Brand new Joseph Arthur Double Album

As I finish off the final touches of my best of 2011 albums list, one of my favourite artists, Joseph Arthur, has just released (minutes ago) a double album for free on his website. The album entitled “Redemption City” is an album that is meant to be a 1+1 album. Part I is the main meat of the album, and Part II is akin to a deep cuts album, or a companion piece. To be consumed separately or together. From the quick sampling I have done so far it seems to be some of the best work he has ever released. It has elements of all of his albums, and pieces of his recent live work. He claims that it is the first album that he has done everything on it, and that it is a album that has been in the works since the release of “Redemption’s Son”. I highly recommend you head over and grab your copy, and then pre-order the 3 disc limited edition vinyl. It’s worth it.

Joseph Arthur | Redemption City, new album available for FULL FREE DOWNLOAD [HQ].

(taken from the vinyl description)

Please don’t take the method or the freedom of this release
to be any judgment on its value.
I think it’s top notch,
but it’s great to take advantage of what the internet is actually good at –
This is the first time I’ve released something while still
inhabiting its space,
I’m alive in the nowness of it!
Join me there or here or here and there.

Around the time I was putting out Redemption’s Son,
I met Peter Beard in Montauk.
Lucky enough to stay with friends at the old Andy Warhol
where the Rolling Stones had rehearsed.
A bunch of us were there
partying, playing cards, trying to do yoga,
but mostly partying.
It was fun.
(Thank you Rene and Suzy.)
One night I told Peter the name of my record that was
about to come out
“Redemption’s Son,” I said.
“Too religious,” he said.
He was probably right but that’s what it was called, though
it wasn’t out yet.

The next day he said, “I thought of a better title for you.”
I asked, “What?”
He paused for drama and then said,
“Redemption City.”
911 had just happened,
it was a crazy title and I instantly liked it better than
“Redemption’s Son”,
but it was too late,
that record was already on its way to stores.
(that’s where we used to get music back in the day.)
But I held onto that title.
I made a giant painting of a city when I opened the
‘Museum of Modern Arthur’
and called it “Redemption City”
but somehow its destiny is to be a title of a record.
Peter Beard is a deep cat,
animal blood on huge beautiful prints must awaken the
favor of the gods
because his will for this title has chased me down the years,
and a few years ago I set about making it.
The record inspired by the title.
What would a city of redemption sound like?
What kind of characters would inhabit it?
The files for this record date back to ’09 and one track
further than that.
I work on it, get burned out and then reopen it weeks later.
I built a studio (with the help of Matt Becker) in Brooklyn
to make it,
and it’s the only record I’ve made where I’ve done
everything on it,
played all the things that make all the noise, drums, bass,
synths and guitars,
produced it mixed it, you name it.
Not that i haven’t been helped.
Jen Michel used to come around and listen to tracks and
“Man, this is the record.”
she wanted this one out for awhile,
but it wasn’t ready;
a few more buildings had to go up and a few more roads
had to be paved.
Carla Podgurecki snapped the cover photo one night on
my roof overlooking the city of NYC
and Merrit Jacob came in at the end of it all and helped
me make final mix choices
and nudged the thing along in the right direction towards
Actually, that’s an understatement; he became the partner I
needed to help find the finish.
Finally, it was mastered by the great Fred Kevorkian.

It’s been one hell of a process,
and I hope you like it.
If you do, pass it along and spread the word!

We’ve set this up so you can just have the record.
You can donate,
pay what you want,
or nothing at all.
Passing it on, spreading the word, is better than money,
but records are hard to make and expensive so if you dig it,
Dig in!


There is lots of interesting low-end stuff on this record so…
I’m talking to you with the laptop on your chest listening to
this thing,
lazy in your bed and not wanting to connect it to fancy
headphones or decent speakers
for shame!


Part 1
Is complete as a record and for those who are generally
against the idea of an artist making a double record (of
which there are many) you can stop there and you have it.

Part 2
Is the deep cuts,
Which would have otherwise remained on the cutting room
floor or else been leaked out over time in various ways,
fragmented beings with no brothers or sisters or home.
I think both parts serve to strengthen the whole. They are
relating to each other and breathing back and forth.
They are each other’s shadow and hold hands when no one
is watching.
It’s true that often less is more but sometimes more is more
and that is something that, in this case, will be down to

With the Internet and new ways of releasing music it seems
that the doors are open to broader perspectives on what’s
too much.
Here you have both a double and a single record,
depending on how you want it or your level of interest.
Also it’s not important (or possible!) to listen to all of it in
one sitting.
Take in Part 1 and then move slowly into part 2.
It’s a city.
There are lots of avenues and side streets,
Abandoned buildings and bodegas,
Cars parked on the side of oblivion with cats in them.
Come in and walk around.

So without further ado,

for Peter Beard and the others who helped me get here,

Welcome to

Redemption City.

Posted in Album Reviews, Previews | 1 Comment

Best albums of 2011 (According to Kris)

Bolster Your Holster presents the Best Albums of 2011 (according to Kris)! This year I decided to go with 50 albums instead of the regular 40 and included comments on as many as I was inspired to. Hope you enjoy the list and please share your comments below.

50. Charles Bradley – No Time For Dreaming

“The Screaming Eagle of Soul” soars again! Technically, this is his debut album, but Bradley has been around for a few years releasing singles on the Daptone label. This is his debut album released at the tender age of 63, but he sounds like he’s been doing this his whole life. Like most stuff on the Daptone album it is classic soul that sounds like it could have been recorded anytime in the last 50 years. Also the fantastic cover contributes to that as well. I’m pretty sure there is always time for dreaming Charles, maybe while listening to some of your sweet soul music.

49. Adele – 21

48. Eleanor Friedberger – Last Summer

47. Little Dragon – Ritual Union

46. Wild Beasts – Smother

45. Braids – Native Speaker

44. Beirut – The Rip Tide

43. James Blake – James Blake

I am being drawn to it yet not being able to love it as it feels like glass. James Blake is so fragile and delicate that it feels like it could break at any time. The times it does allow it to crack, the bass drop in ‘Limit to Your Love’, the build-up in ‘The Wilhelm Scream’, we can see what Blake would be capable if he just let go. Yet, the album has a way to work it’s way under your skin and even though I couldn’t embrace the album I wanted to listen to it again to understand where Blake is at in making his music and how it will change over time as it already has in his very short career. I expect much from him over the next few years, I’m sure he will deliver.

42. The Weeknd – Echoes of Silence

41. Rainbow Arabia – Boys and Diamonds

40. Tim Hecker – Ravendeath, 1972

39. Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean

38. Frank Ocean – Nostalgia,ULTRA.

37. The Rural Alberta Advantage – Departing

36. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

35. Panda Bear – Tomboy

With my attempted hate towards Animal Collective I really shouldn’t have this album on the list. Merriweather Post Pavilion got to me though, so I though I’d give Panda Bear a second chance. Sometimes I think this album is a piece of crap, but most of the time I think it is a credible mix of drone, reverb vocals and strange noises which combine into something like a high day at the beach. Being released on clear vinyl also got me as well. The singles weren’t representative of the album either, it’s those “other” tracks that show what it is really about.

34. EMA – Past Life Martyred Saints

33. Raphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin’

32. M83 – Hurry Up, I’m Dreaming

As I write this, I technically have not listened to the whole album yet. I have to include it on the list because I know how much I am going to like it and how much it will be listened to it over the next few months. The first half is wave upon wave of electronic shoegaze bliss. I never felt a connection to M83’s previous work, but this album finally grabbed a hold of me, especially the amazing standout ‘Midnight City’, which I wish I had been listening to in the Summer when it came out, instead of the last few weeks. This is one that definitely would have been higher if I had listened to it earlier, but for now it will settle in this position, content and dreaming.

31. Erkin Koray – Meçhul: Singles & Rarities

Erkin Koray is the father of Turkish rock music and was one of the first Turkish musicians to adopt western rock music and add its elements to Turkish folk, thus creating a huge psychedelic scene in the 60s and 70s, especially in Istanbul. This is the only compilation on the list this year which features non-album tracks recorded by Koray between 1968 – 1976. Technically it doesn’t include anything from 2011 (besides the artwork), but I have to put it here because it is such fine release from Sublime Frequencies, and if only one other person decides to listen to this then it was all worth it.

30. Death Cab for Cutie – Codes and Keys

I’m sure a lot of people look back on Death Cab and reminisce for the time before The OC helped bring these guys to the mainstream. My favourite Death Cab album, Transatlanticism, found them on the verge of popularity, but with their next album being featured on that soap opera for teens really pushed them into the limelight. The thing is that they’ve kept making solid albums since then that really shouldn’t be dismissed because of their popularity. St. Peter’s Cathedral, Doors Unlocked and Open and Underneath the Sycamore are just three prime examples of why you should listen to this album if you haven’t given Death Cab a chance since the early 2000s.

29. The Twilight Singers – Dynamite Steps

28. The Black Keys – El Camino

27. Sigur Ros – Inni

I’ve been off Sigur Ros for a while now. But they’ve just come back from a hiatus with the live film/album Inni a look at their live 2008 tour. Listening to the album I’ve come to a realization that I should have seen them live some time ago. I love Sigur Ros live, the guitars are louder and have more feedback, the drums are way more powerful and Jonsi’s vocals are almost on par with the recorded album versions. Inni contains some of their best songs and makes a cohesive whole of their last four albums. I’m not one to put live albums on a Best of list, but this one really deserves to be here.

26. tUnE-yArDs – WhoKill

25. Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch The Throne

24. Zola Jesus – Conatus

23. The Weeknd – Thursday

22. Devotchka – 100 Lovers

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

20. Elbow – Build a Rocket Boys!

A little bit disappointing after the greatness of The Seldom Seen Kid, Build a Rocket Boys!  found Elbow at their most minimal with only a few tracks featuring the bombast stadium melodies that they were slowly getting known for (Outside North America of course). Still it was a great album that had some standout tracks including the 8 minute opener ‘The Birds’, ‘Dear Friends’ heartwarming reflection on life and ‘With Love”s loud and quiet dynamics. It plays out like an old man reminiscing about youth, an album of reflection and memories.

19. Bill Callahan – Apocalypse

Bill Callahan’s a hell of a guy, or at least I’d like to think so. He’s made some great music over the years and is one of the most consistent artists. His albums are always a slow burn and take some time to get in to. I’d often find myself putting on Apocalypse in the background and take in little parts of it each listen. It’s finally coming together and I wouldn’t call it revolutionary, but it is another excellent edition to his catalogue. Callahan shows his confidence and his ability as a songwriter on Apocalypse more than he’s ever done before.

18. Theophilus London – Lover’s Holiday

London released a full length album this year, but for me it was this EP that defined him as an artist. 5 songs, each of a different genre, that all had the ability to be hit singles. He channeled Prince on ‘Strange Love’, made a TV on the Radio song better than any TV on the Radio song from the last 5 years, made a robotic freakout dance anthem and bookended the EP with two great R&B numbers featuring some killer female vocal lines. This might be all I need from Theophilus, his album was good, but this EP condensed everything we need to know about him in five songs clocking in at about twenty minutes.

17. Okkervil River – I Am Very Far

The best song released by Okkervil River this year was not on their new album. If they had gone in that direction for I Am Very Far it would have made me so very happy, while making me so very sad. Instead they released this, which most critics said was a wall of sound and too crowded. I was just happy it showed Okkervil going in a new direction and not making the same old crap we’ve been hearing since 2007. I know, I know it wasn’t crap, but Black Sheep Boy was so good that it pales in comparison. I Am Very Far doesn’t bring them back to that greatness, but showed something missing from the last couple albums, passion.

16. The War on Drugs – Slave Ambient

The War on Drugs are a rock band that fittingly titled their newest release Slave Ambient. The album flows just like a wave of ambient sound. You can be listening to the first song and then turn around and you’re already on track eight. The thing is it is not at all samey. Each song can be taken on its own as well. Come to The City, Your Love is Calling my Name and Baby Missiles are three great anthemic rock songs, like something you’d find on a U2 or Springsteen record.

It’s in the haze.

15. Cut Copy – Zonoscope

14. Tom Waits – Bad as Me

As with every Tom Waits album before, you’re looking at a solid release full of genre bending dynamics and some very interesting vocal arrangements. Bad As Me  is the most accessible thing he’s released, but don’t worry it is a Tom Waits record so that doesn’t mean much. It has a few more ballads than previous Waits release I can remember, but they all have their charm like Keith Richards guesting on ‘Last Leaf’, the gramophone feel of ‘Kiss Me’ and the excerpt from ‘Auld Lang Syne’ on ‘New Year’s Eve’. There are some barn burners here as well though like the scathing war track ‘Hell Broke Luce’ and the chugging ‘Chicago’.

13. Wye Oak – Civilian

12. Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes

You ever have someone you call babe? Sometimes it can sound pretentious, but often it just fits. I’ve always thought of it as a term of endearment, something for someone you love, something for only one other. I’ve liked Wounded Rhymes since it came out, but only recently have I wanted to revisit it. A track, ‘I Know Places’, slipped through the cracks on initial listens and is now finally capturing me. A beautiful acoustic number showcasing Li’s sultry vocals and featuring the afformentioned “babe”. And then it turns into two minutes of Mazzy Starish reverie. Oh yeah, the rest of the album is awesome too.

11. Lia Ices – Grown Unknown

10. Yacht – Shangri-La

9. Jamie Woon – Mirrorwriting

I want it to be one am. I want it to be raining. I want to be pouring out of some club and this playing as I hop on a bus for somewhere, anywhere. Call it soul, call it post-dubstep, call it pop, call it whatever the hell you want. Jamie Woon had a tragically underrated year with his debut not appearing often on any Top 50 lists. Originally grouped together with James Blake because of their great voices and links to dubstep, Woon is a completely different creature that creates an early morning atmosphere that can take you on a journey in any direction.

8. Noah and The Whale – Last Night on Earth

An album of change. Optimism after the devastating The First Day of Spring. This is a different Noah and the Whale as obvious by the first song’s refrain: “And it feels like his new life can start, And if feels like heaven”. Utilizing a heavy dose of 80s rock American influence including Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, Last Night on Earth is full of glorious sing-a-long pop anthems with lyrics about growing up, getting over love and playing music. ‘Give it all Back’ is the next ‘Summer of ’69’, just listen to it and tell me not.

7. Radiohead – The King of Limbs

After almost a year and the initial hype has settled, The King of Limbs, sits safely as my second bottom Radiohead albums. This does not mean this album is bad by any means, but rather to the high standard of excellence that one has come to expect from a Radiohead release. Maybe it was too short. Maybe it didn’t have enough hooks. Maybe it just felt like we deserved more. Oddly enough The King of Limbs has been followed up by four songs that are as good as the best parts of this album. Those songs could have been on this album. They could have made this album better. Nevermind, nevermatter, The King of Limbs is an excellent experiment that shows Radiohead reinventing themselves while still trying to make music that is different and that matters at the same time.

6. Washed Out – Within and Without

I’m sitting on a beach waiting for my heart to break again. Float off into the sea and let the music take hold. ‘You and I’ is the centerpiece of this album, but it is so much better when taken as a whole. This is one of those albums that I may never know the titles of all the songs, but still love each one, even if it feels like one long single song. This is how chillwave should sound. It needs structure, melodies, haunting echo vocals and waves of emotion. This was a year of some beautiful albums, this could easily be the best.

5. Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Justin Vernon mentioned that the next Bon Iver album was made up of soundscapes rather than songs. After listening to this album many, many times I would agree. Bon Iver is full of many places, times and moments that fit together so well. The lyrics fit with the music as well, even if they don’t make any sense or are often unintelligible. There are hints of the 2009 acoustic Justin Vernon, serious influence from the Gayngs side project and just a hint of some of the swagger he received from Kanye. Impossible to classify, the record plays more like something from Sigur Ros than a man known as a singer/songwriter.

4. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

Earlier in the year I wrote a review of this album on Bolster Your Holster. In my opinion it was the best album of the year at the time it was released. It hasn’t dropped far, but I just haven’t been giving it the same attention that it received earlier in the year. I can’t decide if it is my favourite PJ album, but it is the one I’ve dedicated the most time to and the one that has made me want to revisit her first couple albums, which I’ve never managed to listen to. This is an album about war that is relevant today, but seems to focus more on the World Wars or at least it just feels that way. It feels modern and 1940ish in the same way. I think this album can cross generations and will end up being PJ’s masterpiece once all is said and done.

3. Timber Timbre – Creep On Creepin’ On

I admit I didn’t like the title when I first heard it. Concerned would be a better word. After first listen though, Timber Timbre just made another great album. An expansion of sound and soundscapes would be the best way to describe their evolution on this album. 3 instrumentals and 7 songs and it doesn’t feel like it is missing anything. The last track also sounds like an instrumental outtake from Dark Side of the Moon, which doesn’t hurt the cause any. Timber Timbre is dark swamp folk, but I feel a hidden sexuality behind the music. Sure they’re singing about murder and other dark secrets, but hidden in the music is a sexual tension that reverberates in the air. Or maybe it’s just me.

2. The Antlers – Burst Apart

“You wanna climb up the stairs, I wanna push you back down. But I let you inside,
So you can push me around. If I leave before you, And I walk out alone, Keep your hands to yourself When you follow me home.          I don’t want love.” It’s a break-up album. It’s pledging love and waiting for it to come back. It’s begging to be wanted. Burst Apart may not be as devastating as Hospice, but it certainly carries the melancholy in its own way. You can interpret it any way you want, more freedom means more connection. All I know is that it continues to grow on me with each listen and begs me to come back for more.

1. The Weeknd – House of Balloons

This is an album that completely reinvented modern R&B that reached a whole new audience while making it accessible, or at least accepted, by a completely different demographic than before. It made me want to listen to only modern R&B (The Weeknd obliged there with 3 mixtapes in one year). I have found no one that compares to the production. Drake has tried, The-Dream is close, but Abe Tesafaye’s debut to the world grasped the late-night, dirty world of hip-hop/R&B so darkly beautiful that nothing else needs to be written on the subject. This is pure sex on record.

Posted in Album Reviews, Best of The Year, Lists | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Top 111 Songs of 2011 (according to Shaun)

Once again it is time for the requisite best of lists. As always, I have issues narrowing things down as I tend to like everything. So to start things off, I have the 111 songs that soundtracked 2011 for me. Not necessarily the best songs of the year, but rather the songs that occupied my earballs throughout the year. It seems that there was a lot of garage rock, mellow music, bands with a lot of members, post-dubstep, and bands that sound like old bands. And since I chose a rather large selection of songs, it takes forever to write about and post them, so I will be very brief with most songs, and may even just quote some lyrics for some. I’m lazy like that. – Shaun

111. Ode to Janice Melt – Army Navy
Just can’t get enough of that bouncy piano. A catchy little ditty.

110. Too Much Midi (Please Forgive me) – Ford and Lopatin
This retro 80’s synth number apologizes for its awesomeness.

109. No Church in the Wild – Jay Z, Kanye West, and Frank Ocean
The opener from the most extravagant album of the year. It also happens to be one of the most restrained songs on the album, and it benefits heavily from the presence of Frank Ocean.

108. Can See Miles – I’m From Barcelona

This 27 member band from Sweden always brings a small to my face. My favourite track from a strong 4th album.

107. St. Peter’s Cathedral – Death Cab for Cutie
The way all Death Cab for Cutie songs should be.

106. Morning Thought – Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
Scattered electronic intro opens into a layered rock track that slowly textures as it progresses. Fantastic song from a great debut.

105. Bizness – Tune-Yards
One of the most unique voices in the bizness. My Standout track from a breakout album.

104. Sweet – Common
Common is BACK!!! His new album was released just as this list was being made, and it is most definitely a return to form. Also, one of Common’s angriest tracks in awhile

103. Tornado ’87 – The Rural Alberta Advantage
The RRA excel at turning Albertan tragedies into love stories.

102. Shoulders and Turns – The Belle Game
A simple and pretty song. Harmonies and lots of instruments. What else do you need?

101. Windows are Rolled Down – Amos Lee
Blue Eyed acoustic Soul Americana at its best.

100. Little Talks – Of Monsters and Men
My favorite new band out of Iceland! Multi-instrumental New Folk that takes a lot of cues from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. One of the happiest sounding songs of the year.

99. Baby Missiles – The War on Drugs
Having become a fan of Bruce Springsteen in the last 5 years, I have become attracted to bands that are heavily influenced by The Boss. Baby Missiles is an E-Street rocker that brings you right back.

98. Heart Attack – Raphael Saadiq
Mr. New Jack Swing is a huge part of the great new-soul movement. Just enough old soul and new soul to keep it fresh.

97. Bust-Out Brigade – The Go! Team
The perfect soundtrack to any sports medley. Just enough over-the-top Marching Bandness to be awesome.

96. How it Starts – The Features
I could listen to the Features all day. There is a certain energy to their songs, and this song is no different.

95. I Mind – James Blake
On an album full of non-singles, certain tracks stand out at different times. This is a song that I played over and over on vinyl for a few days in a row. This one is all about the layers of samples that build and overlap and separate and then rebuild and the fracture and then attack with a glitchy drum loop that draws you in deeper.

94. Feeding Line – Boy & Bear
This Australian band picks up the space that Mumford and Sons and the Avett Brothers left by not releasing an album this year. This infectious new folk song builds perfectly.

93. The Birds (Part 1) – The Weeknd
One of the biggest surprise debuts of the year was the Weeknd. Releasing 3 freely released albums (Mixtapes) that dominated the year. The Birds was part of the second mixtape, which may be the least exciting of the three. However, The Birds was the perfect centerpiece to the album, focused around a dirty martial drum beat that develops and crescendos in just the right parts.

92. No Harm – The Boxer Rebellion
A haunting slow burner. ‘Nuff said.

91. Jessica Jalbert – Paris Green
A Local Edmonton Artist that I recently discovered that embraces the lazy female led rock of the 60’s and 90’s.

90. Fuck it. You Win. – Hanni El Khatib
Garage blues rock that sounds like the Black Keys first albums. It also reminds me of what Kris might sound like if he sung some garage rock.

89. Baby’s Arms – Kurt Vile
Kurt Vile’s gorgeous opener sets the pace for his brilliantly understated album. His interesting delivery and flourishes set him apart from the standard acoustic fare.

88. The Valley – Okkervil River
One of my favorite Okkervil River songs in a very long time. It has an intensity that I didn’t think that they were capable of.

87. Black Leaf – The Cave Singers
Another intense burner that sounds like the guitar was routed through a carboard box. Rough and Raw.

86. Helen/I’m on Fire – Felix Riebl
Another Springsteen influence that touches on his more acoustic phase. The delicate beauty of Helen segues so perfectly into the subdued cover of I’m on Fire.

85. Love the way you walk away – Blitzen Trapper
This song soundtracked a small moment in the TV series Chuck, and it stuck out enough to be played over and over and over. The best track on a varied album.

84. The Round – Pickwick
Pickwick is just one of those artist’s that I can’t get enough of. Unfortunately, there are only 6 tracks that they released this year. This is a perfect hybrid of classic soul and the new folk sound.

83. Graveyard – Feist
What all Feist songs need is mournful horns. I just can’t get enough of the last half of this song, it could have fit on Bon Iver’s new album.

82. This is Why We Fight – The Decemberists
My Dad likes to listen to the Satellite Radio upstairs while I work downstairs and listen to my music and movies. I would always pause my stuff to hear this song.

81. Trust Me – The Streets
The second last song on Mike Skinner’s final album as The Streets. A nicely paced cadence overtop a sampled 80’s soul groove. Exiting on a high note.

80. Rumour has it – Adele
Adele’s sophomore debut was riddled with hits, and this one is one of the more lively ones.

79. Without You – Rainbow Arabia
Mix tribal rhythms with the Knife-style vocals and you have the potential for greatness. Kris introduced me to this fantastic band.

78. Cinema – Benny Benassi
Pure pop with a dubstep influence. Very guilty, and very addictive.

77. As Bright as Your Night Light – Nerves Junior
This Kentucky band relies on it’s rock and electronic influences to create a sound that is heavily in sync with today’s scene, yet still sounds original. An all around mid-tempo rocker.

76. My Body – Young Giant
“My Body tells me no, But I won’t quit, Because I want more”. A huge dance number at the Sasquatch festival.

75. Move On – Bing Ji Ling
This member of the Phenomenal Handclap Band, releases a fantastic retro sounding soul album under the moniker Bing Ji Ling (Mandarin for Ice Cream). This one sounds like it is straight out of the Motown era.

74. 2 Hearts – Digitalism
This German Electro-house Duo released this catchy track that borrows heavily from the dance-punk scene of the last few years.

73. Truth – Alexander
Whistling makes music fun. The dude from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes whistles his way into our heads on his solo release.

72. Shuffle a Dream – Little Dragon
If we had to pick our favourite non-North American country to source music from it would be a close call for me between Iceland and Sweden. This band from Sweden features the always-intriguing vocal affectations of lead singer Yukimi Nagano. This song was also featured on Gossip Girl, which I of course overheard as my wife was watching. 😉

71. Ya Messinagh – Tinariwen (Feat. Dirty Dozen Brass Band)
This track comes from an album recorded in a desert in Algeria. The raw and acoustic Tuareg sounds features a brilliant horn accompaniment from the great dirty dozen brass band. Some of the best sounds out of Africa in a long time, or from anywhere for that matter.

70. Eleven – Thao and Mirah (Feat. Tune-Yards)
A collaboration between Thao (and the Get Down Stay Down) and Mirah. This album was produced by Merrill of Tune-Yards and this track features her contributions quite obviously. Three multi-talented female voices combined in one kickass track.

69. Think You Can Wait – The National (Feat. Sharon Van Etten)
From the disheartening movie Win Win, The National do what they do best. Melancholy. Sharon Van Etten’s contributions add to the melancholy and beautify this simple track.

68. Perth – Bon Iver
This track sets the stage for Bon Iver’s transitory album. A song that builds upon Bon Iver’s past and explodes with a fervor that only his live shows hinted at. Martial drums hint at what is to come. And then it arrives. A clear standout on the album, and in his live show.

67. Gathering Stories – Jonsi
This year saw Jonsi relatively quiet. His band Sigur Ros released a live film and accompanying album, and he scored/soundtracked the movie “We Bought a Zoo”. This song co-written with Film Master Cameron Crowe somehow manages to make Jonsi even more cinematic.

66. For 12 – Other Lives
This song is almost like a cross between post-rock and classic country road songs. Maybe its just that one rolling guitar lick, and the jangly acoustic, and the rambling feel of the track. And those ambient string swells overtop. Or its all in my mind. Either way. A song I enjoyed all year, and loved live.

65. The Sound – jesh de rox
I first heard this song live and acoustic in my Dad’s living room. It was one of those experiences that is hard to explain. Then came this updated studio version that sounds like it was produced by Coldplay. Its over-the-top production transforms the song completely, and somewhat appropriately. There will always be two versions to me, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

64. Shuffle – Bombay Bicycle Club
I love me some piano, and this partially shattered piano loop has me hooked. I like this new direction they are headed on.

63. Half Moon – Blind Pilot
On an album full of songs I became enchanted by, it’s hard to select favorites. The deluxe edition came with a t-shirt with “Hold high how faint your reason” taken from this song. A classic Blind Pilot track that makes me feel good inside. Also featured in a Chuck Episode this season.

62. Life is Life – Noah and The Whale
As with Blind Pilot, I had trouble choosing favorites from this album as well. This song resonated with me on several levels. A song about reinvention. About moving forward.

61. Wildfire – SBTRKT
The UK Bass Dj featured different vocalists on his breakout album. This track features Yukimi from Little Dragon. This is Bass music for the masses.

60. 1 + 1 – Beyonce
Never been a huge Beyonce fan, but when you combine The Dream and have him rip off Purple Rain, you got gold, err, purple.

59. Go Outside – Cults
The perfect summer anthem.

58. Future Starts Slow – The Kills
This album is killer. Loaded with great songs. This one stands out because of the pounding drums, the simple guitar riffs, and the competing vocals.

57. Original Don – Major Lazer
This single released ahead of the album due in 2012 is a very promising sign. The dance anthem of December!!! Run the Track!!!

56. Summer Home – Typhoon
A close second to “Honest Truth”, Summer Home is pure large band heaven. Horns, strings, keys, guitars, multiple drums. This band has it all. A camping favorite for me.

55. She Will – Lil Wayne feat. Drake
Lil Wayne and Drake together will almost always work out perfectly. They seem to be made for each other. By far my favorite track on IV.

54. Serve the People – Handsome Furs
Clearly an 80’s inspired synth-rocker. But, clearly more than that as well. A very anthemic song that soundtracked the last half of the year. Parts of it sound like it was recorded on Bebot.

53. Near Light – Ólafur Arnalds
Ólafur Arnalds decided to record a song each day in his living room. The result is a short EP that exudes beauty at every turn. What makes Near Light stand out from the rest is the burst of electronics and beats that migrate into the last half of the song. It’s the perfect song for a late night in the living room.

52. Helplessness Blues – Fleet Foxes
Helplessness Blues is obviously Fleet Foxes. But something about it feels different.

51. Video Games – Lana Del Rey
Could there be any more hype around this girl? She seems to polarize listeners, but her sultry voice and her nouveau retro sound are striking. “I hear that you like the bad girls honey, is that true?”.

50. Atlas Hands – Benjamin Francis Leftwich
“I will remember your face, because I am still in love with that place”. A gorgeous single from a strong debut album.

49. Can’t Hold Us – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (feat. Ray Dalton)
Just let the rhythm grab you. This song is so sonically captivating you just can’t help but move.

48. Out on a Limb – Joseph Arthur
“Hanging out on a limb in plain sight.” A plaintively beautiful acoustic track with subtle string accompaniment.

47. What the Water Gave Me – Florence and The Machine
From an album that shows no restraint, this is a song that doesn’t apologize for its bombast. It begins with hints, and like all great Florence songs, it builds until it wraps you whole and then squashes you.

46. You and I – Washed Away
Washed Away’s album is one you put on from start to finish and just relish in its simplicity. But You and I is one of the tracks that stands on its own. A playlister so to speak. At times it sounds like the record just isn’t keeping up, but that is part of its charm.

45. Time – Black Lips
Every time this song comes on I am reminded of the early Beatles recordings.

44. Dig Down Deep – Vandaveer
Vandaveer are one of the best bands in the new folk movement. Their sound is traditional and bold. Forward thinking, but strongly rooted in the past. Dig Down Deep is laden with harmonies. It rises and falls, swells and recedes.

43. Lucky Now – Ryan Adams
A song about the passing of his former band mate. Heartbreaking Ryan Adams at his best. “And the night will break your heart, but only if you’re lucky now.”

42. How Deep is Your Love? – The Rapture
This 6.5 minute dance anthem captivates. The religious overtones never overpower the groove.

41. Rolling in the Deep (XX Remix) – Adele (feat. Childish Gambino)
Rolling in the Deep was everywhere this year. A song you just couldn’t escape. Jamie from the XX remixed it into a dancey claptastic affair, and then Childish Gambino added his own touches with a verse at the end. After getting sick of the original, this version brought back my love.

40. The Wolves – Ben Howard
This is the song that introduced me to Ben Howard, and it remains the one I just can’t get enough of. It has a shuffle feel that reminds me of a train rolling through the countryside, and the vocal inflections in the howls and when he pushes his voice to the edge elevate the song to a new height.

39. Buckjump – Trombone Shorty
I have always been a fan of horns, and this track is an exercise in mostly instrumental horn-based hip-hop. Funky fun.

38. Freaks and Geeks – Childish Gambino
Donald Glover returns to the list only 3 tracks later. This comedian/actor/writer/rapper released an EP and an LP this year. The LP was too much of the same, but the earlier released EP featured this great track. A very explicit track like all of his, but this one features some of the best pop-culture based rhymes in a very long time.

37. East Harlem – Beirut
A beautiful track from a beautiful album. “Another rose wilts in East Harlem, and uptown, downtown, a thousand miles between us.”

36. So Much for Love – Gramatik
Sample-based instrumental electronic glory.

35. Sophia – Laura Marling
A different approach for Laura Marling on this album, and this song showcases her new sound. A progression from her last album into a more band oriented feel, this song builds throughout the first half into a country-folk jam when the band joins in.

34. County Line – Cass McCombs
Cass McCombs released a very quiet album this year. County Line is not only one of the best songs on that album, but one of the best of the year. It borrows heavily from 80’s Hall and Oates era instrumentation, but sounds like a song that could’ve been written in the 70’s, yet not feeling out of place in 2011. It is a song that latches onto your soul, pulling it in and down. “You never really tried to love me, whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa”

33. Lady Luck – Jamie Woon
More UK Bass music up on the list. Jamie Woon’s brand features his silky smooth soul/R&B vocals overtop a polished sampled beat.

32. Tongue Tied – Grouplove
Grouplove released a killer EP last year that hinted at what was to come this year. Tongue Tied perfectly embodies their sound. Upbeat, fun, interesting indie-pop. Also featured in a iPod touch commercial later in the year. “Don’t take me tongue tied, Don’t wave no goodbye”

31. Rolled Together – The Antlers
The Antlers returned this year with more sad songs. “Rolled together with a burning paper heart” is repeated throughout overtop a bed of Sigur Ros sounding layers.

30. Numbers in Action – Wiley
One of the catchiest tracks by Wiley off his great LP. After a few listens, you will be singing the hook nearly every time someone says numbers. “I wanna see numbers in action”.

29. Losers – The Belle Brigade
An anthem for accepting yourself, even if you are a loser. “Don’t care about being a winner, Or being smooth with women, Or going out on Fridays, Being the life of parties, no, no more, no.”

28. We Lay in Caves – Campfire OK
I find it hard to pinpoint what it is exactly that really draws me into this song. It has all of my favorite elements in it, but I think it is the way that they all mix together. A song I found myself playing a lot as I drove alone.

27. Houdini – Foster the People
After the huge success of last years “Pumped up Kicks”, Foster the People became a household name. This was a song that my wife and I would dance to in the kitchen in the summer when we were BBQing up some dinner.

26. I’m Getting Ready – Michael Kiwanuka
This is a lazy soulful number that reminds me of Otis Redding and Bill Withers with a hint of James Taylor. It takes you back a few decades, and puts a smile on your face.

25. Twins – Gem Club
My roommate came home to me laying on the couch in the dark listening to this track. She then proclaimed it to be the most depressing song she has ever heard. But I just hear the beauty of the song. It sounds like it is being performed right in your living room. The echoey piano and foot pedals are accompanied by mournful cello and horns and then there is that Dexter-ish fill that gives you chills. Best heard in the dark.

24. Novacane – Frank Ocean
Frank Ocean is going to be big in 2012. The best R&B of the year was all released free online, and this picks up on a similar sound to The Weeknd. Sexually explicit and drugged up R&B for the masses. “Cocaine for breakfast, yikes”

23. Lonely Boy – The Black Keys
The Black Keys are back with what may be the catchiest song they have ever done. Watch the video, and try not to dance along.

22. Need you Now – Cut Copy
Need you Now is classic Cut Copy. And that is a great thing.

21. Rivers and Roads – The Head and the Heart
A live staple for the Head and the Heart that got released on the 2011 SubPop rerelease of one of my favorite albums of 2010. A great addition.

20. Get Some – Lykke Li
Lykke Li’s sound changed significantly this year. Get Some is the anthem of the new sound. A little more grown up. A lot more sultry, sexy and dirty. I like it.

19. Little by Little – Radiohead
I listened to “The King of Limbs” a lot this year. And this was the song I always came back to. It wouldn’t seem out of place on any of their last 5 releases.

18. Crystalline (Omar Souleyman Remix) – Bjork and Omar Souleyman
Iceland meets Syria. Bjork’s Biophilia album felt flat. It was unique, but it felt cold and calculated. Omar Souleyman remixed 3 of the tracks from the album. The remix of Crystalline elevates it to something that has energy and even picks up the uniqueness quotient. Best Bjork track in awhile.

17. It’s Real – Real Estate
This one of those songs that you just like and don’t know why. It has a hidden charm.

16. We are Young – fun. (Feat Janelle Monae)
Somehow fun. have become popular. They toured with Janelle Monae, get played on the radio, and were covered on Glee. This is the song that changed things for them. An advance single from their album due to be released on my birthday in February. As mentioned earlier it features some of my favorite storytelling set to song this year, and they just released a new video for it.

15. Laut – Lockerbie
Icelandic post-rock bliss.

14. Dirty Paws – Of Monsters and Men
3 of the last 5 songs are from Iceland. Of Monsters and Men released a fantastic debut album this year that borrows heavily from American sounds. I just can’t get enough of Dirty Paws and its animal story.

13. Niggas in Paris – Jay Z and Kanye West
Best hip hop track of the year. That Shit Kray!

12. Blue Jeans – Lana Del Rey
Taken from her upcoming album to be released January 31st, another slow burner that sounds fresh and timeless. “I will love you til the end of time”.

11. I Don’t Know – Kassidy
A classic premise. The getting over you song. But really, can you stop singing along to this? I don’t know. Harmonies, claps, and sing-alongs.

10. Hacienda Motel – Pickwick
A soulful number about the death of Soul legend Sam Cooke. Live versions are fuelled by bring your own tambourine moments and jazz hands.

09. Wicked Games – The Weeknd
Rough and Raw R&B fuelled by more sex and drugs. Another popular theme in music… I am so depressed that I just need you to pretend to love me. A theme that Frightened Rabbit has perfected. “So tell me you love me, Only for tonight, Even though you don’t love me.

08. Get Away – Yuck
This song take me back to high school. A time when rock was noisy, and feedback and distortion were used in abundance. “I want to but I can’t get this feeling off my mind, I want to, I need to.”

07. We are the Tide – Blind Pilot
A simple acoustic rhythm guitar repeated over a lumbering elephant-sounding drum, fleshed out by pedal steel, harmonies, trumpet and harmonies. A sweet and simple song that just makes you feel good. “Everybody on the street is singing like it’s a Sunday”

06. Heart is a Beating Drum – The Kills
Back when I was a kid listening to Nine Inch Nails, I always wanted to use odd everyday samples as rhythms in Rock music. One of those was Ping-Pong balls. Heart is a beating drum uses Ping-Pong samples so perfectly its crazy. “It’s not the door you’re using, but the way you’re walking through it”.

05. Tonight’s the Kind of Night – Noah and the Whale
One of those perfect pop songs. A story of transition. A catchy chorus. A timeless sound. This was my anthem for the year.

04. Midnight City – M83
The pieces of this song come together so well to create a song that is pure 2011. It’s a song to dance to. To run to. To drive to. It’s a song that just fits the year perfectly.

03. The Honest Truth – Typhoon
A complete reworking and rebuild of last year’s “Mouth of the Cave” that turns the 45 second acapella interlude into a 4-minute new-folk anthem. This is a song that dominated the year. One I came back to several times a month.

02. Holocene – Bon Iver
One of the most beautiful sounding songs in a very long time. Seemingly nonsensical lyrics that appear to support the music that builds upon layer upon layer. “…And at once I knew I was not magnificent” A song that stands on its own and supports the magnificent album it hails from.

01. The Wilhelm Scream – James Blake
This song came as a surprise to me. It somehow steals you away from everything else. Blake’s voice has enough sorrow and soul and emotion to captivate you and make you feel what he feels, yet it is purposefully detached as well. And then there is the minimalist beat throughout layered with electronic and organic sounds that eventually erupt into a cacophony of sound that shrinks the world around you, bringing you in deeper. Then it releases you in a flash, and you return, wishing you could go back in.

Thanks for paying attention. Stay tuned for the best albums of the year.


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Best Songs of 2011 (According to Kris)

As is a tradition here for the first week of January on Bolster Your Holster we’re releasing some lists of our favourite stuff of 2011. Below are my 50 favourite songs of 2011, most of them have comments, but some are still coming. Thanks for reading and let us know what your favourite songs of the year were!

50. Wiz Khalifa – Black and Yellow

Black and yellow black and yellow black and yellow. The single came out last year, but the album in February so you can’t stop me from starting off the list with this. Wiz’s album was 5 or 6 songs too long to make it a consistent affair, but it had its fair share of great tracks with this Top 40 single being the catchiest.

49. Rainbow Arabia – Without You

I first thought of this band as a jungle version of The Knife. It feels more upbeat and a lot less creepy. This was their first and most popular single from their debut album.

48. Wiley – Numbers in Action

A first of a few songs on this list that Shaun introduced to me from his various monthly playlists. Wiley is an established British grime MC who is basically unknown in North America. Though his new stuff is not nearly as “grimey” as his previous work, I like it more.

47. Kendrick Lamar – HiiPoWeR

Kendrick once said that 2Pac visited him in a dream encouraging him to keep rapping and keeping the spirit of 2Pac alive. Oddly I don’t see any similarities between the two since he ripped off Kanye West with this song.

46. The Rural Alberta Advantage – Tornado ’87

A sentimental favourite due to the tragedy hitting their and my hometown back in the 80s. It’s a love song with deep macabre undertones if you know the story behind the song.

45. tUnE-yArDs – Powa

“Your power, inside, it rocks me like a lullaby” Merill Garbus uses vocal manipulations to create a whole cast of characters that fill her sophomore albums with stories from all sides. This track has a hip-hop slow jam feel while not feeling like that type of song at all.

44. Colin Stetson – Lord I Just Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes

Yay Canada! So Stetson is not technically Canadian, but he does live in Montreal (who doesn’t these days) and was nominated for the Polaris music prize. This is a cover of Blind Willie Johnson’s blues classic reinterpreted with fuzzy bass saxophone and the beautiful haunting vocals of My Brightest Diamond.

43. Braids – Glass Deers

These Calgarians, now Montrealers (of course), add a little alternative experimentation to the list with this eight minute slice of beauty. They’ve been compared to Animal Collective, but I find this track easier to digest than most things from that cast of characters.

42. Major Lazer – Original Don

I think the album is going to be huge when it drops in 2012, and the leadoff single really sets up the dance party that is going to happen very soon.

41. Coldplay – Paradise

It’s catchy.

40. My Morning Jacket – Victory Dance

This is how a jam band approaches re-writing Muse’s ‘Knights of Cydonia’ for an older, less theatrical audience. I think I stopped listening to this album after this song and it is the first one on the album.

39. Cut Copy – Need You Now

I liked the whole album, but had to pick one song to represent them on this list. ‘Need You Now’ starts off slow but bursts forth into a beautiful dance track, the perfect way to open one of the great dance albums of 2011.

38. Death Cab for Cutie – St. Peter’s Cathedral

Death Cab always blows me away with at least one amazing song from each album. I’m a fan of the slow burning heart-wrenching numbers from previous albums like ‘Tiny Vessels’, ‘Transatlanticism’ and ‘Summer Skin’. ‘St. Peter’s Cathedral’ isn’t as painful, but still hits where it hurts.

37. The War on Drugs – Come to the City

This is what happens when an American rock band rewrites U2’s ‘Bad’ for the 2000s. It sounds so much like it, yet still amazing. This song really came out of nowhere when I first listened to it and just made me want to pump my fist in the air.

36. Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie XX – NY is Killing Me

Starts off with a warning that something is going to explode, Scott-Heron exclaims New York is Killing Me and then comes the heavy bass. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It makes me feel like I need to discover everything Scott-Heron did in his lifetime. Another XX reference on the Bolster!

35. Radiohead – Lotus Flower

If you can get past the Thom Yorke dance you get Radiohead’s first and only single from The King of Limbs. Weird time signatures abound and just try to clap your hands to this song. There’s always dancing like Thom Yorke…

34. Frank Ocean – Lovecrimes

Do you hear the woman slowly getting annoyed in the background? She starts off laughing, but by the end of the song she demands respect. Lovecrime. The piano and drum beat really make the song, which is rare as Ocean’s vocals are usually the highlight of his work.

33. Theophilus London – Wine and Chocolates

First time hearing this I swore it was a TV on the Radio track. Later I found out it was recorded with TV on the Radio which explained a lot. And it was better than anything on TV on the Radio’s album that came out in 2011. I’m disappointed in them, but happy that Theophilus filled that void.

32. Noah and The Whale – Just Me Before We Met

Noah and The Whale ditched the sombre breakup songs for some good old americana on their third album. Another album where every song was excellent I decided to settle on this one because of the chorus. It’s a wonderful track that really livens me up.

31. Foster the People – Pumped Up Kicks

The biggest indie song of the year that was great before I saw them perform it on Saturday Night Live. Why can’t bands act as cool as they sound?

30. The Antlers – Putting the Dog to Sleep

“Prove to me I’m not going to die alone”, opens one of the most depressing songs of 2011. This almost takes me back to Antlers debut album Hospice with feelings of abandonment and despair. Using putting a dog to sleep as a metaphor for the end of a relationship, it is more a song about smartening up and believing in someone rather than throwing it away.

29. Lia Ices – Daphne

Lia teams up with Bon Iver on the best duet of 2011. It’s a magical folk tale of a tree and a girl, her lyrics are almost as bizarre as Bon Iver’s.

28. Raphael Saadiq – Heart Attack

Does anyone remember Tony! Toni! Toné!? This guy was in that band, but now he makes some sweet soul, funk and R&B. I love modern soul that sticks to its roots. Saadiq is at the top of his game here with a rock infused funk burner.

27. Alexander – Truth

Edward Sharpe is not the lead singer of the Magnetic Zeroes. Alex Ebert is. Alex Ebert released a solo album under the moniker Alexander and the highlight was this laid-back soul number featuring some mean whistling and powerful vocals.

26. The Weeknd – The Morning

Most of this list could have been songs from The Weeknd, as I don’t think I’ve ever heard modern R&B done as good as this before. ‘The Morning’ is best summed up with the lines: “House full of hoes that specialize in the hoeing’, Make that money rain as they takin off they clothes”. Sure the lyrics are raw, but isn’t that what makes it real?

25. Elbow – The Birds

I have a sweet tooth for album openers. First impressions are strong and when it comes to albums you gotta come out strong to keep me listening. With ‘The Birds’ I had high expectations since I loved Elbow’s last album and they didn’t disappoint. Check out Bolster’s review of Elbow to learn a bit more about this track and the rest of the album.

24. Jamie Woon – Street

Post-dubstep with smooth soulful vocals and a shadowy feel make this track something to be enjoyed after a late night out while it rains outside. I’m wishing you were here with me walking on a city street.

23. PJ Harvey – The Words That Maketh Murder

Everything that PJ does is gold and this is no exception. A scathing look at war sung in that beautiful voice of hers.

22. Burial – Street Halo

A big fan of what Burial has done here. Scratching, which sounds like rain falling the pavement. Deep heavy bass. A chugging house beat. Distorted female vocals. This is what I thought dubstep was supposed to sound like.

21. Timber Timbre – Too Old To Die Young

Haunted swamp folk, and this is their most up beat song possibly ever? It is the sounds of getting murdered in a 1950s flick combined with David Lynch and maybe even a bit of the Boreal forest in there as well.

20. The Rapture – How Deep is Your Love?

I don’t know whether I was disappointed that this wasn’t a cover of the Bee Gees song when it came out, but at this point I’m glad it reminds me of how good The Rapture were in the mid-2000s. Infectious dance song that is as good as anything they’ve ever released.

19. Lil’ Wayne – She Will (Featuring Drake)

Young Money! Most critics thought that LIl’ Wayne was running out of ideas on The Carter IV, I, on the other hand, enjoyed most of it as the beats were good and Wayne was doing what he does best. This track featuring Drake is a gloomy slice of angry hip-hop.

18. Yacht – I Walked Alone

17. Bjork – Crystalline (Omar Souleyman Remix)

Omar Souleyman should remix every Bjork track. I love the Middle Eastern vibe that flows throughout this song. The original is very minimal, but this makes it a track you’d hear at an Iranian wedding, something that Souleyman has sung at hundreds of times in his career. You want to get people dancing, put on this song!

16. The Head and The Heart – Rivers and Roads

A bonus track from the reissue of their album and a live favourite, ‘Rivers and Roads’ is longing at its finest. The finest long-distance song of the year, I know I listened to it many a night in 2011. The emotion in this song, especially when played live, makes it hit both the head and the heart.

15. Okkervil River – Mermaid

I wrote about this song earlier this year and commented that Okkervil River was back in from and writing kick-ass depressing music. ‘Mermaid’ was better than any song on their 2011 album I Am Very Far and still resonates as their best song since Black Sheep Boy.

14. M83 – Midnight City

13. The National – Exile Vilify

My favourite band released three new tracks this year. This was used as the theme to the video game Portal 2, which I have yet to play, but hear is outstanding. They’ve moved towards more piano driven ballads, but still write magic.

12. Lana Del Rey – Blue Jeans

Her album comes out in January, but this preview single really set the bar high. It’s a rip-off of Chris Issak’s ‘Wicked Game’ with Stevie Nicks and Tori Amos vocals. Highly addictive and suggestively erotic, it really gets under the skin.

11. Adele – Rolling in The Deep

I think you’ve heard this song before…

10. Big K.R.I.T. – Sookie Now

‘Sookie Now’ just soars in and takes over. This has to be played in clubs, has to be played at parties, it is just Southern hip-hop at its best.

9. James Blake – The Wilhelm Scream

I don’t know about my dreams anymore. What’s that thing they call post post dubstep? I think this guy invented it.

8. Ellie Goulding – Lights

Released as a single in 2011 from a 2010 album makes this an iffy selection, but it really is one of two great pop songs in my Top 10 that deserve recognition, even if they were released in 2010. ‘Lights’ is one of those songs that grabbed a hold of me ever since seeing her perform it on SNL. She just seemed to be putting everything into the song and that it really meant something to her. I admired that and feel it every time I listen.

7. The Weeknd – Wicked Games

6. Radiohead – Give Up The Ghost

A very minimal Radiohead song that plays out more like a Thom Yorke solo piece than a full band effort. We have sampled vocals, an acoustic guitar and Yorke’s lead in the front and way in the back is the rest of the band. It’s beautiful though, their best song since In Rainbows and something very Radiohead on a very un-Radiohead 2011 album.

5. Washed Out – You and I

I’ve never been a fan of chill wave, but Washed Out works both as a pick me up or a come down. ‘You and I’ makes me want to dance and cry at the same time, which usually means that it will be one of my favourite songs of the year. The female vocals that enter around the 3:30 part add just enough to change up the track and make it stick.

4. Florrie – Left Too Late

I’m breaking a big rule here by having a 2010 song up this high, but it was too good to not put on the list. Her Introduction EP was released in November 2010, but I didn’t hear this song until 2011 so I’m putting it here. Likely my most listened to track of 2011 this is the perfect pop song. The way it takes off when the guitar and synth come in, it’s just perfectly produced.

3. Jay-Z & Kanye West – Niggas in Paris

“we’re gonna skate to one song and one song only” Why the clips from Blades of Glory, i don’t know, but they work seamlessly with the track. The beat and production on this one is stellar and I would say the first two minutes are the best hip-hop you’re going to find this year.

2. Bon Iver – Holocene

This song is beautiful but it makes no sense. I don’t understand a word of this song and think he keeps saying “Shake and Bake and stick with her”, but it just is and that is what makes it so magnificent.

1. The Antlers – I Don’t Want Love

An oddly-titled song to have as my number one for anyone who may know me, this ended up as my number one song though I never really pictured it there before making this list. Once in a while a song comes along that doesn’t seem to have anything special about it, but over time it really takes a hold. I found this with The XX and The National before and with The Antlers I found it this year. ‘I Don’t Want Love’ was something I could listen anytime, though the lyrics aim at something fairly devastating, and love it.

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The Weeknd – Echoes of Silence

Well Shit… It managed to drop before New Years’. Abel Tesfaye had promised 3 mixtapes in 2011 and with only 10 days left in the year, rumours that it wouldn’t drop this year were in the air. I thought he might release it on New Years’ Eve, but instead a few hours ago, Echoes of Silence  became available from

I say mixtape, but all three of the albums are filled with excellent new tracks that are better than most albums released this year. I’m only on the second song of the album so far and the production on Echoes of Silence is cleaner and less murkier than that on House of Balloons and Thursday. The album opens with a cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Dirty Diana’, a huge surprise, as Tesfaye sounds remarkably like MJ. Also included is the track ‘Initiation’, which was leaked a couple months ago, a dirty manipulated vocal affair.

My suggestion: Get this now for free from The Weeknd’s website and consider it an early Christmas present. It could be the best thing you get.



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Some thoughts for 2012 from Bolster Your Holster

Listening to music is a game of give and take. Music puts you in a certain mood, you venture off in that mood and as it changes you want to listen to something else, which in turn changes your emotions again. I wish I could put it more eloquently then that, but alas my mind can’t think that way at the moment.

We are a public blog that wants to keep you on top of music, but we also don’t provide cut copy reviews and stories for our readers. While we maintain our personal lives to a degree, we like to talk and write about how music shapes us and adds meaning. That is the freedom that a blog brings. Our readers mostly find us through google searches, facebook posts and from our twitter feed, and we want them to continue reading and commenting not only to make the site better, but to be able to feel that connection we have to music and share their experiences with us.

I’ve been contemplating on a couple roads I could go down for the next year or two. Music has always been a huge influence on my life, enough so that I enjoy listening, playing, writing and dancing to/or about music most every day. I’m sure most of humanity feels the same way about at least two of those above four. It’s a decision whether to actually focus on those things as a career or at least a career on the side. Why not love what you do? Why not make your interests your career? These are questions that bring struggles and don’t guarantee success, but I think it is time to put those aside and try to make music an even bigger part of my life. With that I will likely be posting more finally.

Over the next year our readers will see a lot more of our personalities as we dive in to some new features and, if we can, a podcast every so often. We’d also like to know what you’d like to see on the blog, be it more in-depth artists features, a focus on some different genres or something just off the wall.  Bolsteryourholster will have a few more posts during the end of 2011 and in the first week of 2012 we’ll be rolling out our best albums and songs of 2011.

Thanks so much for reading over the last two years and we wish you the very best for the Holiday season!



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Paradigm Shift – Where have all the records gone?

Remember when you used to get music for Christmas? Like an MC Hammer cassette tape? I certainly do. How about 5 years ago, try going into a popular record store before Christmas and you would be surrounded by parents struggling to find the right CDs to buy their kids. That same music store is now only 1/4 CDs and the rest has been taken over by DVDs, Blu-rays, video games and assorted knick knacks that have no place in a music store. But guess what, they also sell music gift cards. Cards that let you download music on to your computer. You can have a digital file and listen to your music anywhere.

Let’s get this out of the way first: I have no problem with digital music. I listen to music on my ipod everyday and get a lot of my music digitally. In fact, I would attribute digital distribution to exposing me to many new artists I never would have found and allows musicians starting up to distribute their music much more easily than having to make a physical copy and selling it at shows and indie record stores. But that is not what this article is about, it looks at the paradigm shift in the music industry and what it means to give and share music with each other.

Using my personal experience as the example, I’ve managed to live through the evolution of many different media from 8-track to the mp3. Growing up my parents had an 8-track player in their car and I remember road trips listening to The Muppet Movie soundtrack and remember crying when the tape got eaten by the player. At home I’d listen to my Dad’s record collection and loved perusing the album art and the lyrics that came with each. My parents bought me a bunch of kids records too, which were great for actually giving a visual representation of what I was listening to and knowing what the musicians looked like who were making the music. I definitely scratched up a bunch of those records, but they are what made me love music. The needle drop, the pops and clicks, having to change the side every 20 minutes, that was all part of the experience.

Then came cassettes. I don’t miss them at all. Except for having to spend 2 hours making a mixtape for yourself or someone else. That took dedication. That required planning. That took time. Time. The shift from record to mp3 coincides with our constant impatience and need for information immediately. No longer do we have to save up to buy an album or wait until an album is released. The internet has changed all that. I can’t remember the last time I listened to an album for the first time on a physical format. An album from a favourite band is leaked early? Well i’ll listen to it right then and there, probably on shitty computer speakers. There’s no ripping off the plastic, looking at the art, reading the liner notes and placing the media on or in a device to hear for the first time. It’s something I miss, but don’t have time for, or more accurately, make time for. Cassettes brought us to a point where we could take music wherever we went, but it still required effort to listen to what we wanted to.

I started selling my CD collection. A couple weeks ago I went to Blackbyrd Myoozik in Edmonton and sold about 150 cds. It was tough to pick which cds to sell, but almost everyone was one I would never listen to again or already had in my itunes library. These cds were sitting in boxes in my basement doing absolutely nothing for me. Talking to the staff at Blackbyrd they mentioned that 3 years ago I would have received double the amount of money for the ones I sold. No one buys CDs anymore. I don’t want to sell some of my music, as it may have lost its monetary value, but not the personal. On the other hand it is just going to sit in boxes while the digital copies of the SAME MUSIC is being listened to all the time. I also can’t sell the cds I received as gifts from friends or family, even if I don’t like it, it has meaning.

We all know that digital distribution is the key factor impacting the decline in physical media. The CD will likely stop being made in the next few years and will be used sparingly by artists for those few who want a physical media format. Vinyl sales continue to increase, but I bet it will never be more than a niche market for those who collect music or want their music to sound the best. Vinyl will never be a viable alternative for the average consumer as it is not convenient and is double the price of buying a digital copy. Vinyl also usually contains digital download codes so you can have your music on the go.

We’ve moved to Christmas gifts not being records, tapes or cds, but cards we can use to purchase the albums or songs we want. We can make our own mixtape as our Christmas gift. There won’t be art, they won’t be the best sound quality, but we can customize. Also we can have it within seconds. Whatever we want. Whenever we want. Convenience. Easy. Music is not meant to be difficult to obtain by any means, but we have to realize that the internet will be the reigning influence for the foreseeable future.

Enjoy your Christmas gifts everyone and whether you get a music gift card or a cd, it really is all the same. Music is music and while we all enjoy it differently, it is meant to be part of our lives.

Guess what is on my Christmas list this year? Records.

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