What were your favorite songs?
If I were more technologically adept, I'd post a little playlist right here for you to enjoy. Seeing as how I'm not quite that genius, I'll just give you the list, throw in a few youtube videos, and let you know that there IS a playlist on (ethically questionable) Spotify, that you'll have to make a couple of extra clicks to access.
And so, without further ado, the top 6 albums of 2011:
6. Those Darlins, Screws Get Loose.
I serendipitously heard "The Whole Damn Thing" one afternoon on WNRN, laughed my head off, and subsequently started looking out for these Darlins.Their music is loud, their lyrics are unabashed (see Be Your Bro: "I may have girly parts, but I got a boy's heart"), and their image is decidedly soused. I like 'em.
5. Ha Ha Tonka, Death of a Decade
I heard these Missouri guys play HERE, in my no-longer-dull hometown of Roanoke, at Kirk Avenue Music Hall (also seen IN ROANOKE this year: Lucinda Williams, Ruth Moody (one of the Wailin' Jennys), Carolina Chocolate Drops, Amos Lee, Alison Krauss, plus I missed Justin Townes Earle, The Felice Brothers, Chris Thile and Neko Case - seriously, when did this tiny town in SW VA get such musical chops?). They were incredible, even though John and I were late and missed the first half of the show. I didn't sit down once during their set in the tiny hall, and their southern rock from the Ozarks oozes the sense of place and generational angst that fuels me and my people. Plus, the lead singer is incredibly attractive even with the distinctive vocal resemblance to one Joel Osteen.
4. The Head and the Heart, The Head and the Heart
Billed and skewered as "the poor man's Mumford and Sons," The Head and the Heart actually occupy a different, brighter spot in my own catalogue. It's hard to choose one song to embed, because I definitely listened to the album as an album, over and over and over again. It accompanied me on most of the year's travels, and the fact that they're from Portland certainly doesn't hurt my estimation.
3. Gillian Welch, The Harrow and the Harvest
It may have taken 8 years for Gillian (and David Rawlings) to break out anything new, but I'll join the throng of admirers who agree it was worth the wait. More harrow than harvest, the album is all about loss and longing, and everybody knows the particular pleasure those can bring. It's a Sunday morning album for sure, paired with the news of the world. Or a Thursday evening soundtrack, accompanying a glass of wine and some poetic scribbling.
2. tUnE-yArDs, w h o k i l l
I've already written about this album once, so suffice it to say that Merrill Garbus embodies genius. Also, she looks like me. She's rough and musically refined, a singer who can belt it out like nobody's business (one critic compared her range to Mariah Carey?) but who has no problem writing lyrics of social critique that then get masterminded into the loops and feedback she engineers herself, even onstage during performance. Pass the face paint.
1. Wilco, The Whole Love
I learned to love Wilco in grad school, and Jeff Tweedy's voice always evokes a mental jaunt down memory lane to the land of community apartments, unrequited love and theological throw downs. Add that to Tweedy declaring this latest creation "basically an embrace of ambiguity" and I'm sold. Besides, the album is like a Wilco retrospective - with all new tracks.