Friday, December 30, 2011

My Year in Cities 2011

Hartford, CT*
Boston, MA
St. Louis, MO
Raphine, VA*
Charlotte, NC
Miami, FL

The rules: one or more nights had to be spent in a city. Those cities marked with an asterisk (*) were visited multiple times. While the number of cities is similar to last year, the amount of travel was much greater due to seven months working in Hartford every other week.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Favorite Albums of 2011

It's that time of year again--the time for lists! As usual, I've put together a list of my favorite albums of the year. This list is by no means comprehensive--I don't have the resources of Paste of Pitchfork. This is merely the list of the 25 albums I enjoyed the most this year. But before I get to the list, I have a few honorable mentions that I'd like to call out even though the albums didn't quite make the favorites list.

First, I'd like to mention R.E.M for their last album, Collapse Into Now. Call this one the lifetime achievement award. I'd also like to give honorable mentions to The Feelies and Gang of Four for outstanding albums after a long time away: Here Before and Content, respectively. Both of these almost made the list, but just missed. But they deserve extra recognition, well, because of who they are.

With that out of the way, here's the list of my favorite 25 albums of 2011:

25. Yuck – Yuck
24. The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar
23. Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean
22. The Antlers – Burst Apart
21. Wye Oak – Civilian
20. TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light
19. The Pains of Being Pure of Heart – Belong
18. Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
17. Cults – Cults
16. Dum Dum Girls – Only in Dreams
15. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
14. My Morning Jacket – Circuital
13. Explosions in the Sky – Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
12. The Rural Alberta Advantage – Departing
11. Wilco – The Whole Love
10. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
9. Radiohead – King of Limbs
8. Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost
7. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
6. The Decemberists – The King is Dead
5. Beirut – The Rip Tide
4. Wild Flag – Wild Flag
3. Florence + the Machine – Ceremonials
2. The Black Keys – El Camino
1. Atlas Sound – Parallax

For those of you who know me, there won't be many surprises here. One of my big surprises was the return to form of Wilco after two albums that really kind of disappointed me. You may also be surprised at how high Florence + the Machine rated. Well, you're not alone. I'm surprised that I enjoyed this album so much.

I have a feeling that if I were to revisit this list three months down the line, The Black Keys may fall a bit, but I am seriously loving El Camino right now. I don't see that happening with Wild Flag though (maybe I just miss Sleater-Kinney that much). Beirut never ceases to amaze me. I challenge you to listen to the song "Santa Fe" and not hum it the rest of the day.

Finally, my favorite album: what can you say about Bradford Cox of Atlas Sound and Deerhunter that hasn't already been said. They guy is an incredible talent, and that ain't just Atlanta homer-ism. Parallax was easily the album I returned to the most over the course of the year, or paused on while scanning XM radio. It may be my favorite Atlas Sound or Deerhunter record yet. And that's saying something.