M&T Best Songs of 2017


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M&T Best Albums of 2017


The moment you've all been waiting for...our favorite albums of 2017. We've compiled a list of the 40 best albums of the year and highlighted a Read More

January 2018 Spotify Playlist of the Month


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Best of 2011

M&T Best Albums of 2011: #4

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

 

#4. The Antlers- Burst Apart

After wowing critics with their 2009 release Hospice, The Antlers did not disappoint with this year’s follow-up. Burst Apart, is a much more cohesive effort with frontman Pete Silberman relinquishing some of his creative control to bandmates Darby Cicci, and Michael Lerner. What results is an extremely well-produced album filled with lush layers and much like Radiohead’s The King of Limbs, has you hearing something new with each listen.

Burst Apart was an easy choice for our Top 5 albums of 2011, because it was one of those records that we constantly turned to. You know when you are skimming through your iPod, unsure what would tickle your fancy and you always seem to end up on that same record? Yea, Burst Apart is that record for 2011.

If you have yet to listen to this record (first of all shame on you) check out the two tracks below and you will be hooked. “Rolled Together” features shimmery guitars and Silberman’s soaring falsetto, a song which the frontman describes in a Drowned in Sound interview as, “Best heard stoned with friends.” The spooky electronica feel of “Parentheses” may also fall into the “stoned with friends” category, mostly for its kick-ass guitar riff a-la Hospice‘s “Bear.”

Many bands fall flat on their faces trying to re-create a critically successful album, but The Antlers did just the opposite by taking Burst Apart in a whole new direction, a direction which can certainly be enjoyed stoned with friends.

M&T Best Albums of 2011: #5

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#5. My Morning Jacket-Circuital

Circuital is another addition into My Morning Jacket’s majestic catalog. It has all the ups and downs, twists and turns that one can expect from this seasoned band. Concert favorite “Wonderful (The Way I Feel)” gets a proper release on this record and sets the tone in general for the nine songs around it. (“Friends Again” missed the cut, but look for the 7” out now with the unreleased track and a spacey version of “Outta My System.”) Overall the record has a very mature feel; the boys have moved past their peanut butter pudding surprise days. Songs like “Slow Slow Tune” and “Movin Away” have the awesome sentimentality characteristic of their sophomore release, At Dawn but the sense is that MMJ superfans aren’t as happily surprised as they were with Evil Urges. Yet there’s no need for nitpicking because this album is hands, feet, and trumpets above many veteran releases this year.

M&T Best Tracks of 2011: #5

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#5. Toro Y Moi-“Elise”

Toro Y Moi’s Chaz Bundick knows the amount of work and thought that goes into writing and producing a solid record. That’s why, if you ask him, his 2011 sophomore full-length Underneath The Pine ranks among the best of the best this year. That’s also why any person you ask who gave Underneath The Pine a few serious listens may have a different favorite track off the album;they’re all good, but none of them are “Elise”.

“Elise” is the 6-minute album closer, an epic sonic voyage which should under no circumstances be experienced with laptop speakers. About halfway through “Elise” is a musical interlude featuring keyboards and synth sounds which swirl and intermix so well with the twanging guitar and Bundick’s falsetto yelps, its almost like waking up from a dream when the chorus comes storming back in. But one of those really great dreams that leaves a warm lingering feeling all day long.

M&T Best Tracks of 2011: #6

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The lyrics of M83’s “Midnight City” couldn’t be simpler. Over and over, Anthony Gonzalez repeats the phrase: “waiting in a car/ waiting for a ride in the dark.” But rather than emphasizing monotony or boredom, M83 turns this everyday action into an ecstatic exclamation about city living. By distorting his vocals for the unforgettable opener, and piling on almost too many synths and drums, Gonzalez doesn’t need intricate lyrics. The euphoria he wants to express about the daily life in the city comes across loud and clear. It would even if the song was instrumental. And with his now-famous shout of “the city is my church!” Gonzalez perfectly captures the way so many people find spirituality in unexpected places.

The list of songs written about driving around a city is endless (and they even show up elsewhere in our countdown). But no song in recent history has so easily captured the way this simple action of “riding around in the dark” can transcend you. And then, just when you think the song has brought you to absolute Nirvana… that freaking saxophone solo kicks in. Unexpected, and totally uncool. But completely necessary in carrying the listener through to that final euphoric state.  “Midnight City” is this year’s anthem for the every man, and it could not be more fun to listen to.

M&T Best Albums of 2011: #6

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#6. Bon Iver-Bon Iver

2011 was a big year for Justin Vernon. His 2nd full length dropped amidst much anticipation, he nabbed a couple of Grammy noms, got in a couple of twitter squabbles, and cemented his status as an indie icon. I was curious as to how Bon Iver’s debut For Emma, Forever Ago put Vernon is such a position to even have such a considerable buzz built for his sophomore effort. I mean it’s an outstanding, emotional, gut-wrenching album, but how did Bon Iver reach that level of recognition over any other singer/songwriter who dropped a soul-searching album in 2008?

I suppose no one knows the real answer to that, which is why Bon Iver’s second effort was so critical in defining who Vernon was as an artist and what he would do with all the new found attention. Bon Iver is a far-reaching, progressive and highly layered work with sparkling gems strewn throughout. Vernon takes shards and pieces from about 25 separate genres and molds them together into a highly listenable album, through and through. Most of the tracks have an almost retro feel to them, incorporating cheesy 90’s sax into places where it somehow actually makes sense. And best of all, Vernon’s signature howl, carrying all of his beautiful baggage is present through out.

Featured Tracks: “Wash”, “Holocene”

M&T Best Albums of 2011: #7

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A highly flawed individual can often produce incredible art. And Christopher Owens of Girls is no exception to this rule. Owens, the singer and songwriter behind Girls, gave us a truly fulfilling rock album this year with Father, Son, Holy Ghost, and he bared his soul in the process. As a kid who grew up in (and eventually ran from) a religious cult, Owens knows a thing or two about sinning. His sins pop up and recur throughout the album: on “Honey Bunny,” he sings of his neediness over a bouncy chorus, and he ponders his inability to commit on “Saying I Love You.” And, just in case you missed the memo, he spells it out matter-of-factly in “Die,” saying, “we’re all going straight to hell tonight.” Owens’ honesty fuels each track, providing lyrics that propel forward an already-phenomenal rock and roll soundtrack.

A major thread tying together all of Girls’ songs on this album is their restraint. Owens’ vocals are so easy and unforced, it makes you wonder if he’s even trying at all. And weirdly enough, it is his apparent lack of effort that makes each song sound… well, effortless. This restraint also turns up in the editing of each track. On “Vomit,” Girls allows the song to build slowly through the first few minutes, but in due time, it becomes an overflowing epic.  After well-placed guitar solos woven throughout the track, the song’s topped off with a gospel choir, belting at 110%. The potency of the song’s final minute does no less than cut right to your core. And yet on “My Ma” and “Love Like a River,” the same gospel choir turns up, but only in tempered, subtle doses. And while the album closer, “Jamie Marie,” is not much more than a pretty guitar riff, its simplicity gives the spotlight to dead-on lyrics about the one that got away. On Father, Son, Holy Ghost, Christopher Owens seems to reconcile with the fact that he’s nowhere near perfect. But through that realization, he turned out a nearly perfect album.

Featured Tracks: “Vomit,” “Honey Bunny,” “Jamie Marie”

 

M&T Best Tracks of 2011: #7

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

From the delicate pluck of the strings and glockenspiel in the intro all the way through the epic crescendo of harmonies with songstress Kimbra, the Belgian born Australian bred Gotye has crafted a song that reaches the heights of pop perfection.

Gotye was the darling of this year’s CMJ Music Marathon, playing a different showcase and selling it out seemingly every night of the week. Although he doesn’t quite have the following in the US to match his superstar status in his native Australia, Gotye is still making waves across the globe with this absolute monster of a jam.

It certainly is the breakup anthem of the year and maybe that’s what makes it feel so liberating to sing along to. Chances are you have been in a relationship much like the one Gotye describes in “Somebody That I Used To Know” and chances are you can’t stop belting out “Now you’re just somebody that I used to know.”

Gotye will be swinging by our neck of the woods in March, get your tickets for his Paradise show here.

M&T Best Albums of 2011: #8

Posted on by Kyle in Best of 2011 | 1 Comment

Just as Head and the Heart’s energetic brand of folk rock attracted current bass player Chris Zasche into the band so did it compel us to put their disc into this year’s top albums. Their self-titled album is more than you can expect from a bunch of twenty-somethings from Seattle. Like their Sub Pop brethren, Avi Buffalo, Head and the Heart have bursted onto the scene this year attracting a diverse group of fans. Tracks like “Rivers and Roads” make you want to sing along with the impeccable harmonies of singer and violin player Charity Rose Thielen and “Cats and Dogs/Couer d’Alene” is a raucous two–part feel good jam.

The album winds down with “Sounds Like Hallelujah” where the band’s real genius shines through. The track’s three distinctive sections is reminiscent of McCartney’s “Band on the Run” and just as epic. For the band’s 6 young members this is only the beginning of a career that will go down in folk rock history.

M&T Best Tracks of 2011: #8

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#8. Wu Lyf- “Heavy Pop”

The most intriguing band to come out of 2011 had to be our favorite across the pond rockers, Wu Lyf. With a softcore punk image and heaving, swirling, epic guitar driven tunes, Wu Lyf carved out a pretty sweet niche for themselves in 2011. The highlight off of their debut album, Go Tell Fire To The Mountain was album closer “Heavy Pop”, a giant, echoey tune that induces goosebumps when cranked up to 11 and translates even better live. It will be interesting to see how these young guys mold their sound in 2012, but for now I’ll just wallow in the glow of these warm guitars.

M&T Best Albums of 2011: #9

Posted on by Caroline in Best of 2011 | 1 Comment

 

Is less really more? M83 makes a strong case for the contrary on their heavyweight album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. The album, clocking in at 74 minutes, cuts no corners: intros, outros, interludes and crazy, weird beats are all part of the plan. M83 mastermind Anthony Gonzalez certainly used the “more is more” mentality when it came to filling out each track. From the distorted vocals on “Midnight City,” to the ’80s spaceship beeps of “Steve McQueen,” to the child’s narrative on “Raconte-Moi Une Histoire,” no second of this album is lacking imagination.

The album fully spans two discs, as Gonzalez made the conscious decision not to edit out songs like the one-minute instrumental tracks that many music execs may have deemed unnecessary. But because of this, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming is fully realized as a grandiose and unsparing adventure. So yeah, driving in your car to “New Map” or “OK Pal,” music blasting and windows down, will feel pretty amazing. But the album as a whole is so good, and so thoughtfully plotted out, that it’ll make you happy to carve out 74 minutes of your day just to listen to it from start to finish.

Featured Tracks: “Intro,” “Midnight City,” “Steve McQueen”