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


2.  Radiator Hospital


3.  The Beatles


4.  The Menzingers


5.  Bob Dylan


6. The Wild


7.  Sonny and the Sunsets


8.  Pedals on our Pirate Ships


9.  Ghost Mice


10.  High Dive


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)



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)



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



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



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



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


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



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



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



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)


2.  Radiator Hospital’s Something Wild (Salinas)


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


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


5.  Waxahatchee’s Cerulean Salt (Don Giovanni)


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

high dive

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


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


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


16.  Wavelets’ Athaletics (Tiny Engines) – 8.815


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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)


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)


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)


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


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


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.