Playing catchup: What you might have missed in 2011

Well, it’s that time again. The end of the year rush wherein I try to listen to as many albums as possible, in search of my top picks of the year. I definitely don’t have it figured out yet, but here are some of the things that have my attention this week:

The Middle East, I Want That You Are Always Happy

The Middle East

Where many artists embraced bombast this year, it’s kind of nice to hear an album that doesn’t seem to be apologizing for being more sparse and organic. I loved “Blood” when I heard it a couple of years ago and though this album didn’t get the praise The Recordings of the Middle East got, I’m more than happy to give it some time.

“Jesus Came to My Birthday Party”


CANT, Dreams Come True

Chris Taylor of CANT

I am now kicking myself for not checking out CANT at CMJ a couple of months ago. In case you haven’t heard, CANT is the solo project of Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear, which is to say that it had cred before the first note was even recorded. I’ll even excuse the missing apostrophe and all caps (which kind of drive me crazy for the record, Chris).

“Too Late, Too Far”


Sin Fang, Summer Echoes

Sin Fang

Morr Music has proven to be one of my favorite labels, largely because of Sindri Már Sigfússon and his associated bands. We’ve got Sea Bear, Sóley, Múm… the list continues to grow. Recent studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between the number of accents in an artist’s name and my satisfaction with their music. (Publicists take note!)



Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., It’s A Corporate World

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

I know, I know. I couldn’t take these guys seriously when I saw them play at CMJ last year. Sure, it was kind of a nice change, the unapologetic absurdity of grown men wearing zip up race car driver suites, but I didn’t exactly find myself going out of the way to hear more. But you know? It’s actually not bad, right?

“Morning Thought”


So, will they make the cut? Stay tuned to find out!

And as always, please leave comments with recommendations for your top picks!
I’d love to hear them.


2 Responses to “Playing catchup: What you might have missed in 2011”

  1. 1 Dominik December 10, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Always a pleasure to read your posts – and very intrested in yout Top 10 picks of the year!
    I don´t have a ranking so far, but the albums that impressed me most this year are PJ Harvey – Let England Shake, Atlas Sound – Parallax, tune-yards – Whokill, Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues and Laura Marling – A Creature I don´t know.
    Has been a pretty good year for music, even though I was a bit disappointed by the latest one of my favorite band Radiohead.

  2. 2 rachelkowal December 10, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Thanks, Dominik! I also enjoyed the PJ Harvey, tUnE-yArDs, and Laura Marling a lot. (Excited to be seeing LM tomorrow night!) I have yet to hear Atlas Sound though… I need to get on that.

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"He considered music a liberating force: it liberated him from loneliness, introversion, the dust of the library; it opened the door of his body and allowed his soul to step out into the world to make friends."

- Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being


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