"Temporality is part of the truth" -- Chuck Klosterman

Monday, December 19, 2011

Best Music 2011 (part three of four)

Each week, follow through on this becomes more difficult. I would never survive some kind of NaNo or ABC challenge certain bloggers can't get enough of. But it's done. Here's some more of the best music from this year.

Ladytron, Gravity the Seducer

After four or five albums of icy dance tunes, Ladytron put out their most sophisticated album. Still icy, still dancey, but they've added layers and atmospherics that kind of make them sound all grown up.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Belong 

Their first album showed that these guys were the rightful successors of shoegaze goodness that hit a high 20 years ago with My Bloody Valentine and oozed around the nineties until The Jesus and Mary Chain were done. With their second album, they continue in the tradition of hooky melodies buried under fuzzy bass and guitar feedback. Must listen to loudly and repeatedly.

St. Vincent, Strange Mercy

St. Vincent is Annie Clark, and (forgive the obscurity of the reference) she really could be the kid sister of chanteuse Anne Clark, who had a modicum of success in the 80's with odd, angular synthpop songs with poems for lyrics. St Vincent uses an array of song styles, which makes her brand of indie pop anything but readily accessible. But oh, how cool.

Washed Out, Within and Without

Dreamy electropop. It makes me woozy just to try to describe it. Just listen to "Eyes Be Closed." (I don't know if the motorcycle video helps or detracts.) Tell me you're not moved.

Today's runners-up:

The Ladybug Transistor, Clutching Stems 

I wish I'd known this band has been around for fifteen years. I've been missing out. Super great jangle pop.

Little Dragon, Ritual Union

More indie pop from Sweden. What's in the water over there that results in such interesting music?

The Sounds, Something to Die For

If I had more time, this album would probably be up top. I've only had it for a couple of weeks, but I feel like it's been a part of my playlist for years. The Sounds's first records were okay, but this one kicks their up-tempo neo-new-wavey sound into synthy heaven. Not as pure awesome as last year's Head First by Goldfrapp, but it's close. And they're also Swedish.

Vanessa Carlton, Rabbits on the Run

This album sounds so much more like Feist or St Vincent than her initial piano pop hit from ten years ago, "A Thousand Miles." She's come a long way, and it sounds like she's just making interesting music now instead of trying to recapture that lightning. This is so much better.

Tune in once more next Monday to get a load of what some some finely aged performers released this year.


  1. I'm just sitting here with the phrase "Ladybug Transistor" running around and around in my head. Followed of course by lots of new sounds. Think I'll have to go give a few of those another listen and maybe hunt around for some more. Someone just turned me on to "Apocalyptica" which is pretty awesome. More music!

  2. Vanessa Carlton still makes music? Wow. I loved her when I was in sixth grade. Although, I never cared for 'A Thousand Miles' much.

  3. I don't even recognize any of these songs this time around...

  4. I had not heard of a single one of these bands. O.o...

  5. @ darev: Apocalyptica isn't my usual cup of tea. But I respect the Metallica, and I enjoy me some Dethklok every now and again.

    @ McKenzie: Yeah, forget about Vanessa Carlton's first album. Her subsequent albums get better each time. This current one is full of interesting stuff.

    @ Chanel: Give them a try. What do you think?

    @ Michael: You're a Lady Gaga fan, right? Try Ladytron or The Sounds. Still dancey and poppy, but they've got that outsider, hip vibe that Gaga lost a long time ago--nah, she never had it. :)