2012 in Music

The end of the year is upon us again.   I do love this time of year.   You get a moment to step away from the routine and think.   I like to remember the great times of the year, while setting strategy and objectives for the new year.

I also love using my downtime to listen to a lot of music.    It truly is a labor of love going through all the music of a particular year – remembering and enjoying the standouts, listening and rating the ones that were forgotten, and discovering some new ones along the way.  For me there is pleasure and comfort in creating a sense of order to the massive quantity of music and memories into a single artifact that i can use as a catalyst to recall the best moments of a particular span of time.

For those not initiated, my lists are always for the period two years ago.    I believe that favorite album compilations should lag by two years for two primary time constraining reasons:  to address the staying power of the album and to acquire a suitable number of fine albums.

2012 was a great year.  I bought 109 albums and 1583 songs from 2012.    While 1583 songs is a lot, 2012 is the only year in the 5 year span of 2009 – 2013 that I did not have 2000 songs.   That said still a lot of music to review and go through and I will spend the next week finishing the rating and selecting my tops from 2012.

Let me know your thoughts on the hits and misses.

Top Artists of 2013

Here were the artists that I listened to the most times in 2013.    Some new, some old – but lists feels right to me on what i enjoyed most often this year.

1.  Eric Ayotte

ericayotte

2.  Radiator Hospital

Radiator+Hospital

3.  The Beatles

the-beatles

4.  The Menzingers

themenzingers

5.  Bob Dylan

bobdylan

6. The Wild

The+Wild+WildColor

7.  Sonny and the Sunsets

sonny&sunsets

8.  Pedals on our Pirate Ships

Pedals+On+Our+Pirate+Ships

9.  Ghost Mice

ghostmice-show

10.  High Dive

highdive-band

2011 Favorite Record Labels

Is the record label importance shrinking?    On one hand you would say yes.  My two favorite groupings for  albums this year were Bandcamp and self released, non curated groupings.     However, on the other hand there are a number of strong labels out there that continue to deliver great releases from new bands (Tiny Engines, Plan-It-X, Asian Man).     So, while I think the power has shifted some, a good record label is still important.  If for nothing else, it is still an excellent way to find new music.

Here are some interesting facts on the year:

  • I bought 2 or more LPs on 21 different labels in 2011.   Merge Records had the largest share (6 LPs), excluding non curated where I bought 12 from Bandcamp
  • For labels with at least two LPs, Plan-It-X had the highest average song rating in 2011 with a 4.09 average.    Highest average for single LP was 6131 Records.
  • For labels with at least two LPs, Frenchkiss and Plan-It-X had the highest listens per song at 12.

Using my record label formula, here were my favorite labels of 2011

1.  Bandcamp – 9.737 (39 artists, 12 LPs, 1 5-Star LP, 1 4-Star LP)

bandcamp

 

2.  Self Released – 9.714 (32 artists, 6 LPs, 1 5-Star LP, 1 4-Star LP)

DIY-No Label

 

3.  Frenchkiss – 8.696 (3 artists, 2 LPs, 1 5-Star LP)

frenchkiss

 

4.  Secretly Canadian – 8.538 (4 artists, 1 LP, 1 5-Star LP)

sctextlogo

 

5.  Tiny Engines – 7.593 (5 artists, 4 LPs, 3 4-Star LPs)

tinyengines

 

6.  Asian Man – 7.494 (5 artists, 4 LPs, 2 4-Star LPs)

asian-man

 

7.  Barsuk – 7.450 (5 artists, 5 LPs, 1 4-Star LP)

barsuk

8.  Plan It X – 7.430 (3 artists, 3 LPs, 2 4-Star LPs)

planitx

 

9.  No Idea – 7.302 (4 artists, 3 LPs, 1 4-Star LP)

no-idea

 

10.  Polyvinyl – 7.291 (4 artists, 2 LPs, 1 4-Star LP)

polyvinyl

 

5 Great Albums of 2013

As I have stated earlier, I think it is too early to judge the music of 2013; but since I keep getting asked for my favorites of 2013.    I will give you five in no particular order that really stood out to me.   Hard for me to believe these wont be on the list in two years, but time will tell.

1.  Sonny and the Sunsets’ Antenna to the Afterworld (Polyvinyl)

antenna-afterworld

2.  Radiator Hospital’s Something Wild (Salinas)

radiatorhospital-somethingwild

3.  The Wild’s Dreams Are Maps (Asian Man)

wild-dreams-maps

4.  Sundowner’s Neon Fiction (Fat Wreck Chords)

sundowner-neonfiction

5.  Waxahatchee’s Cerulean Salt (Don Giovanni)

waxhatchee-cerulean-salt

Granite & Tumble versus Others Top in 2011

Out of curiosity, I compared my top 23 albums of 2011 with some of the other popular lists to see how much overlap there was.   The answer is not much.  So, if nothing else my list could be some new music for you.

  • No overlaps with the 50 from Pitchfork.
  • No overlaps with the 50 from Spin
  • No overlaps with the 50 from Paste
  • No overlaps with the 50 from NPR
  • No overlaps with the 50 from Stereogum
  • No overlaps with the 30 from GorillavsBear
  • One overlap with the 20 from Punknews (Joyce Manor is #1 at Punk and #9 on GT)
  • No overlaps with the 40 from MetaCritic
  • No overlaps with the 100 from eMusic

Favorite Albums of 2011

I bought 134 albums in 2011, since 2009 that is a typical year for number of albums.

I decided to list every album that had average song rating greater than 4, since they would all be worthy of mentioning and buying.   I have 23 albums that earned that distinction.

Using my album formula, here were my favorite 23 albums in 2011:

1.  Damien Jurado’s Live at Landlocked (Secretly Canadian) – 9.805

live-landlocked

2.  The Dark Mean’s Self Titled (Bandcamp) – 9.729

dark_mean

3.  Mixtapes’ How To Throw A Successful Party (Self Released) – 9.724

mixtapes-party

4.  The Dodos’ No Color (Frenchkiss) – 9.696

dodos-no-color

5.  Ramshackle Glory’s Live the Dream (Plan It X) – 9.648

ramshackle-glory-dream

6.  P.S. Eliot’s Sadie (Salinas) – 9.518

ps-eliot-sadie-280x280

7.  Cloud Nothings’ Self Titled (Carpark) – 9.411

Cloud-Nothings

8.  The Front Bottoms’ Self Titled (Bar None) – 9.388

TheFrontBottoms

9.  Joyce Manor’s Self Titled (6131) – 9.377

joyce-manor

10.   The Wooden Birds’ Two Matchsticks (Barsuk) – 9.232

Print

11.  Al Scorch’s Tired Ghostly Town (Self Released) – 9.220

Al-Scorch-Ghostly-Town

12.  High Dive’s Self Titled (No Idea) – 9.165

high dive

13.  Fionn Regan’s 100 Acres of Sycamore (Heavenly) – 9.142

100-sycamore

14.  Michael Jordon’s Touchdown Pass’ Baby Steps (Bandcamp) – 9.113

michaeljordantouchdownpass-babysteps

15.  Monument’s Goes Canoeing (Tiny Engines) – 8.821

monument-goescanoeing

16.  Wavelets’ Athaletics (Tiny Engines) – 8.815

WAVELETS-athaletics

17.  Waxahatchee + Chris Clavin Split (Plan It X) – 8.722

waxhatchee-clavin

18.  Signals Midwest’s Latitudes & Longitude (Tiny Engines) – 8.146

signalsmidwest-latitudes

19.  The Rural Alberta Advatage’s Departing (Saddle Creek) – 8.079

raa-departing-260x260

20.  Time New Viking’s Dancer Enquired (Wichita) – 7.914

timesnewviking-dancer

21.  The Hotel Year’s It Never Goes Out (Bandcamp) – 7.884

hotelyear-itnevergoesout

22.  Owen’s Ghost Town (Polyvinyl) – 7.720

owen-ghosttown

23.  Laura Stevenson & the Cans’ A Record (Asian Man) – 7.335

laurastevenson-arecord

Favorite Songs of 2011

I changed my process this year for picking favorite songs.   While most frequent listens is a good barometer of my favorite songs, it is clearly not the only measure (particularly with high counts coming to songs my wife or kids love).

So, I adjusted the process.   I had two rules when assembling the list:

  1. Song must have 5 stars (177 songs)
  2. Could not duplicate artist

Then I listed to the songs and picked the ones that stuck with me the most.    I really did my best to pair the list down (I did cut 137 5-star songs), but still have 40 phenomenal songs.    This list of my favorite songs of 2011 is below in alphabetical order.    All great songs, I hope you enjoy.   Let me know your thoughts on any standouts or omissions.

Al Scorch’s Tired Ghostly Town from Tired Ghostly Town (Self Released)

Al-Scorch-Ghostly-Town

You can listen to it here.

Bombadil’s The Pony Express from All That The Rain Promises (Ramseur)

Case Studies’ Dagger from The World Is Just a Shape to Fill The Night (Sacred Bones)

The Cave Singers’ Swim Club from No Witch (Jagjaguwar)

Cloud Nothing’s For No Reason from I Will Talk To You / For No Reason (Carpark)

Damien Juardo’s Thax Douglas #1 from Live at Landlocked (Secretly Canadian)

Dark Mean’s Happy Banjo from Self Titled (Bandcamp)

David Bazan’s Don’t Change from Strange Negotiations (Barsuk)

The Dodos’ Don’t Try And Hide It from No Color (Frenchkiss)

Ducktails’ Killin’ The Vibe from Arcade Dynamics (Woodist)

Football, etc’s Mouthguard from the Draft (Count Your Lucky Stars)

Frightened Rabbit’s Scottish Winds from Self Titled EP (Self Released)

The Front Bottom’s Rhode Island from Self Titled (Bar None)

High Dive’s Tennessee from Self Titled (No Idea)

Into It. Over It’s The Frames That Used To Greet Me from Proper (No Sleep)

J.  Mascis’ I’ve Been Thinking from Circle (Sub Pop)

Joie De Vivre’s Vicodin Lite from Four Way Split (Count Your Lucky Stars)

Joyce Manor’s Constant Headache from Self Titled (6131)

M83’s Midnight City from Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (Mute)

Mannequin Men’s Hobby Girl from Self Titled (Addenda)

Matt Pond PA’s Love To Get Used from Spring Fools (MRI)

Mixtapes’ Hey Baby from Castle Songs (Death To False Hope)

The Mountain Goats’ High Hawk Season from All Eternals Deck (Merge)

Owen’s No Place Like Home from Ghost Town (Polyvinyl)

P.S. Eliot’s Shitty and Tragic from Sadie (Salinas)

Purple Seven’s On The Corner from Volume One (Bandcamp)

purple-seven

You can listen to it here.

Ramshackle Glory’s Your Heart is Muscle The Size of Your Fist from Live the Dream (Plan It X)

The Rural Alberta Advantage’s Good Night from Departing (Saddle Creek)

The Sea and Cake’s Up On The North Shore from Moonlight Butterfly (Thrill Jockey)

Signals Midwest’s Family Crest from Latitudes and Longitude (Tiny Engines)

The Smith Street Band’s Southeast Facing Wall from Southeast Facing Wall (Jacknife)

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin’s Bigger Than Your Yard from Tape Club (Polyvinyl)

someonestilllovesyou-tapeclub

You can listen here

Spraynard’s Spooky, Scary from Funtitled (Asian Man)

Thurston Moore’s Benediction from Demolished Thoughts (Matador)

Timber Timbre’s Black Water from Creep on Creeping On (Arts & Crafts)

Times New Viking;s Fuck Her Tears from Dancer Equried (Wichita)

Wavelets’ Kelly Hewitt Loves Waterworld from Athaletics (Tiny Engines)

Waxahatchee’s Whisky and Math from Split with Chris Clavin (Plan It X)

Wild Flag’s Future Crimes from Self Titled (Merge)

The Wooden Birds’ Criminals Win from Two Matchsticks (Barsuk)

Favorite EPs of 2011

The EPs of 2011 were quite impressive.  I picked my 14 favorites that were all noteworthy.

We had the debut album from the Smith Street Band, who have been on an impressive run since.    We had the Mixtapes continue to dominate the extended play format.     Matt Pond back on the list after a brief hiatus and many other interesting beginnings or new offerings.

Here is the list – all worth a pickup or a listen.

1.  Cheap Girls & Lemuria Split (No Idea) – 9.502

cheap-lemuria

2.  Mixtapes’ Hope Is For the People (Animal Style) – 9.234

hope-is-people

3.  Smith Street Band’s South East Facing Wall (Jacknife) – 9.229

smithstreet-southeast

4.  Surfer Blood’s Tarot Classics (Kanine) – 8.548

surferblood-tarot

5.  Big Awesome’s Better Than Numbers (A Reaction) – 8.283

bigawesome-numbers

6.  Frightened Rabbit’s Self Titled EP (self released) – 7.443

frightenedrabbit-ep

7.  Wild & Run Forever Split (Solidarity) – 7.332

wild-runforever-split

8.  Mixtapes’ Companions to Maps (Animal Style) – 7.152

mixtapes-companions

9.  Matt Pond PA’s Spring Fools (MRI) – 7.122

mattpond-spring

10.  Silian Rail’s Acoustic Music EP (Bandcamp) – 7.067

silianrail-acoustic

11.  Hard Girls & Kudrow’s Boo (Asian Man) – 6.995

hardgirls-kudrow-boo

12.  Elvis Depressedly’s Disgraceland (Bandcamp) – 6.942

elvisdepressedly-disgraceland

13.  Annabel/Empire! Empire!/Joie De Vivre/The Repilian 4 way split (Count Your Lucky Stars) – 6.938

anabel-four-way-split

14.  For Serious This Time’s Weird Life (Bandcamp) – 6.507

forseriousthistime-weirdlife

2011 in Music

Its that time again, the annual best lists.  It truly is a labor of love, going through all the music of a particular year.   Remembering and enjoying the standouts, listening and rating the ones that were overlooked.

For those not initiated,  my lists are always for the period two years ago.    I believe that favorite album compilations should lag by two years for two primary time constraining reasons:  to address the staying power of the album and to acquire a suitable number of fine albums.

2011 was a great year.  I bought 134 albums and have just under 2000 songs from 2011.   So, a lot of music to go through and I have nearly rated all of it.   I will spend the next week finishing the rating and selecting my tops from 2011.

Let me know your thoughts on the hits and misses.

Artists of 2012

Here were the artists that I listened to the most times in 2012.

1.  Ghost Mice (856 listens)

ghostmice-show

 

2.  Paul Baribeau (795 listens)

Paul+Baribeau+18

3. Defiance, Ohio (770 listens)

Defiance+Ohio

 

4.  The Chinkees (604 listens)

The+Chinkees

 

5.  Toby Foster (475 listens)

toby-foster

 

6.   Johnny Hobo and the Freight Trains (448 listens)

Johnny+Hobo+and+the+Freight+Trains+johnnyhobo2

 

7.  The Wild (446 listens)

The+Wild+WildColor

 

8.  Eric Ayotte (437 listens)

ericayotte

 

9.   Folk the System (408 listens)

Folk+the+System+IMG_2013

 

10.  Mixtapes (404 listens)

mixtapes