Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Best of 2011 According to Uncle Nate

My Uncle Nate who lives out East sent me his top 2011 list. I feel like it needs to be posted because along with my buddy Isaac whose list was posted last month, Nate a.ka. "Early Peaches" is probably the only other person whose musical opinion I actually respect. I have to give him a special shout out for being probably my main influences early on in life as far as searching out and discovering decent music and not settling for the easy to find pop stuff (although that stuff is still really good). Thanks Early Peaches!


1. Amos LeeMission Bell

Sorry for being over sentimental, but Amos Lee just makes life better. I think the more or less new folk rock scene is the bees’ knees, and I’m a big fan of all of Amos Lee’s stuff. His new album adds a pop sensibility unexpressed on prior albums (and pulled off with much more subtlety and success than Iron & Wine’s latest). The tunes also have an emotional power I haven’t felt in his other work. His live performance of “Violin” on Letterman literally brought me to tears, and he probably has the best back-up singers ever.

2. ElbowBuild a Rocket Boys!

The single “Lippy Kids” makes song of the year for me. I’ve never understood why these guys don’t get any play time on US alt rock radio stations, because their sound is amazing (it certainly transcends the usual Coldplay comparisons).

3. Bon IverBon Iver

How can anyone go negative on Bon Iver? I’ve admired the single “Alberta” all year, but was totally blown away when I sat down to listen to this album several times a few months ago. The cuts simply possess an emotional tone that won’t let me go and echo around in my mind for days. Beyond that, for my admittedly unsophisticated ear, the arrangements on this release are layered and provocative. Even better is their live performance of these tunes (see Jools Holland).

4. GiversIn Light

Man, these guys can just perform. I heard them first on a video from their SXSW performance and soon thereafter bought their album (one of the few that I actually paid money for all year).  Their mix of alt rock, zydeco, reggae, and electronic dance groves, suggests kinship to Vampire Weekend, but their musicianship (especially the percussion work on the album) greatly surpasses VW’s abilities. I missed them live in NYC last month because the show sold out on the day I tried to buy a ticket. I’m still kicking myself!

5. Jamie WoonMirrorwriting

For my money, Woon is the best of the English techno, soul, dubstep (whatever) artists of the last couple of years. His soulful compositions are much more polished and enjoyable than those found on the James Blake album that everyone is raving about (he’s a better singer too), and the xx’s album of the previous year.

6. Foo FightersWasting Light

Whoa – dissin’ the Foo Fighters! You’re gonna hate this, but I say Wasting Light is their best album. I love their previous albums, but half the songs on any given FF’s album were throwaways. Wasting Light is different – every song is appealing and memorable (they also performed each song from the album live when I saw them live in Newark). It also offers my number two song of the year "Walk". Grohl screaming “I never wanna die!” at the end of the song totally pumps me up. I’ve never really listened to Nickelback, but if they sound anything like Wasting Light, sign me up!

7. The Naked and FamousPassive Me, Aggressive You

This is technically a 2010 release, since it was released in New Zealand and Europe then. But it was released in the US in 2011, so I’ll count it. Besides I love everything about the album and the band. Although no one is saying it, I detect major M83 influences on this record. Alisa Xayalith’s voice might grate on some ears, but I think it’s perfectly suited for this group’s electronic sound – and her New Zealand accent is adorable. I have tickets to see these guys in April – can’t wait!

8. The DecembristsThe King is Dead

2011 seemed to be a year when a few major folk rock acts took some big chances. Iron and Wine’s foray into electronica is probably the most explicit example. The Decembrists make a well-timed departure from their folksy, Americana-styled progressive rock with this serving of folk pop tunes. I know it’s formulaic and repetitive, but “Why We Fight” is my third favorite song of the year (the music video for the song is stunning, and is my favorite vid of the year), and the rest of the songs are awesome.

9. Young the GiantYoung the Giant

I didn’t care much for this band upon hearing their first single, “My Body.” I couldn’t bring myself to listen to their album until I heard the aforementioned song on a Letterman performance, and somehow the energy of the band drove me to give them a serious listen. I love the song “Cough Syrup,” which is my 5th favorite cut of the year.

10. RadioheadKing of Limbs

I like Radiohead, I respect Radiohead, but I’m not a huge Radiohead fan. However, every time a cut of this album arises from my iPod playlist (set on random), I smile. “Lotus Flower” is also my 4th favorite song of the year.

* Honorable mention (not annotated)

11. DestroyerKaputt
12. M83 Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
13. Company of ThievesOrdinary Riches
14. The Airborne Toxic EventAll At Once
15. TV on the RadioNine Types of Light
16. Danger MouseRome
17. DawesNothing is Wrong
18. Cut CopyZenoscope
19. Devotchka100 Lovers
20. 311 Universal Pulse
21. Fleet FoxesHelplessness Blues
22. Foster the People Torches
23. Low C’mon
24. The Belle Brigade The Belle Brigade
25. Wilco The Whole Love
26. Death Cab for Cutie Codes and Keys
27. The Go! Team Rolling Blackouts
28. The Kooks Junk of the Heart
29. Rise Against  Endgame
30. Allison Krause and Union Station Paper Airplane

Nathan P. Jones


There you have it. Yet again a strong and diverse list. Apparently Nate disagrees with a few of my hated albums of the year (I am starting to re-think my stance on Bon Iver). Other than that, there is a bunch of stuff included here that I haven't heard. Now I have a new musical mission to accomplish. The tune consuming is never done...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bearded Gentlemen?!

Isaac and I started a new music website called Bearded Gentlemen. It's going to be the greatest website / blog / whatever, anyone has ever seen or read. Pretty sure it is going to be the Moby-Dick of all websites except it will have a giant whale with a kelp encrusted dreadlocked rastafarian seaweed beard.

Who knows... maybe our posts will be so excellent that it will cure hunger and disease, bring on world peace, encourage glorious visitors form the 4th dimension of outer space to stop by and share technology that will greatly advance our way of life, this website may even stop all natural disasters, while at the same time bringing youthfulness and joy to the masses.

Pretty sure will give you the greatest most awe inspiring high you will ever have but, instead of a hangover, when you come down it will make you even higher.

Who knows...? Check it out and decide for yourself.

Abe photo:

Monday, January 16, 2012

10 Overrated albums of 2011

Here is my list of overrated albums for 2011. Please feel free to read through and discover how bad my music taste is. Haha.

Seriously though, I feel like most of the albums on this list suck. If the majority people actually thought for themselves instead of believing magazines and websites they would realize that these ten albums are not as special as they are made out to be. Check it...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Isaac's Best of List for 2011

My good friend Isaac wrote a "Best Of" list for 2011 and I wanted to post it because, I think it deserves some recognition. Notice how he actually has an original opinion on the music that came out this year as opposed to the majority of the major music websites / magazines basically copying each others lists. Recognize!! 
20. Wye Oak - Civilian

It is already the new year and as I have been working on my list I realized that a couple of my picks were actually released in 2010. Shit. While reading over some other Best Of's I came across this duo. I haven't been able to stop listening to Civilian for the last week. They manage to grab your attention with their take on a folk tinged indie rock sound but, seriously lay in the hook when singer/guitarist Jenn Wasner goes into a shredding tangent, in that type of "WTF?" moment you know you are listening to something unique. Did I mention the drummer plays percussion and keyboards at the same time?

19. Ume - Phantoms

I cannot wait to see this band live! Singer/guitarist Lauren Larson is smoking hot and super talented. Judging from the videos I have seen she will destroy you as she is relentless live. Even though Phantoms didn't quite hit home for me like their first EP, Ume's full length debut is a solid listen the whole album through. The band got their first major stint of publicity in a battle of the bands for Rolling Stone this last year. Ume has an incredible heavy yet melodic sound to them. They are able to create awesome and very big soundscapes for being a trio. Check the stand out track "Burst".

18. Radiohead - King of Limbs

One of the greatest bands of all time, Radiohead keeps pushing their sound with this year's release. Although it was not my favorite record from the band, I found myself listening to it quite a bit. In fact I kinda wore it out for myself. While I always appreciate a band's willingness to experiment with their sound (especially Radiohead) this record ultimately sounded like an electronic influenced Thom Yorke solo album. I hope that in writing their next project they will get back to a band inspired sound.

17. Foster the People - Torches

I have to be honest. After hearing the unimpressive first single "Pumped Up Kicks" and being bombarded with all the hype of this band , I wasn't gonna give them the time of day. I was seriously planning on including them in a list of overrated bands/albums of 2011. But as fate would have it I was at a party and someone was playing this album. Man, I felt like a fucking idiot when I asked who it was. Torches is a catchy mix of electronic, synth pop and psychedelic rock. It is what MGMT's newest release should have been. I am interested to see where these guy's will take their next release.

16. Junip - Fields

I do not smoke pot... However, if I did, this would be the album I would do it to. It is mellow, slightly psychedelic, acoustic driven throwback music. This album kinda creeped into my music rotation. I was constantly having to look at my iPod to see who was playing. Check out the tracks, "In Every Direction," "Without You" and "Rope and Summit." Ah hell... Check out the whole thing. (Side note: I just found out this was released in late 2010. Oh well.)

15. Glassjaw - Coloring Book

Glassjaw is back and in a big way. If you consider yourself a fan of hardcore music chances are a few years ago you were talking about these guys with all of your hardcore buddies and how they blew Defones of the stage at the Utah State Fair Park back in 2000. (I don't believe that for a second) But they are amazing, both on record and live. It seemed to me like this EP came in way under the radar and I haven't really been hearing a whole lot of feed back on it. My buddy Jon will probably be a little concerned with my sanity for not putting this closer to the top of my list. However, over the year I just forgot about it after my initial obsession. Can't wait for new stuff.

14. Tyler, The Creator - Goblin

Let's face it. Tyler, The Creator does not give a fuck what you think or about your moral beliefs. Is he trying to offend anyone? I honestly don't think so. Goblin is brilliant and fresh. I can say that when I first listened to it I was a little disturbed. Tyler does not hold back what he is thinking regardless of the consequence and that's how it should be. Have you seen the video for "Yonkers"? Bad assedness at its finest.

13. The Kills - Blood Pressures

Alison Mosshart is being groomed for rock immortality... She is simply bad ass. Will she achieve it? We'll have to see. In previous efforts this band never fails to write a couple tracks that blow my head off. The rest of the album usually makes me just want to blow off my head. Blood Pressures is a tremendous start at getting the majority of the album in the first category. There are a few tracks that do stand out as usual (i.e. "Satellite" and "Future Starts Slow") but, the rest of the album is a great following act.

12. City and Colour - Little Hell

Over the past few years I have been listening to singer/songwriter Dallas Green religiously. His music is just downright beautiful. I was so excited to listen to Little Hell. Being so into the minimalist "Guy and his guitar" sound that the previous records had showcased. I was a little slow getting into this LP. But to be honest I feel l would say Dallas Green cannot be touched in his genre and Little Hell delivers. Not to mention one of my favorite concerts of 2011.

11. This Town Needs Guns - Adventure, Stamina and Anger (Single)

I know that this is not an album or even an EP for that matter. But this band has been doing it for me lately. This track is outrageous! Showcasing the band doing what they do best. Crazy, thoughtful, well orchestrated math prog. The chorus on this song boggles my mind it is so hard to comprehend each individual member and what they are actually doing to their instrument. TTNG just finished recording their next LP and I cannot wait to get my hands on it.

10. The Rosebuds - Loud Planes Fly Low

This album almost made it higher on my list simply for my favorite track of the year, "Limitless Arms". Its sexy, seductive and it will haunt you. Listen to it full blast with headphones and close your eyes... I dare you not to get the chills. This album is tremendous and heartfelt with some surprises. Also check out "Woods" and "Without a Focus".

9. Thrice - Major/Minor

This is where it got hard for me. I am biased for Thrice. They are one of my favorite bands out there. And while this album is amazing, there were some I liked better this year. And really everything in this list, especially top ten are something that I really listened to and admired this year. Thrice pushes themselves and has evolved significantly over their career as is evident in this record. While most other bands change their sound to follow trends, Thrice just want to learn more about themselves and push their own creative limits. Major/Minor is gorgeous, yet powerful and solid the whole album through.

8. Crosses - EP †

Chino is God. EP† = D-tones + dirty electronic + Team sleep + 13 and God + eargasm. More please.

7. Feist - Metals

This album was one of the big surprises of 2011 for me. I was less than excited about Leslie Feist's last effort with the exception of the one track "Intuition". That song being the single reason I gave this album a chance. Feist went in whole different direction with this album. It is soulful and old-timey, yet it has a very timeless feel to it. And while Metals is definitely not the most upbeat album of the year it can be very powerful. I strongly recommend giving it a chance if you weren't a big fan of hers like myself.

6. We Were Promised Jetpacks - In the Pit of the Stomach

The band you've heard but didn't know it. WWPJ has been gaining popularity with people scoring soundtracks for movies, TV show and commercials. And they deserve the attention. I cannot say enough good things about this band and this record. Their sound is incendiary and explosive and can be so calming and cathartic the very next moment. In the Pit of the Stomach is well crafted and catchy. Do yourself a favor and get this album. Now.

5. M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

I have yet to see the song "Midnight City" fail at getting someone's attention. Especially if they have not heard it before. It is an incredible track. Seriously, too catchy for its own good. I did have to take a friend's advice and cut out about have of the two-discs intros and interludes. Once that was done this album has been unstoppable.

4. Manchester Orchestra - Simple Math

I have been reading a lot of year end's and have been surprised at how this album was just so overlooked. Andy Hull is a brilliant and his songwriting shines on this record. Writing this album after a near divorce, he lets you into his world and blasts you with his emotions. It is powerful and playful. And while the album is a little more polished and produced than fans may have been used to, it will knock you back in your seat all the same.  

3. O'Brother - Garden Window

This album is monster and these guys blow my mind. I feel as though their style of music was created specifically for my tastes. Heavy, melodic, intricate and unique. Think Explosions in the Sky with words. I hope these guys make music for a long time to come. I heart them. Check out their first EP The Death of Day for more amazing music epicness.

2. The Horse Thieves - Valley of Decision

My roommate found this record by mistake. It blindsided us like being hit by a train walking out your front door. This no name band from Los Angeles is apparently on someone's artists to watch list for 2011 according to Google, as they should be. This album grabs you by the boo boo and doesn't let go until the very end. It has a very heavy indie folk undertone but some surprising tracks draw on electronic sounds or just a clean baritone guitar hook. You can pick up on different influences from Daniel Johnston like The Grateful Dead and My Morning Jacket. The lyrics are intriguing, somber and keep you listening to what I would almost call an unintentional concept album. I dig it and so will you.

1. Bon Iver - Bon Iver  /  St. Vincent - Strange Mercy
I know it may be cheating but, I honestly could not decide which album I liked more this year. 

I love Bon Iver and have for a number of years now. I was originally drawn to Justin Vernon's music because of the heartfelt, lovesick acoustic singer/songwriter sound. It was what I was into the most at the time and to be honest I felt and still feel like his sound is a game changer. I really expected this album to draw from those same acoustic sounds. But what was delivered was something not greater but different and great in its own way. It was as though an angel gave Vernon a stone made from God's dried tears and he chiseled it down to this album. (Kidding, I just want to make my buddy Jon cringe). The album is well crafted and I feel like I connect to it emotionally. With the exception of the last track "Beth/Rest" this album still makes it through my rotation a few times a week.

St. Vincent (Annie Clark) is a doll. I have the biggest crush on her. She is talented and her gorgeous doe eyes and classic looks make my knees weak. Until Strange Mercy I was never really able to get interested in more than a couple of her songs. I felt they were too disjointed or disconnected. This record was the year's biggest surprise for me. The songs are experimental yet so well crafted. With every listen the songs just get better as you are able draw more and more from them. Clark also takes the lyrics to a much more relatable place. I had the chance to see her live a few months ago and I left the show her the biggest fan. Because of the performance I have even been able to gain a new appreciation for her older stuff. Now I just have to figure out how to get her to marry me.

- Isaac Attencio III


There you have it. While there are some similarities and disagreements between our two lists, I definitely respect his opinion and I give him mad props (Haha) because, he basically gave me a reason to re-listen to some of the stuff I hated this year as well as some new bands / music to check out. Strong work!!