Waiting in a car, waiting for a ride in the Dark – Vicroria’s Secret Angel Collection and Fragrance Commercial

Is it selling out? Moby’s album “Play” was used to advertise everything. He was accused of selling out. But, perhaps it was the best decision he made.

Midnight City, a song featured on my top 111 of ’11, is everywhere lately. I hear it on Satellite radio, in the malls and stores, the bars, and even soundtracking scantily clad supermodels with wings. A Victoria’s Secret ad released a few months ago features the fantastic track, focusing mostly on the instrumental synth parts that pretty much define the song. Some might view the usage, or permission of usage, of a song to sell commercial wares as selling out, however it seems that in today’s music marketplace the placement of songs on TV, whether it be in commercial or a show, is one of the best ways to promote your song. Especially in an era of Shazam and google, it has become increasingly easy to identify a song heard outside of the traditional methods of song distribution.

It is also a great way to promote younger and less popular bands, as purchasing rights to songs by lesser known artists will be significantly less than that of an arena selling artist like Coldplay or U2. Recently Nike used a rather epic portion of the song Snjóljón by by one of my favourite new bands Lockerbie. The exposure that this will give Lockerbie could be invaluable in pushing them forward. Below is the commercial for the Össur Flex-Run with Nike Sole.

And with the recent success of previously (relatively) unknown bands based off of television show placement, it looks to be a mutually beneficial arrangement. THe artist/band gets paid or free promotion, and the show/commercial gets a better scene or a more noticeable ad. In the past several months, bands such as fun. and Adaline have benefitted from these situations. fun.’s song “We are Young” has exploded after being featured in a Glee episode.

And Adaline has received a lot more attention to her debut album after being featured prominently during a very emotional scene during the Fall finale of Grey’s anatomy (and another song again in January).

Selling out? Cashing in? Mutually Beneficial?

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Ryan Adams, Childish Gambino and others guest in a Cartoon Short

That’s right. Not only does Ryan Adams become a cartoon character for this 30 Rock online short, but he also performs a Ryan Adams-ified version of the “Passions” soap opera theme. Add in some Childish Gambino (Donald Glover), Michael Mcdonald, the “Saved by the Bell” and “Knight Rider” themes, a cameo by real life T-Rex/Dragon Cee Lo, and you have a very entertaining four plus minutes. This animated short is part of the Jack Donaghy Files online series, and proves that Ryan Adams can make any genre sound like a depressing ballad. Click the link below to check it out.

For a Song – 30 Rock Animated Short

-Shaun

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Sasquatch Lineup 2012 Revealed!

I just realized last night that the Sasquatch 2012 announcement should be coming soon. I checked their website and it turned out they were announcing at a party happening that very night. Most acts have been announced already, but a schedule is still forthcoming.

Some of the big names this year: Beck, Jack White, Bon Iver, Tenacious D, The Shins, The Roots, Feist and so on.

But the ones that I’m most interested in are: Spiritualized, Shearwater, Girl Talk, Zola Jesus, The War on Drugs, Charles Bradley and Mogwai.

The complete list of bands, artists and comedians at this time is Jack White, Beck, Bon Iver, Pretty Lights, Tenacious D, The Shins, Beirut, Girl Talk, The Roots, The Head & The Heart, Portlandia, Feist, Silversun Pickups, Metric, Explosions In The Sky, The Joy Formidable, Mogwai, Nero (DJ), M. Ward, John Reilly & Friends, Childish Gambino, St. Vincent, The Civil Wars, Jamey Johnson, Little Dragon, Tune-Yards, Wild Flag, Blind Pilot, Wolfgang Gartner, Beats Antique, Apparat, The Walkmen, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Mark Lanegan Band, Spiritualized, Blitzen Trapper, The Cave Singers, Shabazz Palaces, Fun., Grouplove, Tycho, SBTRKT, STRFKR, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Deer Tick, Imelda May, Alabama Shakes, Dum Dum Girls, The Helio Sequence, Kurt Vile, Cloud Cult, We Are Augustines, Ben Howard, Here We Go Magic, Zola Jesus, The War On Drugs, Shearwater, Cass McCombs, Active Child, Trampled By Turtles, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, Araabmuzik, Star Slinger, L.A. Riots, Com Truise, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, I Break Horses, Walk The Moon, Dry The River, Allen Stone, Pickwick, Hey Marseilles, Gary Clark Jr., Purity Ring, Electric Guest, Yellow Ostrich, Nobody Beats The Drum, Coeur De Pirate, Lord Huron, Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside, Beat Connection, The Sheepdogs, Hey Rosetta!, Said The Whale, Howlin Rain, Gardens & Villa, Felix Cartal, Craft Spells, Vintage Trouble, Poor Moon, Black Whales, Gold Leaves, Greylag, Awesome Tapes From Africa
Thee Satisfaction, Dyme Def, Fresh Espresso, The Physics, Sol, Metal Chocolates, Grynch, Spac3man, Don’t Talk To The Cops, Scribes, Fatal Lucciauno, Fly Moon Royalty, Katie Kate, Nick Kroll, Beardyman, Todd Barry

I think on first glance it looks considerably better than last year, but I’m on the fence whether or not I should go. Who wants to road trip?

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A Retrospective – January 2012 – Kris

Shaun has invited and encouraged me to take part in this monthly retrospective so I humbly accept his invitation. It’s a great way to keep track of some of those musical moments throughout the year that could be easy to forget down the line and I like that.

January was a strange month. I’d like to include the last couple weeks of December in there as well for the strangeness, but music wise I’ll keep it to stuff from January. A lot of stuff has happened in the last six weeks ranging from heart wrenching to scream-out-loud fantastic and while I won’t list those things here I will say it has been emotional. It also doesn’t help that I’ve been stuck with the damn flu for the past week and unable to do much of anything.

5. Jeff Buckley – Everybody Here Wants You (1998)

A random revisit to Jeff Buckley happened a couple weeks ago. Such a shame that he died so young. I know I can’t sing as good as he could, but Buckley is often my sing-along music for the car. I love the range. This is one of the most straight forward rock ballads he ever wrote, but I think it should be reinterpreted with a slight soul flair that a certain band should start playing soon. This is definitely something you want to put your soul into.

4. LMFAO – Party Rock Anthem (2011)

Yeah I’m late to the party, I only heard this for the first time on December 28. I don’t even know if I like it, but it’s damn catchy and I finally understand what people were saying when they said, “everyday i’m shuffling”, being only familiar with the classic Rick Ross line “everyday i’m hustling'”. It’s also a good song to dance to, that’s a thumbs up in my books.

3. Townes Van Zandt – Only Him Or Me (1971)

Part of my continuing dip into the annals of classic pop/rock/folk/country that doesn’t seem to have an end. Townes seemed like the right choice earlier this year with a glass of tequila or bourbon. Just sad enough to raise up those emotions and just angry enough to throw them away. I’ve been listening to Live at The Old Quarter a great intimate concert to really get to see Townes as he was. He closes the show with this track, one that makes me able to push some feelings elsewhere and move on.

2. Azealia Banks – 212 (2011)

The requisite song that should of been in my top songs list of 2011, but I didn’t hear until 2012. This is something I need to hear in a club. Is there anywhere that would play this in a club. Somebody let me play this in the club.

1. Gene Clark – Strength of Strings (1974)

I have never really listened to The Byrds. I know the hits, but I haven’t listened to a full album of theirs ever. Gene Clark was the original Byrd, but his solo work is so good that I’m scared to even listen to The Byrds now. I wanted to listen to old country/rock one day in January and put his album No Other on after having not listened to it in over a year. Instead I got a perfect piece of psychedelic country rock that is pieced together so beautifully. This is my favourite track from it.

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A retrospective – January 2012 – Shaun

This is intended to be a new and recurring feature to be presented at the end of each month.  A small list of things that I listened to every month, new or old.  I have been creating monthly playlists for the last 5 years now, and it is always interesting to go back in time to important landmarks to hear the music that you were listening to at the time.  To see your tendencies and trends.  To see how your life events effect your listening, or vice versa.

January tends to be one of those months that has you looking back at what you have accomplished, and has you planning for the future.  This January was a lot busier than anticipated.  I ended up working on a feature film (including my acting debut (in an extremely small role)), which took up a lot of time.  And the Best of 2011 lists proved to be a large undertaking.  But this allowed me to go back and look at the year in music in more depth, which also yields new finds and develops new connections to older pieces.  January also tends to be a cold month that usually lends to colder music.  Maybe not so much this year as it was unseasonably warm.  Alright, so here we go.

5.  Hit the ground (Superman) – The Big Pink

After their fantastic album “a brief history of love” was released in 2009, their follow-up was a heavily anticipated album for me.  Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to live up to the expectations quite as much as I hoped.  It is a good album, but it is a safe album.  One that doesn’t push things forward.  But the first single “Hit the Ground (Superman)” is a great little pop gem that I have been listening to all month.

4.  Young Blood – The Naked and Famous

So this track goes back to 2010.  I had heard it a number of times, and likely thought it was a Passion Pit track.  But I recently watched “The Art of Flight”.  A brilliant snowboarding film with an equally great soundtrack.  This song simply stood out, and I just can’t get enough of it.  It also appears in a remixed form on the new Underworld Film soundtrack.

3.  Montreal – The Weeknd

In Late December the 3rd album from The Weeknd was released.  And it was an instant hit for me.  The lead off Michael Jackson cover of Dirty Diana (which happens to be a top 5 fav of his) is extremely good, but Montreal is the original that I have been listening to nearly every day.

2.  Somebody that I used to know – Gotye

I had been listening to Gotye for a few years, but never really got into them.  But all of a sudden Facebook was all abuzz with Gotye.  Which I thought to be weird.  But I decided to check out what all the hype was about.  It centered around a song that was very Peter Gabrielish, the accompanying body paint stop-motion/hybrid video, and a subsequent 5-person on 1 guitar cover video.  But ultimately it is a hugely infectious song that just doesn’t go away. “Now you’re just somebody that I used to know”

1.  Travel as Equals – Joseph Arthur

As I pointed out a couple weeks ago Joseph Arthur released a new double album for free on his website.  The following day he was on David Letterman with a fantastic performance with full band accompaniment. He performed the lead off track “Travel as Equals” which is definitely one of the standout tracks on the album.  “The only way we can survive, is travel as equals or not at all”  This is an album that will likely stand as his some of his best work ever.  A true return to form and a step forward.

 

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Le Voyage Dans La Lune commence 7 février

Air has released one great record. There is no denying which record this is. If you picked anything other than Moon Safari then you’d be wrong. Their other albums are not bad by any means, well maybe a couple are, but nothing can live up to the perfect space lounge sound of Moon Safari. Maybe that’s why I’m excited for their new album which comes out next week on February 7 (6th for you anywhere other than North America). It has the word ‘moon’ in the title and putting it in french makes it that much more appealing. I’ve been really drawn to french lately. Someone speak it to me and I’ll just melt.

The new album looks to be an extended soundtrack to the classic Georges Méliès french short film from 1902. If you pre-order the album you could get a deluxe version that includes a copy of a colourized version of the film. It’s classic french cinema mixed with what could possibly be Air’s next great album. Oh, I hope so.

I also have a new love for Air because of their url: http://en.aircheology.com/  Preorder the album from their site if you dare.

They’ve released two singles from the album so far, I’ve listened to them and can tell you that they do sound like Air but with more drums. I’m not going to listen to them again until I can hear the album as a whole so I can’t be more descriptive than that. On February 7th everyone dim the lights, have some wine and take a trip to the moon with Air, your favourite french band. (or maybe you prefer Phoenix?)

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Best albums of 2011 (According to Shaun)

In retrospect this year seemed to be a track kind of a year for me. A year in which I would listen to certain songs from an album, more than I would put an album on straight through, or repeat it over and over. But that isn’t to say that I didn’t, or that there weren’t that many great albums. Just one of those years. However the last couple weeks I have been spending a lot of time listening to albums thoroughly again. Once again, I feel that there may be little in the way of surprises here on this list, but there are some gooders for sure. So less ramble, and more albums. Here they are. In particular order.

50. Wiley – 100% Publishing

Wiley - 100% Publishing

This was my introductory album to Wiley. I had heard of him, but never heard him. One day I thought to myself that I really need to check out more of the UK urban scene and Tinie Tempah and Wiley came up. Wiley was the more interesting artist, and the album that i connected with the most. Sonically it is very intriguing, and his delivery is at times unique and i like the style of his cadence. It was an album that was great for summer driving.

Noteworthy Tracks: Numbers in Action, Wise Man and his Words, 100% Publishing

49. Little Dragon – Ritual Union

Little Dragon - Ritual Union

When it comes down to it, this is an album that has a very sexy sound to it, and her vocals are rather distinct. Not too much more to elaborate on it. A great late night mix.

Noteworthy Tracks: Little Man, Shuffle a Dream, Ritual Union

48. Jessica Jalbert – Brother Loyola

Jessica Jalbert - Brother Loyola

A local talent that seems to be making bigger waves outside of Edmonton than within. The more I listen to her album, the more it appeals to me. It reminds me of a more feminine version of Yuck’s album. Which is a great thing. Nearly every track is great, and the rest are really good. I expect a lot more from this great young singer and her band.

Noteworthy Tracks: Paris Green, Lack of a Lake, Whatever Whoever

47. SBTRKT – SBTRKT

This was a year that UK Bass Music had a few artists branch out and do something a little bit different. A lot of these artists evolved out of the dubstep sound and took what seems to be the likely next step and added an R&B/Soul component. SBTRKT tapped some great vocalists for support on this album including Yukimi Nagano, but its his fellow collaborator Sampha that shines throughout the majority of the album.

Noteworthy Tracks: Hold On, Wildfire, Right Thing to Do

46. TuNe-YaRdS – W H O K I L L

Tune-Yards

Trying to describe this album is liking trying to explain what something tastes like, without having something to compare it to. Loop upon loop upon loop with a voice that contorts and wails and shifts all over the place. But it sounds great. Just listen to it.

Noteworthy Tracks: My Country, Gangsta, Bizness

45. Real Estate – Days

Real Estate

My top albums list suggests that there was a lot of relaxation and chilling to calm and pleasant sounding music. For some reason, I don’t get that impression by reflecting upon the year, but I must have had some good calm times. Days is an album that just sounds like a quiet evening outside. It also seems to celebrate the little things in life, and it just feels sunny.

Noteworthy Tracks: Easy, It’s Real, Wonder Years

44. Cut Copy – Zonoscope

Cut Copy

Another album of Cut Copy doing what they do best. Indie-dance music.

Noteworthy tracks: need you now, where I’m going, pharaohs and pyramids

43. Girls – Father, Sun, Holy Ghost

Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost

An album that I just couldn’t get into for so long. But I gave a few other chances in December, and then it clicked. A slight departure from their fantastic debut, but it holds it’s own. This has even more of a psychedelic retro sound to it, especially “die”, which sounds like a “Black Mountain” song.

Noteworthy Tracks: Honey Bunny, Die, Vomit

42. Gramatik – Beatz & Pieces vol. 1

Gramatik - Beatz & Pieces Vol. 1

A collection of sample based music that has an overall cinematic quality. Some great compositions that flow together into a larger piece. Perfect background music when you don’t want background music.

Noteworthy pieces: On the Boardwalk, So much for Love, Break Loose

41. Cults – Cults

Cults - Cults

Simply put, this is an album for the lazy days of summer. Chilling on the patio, with some steaks and avocados on the grill.

Noteworthy tracks: Go Outside, Most Wanted, Bad Things

40. The Features – Wilderness

The Features - Wilderness

Their 3rd LP takes things up a notch and rocks a bit harder than the last couple albums. But it still has that signature sound that makes The Features so much fun to listen to. Just a little rougher.

Noteworthy tracks: How it Starts, Rambo, Golden Comb

39. The Black Keys – El Camino

The Black Keys - El Camino

Having been a fan of The Black Keys since the beginning, I have witnessed their transition from garage rock duo, to the hit making band they are today. To listen to this album and one of their earlier albums together, one might question the authenticity of their new recording. It is definitely an album that has been fleshed out, but their roots are still showing. To be honest, if they didn’t grow with each album, their sound may have become irrelevant, whereas this is some of the best pop music on the radio these days.

Noteworthy tracks: Lonely Boy, Gold on the Ceiling, Sister

38. Ben Howard – Every Kingdom

Ben Howard - Every Kingdom

There is a lot of acoustic based music out there, and what generally sets artists in this genre apart is their voice. Ben Howard has a couple other attributes helping him out. His uniquely raspy voice sounds like he has been pulled straight out of the forest. His song structure borrows heavily from the new folk folk movement and has layers and textures throughout. And his songs have a unique pull to them. They Rise above the standard fare in this genre, making Every Kingdom an album that warrants repeated listens.

Noteworthy tracks: Old Pine, The Wolves, Keep your head up

37. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring for my Halo

Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring For My Halo

Another one of those albums that speaks to you without screaming. There is charm in this recording that I just can’t explain, and I just won’t try. Its simply a fantastic album and I Will leave it at that.

Noteworthy Tracks: Baby’s Arms, Runner Ups, In My Time

36. Hanni El Khatib – Will the Guns Come Out

Hanni el Khatib - Will the Guns Come Out

Pure garage rock bliss. Rough and raw and angry. Sounds like jay reatard and early Black Keys. But he has a sound all his own. And then the second half of the album calms down significantly before taking it back up to finish it.

Noteworthy tracks: build. Destroy. Rebuild., Fuck it. You win. Heartbreak hotel.

35. Felix Reibl – Into the Rain

Felix Reibl - Into The Rain

A classic sounding album reminiscent of James Taylor or acoustic Springsteen. This was an album I found myself putting on during work, or when I was reading.

Noteworthy tracks: Wide Open Rivers, Helen/I’m on fire, They Don’t Know You Like I Do.

34. Jay Z & Kanye West – Watch the Throne

Jay Z and Kanye West - Watch The Throne

How over the top and extravagant can a hip hop album get before you hate it? This gets close, but somehow finds a balance that pulls it off. Two legends together bragging about their goods. But it works.

Noteworthy Tracks: No Church in the Wild, Niggas in Paris, Welcome to the Jungle

33. Other Lives – Tamer Animals

Other Lives - Tamer Animals

Any album that starts out with horns and clarinet has me in its hands. This is an album that sounds full. It has interesting instruments layered over top of each other. It has melody and structure. It sounds like a symphony swallowed an indie band and spit out awesomeness. And their live shows are amazing as well.

Noteworthy Tracks: Dark Horse, For 12, Old Statues

32. Thao & Mirah – Thao & Mirah

Thao & Mirah

Thao Nguyen, Mirah, (with the production help of Tune Yards) masterfully combine to create a collection of songs that sound like a band as opposed to two separate artists together. There are songs that seem to be led by one of the respective artists, but they still sound unique to this collaboration as opposed to having the other guest on each other’s songs. A surprisingly great combination.

Noteworthy Tracks: Eleven, Folks, Hallelujah

31. The Antlers – Burst Apart

Does it really get any more depressing than The Antlers? Despite its melancholy, I really enjoyed this album. Especially in the winter months. For me it wasn’t an album for the summer, and had to revisit it in the bleaker months.

Noteworthy Tracks: I Don’t Want Love, Parentheses, Rolling Together

30. Jamie Woon – Mirrorwriting

Jamie Woon - Mirrorwriting

This is an album that borrows heavily from several genres and therefor has no genre. But that doesn’t matter. It’s an album that oozes soul over top some great melodies and beats. Mirrorwriting is a an album that just sounds great. This is an album I listened to on late night drives.

Noteworthy tracks: Night Air, Lady Luck, Spirits

29. Vandaveer – Dig Down Deep

Vandaveer - Dig Down Deep

An ambitious and large sounding album that embraces the organic folk sound. Dig Down Deep features Americana and folk story telling that is easy to relate to and somewhat timeless.

Noteworthy Tracks: Dig Down Deep, The Great Gray, Concerning Past Future Conquest

28. Pickwick – Myths EP

Pickwick - Myths

A promising hybrid of indie-folk and blue-eyed soul. I anticipate their LP debut to be one 2012’s best albums. But, until then, this collection of 6 tracks originally released on 45’s will have to hold me over.

Noteworthy Tracks: Hacienda Motel, The Round, Blackout

27. Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire

Ryan Adams - Ashes & Fire

This year 2 of my favourite artists released very understated albums. Like Joseph Arthur’s release, Ashes and Fire is an exercise in restraint. The large majority of this album is on the mellow/ballad side of the Ryan Adams spectrum (which is one of the wider spectrums of any artist). Taken as a whole, this is an album to chill and relax to. And it sets a great tone for a quiet Sunday afternoon.

Noteworthy Tracks: Dirty Rain, Chains of Love, Lucky Now

26. Joseph Arthur – The Graduation Ceremony

Joseph Arthur - The Graduation Ceremony

While this is isn’t the best album he has released, it is a consistently great album. The Graduation Ceremony excels at subtlety. It is seemingly simple and sparse, but their is a lot of unassuming production throughout that really elevates the songs above the acoustic sound.

Noteworthy Tracks: Out on a Limb, Over the Sun, Gypsy Faded

25. Grouplove – Never Trust a Happy Song

Grouplove - Never Trust A Happy Song

After last years promising debut EP (a lot of which is featured here on the LP) I expected great things this year from this band. What we got was even better than I expected. We got an album that took the best parts of their EP and evolved on it different directions creating an album that excels in more than one sound.

Noteworthy Tracks: Tongue Tied, Colors, Naked Kids

24. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

This album seems to have it all. It has one of the best tracks of the year. It has anthems. It has mellow burners. It has dancers and rockers. This is simply a great album that has a song for every purpose and flows as a whole.

Noteworthy Tracks: Intro, Midnight City, Wait

23. Tim Hecker – Ravedeath, 1972/Dropped Pianos

Tim Hecker - Ravedeath, 1972

This isn’t an album that you throw on at a party. This is something you put on for solo purposes. Unlike the other 2 piano based albums on this list, this is not an album of beautiful and intimate keys. This is an album that explores the piano and deconstructs and destroys with the help of electronics. Somehow it manages to become more than just interesting. But captivating in the ideas and constructs that are presented. Dropped Pianos, a companion piece album, is less about the deconstruction, and more so about the sketches that inspired Ravedeath. A unique insight into the process of creation. And whereas the Ravedeath material was done on a pipe Organ in Iceland, these sketches were all done on a piano. Two very disparate albums, that truly support each other.

Noteworthy Tracks: The Piano Drop, Analog Paralysis, 1978., Sketch 5

22. Washed Out – Within and Without

Washed Out - Within and Without

Exactly what Chill-Wave should sound like. This is very much a bedroom sounding album that works outside the bedroom as well.

Noteworthy Tracks: Amor Fati, Far Away, You and I

21. Handsome Furs – Sound Kapital

Handsome Furs

Sound Kapital took the Handsome Furs even more into Depeche Mode territory than ever before. More synths, bigger sound, and a killer knack for melody.

Noteworthy Tracks: Serve the People, When I Get Back, What About Us

20. Tinariwen – Tassili

Tinariwen - Tassili

One of the best guitar based albums of the year. Tassili, unlike their previous recordings, was recorded in the desert, and is therefore more acoustic sounding. This Mali band has a very unique sound that is also very traditional. It is exotic and foreign sounding, which is what I look for in music from other regions. It also features a couple Western guests attaching some familiarity.

Noteworthy Tracks: Tenere Taqqim Tossam, ya Messinagh, Temeyawt

19. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues

Another wonderful album of wilderness sounding tracks with lovely harmonies. This time around the are a few extra surprises and a bit more of a progression in sound. Not as revelatory as their debut, but just as good.

Noteworthy Tracks: Montezuma, sim sala him, Helplessness Blues

18. Lockerbie – Ólgusjór

Lockerbie - Ólgusjór

These young Icelanders have released a fantastic debut album, and given their age, I cannot wait to see what else is coming. One of my favourite performances of 2010 was by this great band in a small pub in Iceland. This recording captures the feel of their live show quite well.

Noteworthy Tracks: Laut, Reyklykt, Ólgusjór

17. Gem Club – Breakers

Gem Club - Breakers

A very beautiful and melancholic album. A reverb drenched piano that sounds like it was mic’d in a living room, accompanied by a mournful cello. The addition of fragile hushed vocals lend to the intimacy and delicateness of the songs.

Noteworthy Tracks: Twins, Breakers, Black Ships

16. Beirut – The Rip Tide

Beirut - The Rip Tide

This was the first Beirut album that really resonated with me. Its chock full of brass and ethnic elements, which has a lot to do with it. But that really isn’t all that new for Beirut. Ultimately, it won me over.

Noteworthy tracks: A Candle’s Fire, Goshen, East Harlem

15. Foster the People – Torches

Foster the People - Torches

This newish band picks up where MGMT left off with straight forward poppy dance rock tracks. Nearly every song will get you moving and singing along, which makes for a great party.

Noteworthy tracks: Helena beat, Houdini, Pumped Up Kicks

14. Olafur Arnalds – Living Room Songs EP

Ólafur Arnalds

Sometimes the simplest of concepts make for some of the best outcomes. This collection of 7 songs was created 1 track per day for one week, and recorded in his living room. Piano, strings, and the occasional electronics. Variations upon themes, these 7 pieces somehow stand on their own, yet feel cohesive. This is an album that I keep coming back to. And every time I hear a song, it instantly traps me, stealing all of my attention. I had this album lower on the list because of its shortness, but I had to move it further up with each listen. The intimacy of the songs and the recordings just make it feel so fragile and compelling. There are videos of each of the living room songs from the album being recorded live in his living room with a little story about each song.

Noteworthy Tracks: Fyrsta, Near Light, Tomorrow’s Song

13. Kassidy – Hope St.

This Scottish released their Debut LP in May this year. It is full of catchy rock songs that get you moving and singing along. Every song is different than the previous, and all merit multiple listens. Their sound also seems to borrow from American 90’s 00’s rock, but with a distinct sound.

Noteworthy Tracks: Stray Cat, I Don’t Know, Oh My God

12. Radiohead – The King of Limbs

Radiohead - The King Of Limbs

What hasn’t been said about this album yet? A hugely anticipated album that seemed to split the fan base. More electronic and stuttering than previous releases, this album stands on its own, yet touches on their previous albums. My favourite part of the album is tracks 3 through 5. Little by Little is very much an update classic Radiohead song that is followed by Feral, which to me is the most interesting song on the album with its samples and skittery drum loop. And then it almost blends the two tracks and becomes Lotus Flower, a mid-tempo floater with a grounding bass line, a slowed down drum loop, and some haunting Thom Yorke.

Noteworthy Tracks: Little by Little, Feral, Lotus Flower

11. Laura Marling – A Creature I Don’t Know

Laura Marling - A Creature I Don't Know

Maybe it was because I was anticipating this album so much, but when this was released, I was initially disappointed. This disappointment lasted a while. Until it finally clicked. This is very much a Laura Marling album. But it feels different than here previous two. It could be the band approach. It could be the more complex arrangements and the non-traditional song structure. But either way, it turns out to be an album that rewards the attention given.

Noteworthy Tracks: Sophia, The Beast, All my Rage

10. Black Lips – Arabia Mountain

The Black Lips - Arabia Mountain

I can’t help but feel nostalgic for the 60’s when I listen to this album. Heavily leaning on several of the sounds prevalent in that decade, it comes off as a tribute album to that era, with a new twist of course.

Noteworthy Tracks: Family Tree, Time, New Direction

09. Yuck – Yuck

Tastes like High School. This youthful UK Band delivers a standout album of 90’s sounding retro rock that is the perfect balance of raw vs. production to give it that authentic feel. Despite the obvious nostalgia effect, it also stands as a great album in this decade.

Noteworthy Tracks: Get Away, Shook Down, Georgia

08. Of Monsters and Men – My Head is an Animal

Of Monsters and Men - My Head Is an Animal

Another Icelandic Band on the list. Surprise, Surprise. This Icelandic band is oft-compared to Arcade Fire, Mumford and Sons, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. However, that isn’t to say they don’t have their own unique sound. More than just a collection of their influences, My head is an Animal is full of animal imagery, clever lyrics, and extremely addictive songs.

Noteworthy Tracks: Dirty Paws, Little Talks, Sloom

07. The Weeknd – House of Balloons/Thursday/Echoes of Silence

The Weeknd - Echoes of SilenceThe Weeknd - House Of BalloonsThe Weeknd - Thursday

Yes, I am a cheater. I stuck all 3 of The Weeknd’s great 2011 releases into one spot. This Torontonian, released the 3 best R&B albums of the year. All for free. But I will likely get them all remastered on Vinyl in 2012. Each of these albums in unique from the other, and they have a cohesive feel true to each release. House of Balloons is the strongest album, with the other 2 following close behind. To fully experience this album pull out the glass table, get the drugs and booze, and fill the house with women. It’s that kind of an album.

Noteworthy Tracks: House of Ballons/Glas Table Girls, High for This, Wicked Games, Thursday, The Birds, D.D., Montreal

06. Typhoon – A New Kind of House EP

Typhoon - A New Kind of House

I almost have an issue with putting a 5-track EP at number 6. But this EP features 2 of the most listened to tracks of the year for me. This EP set the tone of the year for me. It sparked my love of large bands with tons of instruments. It heralded me into a new folk era. Their performance at Sasquatch was one of the top 10 performances of the year. It was an EP for the house, the car, the yard, camping, roadtripping, iPhoneing. Looking forward to their next full length album, hopefully this year.

Noteworthy Tracks: The Honest Truth, Summer Home, Claws Pt. 1

05. The Kills – Blood Pressures

The Kills - Blood Pressures

I have been a slight fan of the Kills before, but never before had I connected to one of their releases like I did with Blood Pressures. Blood Pressures sets the tone early with Future Starts Slow and its guitar-drum combo. The album has a dirty and sexy feel to it. It drips. It grinds. Its an album that begs to be felt. Alison Mosshart’s vocals are perfectly suited to the guitar work by Jamie Hince. A stellar rock album.

Noteworthy Tracks: Future Starts Slow, Heart is a Beating Drum, The Last Goodbye, Pots and Pans

04. Blind Pilot – We are the Tide

Blind Pilot - We Are The Tide

Sometimes you don’t to do anything different to standout. Blind Pilot excels at what they do. It isn’t groundbreaking, or genre-creating. It’s simply great. An album of gems. Songs that are warm and pleasant. Songs that make you smile inside. It’s feel good music. Done near perfectly.

Noteworthy Tracks: Half moon, Keep you Right, We are the Tide, New York

03. Noah and the Whale – Last Night on Earth

Noah & the whale - Last Night On Earth

It is no secret that I am a big Noah and the Whale fan. All 3 of their albums have been completely different. Last Night on Earth finds the band tapping 80’s Americana for inspiration, specifically Tom Petty. This is by far the most accessible album they have released, and every song is single worthy. It is also their most straight forward album, so there are few surprises or unconventional moments. It is a great pop album. An album that is suited for road trips, or hanging with friends. So grab a drink and some friends and sing along.

Noteworthy Tracks: Life is Life, Tonights the Kind of Night, L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N, Waiting for my Chance to Come

02. James Blake – James Blake

James Blake

This album came as a surprise to me. Having heard his EPs I wouldn’t have expected this from him. The album has a couple great singles, but it works best as a singular piece. It isn’t party music, it’s reflection music. Its what you put on when you want to feel something. When you want to get lost. Which I happen to do a lot.

Noteworthy Tracks: Wilhelm Scream, I Never Learnt to Share, Why Don’t you Call me.

01. Bon Iver – Bon Iver

I have been referencing this album and artist for awhile now, so it is no surprise that it pops up at number one on this list. Easily the most listened to album of the year for me, it breaks new ground, it is a logical progression of sorts, and it stands on its own. It’s an album, that like its predecessor LP, will remain relevant and stand the test of time. I foresee this album being a classic of this generation, and I see Justin Vernon and Bon Iver becoming one of the seminal artists of this decade. Or maybe I’m just a huge fanboy. Either way, I think it’s the best album of the year, and look forward to discovering the nuances throughout 2012.

Noteworthy Tracks: Perth, Holocene, Beth/Rest

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