Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Your Year in Review 2011

For those who were holding their breath waiting for this, you can now exhale (hi Mum!). Here's a random collection of overshare, loosely based around my top 10 songs of the year.

10. Never Look Back - Slow Club
Slow Club's 2010 debut album "Yeah, So" should really be my album of the year as it spent more time playing this year than any other record else I own, but rules are rules, and it doesn't qualify for this annual parade of indulgence. But this year's "Paradise" is pretty goddamn special too - filled with plenty of boy/girl angst, and a healthy dollop of ukelele picking.

This particular cut starts slow, but sweeps into a full orchestral chorus - and I think I also like the fact that it mentions a marching band, joining the lofty pantheon of other songs that are awesome that mention marching bands (American Pie, that Death Cab one).

They're coming through Vancouver in early March playing a 50 person venue, and I'm looking forward to being woefully awkward trying to talk to them.

9. Weekend - Smith Westerns
Despite being roughly 11, the Smith Westerns have spent more time digging through crates of old T-Rex records than I have (not an elementary achievement), but they have mined 70s glam-rock for its best riffs, basslines and swagger. "Weekend is essentially just a single guitar riff, but its so good it doesn't even matter"

8. I Might - Wilco
To an aging hipster such as myself, there's nothing more stereotypically appropriate than dropping a Wilco song into each year's year-end list. Sure, they're my dad's age, and their new record sounds like their last one, and the one before that, but they just keep writing fantastic songs, and putting on fantastic live shows full of musical mastery.

"I Might" was on repeat for weeks on end and is a perfect slice of Dad-rock.

7. How the West Was One - Kyprios

9 year-old me would think it was pretty awesome that 31 year-old me featured a rap about sports in his year-end list, but everyone else in the universe just thinks its lame. But for three months this year, pretty much all I did was watch the Vancouver Canucks play in the Stanley Cup playoffs. At a time where there wasn't too much other good news floating around, the playoffs were a wild ride, featuring a lot of mid-week drinking, a lot of nervously chewed fingernails, and ultimately, no parade at the end of it (we did muster a pretty sweet riot at the end of it). It was an amazing time to be in and around the city, and this tune from Vancouver's favourite hipster rapper (who has one hell of a live show) does a nice job of capturing the moment.

6. Kaputt - Destroyer
Mostly because the cover photo is taken at the place I play pitch and putt golf 10 blocks from my house. But also largely because it features the sleaziest synths since the pinnacle of 80s porn, as well as an 80s porn themed video.

This is hands-down the most accessible Destroyer record, but still has more than it's share of weirdness.

5. Every Defeat A Divorce - Los Campesinos
For the 5th year in succession, Los Camps! make this list - they're still my favourite band, and North America's favourite soundtrack for Budweiser commercials, and I flew across a continent to spend 24 hours in DC and see them play (and to earn enough airmiles to get access to the Air Canada lounge for a year - but that's a story for another time). This particular song seems to be about watching England get knocked out of the World Cup, which doesn't make it as cheery as something like "World in Motion", but it also doesn't feature John Barnes rapping, which makes it a win in my book. Like the rest of their last record, it's dark, churning, original, and compelling, and I'm still a mega-LosCamps! nerd. Go see them live this February, North America.

4. Need You Now - Cut Copy

I remember seeing Cut Copy when I was a precocious little shit of a 27 year-old and claiming they were just a shit Australian New Order (it might even be somewhere in the blog archives if you're feeling adventurous), but then I spent more and more time with In Ghost Colours, and was forced to quickly revise my hastily informed opinion.

I dunno if Zonoscope is as good as that first record, but it still has its fair share of hits, and Cut Copy and I spent a lovely autumn evening on an island in the middle of San Francisco Bay.

3. An Argument With Myself - Jens Lekman

This pretty much only makes the list because halfway through the song Jens Lekman actually has an argument with himself, which might be the most endearingly retarded thing I've ever heard in a pop-song.

2. Heart In Your Heartbreak - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

The chorus "she was the heart in your heartache, she was the miss in your mistake" and I really like it when bands drop out the bass and drums for a verse. See, that's all you need to do to make this list - bands of the world, pay attention.

1. Revelations - Devon Williams
I picked up this Devon Williams record after I read the most ridiculously emphatic staff recommendation blurb in Zulu records (as seen in the woefully underrated Jason Lee/Julia Stiles romantic comedy "A Guy Thing"). I think I bought it just so I could be smugly superior next time I went back in there, but I got it home, hit play, and was presented with this as a first track. Like a one-man Polyphonic Spree, the "bom-bom-bom" refrain, the strings, and the pure explosions of joy through this song send it straight to the top of this list.

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