After Labor Day you shouldn’t wear white. Or you should. There’s some stupid rule about that. Just like after Memorial Day, you’re supposed to publish a “best of so far” list. It’s a rule or something. If you don’t do it, they kick you out of Blogger Club. Or they electroshock your balls. Something like that.
So in the spirit of conformity, compliance, and protecting my junk, here’s my best of 2011 so far. Mostly, this is an album-review site, so mostly, that’s what I’ve included here. But there’s a few other things that snuck in.
Disclaimer: This list has nothing to do with what will (or will not) appear on my actual best of 2011 list this December. I didn’t do a “so far” list in 2010 (and boy am I sore), but in 2009 my “so far” list had a ton of stuff that didn’t make prime time. It’s because, over time, stuff doesn’t keep my interest–or because newer, more interesting stuff comes out.
In short, this list is nonbinding.
THE TOP 10 MUSIC RELEASES OF 2011 . . . SO FAR
The three bubbling under:
1. “Beast of Burden” by Wild Flag. Merge Records’ “supergroup of four chicks from Sleater-Kinney, Helium, and The Minders, are rough and rugged punkers. And their cover of this Rolling Stones classic is terrific.
2. The Heat (American Language Remix)-P.L.O. featuring Has-Lo, Zilla Rocca and Curly Castro. Best rap single of the year so far, maybe.
3. Javelin-Canyon Candy. Definitely the oddest album of the year…..
10. The Beastie Boys-Hot Sauce Committee Part 2.
No, it’s not independent, but the Beasties have been a part of my world since their first album. A Beastie Boy went to the College I graduated from. A Beastie went to the High School I graduated from. And two of the Boys went to the High School I was kicked out of. And so did Luscious Jackson, a sort of beastie girl band who went on to become a pop group with one big hit (“Naked Eye”).
Plus, this may be MCA’s last album…There’s no sign of part 1 (this was supposed to be a double-release, originally), and he’s not getting any healthier. So they deserve to be on here.
Plus, the album is probably their best since Check Your Head.
9. J. Mascis-Several Shades of Why.
Dinosaur Jr. genius goes solo and makes a sad, acoustic singer-songwriter record. His experience as a musician, and the reason why he’s one of the most influential artists of the 1990s, is abundantly clear.
8. Matt The Electrician-Accidental Thief.
A genuine electrician’s foray into indie folk is much, much better than you’d expect.
7. “All I Wanna Do” by Grynch. From his Timeless EP, an altogether solid record–but this anthem goes the extra mile. Great pop tune, great party rap.
6. Deep Dark Robot-8 Songs About a Girl.
Great stuff. Yeah, Linda Perry is on a major label. But she kicks ass like an indie grrrl.
5. Imaginary Cities-Temporary Resident.
When I last reviewed this, I compared lead singer Marti Sarbit to Macy Gray and called her “amazing.” In retrospect, I think I undersold her. But to be fair to my abilities, I also said this was easily a candidate for best pop album of 2011. Still true.
4. Colin Hay-Gathering Mercury.
I told you once. Now I’m telling you again: This is his best release of original material since . . . Ever.
3. “Get Away” by Yuck. This should have been the hit of the summer–it’s all hook and attitude, a great rock and roll song. I can’t say I love the album as much as this one song, but you’ve got to hear this single.
2. Jason Isbell-Here We Rest.
When we last discussed Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s second album (and Jason’s third effort without the Drive-By Truckers), we noted that this is a genre-crossing record: R&B meets Americana. We also noted that only an idiot (or a Pitchfork reviewer) would even bother to try to compare this to the man’s DBT work. It’s nothing like it. It’s fresher, incredibly different, and far, far more interesting.
1. If By Yes-Salt on Sea Glass.
Here’s what I told you before. Here’s why I’m telling you again: If Petra Haden doesn’t do it for you, how about Yuka Honda of Cibo Matto? Still no? Then add David Byrne. This album is a revelation.