Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Five Dope Albums I Discovered In 2011

Every year I buy and listen to dozens of albums.  And every year I compile a list of my ten favorite albums of that year.  And every year I fall in love with an album that doesn't make that list because it was released in a previous year.

What can I say; I'm not perfect.  I don't have a chance to buy every album released every year.  Some stuff is going to slip through the cracks.

But this year decided to try to rectify my careless overlooking of such albums by giving them some shine.

Innerspeaker - Tame Impala

You wouldn't really think that I'd dig psychedelic rock.  I've never been into Pink Floyd not understood their allure. But the Australian Tame Impala just spoke to me when I saw them on Fallon.  They played "Why Won't You Make Up Your Mind?" and I was mesmerized.

Innerspeaker was definitely one of my favorite albums I got this year.  It was in heavy rotation for a solid two weeks.  It was literally my "go to" album for whatever I was doing.  It was my soundtrack.

The album opener "It Is Not Meant To Be" sets the tone, with other highlights being "Lucidity" and the aforementioned "Why Won't You Make Up Your Mind?"  And the limited edition version of the album comes with a plethora of bonus tracks and remixes.

The album is great.  That's really just it.

The Knot - Wye Oak

This is another band I got acquainted with via late night television, only this time it was Carson Daly's show.  Wye Oak got the spotlight and I was intrigued.  The duo hailed from Charm City, which was a plus, because how can you not root for fellow Baltimoreans?

One of the songs they performed was "For Prayer" which essentially haunted me for a month.  Every couple of days the melody would creep into my subconscious, to the point where I had to track the album down.

And as much as I enjoyed "For Prayer", The Knot is pretty much an album full of high points.  Every other song strikes a powerful chord on another part of the spectrum.  It's a really balanced album and one I wish I'd heard when it was originally released.

Love, Hate and Then There's You - The Von Bondies

This is the album I regret sleeping on the most.  I like to consider myself a fan of The Von Bondies.  I've got all of the albums and I enjoy the musical sensibilities.  But I've got no clue how this album slipped through my radar.

With Love, Hate and Then There's You the band crafted an album designed to capitalize on the success of "C'mon, C'mon."  It's an album that's catchier than previous releases, but it doesn't feel like they're selling out or reaching for an audience, it feels like a band growing.

And it's such a good album.  I really wish I could explain a) why I'd never heard anything about it and b) how it no one else was raving about it's awesomeness.

Pickin' Up The Pieces - Fitz & the Tantrums

I saw Fitz & the Tantrums perform on Conan and I was smitten.  I loved their style and sound.  I loved their confidence and retro cool.  I knew I wanted to be down with this band.

I copped Pickin' Up The Pieces and I wasn't disappointed.  It was an album full of throwback vibes and genuine songwriting.  It was refreshing.  It wasn't slavishly loyal to a bygone aesthetic like some Daptone releases occasionally feel like.  Rather, Fitz & the Tantrums seem inspired by the past to create something new.

Of course since then, Fitz & the Tantrums have blown up.  They're on video countdown shows and have made several late night appearances.  I'm happy for their success and only saddened that I wasn't up on them earlier.  Oh and that I missed them in concert.  

Teen Dream - Beach House

This was and album that was on several of 2010's "best of" lists, which made me curious about it.  I honestly wanted to see what all of the fuss was about.  Also the fact that they're another B-more band got my juices flowing.

This was another album that got the heavy rotation treatment.  What's really funny is how I'd just find myself spacing out to this album.  I'd let my mind drift and it'd go off to chill places.

The album closer "Take Care" was almost hypnotic.  Some days I'd find myself humming it to myself and when I'd become aware of what I was humming it'd put a smile on my face.  Teen Dream was just a cool album.

And there you have it.  Call it my "late pass" or "the best of what I missed." I can't really think of a phrase that encapsulates it, but those are five albums that I loved this year that won't make my "best of 2012" list.

Maybe next year I'll have a name for it.

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