FYM HQ: Art Director J Thomas Codling picks his favorite releases of 2011. The following list represents the bands and tunes that inspired his afternoons, haunted his nights, and relentlessly rocked FYM’s Seattle HQ speakers throughout the year. Click each artists highlighted name for more information on their music. And be sure to check back soon for more picks and perspectives from our L.A. and S.F. Crews. Cheers, FYM
1. Birdcloud: Birdcloud Raw, witty, balanced and beautiful. Nashville’s Birdcloud is everything country music should be in 2011. Their self-titled release features instant classic’s like Warshin My Big Ol Pussy, Bandit, andDo What I Want To (as seen below).
Makenzie Green and Jasmin Kaset’s harmonious vocal connection will dominate your heart throughout this filthy 7-track barn burner. Their bold lyrics will undoubtedly offend those that need to be offended, while others (like us) find their frank honest take on the world to be well-crafted, punk as fuck, countrified brilliance.
2. Pickwick: Myths Pickwick took us by storm this year with their vibrant soulful sound. Myths may only be six songs, but start to finish -there isn’t another collection of tunes we repeatedly listened to more of in 2011. With an instantly likeable vocal presence and sharp indie-soul charisma, frontman Galen Disston commands your attention as Pickwick’s tight rhythm section makes your jaw drop to the floor.
3. Dawes: Nothing is Wrong2011 also brought the triumphant sophomore release from Dawes, Nothing is Wrong comes doused full of sonic nostalgia featuring: prolific lyrical insight into the human-condition. This stunning album is a collection of 11 wise beyond their years West Coast narratives, focused in the art of embracing thoughtful melody. Listen to Coming Back to a Man below:
4. Dude York: Gangs of Dude York The first of three releases this year, recorded between the months of February-March 2011, Gangs of Dude York, is a formidable rock offering from a brand new Seattle band destined for big things. The album is an interesting mix of garage rock fury, dashed with vibrant vocals, engaging lyrics, harvesting an instantly appealing first release. What’s really astounding about Dude York- is they’ve seemingly mastered from the get-go, uncanny musical wisdom balanced by an unforgiving vinatge arsenal of influences.
5. Das Dhoom: Poetry of Dhoom These Seattle world music mind-benders released a mindful, at times cinematic, adventure into the classic sound of India perfectly balanced with expansive bliss-filled digital landscapes. It’s a 10-track journey into the mind of James Whetzel, who aside from being a classically trained sarod player, is also quite the music producer as heard in this fantastic new album.
FYM’s senior writer, Will ‘weezer cruise’ Sellers rounds out our Top 25 Albums & Artists of the year. Will picks his favorite 13 albums of 2011- read the following posts below for more perspectives from FYM Seattle & San Francisco. They Live, Cheers FYM.
2011 ALBUM OF THE YEAR-The Middle East: I Want That You Are Always Happy My favorite album of 2011 comes from a band who just can’t seem to keep it together. Mere weeks after releasing their “official” debut album (an earlier album was stricken from the records before being reissued as a slimmed-down EP), Queensland, Australia’s The Middle East announced the second disbandment of the young band’s existence. This debut album, I Want That You Are Always Happy, is a glowingly expansive folk rock masterpiece. Listen to “Hunger Song”:
2. James Blake: James Blake Nobody expected the rising star of the British dubstep scene to drop one of the best vocal pop records of the year. And perhaps even less people expected James Blake to be as groundbreaking as it truly is. Watch “Lindisfarne”:
3. Bon Iver - Bon Iver, Bon Iver Between debut album For Emma, Forever Ago to this year’s self-titled masterpiece, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon went from being “the guy who recorded an album alone in the woods” to “the guy who recorded an album in the woods with all of his friends.” Vernon proved just what he was capable of on a larger budget, crafting an album that feels both local and universal, tragic yet life-affirming. Watch Bon Iver’s classic “Holocene”:
4. Eleanor Friedberger - Last Summer The sister half of The Fiery Furnaces has always been the enticingly mysterious side, and it’s never been quite known what her input is on the Furnaces records compared to her brother Matthew’s input. If the warm and bright Last Summer is any indication, then it can be assumed that Eleanor is responsible for most of the Furnaces’ signature charm. This summer was dominated by the sunshine pop stunner, Last Summer. Watch “My Mistakes”:
5. EMA - Past Life Martyred Saints There was lots of talk of 90’s nostalgia throughout 2011, with bands like Yuck and Girls getting most of that attention, but it was perhaps EMA (Erika M. Anderson) who truly fit the 90’s description yet carried an extra hit of 90’s radicalism that famously set fire to that particular decade. Past Life Martyred Saints is a one-girl riot, yet feels much bigger than its 90s riot grrrl counterparts. If the 90’s truly are back, then EMA is definitely more Kurt than Courtney. Check out an FYM favorite- Watch “California”:
6. Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost Girls used 2011 and their sophomore full-length to essentially set into stone their reign as today’s premiere rock and roll saviors. It’s getting more and more difficult to pinpoint bands who consistently release rock music on the same scale as Girls tracks like “Forgiveness” and “Vomit”. Christopher Owens is the voice of the generation who doesn’t know it has a voice. Watch “Honey Bunny”:
7. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake A lot of people, forYoungModerns included, believed that the legendary PJ Harvey had finally found her true voice in the quieter, more delicate sound she exhibited on her previous album, White Chalk. For a follow-up, she perfected that sound even further, fusing stripped-down folk rock with haunting lyrical imagery about the British experience during World War I. Check out PJ Harvey’s “Written on the Forehead”:
8. Tim Hecker - Ravedeath, 1972 Ambient master Tim Hecker’s 2011 album Ravedeath, 1972, recorded over the course of one day in Iceland, provided the icy, harrowing soundtrack to a year that was just as dreary and dark for lots of people. Listen to “In the Fog”:
9. Radiohead - The King of LimbsWhen Radiohead dropped The King of Limbs early in 2011, the band was met with a mostly new phenomenon facing them: haters. People desperate to have the edgiest opinion quickly trashed this album with the hopes that they can be seen as somebody with delusions of cutting edge ideas. The problem with that is that the songs of The King of Limbs are some of the best of Radiohead’s career (especially high-flying opener “Bloom”). The only problem with this album is that, at a mere eight tracks, it’s a short listen. Nonetheless, Radiohead still is nothing to fuck with. Listen to “Bloom”:
10. Colin Stetson - New History Warfare Volume 2: Judges FYM favorite Colin Stetson’s second full-length album is the greatest soundtrack to the apocalypse since Johnny Cash’s “The Man Comes Around”. The avant garde saxophonist uses every ounce of strength and every aspect of his bass saxophones to craft his unique sound. Not only is Judges an extraordinary listen, but Stetson also rounded out his year by continuing his collaborations and tours with the likes of Arcade Fire and Bon Iver. Check out FYM’s interview with Colin Stetson HERE! Listen to “Lord I Just Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes”:
11. tUnE-yArDs - W H O K I L L W H O K I L L, the 2011 album released by tUnE-yArDs, proves that you can teach an old dog new tricks by being one of the cleverest and most original sounding folk albums in years. Merrill Garbus’ loose, funky folk sound is so enticingly peculiar that it makes the freak folk movement from a few years back seem pretty tame today. Check out another FYM video fav- Watch “Bizness”:
12. Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Unknown Mortal OrchestraWe’re still trying to pin down a genre to label the debut album from these New Zealanders-turned-Portland, Oregoners. At its weird core, it’s one of the best lo-fi, psychedelic rock albums to arrive in quite some time. Listen to UMO’s “How Can U Love Me”:
13. Yuck: Yuck Yuck, the best band of the 90’s who just happened to have members who were probably born in the 90’s, rode 2011 on the heels of their debut album that, for me, went from being a seemingly stale-sounding rock record in a time of synthesizers, to (after about a million Yuck addiction-aided listens) being a pretty huge statement saying that maybe loud guitars and classically catchy hooks are the shit these days. Check out our final video fav- Watch “Rubber”: