Top Ten Music "Things" of 2011
I spent more money on music and music-related things this year than I have in the past five. Whether heat-of-the-moment Record Store Day purchases (sure, I’ll get that Kate Bush 10-inch just because it has fewer songs than the full length), subscription services like eMusic and Spotify, curated digital downloads (see below) or bidding on rare soul 45s on eBay — my PayPal got a workout.
I have to believe this was the case for other people too. Now let’s hope those bucks start trickling down to the actual music makers.
In no particular order, here are ten of my favorite music “things” from 2011:
Network Awesome – Live Music Show Curated by Andee Connors of Aquarius Records San Francisco Network Awesome creates long-form video using existing YouTube content. Genius. This episode of their Live Music show is particularly awesome, featuring some incredible metal performances. And while whole thing’s amazing – as are Andee’s descriptions of each piece – make sure to stick around for “Headbanging While Making a Fire” and this scathing backyard BBQ performance by Satan’s God.
Holy Ghost! “Wait and See” video I love this. Day-in-the-life of cool New York band guys. Nothing special, except they had their dads play the roles of them for the film.
Windy City Soul Club Hearing Northern Soul played loud at a club where the sound man knows how to treat it is one of the finest things your ears can experience. And when you hear it on the floor, you realize that this is proper dance music. The bass and drums just force your feet to move.
I’m fortunate to count these guys as friends and always have a great time when they throw a party. Their three-year anniversary is this Saturday night at Chicago’s Empty Bottle. Come early, though, as this thing sells out by 10 p.m. every time.
- The Records:
•My favorite record of the year was “The Whole Love” by Wilco, a perfect mix of art rockers, rock rockers and folk rockers, it’s an album that simply sounds incredible. Great songs + great performances + great production = great record.
•Also listened a lot to The Horrors’ “Skying,” a kind of Psychedelic Furs/Krautrock hybrid.
•The OBN III’s new one is the best garage rock record I’ve heard in years.
•The War On Drugs “Slave Ambient” – ace spacey Tom Petty vibes.
•Mogwai’s vinyl was gorgeous to listen to and look at.
Chicago Beatmakers Chicago is home to some of the most talented and underrated beatmakers in the world. You can safely buy almost anything on local label Fieldwerk (home of Meaty Ogre, Zavalo and Maker among others) and almost snap your neck from head nodding. Dreas also came in with the gorgeous Dreastronaut available on Chicago label Galapagos 4 this year.
Cave Of Forgotten Dreams A film hasn’t affected me as emotionally in years as this one did, and the music was a massive part of that. Ernst Reijseger’s score taps into something ancient and spiritual. Scraped cello strings, chants, flutes and hauntingly anthemic choral pieces evolve and then melt away again. Magic.
Shred One’s “The Bird and The Beat” Mix My favorite mix of the year. In the DJ’s own words: “A soul-experiential collection of chorus, hooks and bridges, sung by the songbirds of hip hop, and supported by beats of original hip hop producers, dedicated to give the timeless sound of the female vocalist its musical moment in the sun.”
Byron Stingily solo version of “That’s the Way Love Is” Byron Stingily came into the office with the rest of the Chosen Few crew to give the agency a little house history lesson as part of our Artist in Residence program. As people were walking into the room, unannounced, he picked up a mic and, accompanied only by a single piano, sang “That’s the Way Love Is.” Everyone’s jaw dropped and we were uniformly mesmerized. So, so soulful.
Finally getting my mp3 listening game proper I love to listen to wax at home, but in reality most of the music I listen to is at work or on the go, and is all digital. The Daily Swarm’s Sonic Sartori column has been very helpful in making mp3 listening pleasurable. They reco’d these speakers with this digital audio converter and both have been absolute game changers when it comes to listening to music from a computer. Also, I finally found a pair of in-ear headphones that bump hip hop as well as any big cans. SORTED.
14 Tracks 14 Tracks is a feature on Boomkat that, once a week, posts a list of 14 tracks in a certain mood. Largely electronic (but not necessarily “dance”), the site features music from “a multicoloured spectrum taking in Techno to Pop, Bass music to Ambient, Coldwave to House and numerous mongrel styles in between.”
The collections are so expertly curated – and with rarely anything I already know – that I regularly fork over $10 (roughly) for the goods. Here’s a nugget I discovered through 14 Tracks I never would have heard otherwise.