country. Two artists immediately spring to mind for me when i hear this record and that's Don Williams and Bobby Bare. The latter in particular. At one point I half expected to hear "(Margie's At) The Lincoln Park Inn". A stunning record. To turn a previously used comparative point, I'd say Shotgun Jimmie released one of my favourite Pavement albums not released by Pavement. Actually if it was a Pavement album it would be up there with Slanted & Enchanted. Marine Dreams released a minimal album that recalls something I've heard before but I can never really put my finger on completely. Is it old R.E.M.? No, that's not it. It's definitely feels from that early 80s college rock but that doesn't quite work either. I don't think it really matters actually. It's just good stuff.

Shuyler Jansen, Sunparlour Players & The Gertrudes. These three artists seem to straddle an area where Spoon meets My Morning Jacket, where power pop rubs elbows with country and folk. This is a fine area to be in.

And finally, 2011 also brought me a new Manvils EP with more on the way. The only thing that disappoints me about it is that since the boys moved to T.O., they won't be coming through town as much and thus will be able to see these songs get fleshed out in the Slice. I saw a couple of them played during their last swing through town and they were already great. 'Lions of a Lost Tongue' & 'Black Tornado' are a couple of my favourite rock & rolls songs of the year. Speak of the rawk, let's raise a glass for the motherfuckingly great Monster Truck. Let's all get as much as we can from Monster Truck before they get locked up for mass murder. No one who plays music like this can have much of a prefrontal cortex left. There's nothing inhibited, it's all out there. Also best song title of the year is hands down "Righteous Smoke".

Cheers to 2011.

30 Albums

LIbrary Voices - Summer of Lust
Cam Penner - Gypsy Summer
Tom Waits - Bad as Me
Butch Walker - The Spade
The Strokes - Angles
Dirty Beaches - Badlands
Imaginary Cities - Temporary Resident
Shotgun Jimmie - Transistor Sister
The Two Koreas - Science Island
Sloan - The Double Cross

Memphis - Here Comes a City
Arkells - Michigan Left
Marine Dreams - Marine Dreams
Daniel Romano - Sleep Beneath The Window
Shuyler Jansen - Voice from the Lake
Sunparlour Players - Us Little Devils
The Gertrudes - Til the Morning Shows Her Face to Me
No Gold - No Gold
Radiohead - The King of Limbs
One Hundred Dollars - Songs of Man

American Babies - Flawed Logic
Little Foot Long Foot - Oh Hell
Wilco - The Whole Love
My Morning Jacket - Circuital
My Son The Hurricane - You Can't Do This
Drive By Truckers - Go Go Boots
The Luyas - Too Beautiful to Work
Yep - Once
The Darcys - The Darcys
Braids - Native Speaker


The Manvils - Black Tornado
Monster Truck The Brown EP
Mother's Children - Are You Tough Enough?

25 Canadian Songs from 2011 Plus Butch Walker & The Strokes

Why 25 songs by Canadian artists AND Butch Walker AND the Strokes? Because he's Butch Walker and he must be recognized for his unique genius, damnit!! And well the Strokes are just because. And while all the mixes I post I enjoy but this one in particular gels really, really nicely.

Summer of '89 - Butch Walker
(Baby You Ain't) Tough Enough - Mother's Children
Under Cover of Darkness - The Strokes
Get In Or Get Out - Matters
Disco-Slave Songs - The Two Koreas
Good Day at the Races - Hollerado
Book Club - Arkells
Kill January - Shuyler Jansen
Apocalypse Pop Song - Memphis
Are You Gonna Waste My Time? - Zeus
Weird Week - No Gold
If Raymond Carver Were Born in the 90s - Library Voices
Hummingbird - Imaginary Cities
Unkind - Sloan
Runner - Sunparlour Players
Driftwood - Cam Penner
Derby Girl - The Gertrudes
Ties That Bind - One Hundred Dollars
How Late How Long - The Sheepdogs
King of Kreuzberg - Shotgun Jimmie
We'll Get Her Back in Your Arms - Marine Dreams
Edmonton to Purgatory - The Darcys
Neko Case Hate Fucks Kurt Cobain - Little Foot Long Foot
Righteous Smoke - Monster Truck
Black Tornado - The Manvils
Sweet 17 - Dirty Beaches
Dr. Ruin-Yer-Life - King Khan Experience

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