Saturday, January 07, 2012

The Music Post, 2011

You've been waiting for this day, right? ;)  Here's my yearly not-at-all-expat-or-travel-related post sharing the songs and albums I enjoyed the most this year.  I had a very poppy year this year so there's plenty of really accessible music here that you might enjoy.  I'm going to avoid YouTube links as much as I can, but will use them if necessary.  If you are using ProxTube for the first time to get around GEMA barriers, you have to click through to YouTube for it to work - it doesn't work on embedded videos.  Also note: if you are using a blog reader, you need to click through to the blog itself to see and play embedded songs from Soundcloud.

Albums - Mostly I just want to focus on songs, but some albums were spectacularly even and I don't want to give too much weight to just one song, so I am shouting them out as entire albums.

Cults - Cults
Cults - You Know What I Mean by cultscultscults
This is a new band from the US doing a sort of faux-oldies thing.  If you like poppy oldies, you might like it. 

Battles - Gloss Drop
Battles - Inchworm by tribes
Another US band, but this one's been around a while. People have been gushing online about them for years, but I never got into them until this album (which was supposedly less good than previous ones). I guess they're considered rock, but I don't find this particularly rock-y - maybe rock with a carousel as a band member? ;)

Plaid - scintilli
Plaid - missing (taken from new album Scintilli) by Warp Records
A British duo that's been around for many years, working in the unfortunately- and unhelpfully-named electronic subgenre IDM.  This isn't my favorite track from the album, but it was easily available on Soundcloud and the label seems to think it's a good representation. :)  It sounds like the lady robot from Wall-E having a bout of melancholy.

Tune-Yards - whokill
Tune-Yards - Gangsta by The Recommender
Genre: dunno, country: US. I don't love this album the way I loved her last one - but I never mentioned that one on the blog because I didn't discover it until after its year of release. So, this is like one of those after-the-fact make-it-up-to-you Grammys.  But actually, this album is amazing on its own merit, too.  (My absolute favorite of hers is "Real Live Flesh" if you like this and want to look it up!) I'd love for her to come perform at Karlstor!

Beirut - The Rip Tide
Beirut - Santa Fe (taken from the Album "Riptide") by 247QM
This is Beirut's 3rd full album. I miss the more Eastern European stylings from his first two albums (he himself is from the US), but this one has really grown on me. This is one of the poppier tracks from the album - for something moodier try "Goshen".

Al Lover - Distorted Reverberations (of Reverberating Distortion)

This guy is kind of a remixer - kind of. The original tracks are barely recognizable after he chops them up, distorts them, and puts them back together. Whatever, I can't stop listening to it. And the best part is that the entire album is completely free on his Bandcamp site.

Songs - Most of these are, of course, on great albums.

Cut Copy - "Corner of the Sky" from Zonoscope
Cut Copy - Corner Of The Sky by modularpeople
I remain a sucker for well-used bells, cow or otherwise.  This is a synthpop band from Australia.  I'm actually surprised I don't hear more of them here in Germany, the country where they still regularly throw Depeche Mode parties at clubs.

Orbital - "Never" (preview from upcoming April 2012 album)
Never by ORBITAL
I've been listening to Orbital (electronica, UK) so long, I'm not sure what low level of crap they'd have to release for me to not like it.  They are comfort music.  That said, even my husband thought this track was great, with no prodding from me.  I can't wait for the album, which will, oddly enough, be produced by Flood.  That's not a combination I'd have ever expected. You can download the track free from Soundcloud.

Björk - "Mutual Core" from Biophilia

I recommend headphones for the full effect of this song.  (Iceland, in her own genre.)

Veronica Maggio - "Finns det en så finns det flera" from Satan i gatan

This is pure pop from Sweden. When a happy song is needed, look no further. And if you, like me, don't know Swedish, you are free from knowing just how bad the lyrics might be (always a danger with pop...).

Lykke Li - "Youth Knows No Pain" from Wounded Rhymes

I don't know what this song - another pop song by a Swede - is really about. I like to imagine an old fart like myself telling some younguns that they don't know how good they have it. All juxtaposed over a happy beat as if we're trying to be nice instead of passive-aggressively condescending and jealous.
If you like this, also check out Beck's remix of her song "Get Some".  Lykke Li has risen from the ashes in my mind.  She had a song a few years ago - "Little Bit" I think it was called - that I found so awful I actually deleted it, an exceedingly rare measure of disgust in my little iTunes world.

Honorable Mentions

Pearl and the Beard - Killing the Darlings : US, folk pop.  Even better is their 2009 album, but this is also quite worthy of a listen if you like this genre.
Patrick Wolf - Lupercalia : British, classic pop. It was the year of Patrick Wolf for me, so I couldn't leave him off even though this year's album is my least favorite of his. (The classic singer-songwriter trap of putting out a jarringly cheesy album during a happy period in one's life.)  According to, Patrick Wolf enjoyed the distinction of making my most-listened-to song this year, but it was a track from his 2009 album.

Alexander - "Truth" from Alexander : US, folk pop.
Shabazz Palaces - "Swerve... the reeping of all that is worthwhile" from Black Up : US, hip-hop.
The Vaccines - "Nørgaard" from What Did You Expect from the Vaccines? : British, pop punk.  This was my first exposure to this band.  The rest of the album was pretty disappointing.
Yellow Ostrich - "Whale" from The Mistress : US, "indie" something. If you like, also check out "Libraries".
Hoots and Hellmouth - "Wizened" from Salt : US, country? I couldn't find a link to play it anywhere.
Oregon Bike Trails - "A Summer Thing" (no album): US, faux-oldie pop.
The Weeknd - "The Birds (Part I)" from Thursday : Canadian, R&B. If you like this and haven't heard about it yet: The Weeknd released three completely free albums online this year.  They can all be downloaded from his website. (Note: one of the album covers at that link is NSFW, not safe for work.)
Airlines - "Burial Grounds" from Visions : US, kind of that 80s throwback thing that's going on, but better than most of it.
Peter Bjorn and John - "Tomorrow Has to Wait" from Gimme Some : Swedish, pop rock.

Also Ran

  • The Submarines - "Shoelaces": US, cutesy pop. 
  • TV on the Radio - "Caffeinated Consciousness": US, rock.
  • Keep Shelly in Athens - "DIY": Greek, electronic.
  • Future of the Left - "Polymers Are Forever": British, rock?
  • Nicholas Jaar - "Space Is Only Noise if You Can See": US, minimal electronic.
  • Dam Mantle - "Movement": British, rather cinematic.
  • Purity Ring - "Belispeak": US, some newfangled racket.
  • Panda Bear - "Afterburner": US, do all things Animal Collective have their own genre?
  • Lana del Rey - "Video Games": US, pop ballad. This song had to come in somewhere because of the fascinating dichotomy.  In the US it's a song swooned over all around the internet and indie music blogs, but in Germany it's a #1 pop radio smash hit. I don't see that often!
  • Glitch Mob - "Warrior Concerto": US, the fine line between awful and amazing electronic.
  • Fleet Foxes - "Helplessness Blues": US, folk pop. Mostly here on the merit of their first album and the ease with which anyone can relate to this song. This album did not sit well with me; it felt false. I think Fleet Foxes were better off singing less personal songs, like my beloved "Mykonos".
  • Electric Six - "Psychic Visions": US, goofy-ass rock.

Please share some of your favorites of 2011 in the comments, or thoughts on the ones I posted!  I love hearing people chirp about their favorite music, even if it is Lou Reed & Metallica....


  1. I am rather taken with the Torpedo Boyz, thanks to the tip from Scott over at This International Life. I like the instrumental versions of their songs better than the ones with vocals.

  2. I totally bought that song when Scott posted it, and played it for all our fellow expat friends. Amusingly, the one who found it least funny was the Japanese guy... I did listen to samples of their other stuff but haven't acquired any (yet...)

  3. “Please share some of your favorites […] even if it is […] Metallica….”

    Alright, first “Veronica Maggio” is kind of sticking in one’s head (and I presume it’s been on heavy rotation on MTV Pop or something).

    If ‘even’ Metallica is on, well, nothing new in 2011. But if you insist, it’d be Death Magnetic, 2008.

    Most recent purchase: ‘The 50 Greatest Pieces of Classical Music’. (Not exactly 2011-ish.)

    That’s the closest I got to 2011, sorry… Apparently, I partly live in the past. :)

    P.S. Yeah, GEMA sucks! A lot.

  4. Sandy: Metallica did indeed have an album in 2011, with Lou Reed, called "Lulu" - that is why I made the joke:

    Actually I'd love to hear from someone who liked Lulu.

  5. I edited the initial entry to add that link, lest anyone mistakenly think I have anything against Metallica or Lou Reed as individual artists. I certainly do not. :)


I love commenters!