Thursday, December 29, 2011

Burn The Bowery's: 'Favorite Albums of 2011'

So it's that time of year again, LISTS! Where we get to look back and reflect on the music that excited us over the last 12 months.
So I'm going about things a little different this year, I had a clear cut favorite album, the one I definitely listened to the most, but the rest I'm going to just list in alphabetical order. Maybe it's a cop out, but to me there really isn't much of a difference between let's say my number 4 and number 15, or number 7 and number 19, it all depends on mood, place and time really, right? At least that's what I'm sticking to. So without further rambling here's my favorite 20 albums of 2011.
Thanks always for stopping by and Happy New Year to everyone!!

1) We Are Augustines- 'Rise Ye Sunken Ships'
Far and away my most played album of the year. For as heavy and gut wrenching as the subject matter (mental illness & the death of singer Billy McCarthys brother James) the album has an undeniable uplifting spirit and sense of hope. I look at it as a love letter of sorts to those we've lost. Favorite tracks include, "Headlong Into The Abyss" "New Drink for the Old Drunk" and the albums centerpiece, "Book of James."

  Headlong Into The Abyss by We Are Augustines

Heres the best of the rest in alphabetical order:

 Aunt Martha- Norway, ME
One of my favorite finds this year. A magnificent folk/acoustic album, simple and intimate. Almost everyone I played this album for has fallen in love with it. Some of my favorites include, "Harlem" "Nassau" and the highlight of the LP for me, "Blue Buildings." Also stay tuned for a future 'Field Recordings' session we shot with Tim from the band to be posted real soon.
  Aunt Martha- Blue Buildings by burnthebowery 

The Black Keys- El Camino
Might not be a better straight up Rock n Roll band around right now. With a simple formula of whaling guitars, drums, and old fashioned catchy hooks, nobody's been as consistently good as these guys the last few years, and El Camino didn't disappoint. Favorites for me included, "Gold on the Ceiling" "Mind Eraser" and "Lonely Boy," which also might have nailed the best video of the year honors for me.

Blind Pilot- We Are The Tide
For their stunning track "New York" alone this Portland band deserves to be on this years list. The song was by far one of my favorite tracks of the year, and the bands second LP saw them not only expand band members but broaden their repertoire.
Favorites included, "Half Moon" "Keep You Right" and the aforementioned, "New York."

Bon Iver- Bon Iver
Hard to believe believe Justin Vernon lived up to the hype machine following his debut, For Emma, Forever Ago. Not only did he live up to the hype, he surpassed it with a phenomenal more intricate sophomore effort. Favorite tracks include, "Calgary" "Michicant" and "Holocene."
  Calgary by boniver 

The Bony King of Nowhere- Eleonore
Super talented young songwriter out of Belgium, lyrically and musically wise beyond his years. Fell in love with his debut in 2009 and his sophomore disc, Eleonore sees him expanding on his folk sounds. Already big in his homeland, I'm waiting for him to break overseas. For now a hidden treasure, favorite tracks include "Sleeping Miners" "Going Home" and "Some are Fearful."
  The Bony King of Nowhere - Going Home by Rockoco

Caveman- CoCo Beware
A solid a debut as any this year. This local NY band sounds like they have been playing together for years, as the album flows effortlessly from one song into the next. Irresistible hooks, versatile sounds, a must listen if you haven't heard it yet. Some of my favorites include, "Old Friends" "My Time" and the chilled out track, "Thankful." 
  Caveman - Thankful (2011) by EmergencyBroadcastSongs

Dan Mangan- Oh Fortune
An earnest and powerful voice out of Canada. This is Mangan's third album, but the first I really became familiar with. The discs  opening track, "About as Helpful as You Can Be..." is a perfect intro to the LP with it's grand orchestration and slow building beat leading up to Mangan's raspy growl. Other favorites are "Post War Blues" "Oh Fortune" and "Rows of Houses"
  Dan Mangan - Rows Of Houses by artsandcraftsmx 

James Vincent McMorrow- Early In the Morning
If I was forced to pick a number two album this year, on most days this debut from Irish singer/songwriter James Vincent McMorrow might have been it. The disc contains about half a dozen of my favorite songs of the year, including, "If I Had A Boat" '"This Old Dark Machine" "Down The Burning Ropes" and the simply beautiful, 'We Don't Eat."
  05 We Don't Eat by jamesvmcmorrow 

Jessica Lea Mayfield- Tell Me
An underlooked sophomore effort, which sees the young 22 year old growing as a writer and singer. Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys produced both LP's, and this one sees a bit more in slickness and production. If you love folk & Americana type stuff Mayfields voice is one of the best around. Favorite tracks for me were, "Somewhere in Your Heart" "Tell Me" and "Our Hearts Were Wrong."

  Our Hearts Are Wrong by Jessica Lea Mayfield 

Matthew Ryan- I Recall Standing as Though Nothing Could Fall
Is it possible to get better with each album if this is album number 13??  I've been a fan since way back and his lyrics, insight and sincerity never cease to amaze me. There might not be a better songwriter around that connects with the struggles of the everyman. Some of the discs favorites for me are, "The Sea" "All of that Means Nothing Now" and "The Spinning Room."

Other Lives- Tamer Animals
Fantastic debut from this Oklahoma 5 piece, that even caught the ear of Radiohead's Thom York, helping the band secure an opening slot on some tour dates. You can call it cinematic, orchestral, grand, with great harmonies, some favorite tracks include, "Landforms" "For 12" and the epic title track, "Tamer Animals."

  Tamer Animals by Other Lives

Radiohead- The King of Limbs
Speaking of Radiohead, KOL is an album that consistently grew on me throughout the year. Was a little underwhelmed at first but with each listen I found more and more to like, and little intricacies to discover. Some of my favorites include, "Codex", "Lotus Flower" and "Morning Mr. Magpie"
  Radiohead - Codex by mariocon 
Real Estate- Days
An impressive sophomore effort from this NJ band. Fun and jangly guitars, great melodies, takes you back to an endless Summer type mindset. Some of the best tracks for me include, "Green Aisles" "Younger Than Yesterday" and the super catchy single,"It's Real."
  Real Estate - It's Real by DominoRecordCo 

The Rural Alberta Advantage- Departing
A real breakout album for the Canadian band. I loved '09's Hometowns and this one seems to serve as a perfect companion piece. The band plays with a passion and an energy, that bleeds through to their music. Some of my favorites were, "Under The Knife" "Tornado '87" and the manic and intense, "Stamp"

  The Rural Alberta Advantage - Stamp by Mvidito

Siskiyou- Keep Away the Dead
Another favorite out of Canada, the band recorded in a small town of 350 people, and the LP's mood takes on the desolate locale. An intimate disc, filled with quiet, gentle arrangements. Favorites included, "Where Does That Leave Me" "Fiery Death" and the great slow building anthem, "Twigs and Stones."
  Twigs And Stones - SISKIYOU by Constellation Records 

Soley-We Sink
Former member of Seabear, this Icelandic singers innocent voice contrasted by her dark and intense lyrics create an undeniable mix. I love all the lo-tech arrangements throughout, the homemade clicks and clacks, the quirkiness and charm the record exudes. My favorites included, 'Smashed Birds" "The Sun is Going Down II" and "I'll Drown."

  Sóley: I'll Drown by morrmusic

The Twilight Singers- Dynamite Steps
Greg Dulli is an all time favorite, from his days fronting the early 90's outfit the Afghan Whigs, to his latest. Everything he does is gold in my book, and his bands newest work doesn't disappoint. Dynamite Steps might have the closest resemblance to some of that  old 'Whigs sound, with tracks, "On The Corner" and "Last Night In Town." Other favorites include, "Get Lucky" and the beautiful, "She Was Stolen."
  She Was Stolen by Twilight Singers 

The War on Drugs- Slave Ambient
I was a huge fan of their debut disc, 2008's Wagonwheel Blues, and the Philly band picks up right where they left off creating a killer wall of sound. Mixing elements of folk, rock and psychedelics  frontman Adam Granduciel creates a sonic soundscape that would make Phil Spector proud. Some of my favorites from the disc include, "Brothers" "Come to the City" and the hyper track, "Baby Missiles."
  The War On Drugs - Baby Missiles by The Line Of Best Fit

Wye Oak- Civilian
I'm always amazed when listening to this band that they are only a two piece. An album that can go from intimate, quiet and moody to loud and aggressive in a heartbeat. Some of the LP's favorites were,
"The Alter" "Hot as Day" and the explosive title track, "Civilian."
  Wye Oak - Civilian by MergeRecords 

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