pick ten songs? it's a choice nightmare. i ended up with 4 groupings of 10. what a cheat, i know. there was some good jams this year though, although only about 1% came from "actual" 2011. still...new to me! and hopefully more for you to enjoy.
so you can download the whole sha-bang HERE
BUT I will point out my [ever changing] top 10 below
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first and foremost i just want to be absolutely clear, in my opinion, the best records by far for 2011, were:
CHARLES BRADLEY "No Time for Dreaming", available for purchase HERE
THIS WILL DESTROY YOU "Tunnel Blanket", HERE
i think i've pushed Mr. Bradley enough this year, and TWDY was simply music i've been waiting a long time for in many ways (plus, Justin has beat me to them 2 years in a row. i would make a list of Communal Blood ten times if i could). regardless, they're omitted from the following top ten, but no mistake, the above 2 records are my top 10.
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1) Özdemir Erdoğan - Gurbet
how i came to find this song is a mystery tangled in endless you-tube clicking. there is something in both the groove and the notes of this heartfelt political Turkish jam from 1972 that wouldn't leave my system for a week.
2) Slim Whitman - "When I Grow Too Old To Dream"
i'm a big fan of Slim, especially his versions of "Beautiful Dreamer", "Indian Love Call", and "I Remember You", but I've never been impressed with the peppy arrangement on later re-recordings, yet it seemed for years i was taunted by his perfect playing style on the most wretched of live recordings. every once in a while though, someone blogs an original 78 RPM, and in this glorious age of information, i discover a perfect, haunting, wistful, cowboy song
3) The Rising Son - "Gettin' Is Kinda Cool Now"
oh man, if i get behind the wheel of a car at all this summer, this is all i am going to play
4) Candi Stanton - "You Don't Love Me No More"
during one of the happiest most in-love years of my life, i had this devastating melody of faded affection on repeat way too often. every embellishment from the band is too perfect though, from the drawn out horns underscoring the pain, to the guitar's punctuated reminder of sadness, to that piano's encouraging and triumphant supportive strength.
5) Betty LaVette - "Nights in White Satin"
this one goes out to JG!, the biggest Moody Blues fan i have ever met.
Seriously, this recent cut from the great Betty LaVette (her song Let Me Down Easy is a classic) came from our good friend Chunk, who introduced me to what is currently my favorite musical genre: Brown Liquor Music (Steve Harvey has a radio show with a segment dedicated to it). basically, you pour yourself a drink of brown liquor, and listen to a contest of heart-pouring. Lavette, who released this song in 2010, knocks it out of the park
6) M83 - "Echoes of Mine"
it's been a rocky road with me and M83. i loved him, i loved him more, i was intrigued but concerned, and then i was disgusted (with his putrid 80-nostalgia-biting). his new double album however, seems in some ways a best-of-M83 at times, other times sprawling electronic epic, and always a culmination of everything it took to get to this point
7) Pogo - Wishery (snow white remix)
to appreciate Pogo, it truly has to be seen. he's a video editor who began chopping up various films, many of them beloved Disney classics, to make upbeat melodies. "Wishery" is entirely comprised of music from 1937's Snow White, which you can, and should, watch HERE. i also implore you to watch what he did with HOOK
it's not that i ever thought this would be the kind of music i would enjoy, but i am crazy about the innovation here, as well as the blurring of lines regarding where the future of music can go, let alone from one person editing movies
8) The Weekend - The Morning
hoo-boy, here goes... i stumbled upon this in June when a mysterious record, billed as "Dirty late night R&B", appeared anonymously out of nowhere, and was available to the world as a free download. intrigued, thinking this might sate the part of me that loves R Kelly in all his glory, i gave it a go...
also during this June i was absolutely delirious from an intense work deadline; basically napping 2 hours a night and eating poorly for a week. around 3:45 in the morning this track came on loud through the headphones and it was PERFECT. it wasn't just "dirty", it felt absolutely seedy, FILTHY even. while not relating literally to the lyrics per se, it was synchronizing all too well to my sleep deprived physicality, harkening back to late night memories in ill spent days in ways that are both questionably shameful and truthfully welcomed. or maybe it's just got that great a hook.
9) The Impressions - "Never Too Much Love"
This was the year the love of my life and i got married, and the year building up to the event was just as magical. much of it involved a tremendous amount of digging through our entire musical libraries for a playlist that would mean a lot and say so much about us and the occasion.
It's no secret that the Impressions are a desert island top 5 for me, and yet i'm hardly a completest. every once in a blue moon i simply dig around a little more, cherry picking an album cut here, a b-side there. "Never Too Much Love" doesn't stand out just because it's a beacon of positivity in a sea of heart ache (despite Curtis' overarching message of love throughout his life, in the 60s, someone must have done him serious wrong), but because you can genuinely hear the sweetness and the sincerity in the music. i don't know what it is that makes me roll my eyes a little when the Beatles sing "all you need is love", but with the Impressions, i wholeheartedly agree
Sarah and i both wrestled tremendously over various "first dances" and crucial selections for the wedding, but this song was sort of our love song to everybody we are grateful to have in our lives, as though we could slow dance with every person at once
10) Ous Mal - Tähti
this one may be too self indulgent, but as difficult as it is to locate, purchase, & support, records by Finland's bedroom sampler/looper/destroyer/creator Olli Aarni (and sometimes girlfriend Iris), the listening experience, to me, is worth it. cobweb covered ambient "electronic" music, but made utilizing analog, field recordings, found sounds, and actual instruments as much and as lovingly as possible.
i was honored to be on a compilation with Ous Mal last year, and he was by far the most stand out artist who resonated with me, but there's something about the sounds in the first half that lulls me in perfectly, and then the simple folk strum through the climax is as lovely and strong as any other crescendo i've heard
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downloading everyone's mixes now and excited for the rest! thanks for including me!
(proud little brother of Dan W below, biggest musical influence in my life, even still!)