Zan Emerson, Marketing Coordinator
Top 10 releases of 2011:
1. Fugazi – Live Series
Not an album per se, but without question one of the most exciting releases of the year for me. Over a hundred live shows, several hundred more to come, and all ranked and searchable by song, location, quality, year, etc. It’s an unedited history of the band that one can explore for hours on end.
2. Helms Alee – Weatherhead
As The Stranger’s Travis Ritter said in his blog post that made me check this album out: “Helms Alee are masters at making metal sound much more alive and beautiful than stark and depressing.”
3. Happy Refugees – Return To Last Chance Saloon
A fantastic reissue from Acute Records of Happy Refugees’ barely-known 1984 LP. It’s far closer stylistically to predecessors like Swell Maps than their more gothy British contemporaries. Jangly, catchy British post-punk at its best.
4. Parts & Labor – Constant Future
A super-solid release that will unfortunately (most likely) be their last. Dan Friel & BJ Warshaw’s skill for making shredding noise rock around amazing melodies is unparalleled.
5. EMA – Past Life Martyred Saints
Being a big fan of the late band Gowns, I often miss the musical intensity that Ezra Buchla brought to Erika M. Anderson’s songs, but given how strong these are, it’s probably not a bad thing that she gets to stand on her own here.
6. Fucked Up – David Comes to Life
The whole concept album/rock opera thing aside (which I hardly think about when I’m listening to it), this is just an epic, solid album. It’s a 78-minute assault that I never get tired of.
7. Thee Oh Sees – Castlemania
I don’t think I’ve heard a single John Dwyer release that I didn’t love. Here with the distorted vocals, the songs sound just as sinister as they are catchy.
8. The Men – Leave Home
This Brooklyn group really uses the combination of repetition and scathing noise to their advantage, bringing together the driving qualities of Neu! with the musical and vocal onslaught of hardcore. Yet as abrasive as it can be, it still remains fun.
9. Son Lux – We Are Rising
Ryan Lott has always been quietly amazing (I say quietly because he hardly plays live or does much to promote his music, it seems), and his effort for NPR’s February challenge to complete an album in one month showcases this more than he probably even expected. Sometimes deadlines are great.
10. The Music Tapes – Purim’s Shadows EP
Julian Koster deserves more credit than just “that guy with all the weird toys that opened for whatever bigger Elephant 6 band I was seeing.” It’s pretty weird, but a charming and great example of low-fi folk that doesn’t stick to what’s expected of the genre.
Top shows of 2011:
1a. Fucked Up at LPR
1b. Jeff Mangum at Sanders Theater, Harvard
2. Parts & Labor at Death By Audio
3. Yo La Tengo Hanukkah show(s) at Maxwells
4. Olivia Tremor Control & The Music Tapes at LPR
5. Lightning Bolt & Pterodactyl at LPR
6. The Music Tapes at Colin’s apartment
7. Godspeed You! Black Emperor at Brooklyn Masonic Temple & St. Paul the Apostle Church
8. Sebadoh at Music Hall of Williamsburg
9. Shellac at Bell House
10 Hot Snakes at Bell House
posted by Zan Emerson