Rick McNulty’s Top 10 Picks for 2011
Saturday 11:00 p.m. – 3:00 a.m
1. James Blake – James Blake
I was a bit dumbfounded when I heard this (what is post-dubstep anyway?), but this extremely impressive debut has an uncanny ability to make electronic instruments downright silky. And that voice…
2. The Dø – Both Ways Open Jaws
It’s rare that a sophomore album that follows an amazing debut is actually more compelling and better structured than its predecessor, but this duo (a worldly Finnish and French) are far and away the best of the boy/girl duos in music of the moment. Perfect mid-tempo pop.
3. Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean
This is a near-perfect album with handfuls of everything needed to enjoy an indie pop record (although Warners is hardly considered independent). Sam Beam’s harmonies are breathtaking and cry-baby beautiful, but more importantly, his songwriting is the best around right now.
4. Motopony – Motopony
If we still dealt in the realm of Side One and Side Two, this record would win “best side of the year” with the former. Every indie rock band alive should be required to listen to the first handful of tracks and use them as a blueprint for mastering the art of producing a compelling song and sequencing.
5. Ocote Soul Sounds – Taurus
I nominate Adrian Quesada as Renaissance man of. He’s all about texture, groove, and mood; this album personifies that. I can’t think of anyone currently more involved with as many outstanding projects and bands as Mr. Quesada. And he makes great records…like this one.
6. Raphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin’
Exploring some new territory, Saadiq continues to be the most interesting artist of contemporary soul. “Movin’ Down The Line” is the closest we’ll get to a modern-day Marvin Gaye.
7. Strange Boys – Live Music
Somewhere between the Velvet Underground and Jonathan Richman live this ramshackle Austin band. They sound perpetually on the verge of collapse, yet the songs hang together threadbare enough to be charming and remind you of why a sense of humor goes a long way in pop music. Easily the best garage album of the year.
8. T Bird and The Breaks – Never Get Out Of This Funk Alive
Party album of the year. Certainly the one I heard most on the 2011 party circuit in Austin. There’s plenty of dirty shuck & jive, blasts of fuzz, and spit-take funny lyrics. Think loud, raucous and funky with enough bounce to the ounce to rattle the neighbors.
9. tUnE-yArDs – Whokill
If you want to hear what smart pop music will sound like in ten years, this is your ticket to the future. It’s violent, dissonant, and somehow infectious pop beneath the surface. It’s everything M.I.A. wants to be; Merril Garbus is so far out in front of the pack that she doesn’t have to look over her shoulder.
10. Tom Waits – Bad As Me
Mr. Waits has been resting on his laurels for the last ten years and has thankfully snapped out of it. He’s back to the lean, mean, half-cocked fighting machine of his best Island material and he’s listening to his wife and whittled away the fattening seven-minute dirges into tasty three-minute morsels.