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.
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)
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.
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:
Song must have 5 stars (177 songs)
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)
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
2. Mixtapes’ Hope Is For the People (Animal Style) – 9.234
3. Smith Street Band’s South East Facing Wall (Jacknife) – 9.229
4. Surfer Blood’s Tarot Classics (Kanine) – 8.548
5. Big Awesome’s Better Than Numbers (A Reaction) – 8.283
6. Frightened Rabbit’s Self Titled EP (self released) – 7.443
7. Wild & Run Forever Split (Solidarity) – 7.332
8. Mixtapes’ Companions to Maps (Animal Style) – 7.152
9. Matt Pond PA’s Spring Fools (MRI) – 7.122
10. Silian Rail’s Acoustic Music EP (Bandcamp) – 7.067
11. Hard Girls & Kudrow’s Boo (Asian Man) – 6.995
12. Elvis Depressedly’s Disgraceland (Bandcamp) – 6.942
13. Annabel/Empire! Empire!/Joie De Vivre/The Repilian 4 way split (Count Your Lucky Stars) – 6.938
14. For Serious This Time’s Weird Life (Bandcamp) – 6.507
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.