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> RWG's Top 100 Albums of 2011
DiAnAmItE4LiFe
post Dec 22nd 2011, 1:28 AM
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I LOVE your comments on Watch the Throne... everything is so accurate. roll.gif lmao at the part about Ron Paul supporters lmao.gif But yeah, I feel the album as a whole is a LITTLE overrated. I like all of Kanye's albums more than this one. haha.gif My favorites are Lift Off, Why I Love You, Made in America, and Welcome to the Jungle.

As far as Ceremonials goes, I still need to listen to it more. haha.gif But I LOVE Lover to Lover. I definitely recommend Lungs though, especially Cosmic Love (IMO her best song).

This post has been edited by DiAnAmItE4LiFe: Dec 22nd 2011, 1:29 AM


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tireswing
post Dec 22nd 2011, 1:38 PM
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Commenting on the ones I've listened to!

100. I found it to be utterly unlistenable, tbh. Love Lou Reed and appreciate and respect Metallica, but together? No.
99. I'll always like Death Cab. It was certainly not their best, but it was a solid effort from them.
97. I love her voice but her songs tend to leave me a little cold. She's talented, though, and has a ton of potential.
96. Haven't listened to this yet but I'm STOKED for the movie and the score looks to be amazing.
95. Love She & Him, so therefore I love this. A nice, fun Christmas album. And yes, I totally did get my mom into them. haha.gif
91. If this is indeed their last album, they went out on a high note.
90. I really like Cut Copy, but I see where you're coming from on their latest being disappointing. Still a fan, though.
88. Recently got into them. I'm definitely a fan, and I don't mind not understanding their lyrics.
86. Downloaded this a few weeks ago but I need to listen to it more to get a real feel for it. I like it, though.
85. My personal favorite of the year, tbh.
84. It doesn't quite live up to the massive hype and expectations, but it's definitely awesome.
83. Not my favorite Wilco album (that would be Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, obvs), but still pretty great.


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RWG
post Dec 22nd 2011, 5:33 PM
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QUOTE(*Wallace @ Dec 21st 2011, 9:32 PM) *

Ooh yes, I listened to some of this earlier and I do like that song. yes.gif It's def more instant liking than SIO, which took awhile to grow on me. Yeah my mother likes K-Os so that's how I know of them. Shocking, I bet. roll2.gif I liked some of the songs you posted from him though.

You're welcome. They are great write ups, although I don't know most of the music. haha.gif

That's awesome that your mom likes k-os. Mine would be like "wtf is this ****?"

No worries. Hopefully recognizing a couple a segment keeps your interest. thumbsup.gif
QUOTE(DiAnAmItE4LiFe @ Dec 21st 2011, 10:28 PM) *

I LOVE your comments on Watch the Throne... everything is so accurate. roll.gif lmao at the part about Ron Paul supporters lmao.gif But yeah, I feel the album as a whole is a LITTLE overrated. I like all of Kanye's albums more than this one. haha.gif My favorites are Lift Off, Why I Love You, Made in America, and Welcome to the Jungle.

As far as Ceremonials goes, I still need to listen to it more. haha.gif But I LOVE Lover to Lover. I definitely recommend Lungs though, especially Cosmic Love (IMO her best song).

You have an interesting list of favourites from Watch the Throne. Everyone here knows "Ni**as in Paris," and the "deep" fans know "Otis."

I'll definitely be checking out Lungs in greater depth shortly.

QUOTE(tireswing @ Dec 22nd 2011, 10:38 AM) *

Commenting on the ones I've listened to!

100. I found it to be utterly unlistenable, tbh. Love Lou Reed and appreciate and respect Metallica, but together? No.
99. I'll always like Death Cab. It was certainly not their best, but it was a solid effort from them.
97. I love her voice but her songs tend to leave me a little cold. She's talented, though, and has a ton of potential.
96. Haven't listened to this yet but I'm STOKED for the movie and the score looks to be amazing.
95. Love She & Him, so therefore I love this. A nice, fun Christmas album. And yes, I totally did get my mom into them. haha.gif
91. If this is indeed their last album, they went out on a high note.
90. I really like Cut Copy, but I see where you're coming from on their latest being disappointing. Still a fan, though.
88. Recently got into them. I'm definitely a fan, and I don't mind not understanding their lyrics.
86. Downloaded this a few weeks ago but I need to listen to it more to get a real feel for it. I like it, though.
85. My personal favorite of the year, tbh.
84. It doesn't quite live up to the massive hype and expectations, but it's definitely awesome.
83. Not my favorite Wilco album (that would be Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, obvs), but still pretty great.

Nice. I'm glad you mostly agree.

Yankee Foxtrot Hotel is an incredible album. yes.gif

I'll have the next segment up tonight.


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RWG
post Dec 23rd 2011, 5:40 AM
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80. Oh Fortune
Dan Mangan
Arts and Crafts Productions Inc.


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I was only introduced to Dan Mangan’s music this year, but from what I’ve heard, Oh Fortune is his “fullest” sounding album to date. A Beirut-like voice is at every song’s forefront while orchestral backgrounds complete with light electric licks and acoustic strumming provide beautifully complementary backgrounds. Mangan's sound is solid, and the album is also emotionally rangy, with “Rows of Houses” lyrically resembling Arcade Fire’s serious track “The Suburbs”; “About as Helpful as You Can Be Without Being Any Help at All” exuding a light, majestic playfulness; “Regarding Death and Dying” carrying a heavy, chamber music feel; and “Starts with Them, Ends With Us” reflecting a mellow median. The National Post’s David Berry describes is as full of “meaning, weight, beauty, [and] humour,” which sounds about right to be, though it does drag at times.

Recommended tracks: “Rows of Houses” "About as Helpful as You Can Be Without Being Any Help at All" “Regarding Death and Dying” “Starts with Them, Ends with Us”

79. Eureka
Mother Mother
Last Gang Records Inc.


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On Eureka, Canadian quintet Mother Mother makes a blatant artistic manoeuvre in jumping from the more stripped-back brand of indie rock heard on their first two albums to the hard-hitting, energetic rock and roll heard here. Such can be derived from “The Stand,” the chatty and infectious talk-back that establishes the group as one of the few post-90s rock acts that can still make simultaneous male-female vocal tandems cool. Vocalists Ryan and Molly Guldemond (brother and sister) have stringy- and sweet- sounding voices respectively that prove complementary and add a certain stringiness to their more upbeat numbers. The album falters on some of the softer numbers (“Getaway,” “Born in a Flash”), and something about the nature of this album suggests that Mother Mother is still maturing and will get even better. For the time being, they can pride themselves on a knack of finding the very spot where cool meets catchy. “Original Spin” and “Oleander” exemplify this, and “Baby Don’t Dance” sounds a bit like Pixies. Calm down, I said a bit.

Recommended tracks: “The Stand” “Baby Don’t Dance” “Oleander” “Original Spin”

78. Collider
Sam Roberts Band
Secret Brain Inc.


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Since 2003’s We Were Born in a Flame, an instant and enduring Canadian classic, Sam Roberts has been known as a staple in terms of Canadian rock. The conservative-sounding Collider is not his most emphatic work, but its consistent brand of amplified folk rock can’t be described as anything short of solid. The album maintains a healthy tempo that is upbeat yet mellow, and catchy riffs and Roberts’ always-catchy strum patterns work together fluidly. No hits here, but the songs are stylistically consistent from start to finish, and the album as a whole connotes a sense of Bob Dylan.

Recommended tracks: "Let It In" "Without a Map" "I Feel You"

77. Audio, Video, Disco
Justice
Ed Banger Records


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French house duo Justice describes their second full-length album as lighter and more of a daytime album than their first, , but I’d argue Audio, Video, Disco’s best moments are the ones that sound more-suited to the way the band describes the first. None of the lighter sounding songs—which are more prominent on this album—have the same sense of fun as the ones on , like the chatter-filled “D.A.N.C.E.,” do. Some of the lighter-sounding tracks don’t quite fit into the band’s vision of a “daytime” album, and it seems obvious to the most moderate Justice fans that they are a night-time band. Notwithstanding, I adore “Horsepower,” a tech-y, face-melting jam of electro and stadium rock that wouldn’t sound out of place on Daft Punk’s Alive 2007. The album’s most popular track is “Civilization,” which everyone should recognize from a recent Adidas commercial. The title track invents a bright kind of Gothic, and “On’n’On,” sounding like Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” strays in a similar direction.

Recommended tracks: “Civilization” “Horsepower” “On’n’On”

76. David Comes to Life
F*cked Up
Matador


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I don’t particularly care for hardcore punk, but even Mary Poppins has to give credit to F*cked Up when considering the widespread success they’ve achieved through such a sonically-polarizing style of music. The band’s album The Chemistry of Common Life won the 2009 Polaris Award (a “best Canadian indie album” award, of sorts), and David Comes to Life earned them a 2011 nomination while cracking the top 100 chart releases in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., an impressive feat for a hardcore band. Yet as off-putting as hardcore music can be, even to fans of other specific subgenres, outside of the ‘80s, hardcore doesn’t get much easier to listen to than this. Vocalist Damian Abraham’s growling creates sharp contrast with the band’s melodramatic riffs and rhythms that range from intricately layered songs to simple three- or four-power chord cycles. F*cked Up’s warm brand of hardcore is sharp, thoughtful, intelligent, and most notably, marketable while uncompromising. Musically, they’ve come up with a formula that is nothing short of genius, but beyond that, the marketability of David Comes to Life can probably be attributed to the fact the album is nothing more than a simple love story at heart.

Recommended tracks: “The Other Shoe” “Truth I Know” “Queen of Hearts”

75. Temporary Resident
Imaginary Cities
Hidden Pony Records


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There aren’t too many bands out there who can brag about going on tour with the Pixies following the release of their debut album. With their role on storied godfathers of modern rock’s tour combined with an album that topped campus charts everywhere and received considerable airplay on CBC Radio Three, Imaginary Cities looks to be off to a flying start. The album’s centrepiece is “Hummingbird,” the catchy and dreamy pop single responsible for the majority of the band’s success. It’s hardly the only band’s poppier-sounding song (“That’s Where It’s At Sam,” “Temporary Resident”), but it hardly tells the album’s whole story. Temporary Resident is, at times, melancholic (“Calm Before the Storm,” “Purple Heart”), and at others, psychedelic (“Ride It Out,” “Say You”). Moreover, they’re worth seeing live; vocalist Rusty Matyas may seem like a sweet-sounding little girl recorded, but the size of her voice surprises in an amplified stadium setting. I predict Imaginary Cities will be one of the biggest female-fronted projects in the upcoming years.

Recommended tracks: “Temporary Resident” “Hummingbird” “Calm Before the Storm” “Ride It Out”

74. Hot Sauce Committee Part Two
Beastie Boys
Capitol Records


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I’m not going to make it sound like I know how to judge hip hop, but be it rapping, singing, screaming—Hot Sauce Committee Part Two is simply a cool-sounding piece of work. Rich in bizarre sound effects, the trippy songs are as bold and strange as always and lead one to wonder how Beastie Boys have enjoyed a lucrative 32-year career with music you’d think would be polarizing to a damaging extent. Nothing really lags, but songs “Make Some Noise,” “Ok,” “Say It,” “B-Boys in the Cut” tickle this artificial fan’s fancies, and the collaboration with Santogold, “Don’t Play No Game I Can’t Win,” is also a highlight. There’s never been a whole lot normal with Beastie Boys, but at this point, respecting what they do is almost unconditional.

Recommended tracks: "Make Some Noise" "Don't Play No Game I Can't Win" "Ok" "Say It"

73. Mylo Xyloto
Coldplay
EMI Records Inc.


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Some may disagree, but I’ve never gotten a sense of musical theme or artistic consistency from Coldplay albums (though I know they’re all supposed to be narratives). Rather than veering in a specific direction with a set of songs pertaining to it, each one seems to feature tokens: a few driving “sonic” rock songs and a few piano-based ballads with a range of mellow and experimental tracks sprinkled in between. I’d argue the same is true of Mylo Xyloto, but not only is it a fine collection of tunes in its own right, it demonstrates a level of maturity when you compare it to Coldplay’s earlier albums. I was surprised how much I liked this album based on how average I found “Paradise,” its lead single. Thankfully, the album’s supporting cast more than covers the difference. The best song is “Charlie Brown,” a mosaic of all the little things Coldplay does well; it’s dreamy, sweet, and mellow, but at the same time, shows depth and strength. The upbeat “Hurts like Heaven” is beautifully layered and demonstrates a mastery of guitar work speaking to their progress as musicians. Other highlights include “Us Against the World,” with its memorable climb from soft ballad into a “Where the Streets Have No Name”-like crescendo, and for those who found “Love the Way You Lie” too trashy for their tastes, “Princess of China” is a nicer Rihanna collaboration.

Recommended tracks: “Charlie Brown” “Hurts like Heaven” “Us Against the World” “Princess of China”

72. James Blake
James Blake
Polydor


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I found dubstep way too easy to hate before I heard James Blake. The London artist’s music isn’t void of the obnoxious drum patterns and heavy bass lines over which some croon and other vomit, but in either event, it’s buffered by a voice that is rich, pure, and soulful. Blake’s cover of Feist’s “A Limit to Your Love” is riveting, showcasing both the material, electronic elements of his music (dubstep) and a beautiful and natural aspect in his voice. It exemplifies the cover artist’s adage of “taking a song and making it your own” in the truest sense of the phrase. “The Willhelm Scream” is equally rich and sexy, while “Give Me My Month” showcases his voice in a purer way. The rest of the album is less R&B and more dubstep—polarizing, in other words—but we’ll see if the three songs I start you off with serve as enough of a gateway.

Recommended tracks: “A Limit to Your Love” “The Willhelm Scream” “Give Me My Month”

71. Born This Way
Lady Gaga
Interscope Records


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Trying to judge Lady Gaga isn’t worth anyone’s time; everyone has an opinion on her, and arguing for or against can easily be done. While I don’t like a lot of things about her (off-stage personality, attempting weird through copy-cat, dress style, etc.), I do give her part marks for at least being a reason for debate in terms of top 40 artists. Everyone agrees that Kesha is trashy but fun, that Flo Rida is a bad rapper with catchy songs, and that Kanye West is unlikeable but good. With a palpable veneer, Lady Gaga is a different creature. Undoubtedly talented (everything else is doubtable), she deserves credit for stirring the pot the way she does and, moreover, for having a cause she actually cares about (gay rights). In terms of the album, I’d say I respect Born This Way a bit more than her “earlier” (I do think it’s a better idea for someone so polarizing to leave more of a gap between albums) music. I love the roughness of “Judas” and would call it my favourite song of hers. “You and I” may be her first hit not designed for the club and a success at that. And “The Edge of Glory” delivers a universal sense of euphoria and triumph to which no audience is immune—a truly great pop song. I find the track “Born This Way” descends into a kind of mimicking I’d consider dangerous in the way it verges on plagiarism, and the middle portion of the album seems low-brow. She isn’t my ideal pop star, but she is where she is on my list because she’s the most powerful singer in pop music today, because you can't have a conversation about music in 2011 without including her, and because she's gotten where she is with a greater level of talent than most top 40 artists nowadays need.

Recommended tracks: "Judas" "You and I" "The Edge of Glory"


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Starry_Night
post Dec 23rd 2011, 9:49 AM
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I love Mylo Xlyoto, I like Collider
I like Born This Way


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TiredOfSex
post Dec 23rd 2011, 10:04 AM
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Hadn't heard Imaginary Cities before. I'm liking what I hear though. Thanks.


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#jeah
post Dec 23rd 2011, 11:48 AM
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I think Born This Way would have been a lot better for me if Gaga didn't go so crazy over it before it was even released. She was calling it the "best album of the decade!!!11" and then when I heard it I was like...oh.


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dance629
post Dec 23rd 2011, 1:04 PM
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You pretty much summarized Lady Gaga up pretty well in your commentary. I always thought the way she functioned as a pop star/singer to be so strange among everyone else. Overall, I think Born This Way is a good album, over-excessive but good and daring.

I also love Ceremonials, Watch the Throne, Mylo Xyloto to an extent, and James Blake. wub.gif

And I'm expecting Wounded Rhymes to make a very high appearance based on what I've seen so far. shifty.gif


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*Wallace
post Dec 23rd 2011, 5:18 PM
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QUOTE(RWG @ Dec 22nd 2011, 5:33 PM) *

That's awesome that your mom likes k-os. Mine would be like "wtf is this ****?"

LOL I love it. haha.gif

74: I did not know the Beastie Boys released music this year. haha.gif I like some of their songs although not sure I'd call myself a fan. But yeah I am liking these songs you posted from them.

73: Ooh yay I know of this Coldplay album but never listened to anything on it besides their singles. I heard a bit of the first two songs and those are okay. But oooh did not know they did a song with Rihanna. shocked.gif But yeah I like "Princess of China" the most. And yeah love Rihanna's parts the most. But this is a cool song. yes.gif

71: Yay a Top 40 album I know of. w00t.gif So Lady Gaga, someone who I love, was kind of hit or miss with me with this era, although I haven't listened to this full album. But I really like your write-up on her and this album. yes.gif She's definitely very talented and yeah I just understand what you're saying heree overall. I like Judas although not my favorite song of hers but I do love BTW/You and I/TEOG. yes.gif Oooh and since she isn't your ideal pop star, I'm curious as to who is closest to being your ideal pop star? shocked.gif *pushes you to say Beyoncé* lol just kidding. giggle.gif


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Stormiya
post Dec 23rd 2011, 9:29 PM
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Holy Indie!!! haha.gif I haven't listened to many of these (I don't think I've listened to 100 new albums this year either)

Pretty impressive work though. I'll comment on the one so far that I can comment on haha.gif I am actually the opposite of you on GaGa. I loved her when she first came out and even thought finally a pop princess who is worthy of being refered to as Madonna's heir. (Before her it was Britney Spears and that drove me nuts) She had her hangs up like any human before this album and would claim originality when she blantanly got it from somewhere else but the single "Born This Way" was as you put it verging on plagerism. From there for me...she became too much: her appearance at the grammys in that egg, the endless need to mention gays in every conversation! She really has me starting to think that she is purposely mimicing Madonna's career because Madonna's Gay fan base has never abandoned her. Like I question how genunine she is at this point.(Originally I thought it was cool she started off at the NYC Gay Clubs like Madonna...now I think she started there for a reason) I found this album to be over the top and boring. It feels like much like her persona she is trying too hard. I think I like a total of 3 songs from this album? Maybe 4.


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RWG
post Dec 26th 2011, 11:41 PM
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QUOTE(Starry_Night @ Dec 23rd 2011, 6:49 AM) *

I love Mylo Xlyoto, I like Collider
I like Born This Way

Cool. I feel like Collider was hardly marketed for the fact everyone knows him but few know of the album.

QUOTE(TiredOfSex @ Dec 23rd 2011, 7:04 AM) *

Hadn't heard Imaginary Cities before. I'm liking what I hear though. Thanks.

Nice. YW.

QUOTE(aag1010 @ Dec 23rd 2011, 8:48 AM) *

I think Born This Way would have been a lot better for me if Gaga didn't go so crazy over it before it was even released. She was calling it the "best album of the decade!!!11" and then when I heard it I was like...oh.

I think people tend to see her as up her own ass a bit more with this album.

QUOTE(dance629 @ Dec 23rd 2011, 10:04 AM) *
And I'm expecting Wounded Rhymes to make a very high appearance based on what I've seen so far. shifty.gif

We'll see. shifty.gif

QUOTE(*Wallace @ Dec 23rd 2011, 2:18 PM) *

LOL I love it. haha.gif

74: I did not know the Beastie Boys released music this year. haha.gif I like some of their songs although not sure I'd call myself a fan. But yeah I am liking these songs you posted from them.

73: Ooh yay I know of this Coldplay album but never listened to anything on it besides their singles. I heard a bit of the first two songs and those are okay. But oooh did not know they did a song with Rihanna. shocked.gif But yeah I like "Princess of China" the most. And yeah love Rihanna's parts the most. But this is a cool song. yes.gif

71: Yay a Top 40 album I know of. w00t.gif So Lady Gaga, someone who I love, was kind of hit or miss with me with this era, although I haven't listened to this full album. But I really like your write-up on her and this album. yes.gif She's definitely very talented and yeah I just understand what you're saying heree overall. I like Judas although not my favorite song of hers but I do love BTW/You and I/TEOG. yes.gif Oooh and since she isn't your ideal pop star, I'm curious as to who is closest to being your ideal pop star? shocked.gif *pushes you to say Beyoncé* lol just kidding. giggle.gif

I don't know a load about Beastie Boys either beyond the singles, but I really liked this album and have come to respect them a lot.

I'm glad I lead you to the Coldplay/Rhianna collaboration.

My Gaga write is so rambly, but thanks. tongue.gif We'll see about Beyonce. shocked.gif
QUOTE(Stormiya @ Dec 23rd 2011, 6:29 PM) *

Holy Indie!!! haha.gif I haven't listened to many of these (I don't think I've listened to 100 new albums this year either)

Pretty impressive work though. I'll comment on the one so far that I can comment on haha.gif I am actually the opposite of you on GaGa. I loved her when she first came out and even thought finally a pop princess who is worthy of being refered to as Madonna's heir. (Before her it was Britney Spears and that drove me nuts) She had her hangs up like any human before this album and would claim originality when she blantanly got it from somewhere else but the single "Born This Way" was as you put it verging on plagerism. From there for me...she became too much: her appearance at the grammys in that egg, the endless need to mention gays in every conversation! She really has me starting to think that she is purposely mimicing Madonna's career because Madonna's Gay fan base has never abandoned her. Like I question how genunine she is at this point.(Originally I thought it was cool she started off at the NYC Gay Clubs like Madonna...now I think she started there for a reason) I found this album to be over the top and boring. It feels like much like her persona she is trying too hard. I think I like a total of 3 songs from this album? Maybe 4.

Thanks Rudy. grin.gif

I know what you're saying about her cause. I do think she's being genuine with her support for gay rights, but I think she decided to go all out with it on the second album only because it worked so well for her with her first album, on which the gayness is a bit more subtle. I'd agree that she tries to hard, but again, I do respect her success.


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post Dec 27th 2011, 12:04 AM
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QUOTE(RWG @ Dec 26th 2011, 11:41 PM) *

Cool. I feel like Collider was hardly marketed for the fact everyone knows him but few know of the album.



true, not many know about Collider, unless you're Canadian


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post Dec 27th 2011, 6:56 AM
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70. Wolfroy Goes to Town
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
Drag City


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I first heard Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy this year, not through this album, but through the song “I See a Darkness.” The haunting track’s speaker is drawn to sinister thinking and, using literal lyrics, describes darkness as a sort of demon he "sees" and is unable to block out of an otherwise sunny life. Wolfroy Goes to Town doesn’t feature anything half as riveting but is a thoughtful folk-country album nonetheless. On the singer/songwriter’s sixteenth studio album, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy—the stage name of Will Oldham—uses mostly soft, lullaby-like vocal tones, appropriate finger-plucking acoustic guitars, and light harmonies with backup singers. Oldham has a perfected vintage country sound. Many of the songs have religious undertones, but Oldham writes them in a John Donne-like, self-deprecating manner that appropriates them for more the more secular indie crowd. The album’s highlight is “No Match,” which, while uplifting and upsetting at the same time, seems an objectively nice listen. “Black Captain” and the happier “Quail and Dumplings” are the album’s other strong tracks, but in one listen from start to finish, Wolfroy Goes to Town is a bit boring. Really, anyone wanting a proper introduction to Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy or just in need of a powerful song should check out “I See a Darkness.”

Recommended tracks: “No Match” “Black Captain” “Quail and Dumplings”

69. Deformer
Dog Day
Independent


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I was surprised to learn of how long Dog Day had been around when I researched them after hearing them for the first time this year. They’ve released three full-length albums and a number of related EPs since 2005, yet they aren’t signed to a label and seem to have very little online profiling. Notwithstanding, their music seems well suited to this level of mystery. The married couple of Seth Smith and Nancy Ulrich seem most commonly classified as indie, yet with low-staffed vocals and distorted guitars with fast, tame strum patterns, the music on Deformer connotes itself more to lo-fi and a Sonic Youth-esque brand of grunge. On first listen, Deformer struck me as thorough with no real stylistic ventures, but some songs definitely merited revisiting more than others. This is a band I’ll be sure to follow in upcoming years.

Recommended tracks: “Eurozone” “I Wanna Mix” “Part Girl”

68. Suck It and See
Arctic Monkeys
Domino Recording Company Ltd.


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With an awful title and an album cover that makes a painful stab at The Beatles’ The White Album, Suck It and See fails in terms of superficials. Beyond that? Not bad. Without calling it amazing or terrible, I’d probably slip it in under 2006’s Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not and 2009’s Humbug and above 2007’s Favourite Worst Nightmare, but readers need remind themselves that the Sheffield-based Arctic Monkeys have been one of modern rock radio’s bright spots this century. Suck It and See has been heralded a return to the band’s roots and the “nightlife rock” people loved on their first album. Some of the album’s better songs, such as "Suck It and See," “She’s Thunderstorms,” and “Black Treacle” showcase this, but with more mellow song structures and a dreamier demeanor than songs like “I Bet You Look on the Dance Floor,” which could almost be said to be from the band members’ childhoods. Yet for those who liked the darker, heavier approach the band took on Humbug, tracks like “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair,” “Brick by Brick,” and “All My Own Stunts” make sure the last album’s "full-band" sound, with its distorted riffiness, heavy baselines, very audible drumming, and sinister lyrics remain a part of the Monkeys’ repertoire. This isn't their best album, but it shows both sides of their coin.

Recommended tracks: “Suck It and See” “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” “Brick by Brick” “She’s Thunderstorms”

67. Goodbye Bread
Ty Segall
Drag City


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Ty Segall is a California-based garage rock artist whom, at only 24, some have heralded the subgenre’s wunderkind. Anyone loosely familiar with his music probably knows the song “Girlfriend” from his 2010 sophomore album Melted, which is heavy, loud, distorted, and strange. With Goodbye Bread, Segall matures slightly with songs that fall a bit more nicely on unfamiliar ears. Tracks like “I Can’t Feel It” and “Fine” are more distinguished, so to speak, than anything resembling the less mellow “Girlfriend.” “My Head Explodes,” playing like a slow drive to and over the grand canyon, bases itself around a gradual build and proves a song that “goes somewhere,” a developing singer/songwriter tactic. “Goodbye Bread” is another “easy-sounding” garage rock song that features some of his nicest guitar work in the solo. Notwithstanding, while Goodbye Bread marks some maturation, it doesn’t mark too much. The album is still distorted and obnoxious, and Segall is still a far cry from being tied to the pop label.

Recommended tracks: “My Head Explodes” “I Can’t Feel It” “Fine”

66. Angles
The Strokes
RCA Records


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The Strokes’ 2001 release Is This It? may be my favourite album of the 21st century so far. Its uptempo nature, memorable lyrics, smoky vocals, and authentic take on NYC rock and roll evoke the absolute best night-out memories I have (my legality isn’t nearly as old as the album, but you get the picture). For anyone still hung up on that part of the band’s history, Angles presents a truth that may be hard to accept: the band’s rock and roll days look to be gone. They’ve slid from rock and roll to “indie” indie and thus lost their Lou Reed-esque throwback feel. Lead singer Julian Casablancas has become a family man, sobered up, and quit smoking, resulting in the loss of the rough smokiness that made his voice great in the early years (I’ve always found substances’ affect on rock and roll voices a bit of a catch-22 with regards to health and quality of voice) and, more importantly, the sense of uninhibited youth that went into Is This It? and its successful follow-up Room on Fire. But while Angles may not be the same as what we want to know The Strokes for, it’s not a bad album it its own right. The ten-song, sleek-sounding record draws on the high-tech trippiness one may get from its cover, and features the band's fanciest guitaring in “You’re So Right” and “Taken for a Fool.” Most of the songs work fine at a party, and the album's best songs do maintain a similar sense of gleefulness listeners recognize from the band’s earlier work. But for those of us who hold Is This It? too closely to our hearts, this just isn’t the same.

Recommended tracks: “Taken for a Fool” “Under Cover of Darkness” “You’re So Right”

65. The King Is Dead
The Decemberists
Capitol Records


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I’ve never considered The Decemberists to be a great bad. “The Crane Wife 3” is a beautiful song, and the band has a wide range of other nice-sounding piece, but Colin Meloy’s voice had never really done it for me, and more principally, they’d never really stood out to me as anything unique or interesting. The King Is Dead is not only a recovery from the 2009 disaster The Hazards of Love, but a great artistic manoeuvre. Drawing on fiddles, southern rock influences, patriotism, harmonicas, and jig-like folk structures, the album provides a truly unique conception of an American folk-rock album. As Meloy explains: “If there's anything academic about this record, or me trying to force myself in a direction, it was realising that the last three records were really influenced by the British folk revival [...] this whole world that I was discovering, that I was poring over, learning inside-out. It was a wanting to get away from that. And looking back into more American traditions, reconnecting with more American music." Now that’s something I haven’t heard. It’s The Decemberists’ finally giving themselves their own thing to stand for. Sounding like something off an early-Neil Young album, “Down by the Water,” possibly the band’s rockingest song to date, may also be my favourite song they’ve ever done. The surprisingly patriotic “This Is Why We Fight” is beautiful and undeniably American, while the jiggy “Rox in the Box,” “June Hymn,” and “Calamity Song” reinstate the album’s mission generically. The King Is Dead is something different; I’ve never heard the phrase “American traditionalism” applied to pop or rock music like this before, and I consider it quite smart.

Recommended tracks: “Down by the Water” “This Is Why We Fight” “Rox in the Box” “June Hymn”

64. Torches
Foster the People
Sony Music Entertainment


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For a long time, I hated Foster the People (I didn’t add them to this list until late November). The main reason was the fact I couldn’t get past “Pumped up Kids.” The chorus in particular was agonizing. Every time I heard it, I felt I was the visiting team at a sporting event being taunted by the home fans. But eventually, it got through; I grew to find its particularities (baseline, lyrics, whistling) charming, and I’m thankful for that, as it lead me to a solid-sounding indie rock album. As a whole, I wouldn’t call Torches a mindboggling piece of art, but some songs are microcosms of what could be. Torches is only the debut for the L.A.-based band, and they’ve already have a distinct sound, a major label deal, and staggering popularity; I can’t think of a band that made it bigger so quickly since The Killers. The songs have catchy vocal hooks and are decorated with mostly up-tempo beats and synthesizers. “Helena Beat” and “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls)” are slightly less well-known that the overplayed “Pumped Up Kicks” but better, and “Houdini” is another catchy find. If you too abhor “Pumped Up Kicks,” bear with this album; it’s worth it.

Recommended tracks: “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls)” “Helena Beat” “Houdini” “Pumped Up Kicks”

63. The King of Limbs
Radiohead
Ticker Tape Ltd.


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Despite its critical acclaim and record sales, Radiohead’s electonica stint has probably been going on long enough to criticize it. It’s simply easy to pine for the plethora of great, accessible rock songs they wrote for The Bends and OK Computer and somewhat off-putting in the way they turned their back on it. Many who love Radiohead’s more recent albums as much as they loved Kid A are often accused of being obsessed dummies who describe the band with hyperbole. Frustration regarding the band’s reluctance to return to radio rock is well documented, and their emphasis on anti-commercialism started to get a bit desperate when they implemented the “pay what you think is fair” marketing scheme for their last album, In Rainbows (they didn't do it this time). Despite these, I have respect for the success Radiohead has achieved while making exactly the kind of music they want, but I actually like certain things about The King of Limbs. The first few songs are highly rhythmic and seem to be written for genuine Radiohead fans. The rest is more accessible for me and (likely) you. “Little by Little,” glory to God, even has a chorus; I’d call it the ideal split of emphasis between melody and rhythm. Additionally, “Codex” is a beautiful song, and the subdued “Give Up the Ghost” is another recommendation for those wanting to stay clear of the drum and bass. These are terrific tracks, but I skip the rest because I find it highly redundant by this point.

Recommended tracks: “Little by Little” “Codex” “Give Up the Ghost”

62. Departing
The Rural Alberta Advantage
Paper Break


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Headlined with a premise of “songs about growing up in Alberta,” The Rural Alberta Advantage sound like a dull band. However, I thought their first album had a couple gems (most notably, “Don’t Haunt This Place”), and the follow-up has many. Departing showcases both vocalist Nils Edenloff’s knack for writing rangy, memorable melodies and his ability to sing them; such can be heard on “Tornado ’87,” a touching song about enduring Edmonton’s 1987 tornado, and “Two Lovers,” the romantic and melodically wavy leadoff that invites comparisons to Neutral Milk Hotel. Beyond interesting melodies, the band’s technical soundness is reinforced by great drum work on nearly every song. But The Rural Alberta Advantage is not all about technicalities. At the heart of their music is simple and sincere meaning about life and love; Departing plays like an audiotape to a great bildungsroman.

Recommended tracks: “Tornado ‘87” “Two Lovers” “Muscle Relaxants”

61. The Party Ain't Over
Wanda Jackson
Third Man Records


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With thirty-three albums under her name since 1958, Wanda Jackson has earned her uncontested status as “Queen of Rockabilly.” Produced by Jack White, The Party Ain’t Over is, in a nutshell, a 1950s party. It features an authenticity that creates an obvious partition between modern artists catalogued as “throwback” or “vintage” and artists who actually lived through and know about the era after which they style their music. The early segment of the album is the true rockabilly side: “Shakin’ All Over,” “Rip It Up,” “Busted,” and “Nervous Breakdown” showcase a wildness and distortion listeners I’m tempted to attribute to Jack White’s production, but I’d hate to sell Jackson’s songwriting short. “Like a Baby” showcases a rough blueness that sounds like Etta James gone mean. Other shades on the album are more toned down and lend themselves to surf rock and country rock, both of which fall under rockabilly’s umbrella. Furthermore, Jackson establishes herself as a professional with two solid covers: Bob Dylan’s “Thunder on the Mountain” and Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good.” All in all, I love this album. It’s a great deal of fun.

Recommended tracks: “Shakin’ All Over” “Like a Baby” “You Know I’m No Good” “Rip It Up”

This post has been edited by RWG: Dec 27th 2011, 3:18 PM


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post Dec 28th 2011, 2:17 PM
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King of Limbs is a good album
I love Under Cover of Darkness happy.gif


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post Dec 28th 2011, 2:47 PM
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Born This Way w00t.gif That's probably the only whole album I've heard this year. fear.gif


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post Dec 28th 2011, 5:12 PM
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QUOTE(RWG @ Dec 22nd 2011, 5:33 PM) *

You have an interesting list of favourites from Watch the Throne. Everyone here knows "Ni**as in Paris," and the "deep" fans know "Otis."


Yeah, I guess I do! haha.gif Otis is one of my favorites as well.

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Yay Mylo Xyloto! I'll be honest, it's my least favorite Coldplay album so far. It's between this and X&Y, but X&Y does have a few gems on it. Your comment about artistic consistency is really interesting, and I guess I sorta agree with you except for Viva la Vida. That might be why it's my favorite Coldplay album. haha.gif But I love your review of this! yes.gif

I actually really like Born this Way, despite how annoying she acts a lot of the time. haha.gif Judas is great and so underrated. But most of the my favorite songs on the album aren't singles (Heavy Metal Lover, Bad Kids, Electric Chapel, Scheiße, etc.), which isn't that unusual for me, but still. The Edge of Glory is fabulous too. I basically agree with everything you said!

Ooh, Torches is probably my favorite album that I heard this year. wub.gif I bought it the week it came out, and I'm so glad I did. LOL I adore Pumped Up Kicks but I'm glad you got past your hatred for it! The bassline is what makes the song for me. I love every song on the album, but my other favorites are probably Houdini, Call It What You Want, Helena Beat, Warrant, and Don't Stop.

Still need to listen to that Radiohead album! I doubt I'll like it as much as In Rainbows, but idk.


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post Dec 28th 2011, 6:56 PM
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Stanning for Torches. bye1.gif


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post Dec 28th 2011, 6:59 PM
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QUOTE(aag1010 @ Dec 28th 2011, 6:56 PM) *

Stanning for Torches. bye1.gif


Also stanning


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post Dec 30th 2011, 6:35 PM
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QUOTE(DiAnAmItE4LiFe @ Dec 28th 2011, 2:12 PM) *

Yeah, I guess I do! haha.gif Otis is one of my favorites as well.

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Yay Mylo Xyloto! I'll be honest, it's my least favorite Coldplay album so far. It's between this and X&Y, but X&Y does have a few gems on it. Your comment about artistic consistency is really interesting, and I guess I sorta agree with you except for Viva la Vida. That might be why it's my favorite Coldplay album. haha.gif But I love your review of this! yes.gif

I actually really like Born this Way, despite how annoying she acts a lot of the time. haha.gif Judas is great and so underrated. But most of the my favorite songs on the album aren't singles (Heavy Metal Lover, Bad Kids, Electric Chapel, Scheiße, etc.), which isn't that unusual for me, but still. The Edge of Glory is fabulous too. I basically agree with everything you said!

Ooh, Torches is probably my favorite album that I heard this year. wub.gif I bought it the week it came out, and I'm so glad I did. LOL I adore Pumped Up Kicks but I'm glad you got past your hatred for it! The bassline is what makes the song for me. I love every song on the album, but my other favorites are probably Houdini, Call It What You Want, Helena Beat, Warrant, and Don't Stop.

Still need to listen to that Radiohead album! I doubt I'll like it as much as In Rainbows, but idk.

I never really listened to Viva la Vida in full. I remember the only thing that stood out to me on X&Y was "Fix You," but maybe that's my favourite song by them.

QUOTE(aag1010 @ Dec 28th 2011, 3:56 PM) *

Stanning for Torches. bye1.gif

What does "stanning" mean? tongue.gif Sorry, slow over here.


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post Dec 31st 2011, 1:38 AM
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60. Yucca
Milk Maid
Independent


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Yucca shows how quickly subgenres and trends come and go in popular music. The debut release from Milk Maid—the solo project of Martin Cohen, the lead singer of Manchester-based Nine Black Alps—revisits the brand of grungy indie rock for which the ‘90s is famous (he’s been compared to Guided by Voices). The guitars and Cohen’s less-than-stellar vocals give it a garage rock sound, but the album’s better songs use pop structures. Tracks like “Dead Wrong,” “Can’t You See,” and “Girl” may have all the makings of ‘90s stoner anthems (“Dead Wrong” sounds like something you’d find on Green Day’s Dookie), but catchy melodies and reserved guitar solos mimic the structure off of which pop-rock and pop-punk have become prominent today. Hearing an album that looks backwards, but not too far backwards, is different; Yucca isn’t terribly creative, but the idea of bringing a style back the second it leaves proves refreshing (can you imagine Amy Winehouse doing revamping Motown in the '70s?) Yucca goes back to a time its fans can talk about without reading about, and the songs are easy to enjoy.

Recommended tracks: “Dead Wrong” “Can’t You See” “Girl”

59. Lights of Endangered Species
Matthew Good
Universal Music Canada


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Matthew Good was one of my favourite artists growing up. Avalanche, from 2003, ought to go down as one of the greatest Canadian rock albums ever (“Weapon” probably cracks my top twenty songs of all time). As a whole, I don’t think the nine-track Lights of Endangered Species holds a candle to Avalanche, but it depicts a more mature artist. “Zero Orchestra” is brilliant and pulls most of this album’s load; brass, heavy drumming, and harmonicas define the weighty, foot-stomping single, which sounds like his most intense ever. I love the shaky, quivering quality of his voice on the lines, "Gonna give you some ground to shake and zero orchestra." The rest of the album can have an effect that ranges from dreary and forgettable to breathtaking depending on the listener. I personally didn’t find it overly interesting, but I did find “Non Populace” a beautiful night-time song and “Lights of Endangered Species” a good summary of the album’s musical elements (mostly the use of horns). When you listen to interviews with Matthew Good, it’s pretty clear that he isn’t trying to write another Avalanche, and on this one, he doesn’t. But it’s distinguished, and it contains an absolutely killer moment.

Recommended tracks: “Zero Orchestra” “Non Populace” “Lights of Endangered Species”

58. The Rip Tide
Beirut
Carpark Records


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The Rip Tide is Zach Condon’s fourth studio album as Beirut. More than with any generic or stylistic conventions, the album is defined through a mood; Condon’s clear tone exudes happiness, and the heavy though sensible use of percussion connotes a kind of majestic storybook wonderland. The album’s regal feel is consistent throughout the album but most palpable in “East Harlem” (ironically enough), “Payne’s Bay,” and “The Rip Tide.” A Depeche Mode-like synthiness describes “Santa Fe,” which seems to be the album’s most popular track, and Condon’s voice and ukulele strumming are predominate in “Port of Call.” While void of anything riveting or genius, The Rip Tide ties indie sensibilities into a kind of childhood wonder. It may be the most joyful album of 2011.

Recommended tracks: “East Harlem” “The Rip Tide” “Santa Fe”

57. Whitehorse
Whitehorse
Six Shooter Records


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Whitehorse is the collaboration of two established solo careers in folk singer-songwriters Melissa McLelland and Luke Doucet, but as the self-titled debut naming suggests, it is not a side project. "People waiting for our next solo albums are going to be waiting a long time," says Doucet. Based on their eight-track debut, I can't condemn that. The married couple’s sound is best described vintage country; with clear female vocals and crunchy, southern-sounding blues guitars, the duo shares a chemistry not unlike that of She & Him (“Night Owls” sounds a lot like Zooey Deschanel at her bluest). The main difference is that the vocals are largely shared (Doucet sings more in Whitehorse than M. Ward does in She & Him) and that it hangs more around country’s perimeter than She & Him’s music does; parts are more rock and roll, others are clean and cutesy, and some are strictly more CMT. “Emerald Isle” best exemplify the pair’s conjoined songwriting, and their cover of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm on Fire" speaks to their innocuous branding of old-fashioned country western. The album also revamps some of the artists' respective solo’s work. Doucet’s song “Broken” is given a fuller sound, and the duo’s revisitation of McLelland’s “Passenger 24,” which may be my favourite track on the album, is a gritty display of Americana that sounds like The Cramps’ “Human Fly” meeting Lucinda Williams.

Recommended tracks: “I’m on Fire” “Passenger 24” “Emerald Isle”

56. Underneath the Pine
Toro y Moi
Carpark Records


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Toro y Moi isn’t the kind of thing I usually listen to, but Underneath the Pine features some fine tracks that are easy to appreciate. Using synths and electronic drums, Toro y Moi (stage name for Chadzwick Bundick) is known for a French house/pop sound—despite being from South Carolina. The album is upbeat and danceable at times; rich in electric keyboards and horns, “New Beat” is the album’s disco-like centrepiece that is undeniably indie party (“Still Sound” is similar, though not as good). Personally, I’m more drawn the darker parts of the album that resemble Blonde Redhead’s industrial European themes. “Divina” and “Before I’m Done” are both beautifully stripped back and exude a weird kind of romanticism you wouldn’t find on this side of the pond; in that sense, Underneath the Pine is better suited to relaxing than it is to partying. Other than that, I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to this kind of artist, but parts of the album lagged to me. That said, there are moments that make clear to everyone why a certain style of hipster du jour likes this brand of electronic “chillwave." In the right moment, it's quite refreshing.

Recommended tracks: “New Beat” “Divina” “Before I’m Done”

55. Out of Love
Mister Heavenly
Sub Pop Records


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The thing about supergroups is that they don’t usually end up being as good as they sound. Them Crooked Vultures' album was decent, but when you hear members of Led Zeppelin, Foo Fighters and Nirvana, and Queens of the Stoneage are making an album together, you expect the second coming. Paul Rodgers and Queen wasn’t any aggregate of greatness the two’s fame. Supernova? Please. Mister Heavenly is an indie supergroup comprising Nicholas Thorburn (Islands, The Unicorns), Ryan Kattner aka Honus Honus (Man Man), and Joe Plummer (Modest Mouse, The Shins). Sounds great, but for the most part, I’d say it falls into the same category most supergroups do: professional, passable, and a bit all over the place. The album opens with “Bronx Sniper,” a hard-hitting, noisy rock tune that instantly leads one to believe in this project’s potential; the riffs and song’s structure are the rockingest on the album, the lyrics are sharp, and Kattner’s vocals on the chorus sound more firey than they do on Man Man’s own music. The rest of the album features some songs that are solid and others that are thoughtful, but it goes all over the map to the point at which you question what the point of the project is. “Harm You” and “Hold My Hand” are attempts at re-creating the edge in “Bronx Sniper,” but both leave one wondering how songs of that quality slide by three seasons rock veterans. “I Am a Hologram,” “Charlyne,” “Mister Heavenly,” “Pineapple Girl” and “Your Girl” are all good middle-of-the-road indie and ska rock songs that you’d find on prototypical Michael Cera film soundtrack (he plays bass with Mister Heavenly on tour); but on the same album, these songs aren't cohesive yet don’t show versatility. I personally like the catchy melodies and textbook “other guy” narrative in “Your Girl,” but the album probably would have wound up stronger had the band just stuck to one theme (the rock and roll direction in "Bronx Sniper" seems like a smart premise for an album). All and all, I wouldn’t call this project a waste of time. Out of Love is catchy as hell, but with the level of professionalism one expects, it’s a bit clumsy. Moreover, it doesn't seem like they needed each other to make this album; in fact, I'd argue the split-vocals approach wrecks some of the songs, most of which are well suited to the way Honus Honus sings, but not so much to the way Thorburn does.

Recommended tracks: “Bronx Sniper” “Your Girl” “Charlyne” “Mister Heavenly”

54. 20 Odd Years
Buck 65
Buck 65 Music Inc.


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As a celebration to his twenty “odd” years as one of Canada’s strangest and most savvy musicians, Buck 65 (Richard Terfry) brings in the likes of Nick Thorburn (The Unicorns, Islands), Gord Downie (The Tragically Hip), Jenn Grant, Hannah Georges, and Marie-Pierre Arthur to record with him on 20 Odd Years. It’s suiting that such a mosaic of performers should be included on this milestone album; hip-hop by nature, Terfry’s twenty-year career has touched on blues, rock, country, experimental genres, and everything in between. My limited rapping knowledge has never led me to believe he’s a great- or even natural-sounding rap voice, but 20 Odd Years proves creative depth and suggests there are few out there with a more solid pulse on Canadian music than Terfry, who also hosts a radio show on CBC Radio 2. “Gee Whiz,” the track with Nick Thorburn, is a beautiful mosaic of Terfry’s rough choruses, Thorburn’s soft vocal sections, and a smartly mixed chorus with classic voice clippings about love, marriage, and relationships. “Cold Steel Drum” features sexy vocal hooks by Jenn Grant on the choruses, and their sultry cover of Leonard Cohen's “Who by Fire” is more of a traditional duet between the two (Grant has the strongest guest appearances on this album). The wonderfully bizarre “Zombie Delight” is probably the best song without sans-guest, and the bilingualism in “Final Approach” ends the album with a distinctly Canadian sentiment. Buck 65 is a rap class of one, and 20 Odd Years shows what can come of being savvy and creative, knowing your scene, and having good connections.

Recommended tracks: “Cold Steel Drum” (feat. Jenn Grant) “Gee Whiz” (feat. Nick Thorburn) “Who by Fire” (feat. Jenn Grant) “Final Approach” (feat. Marie-Pierre Arthur)

53. Little Hell
City and Colour
Dine Alone Music


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It would have been difficult to imagine this level of finesse coming out of Dallas Green during his days as frontman of screamo/punk band Alexisonfire. His modern rock radio hit “Sleeping Sickness” with Gord Downie showed a slightly more distinguished side as a bare-bones, acoustic folk rock song back in 2008, but Little Hell takes him to another level in terms of polish. For one, I’m not sure there’s a better sounding voice in rock right now; Green’s screaming skills have somehow translated into a rich and silky singing voice with perfect diction and sound vocal control. More to the point, Little Hell is simply in good tastes. Musically, its songs are never overdecorated to the point of excess or underdecorated to the point of boredom or pretentiousness. Basic acoustic strumming formats are accompanied with mysty electric blues guitars (“Fragile Bird,” “Weightless”) organs (“Sorrowing Man”), violin (“Northern Wind”), or Allman Brother-like slides (“We Found Each Other in the Dark”). There’s openness to all instruments and variations on different folk moods, yet the album is stylistically consistent. Green’s attention to detail not only speaks to his hard work but to his dedication to polish. It's obvious he's continually learning. The romantic and breathtaking Little Hell is a promising step in his continued maturation.

Recommended tracks: “Fragile Bird” “We Found Each Other in the Dark” “Sorrowing Man” “Northern Wind”

52. Parallax
Atlas Sound
4AD Records


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Any Deerhunter fans have likely already delved into Atlas Sound, the solo project of Bradford Cox. I haven’t listened to much Deerhunter, but Atlas Sound strikes me as having a more refined sound and a more mature approach; more bluntly, it looks like a case of one band member soaring creatively when freed from the artistic constraints of his band. Think generic college electronica simplified: great premise for songs, but more melodic, less rhythmic, catchier, and a little less pretentious. And think of it made bluesy. In a nutshell, this is Parallax. Influentially, Cox has been described as “omnivorous,” taking into account 1950’s rock and roll (the guitars in “Lightworks” and “Angel Is Broken” showcase this) to more digital, modern trends and everything in between. Moreover, he proves himself to be a much better singer than I ever would have given him credit for based on his work with Deerhunter. A November release, Parallax is an album with which I’m still getting acquainted, but I find myself discovering new things to like about it every time I listen to it. It’s hard to sum up, but I like it. In particular, "Lightworks" is addicting.

Recommended tracks: “Lightworks” “The Shakes” “Parallax” “Amplifiers” “Angel Is Broken”

51. Burst Apart
The Antlers
Frenchkiss Records


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To date, I’ve only followed The Antlers career loosely, but Burst Apart, their fourth studio album, looks to be the one on which they finally perfect their sound. The electronic dreaminess and vocalist Peter Silberman’s falsetto-rich melodies produce a thorough album with five or six brilliant tracks. It’s “themier” than most music tied to the electronic tag; vocal lines are not only highly melodic, but electric keyboards and guitars regularly take the melodic forefront. The subdued “Hounds” has a dark slowness that could have been borrowed from Interpol’s Turn on the Bright Lights, and “Parenthesis,” the album’s first single, is defined by Radiohead-like textures and haunting wailing from Silberman. But the album’s essence lies somewhere between these two in tracks that are rich but toned back, and dreamy but earthy. Tracks like “French Exit” and “I Don’t Want Love” exude this mood clearly, and the throatier “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out” may be the most melodic track (the best technical singing, in any case). This album’s musical formula is concise and luxurious at the same time, and the vocals only add to an already-beautiful album.

Recommended tracks: “French Exit” “I Don’t Want Love” “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out” “Hounds”

This post has been edited by RWG: Dec 31st 2011, 1:40 AM


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