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Best of 2011

Best of 2011- Albums, Tracks, Videos and Concerts

Posted on by Eric in Best of 2011 | Leave a comment

We know that everyone anxiously awaited each and every day of our countdowns to see which album and which track would be next on our Best of 2011 lists. Now that we have hit the top you can find each of our full lists for the best albums, songs, concerts and videos of the year. Click the links for two Spotify playlists, one featuring all the best songs of the year and the other a sampling from our best albums of the year.

Top 20 Albums (Spotify Playlist):

1. Middle Brother- Middle Brother

2. Fleet Foxes- Helplessness Blues

3. Wilco- The Whole Love

4. The Antlers- Burst Apart

5. My Morning Jacket- Circuital

6. Bon Iver- Bon Iver

7. Girls- Father, Son, Holy Ghost

8. The Head and the Heart- The Head and the Heart

9. M83- Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming 

10. Radiohead- The King of Limbs

11. Cymbals Eat Guitars- Lenses Alien

12. Liam Finn- FOMO

13. We Are Augustines- Rise Ye Sunken Ships

14. Cults- Cults

15. Dawes- Nothing Is Wrong

16. Vetiver- The Errant Charm

17. Akron/Family- Akron/Family II

18. Tan Vampires- For Physical Fitness

19. TuNe-YaRdS- w h o k i l l

20. Portugal. The Man- In The Mountain In The Cloud

Top 20 Tracks (Spotify Playlist):

1. Wilco- “Art of Almost”

2. Fleet Foxes- “The Shrine/An Argument”

3. Iron & Wine- “Your Fake Name Is Good Enough For Me”

4. Bon Iver- “Perth”

5. Toro y Moi- “Elise”

6. M83- “Midnight City”

7. Gotye- “Somebody That I Used To Know”

8. Wu Lyf- “Heavy Pop”

9. Dawes- “Fire Away”

10. Aunt Martha- “Bloodshot”

11. Dirty Gold- “California Sunrise”

12. Belle Brigade- “Losers”

13. Typhoon- “The Honest Truth”

14. My Morning Jacket- “Holdin’ on to Black Metal”

15. Rubblebucket- “Came Out of a Lady”

16. Death Cab For Cutie- “You Are A Tourist”

17. Braids- “Glass Deers”

18. St. Vincent- “Surgeon”

19. Jay Kill & The Hustle Standard- “Howl At The Moon”

20. Unknown Mortal Orchestra- “Ffunny Ffriends”

Top 5 Videos:

1. The Low Anthem- “Boeing 737”

2. SebastiAn- “Embody”

3. WATERS- “For the One”

4. Ben Sollee- “Close To You”

5. Reptar- “Rainbounce”

Top 5 Concerts:

1. LCD Soundsystem Last Ever 4/2/2011 @ Madison Square Gardnen

2. Middle Brother 7/31/2011 @ Newport Folk Festival

3. Wilco 6/24 and 6/25/2011 @ Solid Sound Festival

4. Fleet Foxes 5/17/2011 @ Orpheum Theatre

5. Wu Lyf 11/10/2011 @ Middle East Downstairs

 

M&T Best Albums of 2011: #1

Posted on by Caroline in Best of 2011 | Leave a comment

#1. Middle Brother- Middle Brother

While all of us here at Maimed & Tamed Music can appreciate the adventurous and unheard, there’s something to be said for an album that stays true to itself. Clearly, Middle Brother did not need to reinvent the wheel to be our far-and-away favorite album of the year. The record is a compilation of 12 equally strong songs that are a perfect snapshot of life and love on the road. From beginning to end, I cannot find a weak spot in the record. “Daydreaming” opens the album, with Deer Tick frontman John McCauley offering up his token blunt lyrics.  McCauley is known for writing up songs at a break-neck pace, so it makes sense that he rarely holds back. His ability to write songs without mincing words, from “Mom and Dad” to “Middle Brother,” allows us to really enter the mind of a Middle Brother.

While John McCauley nails the drunken, spirited aspect of the album, Dawes’ Taylor Goldsmith adds songs to the album with a more jaded point of view. Goldsmith is known for a more methodical, painstaking writing process, and in turn, he afforded us with some of the best written songs of the year. “Blood and Guts” and “Thanks for Nothing” absolutely skewer an unfortunate ex. These songs are peppered with classic lyrics whose clarity will stand the test of time. While I wish that Goldsmith wasn’t singing about his volatile relationships, solely for his own mental health, I have to say I’m glad these experiences caused timeless songs of heartbreak.

From the cheery, to the dark, the album works its way through the psyche of McCauley, Goldsmith, and Delta Spirit’s Matt Vasquez. And just when you think the album has run its course, the simple strums of “Million Dollar Bill” begin. The song, which features Goldsmith’s ingenious analogies and a verse from each member of Middle Brother, is the perfect closer to the album. A song with incredibly strong writing, a unique point-of-view and a simple and gorgeous tune is more than fitting for the album closer.

The transience of the folk supergroup, who have not even hinted at definite plans to reunite, does add to the importance of the album. What they created so perfectly may never come about again, and for that reason we are certainly glad that we caught them in Boston as well as a killer set at Newport Folk Festival 2011. But regardless of the fact that this album is truly once-in-a-lifetime, nothing can take away the fact that Middle Brother is a collection of twelve songs that cannot be topped this year.

Featured Tracks: “Million Dollar Bill”, “Blue Eyes”, “Blood and Guts”, “Mom and Dad”

 

M&T Best Tracks of 2011: #1

Posted on by Eric in Best of 2011 | Leave a comment

#1. Wilco- “Art of Almost”

Ladies and gentleman we have reached the top, a bittersweet end to our nearly three week long countdown of the best songs of 2011. Last year we argued back and forth over which song was “big” enough to be considered our #1 track of the year. Big in a sense that it is transcendent, yet still accessible. This lead us to settle on Broken Social Scene’s masterpiece “World Sick” over Delta Spirit’s “Bushwick Blues,” both tracks being very deserving of their placements in the Top 3.

This year the argument was a bit shorter as we all agreed that Wilco had produced a “big” song in a very BIG way. Placing “Art of Almost” as the first track on The Whole Love is nothing short of making a powerful statement. A statement that is a far cry from the one that the band made in 2009, when Jeff Tweedy assured us that, “Wilco will love you baby.” Although it’s nice to be loved, in my opinion it is much better to get your face melted off and your mind exploded into a million little pieces.

“Art of Almost” begins with a tense and peculiar intro that leads into a radiant crescendo of strings. And then there is Tweedy’s familiar croon, but not to express the band’s affection for us, rather to explain this art of almost in a manner that is quite perplexing.

“No!/I froze/I can’t be so/Far away from my wasteland/I never know when I might/Ambulance/Hoist the horns with my own hands/Almost/Almost”

While Tweedy describes the comfort zone that is his wasteland, the rest of the band does their best to bring us into musical contentment for the first four and a half minutes of the song. Then right when you think the track has run its course, that is when the real fun starts.

Glenn Kotche and Nels Cline drive the song into the ground with a concise and steady beat, until it explodes into a disciplined disarray of sound, highlighted by Cline’s aforementioned guitar work. At that point you will be motioning towards your phone to call a plastic surgeon who can mop your face up off the floor and stick it back on to your head.

Although the song clocks in at over seven minutes, it seems that Cline’s breakneck solo, and the song itself, ends just as quickly as it began. For all of the appreciation that Wilco has shown us over the years, this gem is all we need to know that Wilco still loves us baby.

M&T Best Tracks of 2011: #2

Posted on by Neil in Best of 2011 | Leave a comment

#2. Fleet Foxes- “The Shrine/An Argument”

We’re almost there. In a year of great music, it’s hard to rank and order which songs are “better” than others, but it’s safe to say that in the top 2 we’re talking about the best of the best. Robin Pecknold and his bandmates recorded one of the finest rock songs of the year on their outstanding Helplessness Blues (see below) in the epic “The Shrine/An Argument”. The song lends itself well to its title, breaking down into two distinct sections of lovely harmonies and beautiful, beautiful acoustic guitar driven rock. Small aside: seeing this song performed live at Mountain Park in western Massachusetts in an outdoor venue underneath a star laden sky made me arrive at two conclusions. 1) Robin Pecknold is one of the greatest modern song writers. 2.) Life is good.

M&T Best Albums of 2011: #2

Posted on by Kyle in Best of 2011 | Leave a comment


#2: Fleet Foxes-Helplessness Blues

The music world had been waiting anxiously for this record to see if the Fleet Foxes could recreate the magic of their self-titled debut album. With Helplessness Blues they did that and then some. From the aggressive finger-picking in the lead track “Montezuma” to the heart-pounding rhythm of “Grown Ocean” this album is a tour de force in all that is good and righteous in alternative music today. The percussive genius that is Joshua Tillman carries each song to beautiful heights and the addition of multi-instrumentalist Morgan Henderson adds diversity to the group’s sound.

The most amazing part of the album is that the core sound evident in Fleet Foxes and even the EP Sun Giant has not been lost. Songs like “Lorelai” and “The Shrine/An Argument” have the intensity that no one has ever heard from the Fleet Foxes while the title track gives us a glimpse into Robin Pecknold’s every wish and desire.

Featured Tracks: “The Shrine/An Argument”, “Grown Ocean”, “Helplessness Blues”

M&T Best Tracks of 2011: #3

Posted on by Eric in Best of 2011 | Leave a comment

#3. Iron & Wine- “Your Fake Name Is Good Enough For Me”

Although Sam Beam and Iron & Wine’s path from whispery acoustic melodies to full-blown 10-piece band was a bit less marked than that of Justin Vernon and Bon Iver, it is still quite incredible to hear the difference between 2002’s The Creek Drank The Cradle and 2011’s Kiss Each Other Clean.

The best example of this transformation is the album’s closing track (and also the closer to Iron & Wine’s incredible Bonnaroo 2011 set), “Your Fake Name Is Good Enough For Me.” The song begins as a spry jazz inspired trip highlighted by vocal harmonies and a shrill saxophone line. About two and a half minutes in, the quick pace of the song halts and from then on Beam repeats variations based on the song’s chorus, “Become the weeds, we will become/Become the sea, we will become.” This vocal repetition is layered over a swelling wave of sound that slowly builds into a psychedelic trance over the song’s final four minutes.

The variations on the chorus which Beam repeats over and over, range from the idyllic (Become the river sway/We will become, become) the philosophical (Become both right and wrong/We will become, become) to the strange and seemingly out of place (Become an ice cream cone/We will become, become).

For all of its aural nuances and enigmatic lyrics, “Fake Name” turns into one of the slow-burners of the year. Much like Bon Iver’s “Beth/Rest”, this is the song where you, “Pick up your joint and re-light it.”

M&T Best Albums of 2011: #3

Posted on by Eric in Best of 2011 | Leave a comment

#3. Wilco- The Whole Love

Our #3 album of the year comes from veteran Chicago rockers, and one of our all-time favorite bands– Wilco. Their eighth full-length effort begins with a sonic journey to the center of musical creativity that is called “Art of Almost.” After getting your mind blown by Nels Cline’s shredding skills, the band switches gears in an instant and leads you straight into the radio-friendly single “I Might.”

It is the depth of textures and styles that Wilco is able to cohesively incorporate throughout The Whole Love which makes it stand out amongst the previous 17 albums on our Best of 2011 list. There is the ghostly slide guitar and string accompaniment of “Black Moon”, the sentimentality of “Open Mind” and the endearing feel of the title track which is reminiscent of Sky Blue Sky as Jeff Tweedy repeats, “I’ll still love you to death/And I will never forget how.”

I like to call the album an “epic sandwich” where on one end we have the face-melting seven minute “Art of Almost” and on the other “One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend)” rides the same riff over and over again, but somehow it just doesn’t get old, even after 12 minutes.

As if 12 tracks and nearly an hour of new music wasn’t enough, Wilco even included six bonus tracks to accompany their new record. Two covers, two alternate versions of album cuts and two other original tunes are included either on the deluxe edition of The Whole Love or on the limited edition vinyl-only Speak Into The Rose EP. If you get your hands on the bonus tracks make sure to pay special attention to “Speak Into The Rose,” a track filled with spacey, fuzzed out guitars which very well could be the second coming of “Spiders (Kidsmoke).”

Featured Tracks: “Art of Almost”, “Dawned on Me”, “Black Moon”

M&T Best Videos of 2011

Posted on by Eric in Best of 2011 | Leave a comment

Now that we have entered our Top 5 albums and songs of the year, we figured what better time than now to share some more of our Top 5’s for 2011. Today we will be featuring our 5 favorite videos of the year, enjoy!

5. Reptar- “Rainbounce”

4. Ben Sollee- “Close To You”

3. WATERS- “For the One”

2. SebastiAn- “Embody”

1. The Low Anthem- “Boeing 737”

M&T Best Tracks of 2011: #4

Posted on by Caroline in Best of 2011 | Leave a comment

Made up words, veiled meanings, and obscure references: the Bon Iver discography is not an easy one to analyze. What’s left for us listeners to do but just take it all in? On “Perth,” Vernon puts forth his pithy lyrics towards gorgeous harmonies and a militial snare-drum, and creates an amazing opener to his sophomore album. Without even understanding all the lyrics (wtf does “fide” or “fane” mean, anyways?), we can all agree that Perth is successful in telling a universal, albeit vague story. “Still alive who you love,” repeats Vernon on the song’s chorus. His lofty vocals send this line floating over the crashing symbols and that lone electric guitar riff.  Perhaps the line reminds you of a loved one who’s passed away, or a relationship that’s faded. Whatever it is, the meaning of the chorus is just broad enough to bear significance to every listener. And the refrain only becomes more potent as the songs grows, thanks to those booming drum rolls and gorgeous old-school horns.

And if the song didn’t speak to you through your earbuds or on your record player, it translated incredibly live. We saw Bon Iver this past summer, where “Perth” was Vernon’s choice of opener. The performance clarified what we all thought upon hearing the track on the record: the era of For Emma, Forever Ago is over. “Perth” signifies a new beginning, looking forward towards light rather than looking back and reflecting on darkness. So with the help of two drum kits and his nine-piece band, Vernon’s deafening performance of “Perth” at Mountain Park demanded our full, undivided attention. And hence, the song rightfully demanded a spot in M&T top five tracks of the year.

M&T Best Concerts of 2011

Posted on by Eric in Best of 2011 | Leave a comment

We will preface this post by saying that it is by no means the decisive list for the best concerts of the year. We realize that it is impossible to make a definitive claim for the best shows of 2011, because no one can be omnipresent (unless you’re Jim James). Our list is the best of what we have seen this year, and not to brag, but we have seen a lot of shows. When all was said and done we settled on the five shows below, click the links for our reviews–

5. Wu Lyf 11/10/2011 @ Middle East Downstairs

4. Fleet Foxes 5/17/2011 @ Orpheum Theatre

3. Wilco 6/24 and 6/25/2011 @ Solid Sound Festival

2. Middle Brother 7/31/2011 @ Newport Folk Festival 

1. LCD Soundsystem Last Ever 4/2/2011 @ Madison Square Garden