<< REWIND: Best Albums of 2011

December is always a time of reflection and nostalgia for me; some of it sweet, some not so much. But revisiting my favorite music of the year always falls on the sweeter side of the spectrum and inevitably puts a smile on my face as I trace back all the music that moved me through the course of the year. Whether it’s musing over the hype and hyperbole of a buzz band that’s come and gone (ahem, The Vaccines) or rediscovering a gem that time almost forgot (read: Lia Ices), compiling my annual ‘Best Of’ list has become a ritual I cherish.

So, without further ado, here are my favorite albums of 2011. My 2011 rewind. Kinda sorta listed in order but I find the process of ranking music to be like splitting hairs. All that really matters is that this is the music that moved me this year. The albums I came back to again and again. I enjoyed them. Immensely. Hope you will too.

Unknown Mortal OrchestraSelf Titled


Kurt VileSmoke Ring for My Halo

Mikal Cronin, Self Titled

Washed Out, Within and Without


Widowspeak, Self Titled


Ty Segall, Ty Rex

Abbe Mae, Design Desire


The Sandwitches, Mrs. Jones Cookies


Vetiver, The Errant Charm

Blouse, Self Titled

Fungi Girls, Some Easy Magic

Quilt, Self Titled


Thurston Moore, Demolished Thoughts


Nick Waterhouse, Is That Clear EP

Charles Bradley, No Time for Dreaming

Lia Ices, Grown Unknown

Thee Oh Sees, Carrion Crawler/The Dream

Shannon and the Clams, Sleep Talk

Wooden Shjips, West

Papercuts, Fading Parade

That Ghost, Songs Out Here

Tune-Yards, WHOKILL

Yuck, Self Titled

Jeff the Brotherhood, We are the Champions

Black Lips, Arabia Mountain

Future Islands, On the Water

Radiohead, King of Limbs

Yellow Ostrich, The Mistress

White Denim, D

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, Mirror Traffic

Thurston Moore – “Demolished Thoughts”

Thurston Moore’s (of Sonic Youth fame) third solo effort, “Demolished Thoughts”, is simply lovely. Quickly emerging as one of my favorite albums this year. Produced by Beck, the effort is being coined acoustic folk. But don’t let the wimpy genre fool you.  His music still has the same intensity you would expect from a Sonic Youth tune, just unplugged, and dusted with a little Beck fairy dust for ambience. An intoxicating combination.

The album features Thurston on guitar and vocals, Samara Lubelski on violin, Mary Lattimore on harp, Beck on synths, vocals and bass, and Joey Waronker on percussion, among others. Thurston will be stopping through the Bay Area with Kurt Vile for two shows next month. Hello!  Mark your calendars and reserve your seats for July 25 at The New Parish in Oakland and July 26 at Great American Music Hall in SF. In the meantime, enjoy this Take Away show from La Blogotheque.

Bands to Watch 2011 :: Rollo & Grady

LA music blogger and tastemaker, Rollo & Grady, is definitely one of the better music discovery sites out there on the Internets. Prolific too as he lives and breathes indie music. When he’s not sharing his music discoveries on his blog, he’s placing it in films and television through his production company as a music supervisor. It’s the real deal. So check out his picks for bands to watch in 2011.

Lord Huron“The Problem with Your Daughter”

Devin Therriault“Don’t Think I”

Sun Airway“Put The Days Away”

Yuck

Tennis – “Marathon

Hanni El Khatib - “You Rascal You”

Bands to Watch 2011 :: Dodge, My Old Kentucky Blog

If you were a Sirius/XM blog radio show, which would you be? For me, most definitely My Old Kentucky Blog (as well as Aquarium Drunkard). Craig “Dodge” Lile is the founder of MOKB and Roaring Colonel Records, co-owner of Laundromatinee, and – as mentioned – is a DJ at SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio. His music sensibilities have always appealed to me and I’m happy to share his picks for the Bands to Watch in 2011.

Andy D – wild, party starter combining rap, rock, electro, and viking lore.  The latest signee to Roaring Colonel Records.

Dreamers Of The Ghetto – they’re recording now, but these guys make some amazing dream-rock and look like Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.  I’d love to sign them as well, but I think I have some competition.  Check out their track “Phone Call”:
EMA - Erika Anderson, former one-half of The Gowns, will release her solo project debut through SOUTERRAIN TRANSMISSIONS this year. Another artist I would have loved to sign to Roaring Colonel.  I played her track “Marked” on MOKB SIRIUS XM Blog Radio for much of the year and it always elicited a great response.
Bobby - a new project featuring Molly of the band Mountain Man.  Beautiful, atmospheric tunes.
Julianna Barwick - will release The Magic Place through Asthmatic Kitty Records in 2011. Sure to be a beautiful album if the lead single was any indication.

Bands to Watch 2011 :: Larry Little, Future Sounds

If ever there were an arbiter of indie music, it would be Larry, the co-founder of LA-based Future Sounds. He’s made it his life’s work to help new and unsigned bands get heard and the music world is a much better place because of it. He’s also the creator and curator of The Rumble, a series of free monthly music parties that tours through eight cities – including LA, San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, Austin, Portland, Vegas and New York – showcasing ‘what’s next’ in music. Suffice it to say that when Larry talks you should probably listen. So listen up. Here are his picks for Bands to Watch in 2011.
THE NAKED & FAMOUS – the 2011 MGMT – from New Zealand
ODD FUTURE - the second coming of the Wu Tang Clan
WYE OAK – Merge about to do it again
LIFE IN FILM – London’s answer to the Kings Of Leon

BRANCHES - Asuza band that runs with the Fleet Foxes, Head & The Heart, Mumford & Sons pack.

Bands to Watch 2011 :: The 405

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The 405 is a UK based online Music/Art/Film magazine and one of the many UK-based sites that I frequently troll to satisfy my Brit Rock fetish. Recently they published an album of their picks for Bands to Watch in 2011. To download the album , click here!

1. ‘Colours’ – Grouplove
2. ‘What Became of You and I’ – Treefight For Sunlight
3. ‘Fighting Smiles’ – Jonquil
4. ‘Vocal Chords’ – Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
5. ‘Ringerz’ – Islet
6. ‘Young’ – Dog Is Dead
7. ‘Endless Summer’ – Still Corners
8. ‘Coast’ – Dry the River
9. ‘Facelove’ – PS I Love You
10. ‘Microlite (Acoustic)’ – Trophy Wife
11. ‘Christmas Tree’ – Fair Ohs
12. ‘Chiaroscuro’ – Einar Stray
13. ‘Mighty’ – Lord Huron
14. ‘Hung Markets’ – Seams
15. ‘Treetops (Val-d’Isère Remix)’ – Gold Fields
16. ‘Chemistry’ – Tall Ships
17. ‘7th Date’ – Spectrals
18. ‘Oh My God’ – Cults

Videos not on the download record
19. ‘Weathervanes And Chemicals’ – Team Me
20. ‘Limit To Your Love (Video)’ – James Blake

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Bands to Watch 2011 :: Jason Jurgens, The Owl Mag

Say hi to the man with the plan – Jason Jurgens, publisher of the San Francisco-based music blog, The Owl Mag. Whether he’s writing, blogging, editing, promoting or filming Jason’s always got his ear to the ground when it comes to music. Check out his band picks for 2011.

The Dodos

“90’s riffs influenced by Billy Corgan and a shit ton of vocal servings from Neko Case. Sounds good to me.


New EP set to drop 1/18 and a tour with Surfer Blood (my fave from 2009). Shoegaze-y lo-fi that will make you see trails.
Excited to hear more from the SoCal band. Gritty and soulful folk with a hint of Ben Folds and The Weepies.
The Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros frontman is dropping a solo debut influenced by mouth sounds and children’s hand capping games. What a hippie.
Touring with Beach house, dropping a full-length. If Quever’s breathy and ambient tone and generally upbeat vibe on “Do What You Will” are any indication of what’s to come, then I’m hooked once again.