Tuesday, January 03, 2012

2011 Look Back: Music and Favorites

Two more things I like to talk about at year-ends: Music and Blawrgs.

I haven't seen enough movies in the cinema to really talk about 2011's films, and I don't pay enough attention to the movies playing when they're on my computer, to really talk about them.

But the best thing I watched this year was "Avatar: The Last Airbender," the Nickelodeon TV series. Don't even mention the movie, which compares to the TV series kind of like if you were expecting a Nintendo Wii for Christmas, and instead got a box of turkey poo: Aang is, far and away the most likeable protagonist I've seen in an animated series: he's human, he's funny, he's a hero, he learns, but he's also totally a kid - fun-loving and mischievous, even when he has to save the world. His journey is authentic and the choices he faces are smart, challenging, and, when you see what he chooses, satisfying. So go watch it.

I briefly mentioned what I love about December -- year-end lists -- so I thought I'd throw down a few of my favorite bands and albums from the year, and ended off with the blogs that have newly come onto my radar this year.

My favorite music - not all of it's from 2011, but I found it in 2011.

Fleet Foxes: Helplessness Blues - everybody loves these guys.

Vampire Weekend - Contra - if Phoenix listened to more of Paul Simon's "Graceland" they'd make this album.

Aphex Twin: Hangable Light Bulb - Electronica helped me study for grad school, and this was the most interesting of what I found this spring.

Tom Waits: Bad as Me - any time Tom Waits has a new album, I'm in. This is a solid album, though like Beck's recent album, "Modern Guilt" which, for the first (or at worst second) was a Beck album that sounded like a beck album (that is, which revisited places Beck had been before rather than looking somewhere new), this is a Tom Waits album that sounds like a Tom Waits album, rather than an album of Tom Waits going somewhere new. That said, this is a lean, taut Tom Waits album that demonstrates the kind of curt brevity required by the MP3 downloading "skip" generation.

Bon Iver: Bon Iver - I liked "Skinny love" on his last album. I like this one from top to bottom.

EMA: Past Life Martyred Saints - this would have been my favorite album ever for a while if I'd discovered it when I was 24. As it is, it's very nice, and EMA manages to move across a surprising range of sounds, all holding onto her center.

The Field: Looping State of Mind - surprisingly stirring for electronic music.

The Flaming Lips: At War with the Mystics - an older one, but I finally started to "get" older Flaming Lips this year. And the first two tracks are something else.

Fucked Up: David Comes to Life - a very rude, random e-mail informed me that Hardcore is totally different than death metal, last time I wrote about Fucked Up. And if all fans of hardcore and/or death metal are as rude as dear Stan (appropriate choice of name) I'm glad I have no plans to get into the genre as a genre. Then again... I know that I'd certainly write an e-mail deriding a stranger, if a blogger I read ever confused instrumental minimalist post-rock twee-folk with freestyle acoustic shoegaze tone-poetry. But who ever gets instrumental minimalist post-rock twee-folk confused with freestyle acoustic shoegaze tone-poetry? Good thing they don't!  However, whatever "David Comes To Life" is, it's awesome. 20 minutes too long, though. I prefer things in a tight package, over things that sprawl.

Leonard Cohen: Live in London - give it some time. It'll grow on you. Leonard Cohen's about 130 years old by now, and still delivers a concert that is graceful, lovely, and touched with moments of real feeling, both in the songs, and between him and his audience.

Suckers: Wild Smile - if Sunset Rubdown listened to more David Bowie, this is what would happen.

The Tallest Man on Earth - Sometimes The Blues is Just a Passing Bird - the guy's voice is annoying and nasal... but the songs just work.

TuneYards - Whokill - so out of the blue. So, so, so good, I have no idea what to do with it, because I can't play any other music before or after I play this.

The Weeknd - Echoes of Silence - New singer, new addition to the list, I'm still breaking in this one, but I like how The Weeknd delivers his music so far. A LOT.

Micah P Hinson - ...And the Pioneer Saboteurs - more mediative and atmospheric than his earlier stuff (I adore his first album) - but it suits his voice and his feel.

Hope you like some of that. If you don't... I never promised you would.


Here are the blogs that caught my attention this year:
Burndog is fun.
Korean Kontext is a podcast that's scored some great guests, but not much buzz
The Dokdo Times picks up the torch as Dokdo Is Ours hangs up its pen.
Stupid Ugly Foreigner is, in my opinion, neither stupid nor ugly.
Ajumma's Journal - well-sourced, at its best when talking about how to enjoy nature in Korea
The Diplomat - it covers all of asia, but it's a fantastic source.
Alien's Day Out - bloggy, but wins points for discussing being a vegetarian in Seoul
If I Had A Minute To Spare, who hates top 10 lists.


wetcasements said...

Fucked Up and Tuneyards are both excellent.

I'd also recommend the new Wilco if you haven't heard it.

Roboseyo said...

Is that "Wilco The Album" or something newer? Wilco The Album is on my shortlist of best rock albums for driving, with "High Violet" by The National, and "The Suburbs" by Arcade Fire.

wetcasements said...

The new one came out last Fall. It's called "The Whole Love."

Much more experimental that their past two.

Love the song "Born Alone":


The Sanity Inspector said...

I appreciate the list of blogs at the end. I discovered so many fun K-blogs near the end of their runs, always like to have fresh free ice cream.