Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Various Musical Musings: 2011 Version

Here are some things I discovered through way too many hours of listening to music this year. Expect lots of Spotify links. Grooveshark is still alive and kicking, but Spotify just makes everything so much better, and now that it's available in the US without an invite, there's really no reason not to sign up. Where Spotify doesn't have something, I'll still be including Grooveshark links.

On with the observations...

  • This was the year that non-rock finally overtook rock. This year, only about half of my favorite albums could be called 'rock' on even the slimmest of pretenses. I'm not sure entirely why this is - a lot of bands that have put out music that I've loved in the past didn't put out new music this year, and a lot of those that did put out stuff that I wasn't particularly interested in.
  • Florence and the Machine put out Ceremonials, which reminded me that Lungs didn't age all that well, and that the band sort of bores me (with a couple of exceptions, 'Shake it Out' is a pretty good song, and 'What the Water Gave Me' is, too.)
  • I finally gave in to the whole Drake thing. Weirdly enough, he's almost nonexistent as a force on the radio around here, but I still got ensnared. I listened to a lot of Thank Me Later, and when Take Care came out, I listened to a lot of that, as well. My brother gives me no end of crap for this. You may all do the same.
  • Doomtree put out an absolute ton of music this year. It was nearly impossible to keep up with all of it. Sims' album, Bad Time Zoo came out in early 2011, Dessa's Castor, the Twin followed it in October, of course, their full group album 'No Kings' came out in late November. Those are just the main albums. Factor in the various mixtape appearances and the mashup album that suddenly made them Internet-famous (Wugazi's 13 Chambers, a mashup of Wu Tang Clan and Fugazi), and they had a pretty buys year. Consider the quality that all of those projects possessed, and you've got an insanely good year.
  • At long last, I sort of figured out how to contextualize music this year. In previous years, most of my 'trial' music listening was done in front of my computer. Since I've got horrible ADD when I'm at my computer, this way of listening made me miss a lot of stuff that took deeper listens. This year, I learned to give most everything I listened to at least three chances. Once at the PC, once in the car, and once laying in my chair with the lights out. There was still plenty of stuff that just didn't click, but a lot more found its proper place.
  • 'Friday' is probably the best unintentional parody of pop music ever made. Taken at its base level, the lyrics aren't any worse than a lot of what the public eats up (case in point, this was one of the biggest songs of the summer), the vocals are bad, but if they had properly autotuned them, they'd sound like Britney (not a damnation of autotune, by the way... I don't have a problem with autotune, I don't care much one way or the other), and the chorus has enough of a hook to where if you cleaned it up and lost real bane of the song (the wretched rapper), it could've been a passable and forgettable hit. The way it was, though was perfect. Like I said, the perfect (probably unintentional) parody of pop music today.
  • Stuff I just didn't really 'get' in 2011...

  1. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake - Granted, I probably didn't give this one enough of a chance, but two or three listens in, it didn't click with me.
  2. tUnE-yArDs - either their album or the ridiculous capitalization of their band name.
  3. Kaputt
  4. Dubstep. This really applies to either the 'brostep' that swept the nation or the proper dubstep that 'real dubsteps heads' prefer. It just sort of bored me whenever I heard it, but by the end of the year, I was standing in a line at a Best Buy listening to a conversation about Korn and dubstep that started with just the dude in front of me and gradually drew 4 or 5 more people into it. That was weird. So was dubstep's rise, now that I think of it.
  5. Oneohtrix Point Never
  6. People who thought that Goblin was an actual good album, and not just a couple of great songs padded with rape jokes and general mysanthropy. Or really, anyone that puts a lot of faith in the rapping skills of anyone in the Odd Future collective.


  1. I still love Florence. Lungs included. Was kind of disappointed with most of the Doomtree stuff I heard this year. My favorite stuff of the year was Noel Gallagher.

  2. I was bigger into dubstep 5-6 years ago than I am now. I assume you've listened to both Burial albums, so try some of these, to know what I think was good about the genre:
    Various "Hater"
    The Bug ft. Killa P & Flowdan "Skeng"
    The Bug ft. Warrior Queen "Poison Dart"
    Eskmo "Cloudlight" (Might've been a bridge to brostep)
    Zomby "Spliff Dub (Rustie Remix)"
    Kode9 & Spaceape Memories of the Future, especially the Prince cover "Sine" (or "Sign of the Dub" on the single, where Spaceape is "Daddi Gee")

    I had more of this, but it was all on my old PC, and I burnt it and deleted the files. I'll get that back into my library... someday.

    But if all you can think of is Skrillex (who's turned it into rap-rock as interpreted by "Come-to-Daddy" Aphex Twin) and Burial and James Blake (who have turned it into ambient and Rod Stewart, respectively), I can see why you may not get it.

  3. I've actually heard a bit of dubstep (not just Skrillex, Burial, and James Blake). I'll have to give the ones you listed a try. Lord knows I'd love to find something worthwhile in the genre. I know I did get some enjoyment out of that 5: Five Years of Hyperdub compilation, so there might be h ope for me, yet.