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Sunday, January 01, 2012

The Big List: Best of 2011

The 2011 Album Buyers Guide
Stuff You Should Try, From A-Z


Welcome! You have just found one of the most exhaustive and well-considered lists of quality, new music available from 2011. Ultimately, this A-Z shopping list is a reflection of our own personal tastes. (There might appear to be some prominent omissions from this list - but this is our list here at RSL, and we stand firmly by these selections.. Of course, this being said, we did squabble this year over things... As it turned out, we just couldn't come to any agreement regarding the top two or three records from our individual lists. (Consequently, you won't find a consensus Album of the Year listed here this year.)


"Bold Soul Sister" by Steven Lopez

I think you'll find there's some really, really great stuff here. Best to all the musicians out there creating in 2012. We'll see you at a show.


Ryan Adams
"Ashes & Fire"

BREAK IN THE SILENCE - Welcome back Ryan Adams. After quitting music and the Cardinals to focus on love and life away from the spotlight, Adams - for a time - toyed with movies and heavy metal. Thankfully, he returned to his core (at least for now) and created "Ashes & Fire." Crystal clear and static-frayed, Adams has proven once again that regardless of the extremes he is one of America's best. Most of his catalog should be in your collection - certainly this one! READ MORE (Full Album Stream)



Age Rings
"Black Honey"


Age Rings - Head Up High

INDIE ROCK THREE-RING CIRCUS - A triumph creatively; "Black Honey" from Age Rings is a "Best Of" record - It was on my second listen of Age Rings' Black Honey that I realize how lucid my waking dream had been during my first spin through the record. The songwriting is astute... and the emotional targeting is deadly accurate. What we have here is an unexpected gem and quite possibly the Underground Album of the Year. READ MORE

Album / Fb / My


Airborne Toxic Event
"All at Once"


Airborne Toxic Event - All At Once


A BAND COMES HOME TO ROOST - This is an ambitious follow-up to Airborne’s highly regarded debut. All At Once shows the kind of personal growth that comes from 2 years of relentless touring. The orchestral arrangements are more complex, brought to life by their friends and frequent collaborators, The Calder Quartet. The band’s performance and songwriting is more sophisticated and often breathtaking. Mikel Jollett’s subject matter has matured from “sad songs about girls” to a host of concerns that keep one awake at night – a pointless war, innocent victims, and the exploitation of young soldiers; the harrowing experience of growing old; the challenges of a maturing relationship and loss of innocence. READ MORE

Web / My / Fb / Tw


Alabama Shakes
"Alabama Shakes" EP




SOMETHING SHINY & NEW - Breakout material from Alabama Shakes started collecting fans as soon as it saw the light of day. I love this EP. Now, these songs won't change your life but it will make you feel better about your "right now" and what more can we really ask for from music? Expect festival appearances in the year ahead. Can't wait for more.

Web / Fb / My / Tw

Alexander
"Alexander"



VOICE FOR A NEW GENERATION - The solo debut from Alex Ebert’s (Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros) offers up a throng of rhythm tracks, chants and a series of unconventional song structures but it also (and more importantly) it boasts some of the best vocals and hooks of the year. If this is any indication of what we can expect from Ebert & company moving forward, things are looking up!

Fb / Web


AM & Shawn Lee
"Celestial Electric"


LOUNGE MEETS ROCK MEETS SOUL MEETS ... - AM is probably one of the country's best fusion acts. He's made a career out of combining various disparate artistic influences and shaking out really great music. In Shawn Lee he has met someone cut from the same cloth and the results, as they say, are remarkable. The new album "Celestial Electric" is amazing. I've listened to it once a week every week since it arrived in the mail. Great news, the pair are back in the studio working on a follow-up!

Web / Fb / Tw

Kasey Anderson and The Honkies
"Heart Of A Dog"



Heart of A Dog sampler
ONE OF THE STATES' BEST EMERGING ACTS - For the second year in a row, Portland's Kasey Anderson has produced one of the country's best records. Whether he's whooping it up with macho rock n' roll bravado, collapsing into the arms of a lover or challenging the ghosts of country music's past - we find Anderson standing on top. This sampler showcases Anderson's uncanny ability to light up the imagination of listeners.

Web / My / Fb / Tw


Aunt Martha
"Bloodshot" EP




COMPLETELY AMAZING SOUND - Singer Tim Noyes' voice is arresting and immediately relevant. The storytelling on the new songs from the Bloodshot EP would appear to be churned from souls older (depths much deeper) than the years on these young bones. The use of drums and violin are remarkable in the way they fill the air full of emotive light. Fans seem to be in agreement. The New Hampshire three-piece was invited to play the sold-out Bonnaroo. We caught them at CMJ and on the road as well. Everywhere Aunt Martha went they were met by eager new fans. A huge year and new material lie on the horizon for 2012.

Web / Fb / My / Tw


Bear Lake
"If You Were Me"

UNEXPECTED BRILLIANCE! - Only once or twice a year do I hear a new album that grabs me like the one from today's spotlight band. If You Were Me from Bear Lake is, out of the box, absolutely one of the best new records of 2011. Family and personal dynamics, love & loss, death and addiction are all covered in this stellar pop album! READ MORE

Web / Fb / My / Tw


SCREAMING GIRLISH - We’re talking full-on cacophony here – a shrieking and wailing banshee, stadium-sized guitar heroics and pounding rhythmic tides. That’s just one of the selections on Bent Knee’s debut album. Vocalist Courtney Swain moves from sweetly sensuous, to dangerous and taunting, to wildly unhinged. Highly experimental and mesmerizing, this Boston avant-garde ensemble has packed an awful lot of sound into their music.

Album / Web / Fb / My / Tw

The Black Keys
"El Camino"




THE NEW STANDARD - The Black Keys have somehow come to embody both the rough, creative spirit of DIY and the opposing standard for professionalism. It's hard to imagine that a whole generation of Americans now have grown through the Ohio duos albums. The songs here are along the same path but this time around there are different production values. That's thrown half of our group thrown for a loop. Regardless of our disagreement with where this record belongs in the pantheon of Black Keys efforts there is no doubt it needs to be in your collection. The Black Keys are the most important band in rock today.

Web / My / Fb / Tw


Blood Orange
"Coastal Grooves"



JUST GROOVIN' - Certainly the slickest record I've heard all year, Blood Orange is (now) NYC-based musical chameleon Dev Hynes' latest re-invention, following on from a couple of years work on the Lightspeed Champion 'band.' Everything musical Dev has touched in the last few years has turned to gold, and this is perhaps the most addictive project to date. The 80s disco beats, wound with funk bass and Dev's beautiful voice, are simply delicious. READ MORE

Web / Fb / Tw

Bridges and Powerlines
"Eve"



Bridges and Powerlines - Mirabell


PREMIUM EAST COAST ACT - The progressions on Eve are ridiculously addictive and it's pretty hard not to become a Bridges and Powerlines fan after just one listen. We've come to know and trust the band to put on some of the best live shows on the East Coast. For those still not in the know, take our advice and pick this one up. You'll soon be catching this festival knockout band on the road wherever they might be. Highly Recommended! READ MORE

Tw / Fb / My / Web / Blog




Dustin Christensen
"Highway Lines"



Dustin Christensen - Carolina

REAL LIFE MUSIC - Absolutely blown away by this one. Dustin Christensen has a gorgeous voice. The record is as pretty as a picture frame - the sound is great! On each listen it was nearly impossible to only let the record play once through. Protagonists here deal with life and loss, faith and forgiveness. One of my two favorite Country Albums this year and sure to lead to bigger things. Someone we will be following closely in 2012!

Web / Fb / Tw

The Civil Wars
"Barton Hollow"



The Civil Wars - Barton Hollow sampler

THIS DUO ARE A CREATIVE TORNADO! - Having done this for 5-plus years now - sifting through music and sharing with you what I think is best or certainly most noteworthy - I am rarely as surprised as I was by The Civil Wars this year. I caught them but twice and have already fallen for their country-steeped themes but their rhythm and two piece harmonies is what really took me in. Both John Paul White and Joy Williams are gifted singers. Together, they are unstoppable. READ MORE


Cold War Kids


STORIES ABOUT LIFE BROUGHT TO LIFE - Cold War Kids came back this January in a very, very big way. This album hasn't left my stero for very long during this months. Mine is Yours has been one of the soundtrack albums for my life in 2011 - a sign of a great album with lasting power. This is one of my favorite songs. You should definitely own this one - their best since Robbers & Cowards.

Web / Fb / Tw


Ry Cooder
"Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down "




THE HEAD OF THE CLASS - A sure sign of a living legend is the ability to waltz in to the room and plunk down a new album that so deftly defines the moment. This level of skill and perception comes only after four decades of music-making. Each song on Ry Cooder's new album is a timely snapshot; of migrant workers and economic disparity, of corruption and greed, of wars, conflict and disillusionment with the American dream. Cooder perfectly captures the essence of our social ills with a protest album that feels both contemporary and timeless. The album’s been nominated for a Grammy Award in the ‘Best Americana’ category. No surprise there.

Web / Fb / Wiki

Crooked Fingers
"Breaks In The Armor"


REFLECTIVE GOLD - This wonderful sixth album from Eric Bachmann’s “other band,” Crooked Fingers, is so emotionally weighty, somber and beautifully executed, it’s one of those rare spiritual experiences to listen to. From the gentle Americana melodies and bits of sprawling guitar, to Liz Durrett’s angelic harmonies, to Bachmann’s road worn vocals that speak of personal hardship and self-imposed solitude. This music aims for the center of the heart - and satisfyingly hits its mark. READ MORE - LIVE PHOTOS

Web / Fb / Tw
David Wax Museum
"Everything is Saved"



David Wax Museum - Born with a Broken Heart
Song of the Year: 2011 Boston Music Awards

MUSIC, GLORIOUS MUSIC - So rewarding to see people we believe in do so well. No act in the Northeast had a better year in 2011 than David Wax Museum. The new album perfect rounds out their repertoire - and those same songs helped them win fans on tour this year, wherever the Wax Museum went. A complete breakout and perhaps the best Mexo-Americana Act in all of America.

Web / Fb / My / Tw


DeVotchKa
"100 Lovers"



KEYS, STRINGS & URATA SINGS - From the opening notes of 100 Lovers, DeVotchKa brings their trademark old world romance and sweeping Eastern European orchestral grandness to the unwashed rock masses. It’s easy to be swept away to distant shores amidst those soaring strings and tinkling piano, gypsy violins and accordion, bouzouki rock riffs, eerily swelling theramin, mariachi trumpets, and wayward marching band sousaphone. Yet weaving their way through that dizzying globetrotting journey are Nick Urata’s unabashedly sentimental vocals, providing a swoon-inducing focal point. READ MORE

Web / Fb / My / Tw


Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling
"Questions Are A Burden To Others"


"Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling"
A Song with the same Name as the Band - both after a TV episode!


CREATIVE & DYNAMIC - The duo that make up DOFMOMD can be heard playing in one of their many different bands on more nights in Boston that not, but this project is for me both their most stylish and affecting. They are certainly on the rise beyond the city too: their video for the opening to cult British TV series "The Prisoner" was recently picked up by no less than Time magazine(!). I might go so far as to assert that DOFMOMD are the most idiosyncratic band to come out of the Boston scene in the last few years. Listening to them will make you feel a good deal cooler.
Web / Fb / Tw


Elbow
"Build a Rocket Boys!"


AN INSTANT CLASSIC - The truly remarkable thing about Elbow's fifth album is that it confirms their incredible consistency. Having had great critical and later popular success for a decade (and having been together for more than two), Elbow still seem to be able to deliver gorgeously crafted new songs that are often as moving as anything they have ever released. Wearing a very slight smile on every recording I've ever seen, singer Guy Garvey recounts stories about growing up in industrial England with such delight that he can re-inscribe the hard city streets into something about which we can all feel affectionate – quite a feat, considering all the rain. READ MORE
Web / Fb / My


EULA
"Maurice Narcisse"



THE LIVE SHOW LEAD TO THE ALBUM - I came across EULA on a sunny afternoon at the Bombfest festival in CT this spring, and was first impressed by their violent bass sound. Their album "Maurice Narcisse" turns out to be something with plenty of depth too, actually more suited to some mysterious, shadowy club in NYC. It's undoubtedly an aggressive record, and one that still has me pogoing around the room (when I can do so covertly, of course) from the very first note. READ MORE

Web / Fb / My / Blog / Tw


The Fatal Flaw
"Narrow Hours"


EXTREME MOOD MUSIC - The first time I heard The Fatal Flaw’s lighthearted pop melodies and cynical fatalism, I was hooked. On their second album, the self-released Narrow Hours, they further hone their dismal craft, with lyrics so clever and well-crafted, you can’t help but smile through the heart-sinking despair of the message. Imploding plans, lost dreams, close-mindedness, regrets, disillusionment, and the callous passage of time. Sweet jesus, let’s dance! READ MORE

Album / Web / Fb


Golden Bloom
"March to the Drums" EP


Golden Bloom - You Go On (& On)


GOOD SPEAK - He's baaaack. Actually, Shawn Fogel (RSL Best of 2009 pick for his "Fan the Flames" LP) never went anywhere. Whether touring with Golden Bloom or with one of his friend's side projects or standing front and center in Neutral Uke Hotel, Fogel has proven himself time and again to be a tremendous live performer and one of America's most skilled wordsmiths.

Web / My / Fb / Tw
Q&A


PJ Harvey
"Let England Shake"



2011 MERCURY PRIZE WINNER - In joining the mass of critics that have praised this album, and have been praising Polly Harvey's work for years, I'm left wondering what else I can say to ensnare those few dissenters who aren't sure that she is among the most important musicians of her generation. I'm tempted to throw up my hands – If you can't see what Harvey has to offer, I'm inclined to think you must be pretty entrenched in your aversion, and I'm not sure I have the words to change that. If "Let England Shake" doesn't work for you though, be careful not to dismiss the rest of her recordings, because it seems impossible to argue that she is highly diverse, and there must still be elements to satisfy. READ MORE

Web / My / Fb / Fans


Hey Rosetta!
"Seeds"


Hey Rosetta! - Yer Spring

INSPIRATION FROM CANADA - Hey Rosetta are Canada's best act right now. This material helps hammer home a majestic live performance that's now won over my heart many times. The triumph of "Seeds" hasn't been lost on the band's countrymen. It earned them a Polaris nomination. Only now with this strong album out front, have Americans began to focus on this act. We anxiously await what they do in the year ahead. READ MORE

Web / Fb / Tw / My



The Horrors
"Skying"



SCARY GOOD STUFF - From the heights of a Mercury music prize nomination and NME album of the year victory with their last album, "Primary Colours," The Horrors must surely have been feeling the pressure as they set out on the album that became this spring's "Skying." While they did not surpass "Primary Colours" this time around, the new record still shows them to capable of songs that are darkly attractive, addictive and digestible, all at the same time. The Horrors have proven again that they are both style and substance, and are certainly worth your time. READ MORE

Web / Fb / My

The Hush Now
"Memos"


The Hush Now - The Glow

TOP TEN ALBUM PICK - It's with great pleasure that I share the best Pop Album I heard all year. The Hush Now are perhaps one of the most driven bands and all that work really shows on new album, Memos. Over the course of the last year, the band toured extensively and returned to Boston to work this material with award-winning Producer Benny Grotto. A real winner and their best work to date. READ MORE

Web / My / Fb / Tw


Justice of the Unicorns (JOTU)
"Animals Will Be Stoned"


Animals Will Be Stoned sampler

BEAUTIFUL, QUIRKY, FUNNY AS HELL INDIE FOLK - Somewhere along the way, when allotments for don't-give-a-shit lyricism and swirling empathetic tone were getting handed out - Justice of the Unicorns got a double-helping. And where this artistic bonus may have cost Russell Dungan and the band, that huge mainstream success, it has helped secure them a place as one of the better indie folk rock bands of this decade. Whether singing about flawed characters, pill-popping high school gym teachers or producing tongue-in-cheek celebratory songs for gun-toting rednecks, Justice of the Unicorns appear to have no maximum or minimum. The new album embraces all audiences and reject just as many in turn. We love it. READ MORE

Album / Web / Fb / My / Tw


The Kills
"Blood Pressures"



SO SHARP THESE BLADES - Listening to the Kills album, despite some critical disappointment at its more refined production when compared to their previous work, is still a dirty business. Behind Allison Mossheart's voice there are some of the most grinding guitar hooks and out and out mean machine-coded beats I've heard this year. Another record that irresistibly makes even the most placid of listeners a rock and roll star, merely by association. READ MORE

Web / Fb / My / Domino


Kingsley Flood
"Colder Still" EP


STANDING OUT FROM THE FIELD - Playing in front of rapt audiences, (respectful and silent at first, later footstomping and hollering), is Kingsley Flood's specialty. Colder Still is a must-have, as it bridges the band's sound of old (more Americana-Folk) with the howling live act of today (Kingsley are daredevils of Americana Rock.) It won't be long before audiences outside New England figure wout this is one of the best live shows in the country today.

Web / My / Fb / Tw


Los Campensinos
"Hello Sadness"


Los Campesinos! - Hello Sadness


STAMPING YOUR EMOTIONAL PASSPORT - The latest release to make my list, LC's forth album is lyrically quite painful to listen to. It's the most nuanced and polished of their productions too (after some line-up changes between records), but retains what is still probably the best thing about this band, despite the 'sadness:' their feverish energy. LC have risen above many of their peers now, and, until we get new material from Maximo Park at least, there are very few young bands in Britain that can compare. READ MORE

Web / Fb / Blog / Tw

Matt Lowell
"Swan Lake" EP


EMERGING NEW TALENT - ONE TO WATCH! The more I hear from Matt Lowell (NYC) the more I find I like what I hear. The man is seriously talented, he works with great people and his arrangements are pretty awesome. Great news for those who did catch the Swan Lake EP (FREE DOWNLOAD!) Matt has a new fan-supported release due out in just weeks. Find out what this guy is all about.


Web / Fb / My / Tw


David Lowery
"The Palace Guards"


David Lowery - The Palace Guards (Sampler)


SOLO EFFORT COULD BE HIS BEST TO DATE - David Lowery (Cracker + Camper Van Beethoven) released his first solo effort in January and it is a solid album of the year candidate and a certain must-have for any fans of those two bands. The songs here are more sweeping and more reflective of Lowery - who at this point, let's be fair - is probably one of the most underrated modern songwriters in the States. The record is strong from start to finish. READ MORE

Web / Fb / Tw / My



Mean Creek
"Hemophiliac" EP


Mean Creek - Sunlight


RECIPE FOR A ROCK BAND - New England's best Rock Band fights to keep it's title in 2011 with this remarkable breakout material. This is the kind of stuff (pay what you want + completely brilliant) that gets little bands remembered forever. And, the future is completely wide open to them after this. We just can't wait to see what comes next! Photos: CMJ / SxSW / Tour w/ Dead Confederate

Album / My / Fb / Yt / Tw


Middle Brother
"Middle Brother"


Middle Brother - Me Me Me

FILE UNDER HOLY $#!+ - Best Live Bands of 2011 actually record an album that celebrates the individual creative aspects of their members but clearly descends from the source acts. If you love Delta Spirit, Dawes or Deer Tick (or all of the above) you probably suspect how good this one is. A Super Group done right, Middle Brother could be one of the best one-off albums of this generation. Own this one & listen often. FULL ALBUM STREAM

Web/ Fb / My / Tw

OldJack
"OldJack 3-Song" EP


OldJack - Parade

2011 Was Their Moment - Born on stage and thriving all year long, Boston rock & soul outfit OldJack released a three-song EP at CMJ this fall and were met with a couple hundred new fans. It was amazing to see this act unfold and bloom this year. Perhaps the most potential I saw from any act in 2011. I'm proud that this city calls them its own.

Album / Fb / Sb / Tw

Pearl and the Beard
"Killing the Darlings"


Pearl and the Beard - Sweetness

POISED TO BREAKOUT - Whimsical, dramatic and soul-stirring, the talented trio Pearl and the Beard are no strangers strangers to rooms full of twenty-somethings bobbing and twisting to their sound. They've earned their reputation for mixing strong live performances and mixing in their character and sense of humor. All this is magnified of course with the new PATB album, Killing the Darlings, songs that should find the band's largest audience to date... Jocelyn Mackenzie, Emily Hope Price, and Jeremy Styles create unforgettable moments in time, carving out moments in melody hard to comprehend at times and easy to enjoy.

Album / Web / Fb / My / Tw


Eldridge Rodriguez
"You Are Released"


Eldridge Rodriguez - Miss Me When I'm Gone
featuring Sarah Borges

CRISPER, DARKER, SMARTER... - Like Eldridge Rodriguez's 3 previous solo albums, You Are Released was recorded with Ray Jeffrey and continues his tradition of deconstructionist pop, this time around relying heavily on beats, loops, post-punk arrangements and noisy orchestration. Rodriguez (The Beatings) has a way of communicating angst, stress, doubt and loss as well as anyone I've come across. Clever in his wording, songs may take on special, new, meaning on second or third listen - perhaps even weeks down the road following first listen.

Web / Fb / My
The Beatings: Web / Fb / My

2009 Q&A / 2011 X-Mas Song


Slow Runner
"Damage Points"


Slow Runner - Devil Moon
"Possibly My Favorite Song of 2011" - R Spaulding

MESMERIZING & ETHEREAL - Slow Runner's latest material is their best. That's always so wonderful to hear but with this band, a string of quality EP records preceded 2011 and each was noteworthy. Damage Points however is truly special and worthy of a Top Ten nod. This is transformation, otherworldly music. The highest praise. READ MORE - VIDEO

iTunes / Web / Fb / Tw


Roy Sludge
"Too Drunk To Truck"

Nancy Nutile McMenemy photo

THE BLUE COLLAR HERO - Some thirty-plus years in the making, country-tinged rockabilly punk legend Roy Sludge releases his debut album and it's one of my two favorite Country albums of the year! It's hard not to have a great time listening to music that someone obviously had a fun time recording. The spirit of Q-Division recording sessions on "Too Drunk To Truck" speak for themselves. Highly Recommended! READ MORE

Web / Fb / My


Son of the Sun
"Almost Not There" EP



SUNSHINE FROM THE NORTH - Buffalo, NY's amazing Son of the Sun have rapidly become a regular listen at the RSL Compound. No joke, I've listened to this record dozens of times this year and I've managed to see them three times over the last three months. This is the kind of band I would be willing to drive distances to see. Well here's why; there's six songs (nearly a full-length) of quality on this EP. Pick up this album and fall for Son of the Sun's modern and throwback fusion. The tracks are romantic photographs for your music-loving mind. FULL ALBUM STREAM

Web / My / Fb / Tw


Tender Mercies
"Tender Mercies"


Tender Mercies - Heaven Knows

BLEW US OUT OF THE WATER - Most records burdened with taglines like “20 years in the making” are reunions, long-lost tapes or overblown box sets. There’s a pretty good chance you’ve never heard of Tender Mercies, as this is their first album, and yet in a sense it belongs in two times; with a foot both in 1993 than in 2011. How? The answers go a long way to explaining the pure, unhurried charm of this record. READ MORE

Kurt von Stetten
"Cyclops"



Kurt von Stetten
"Pyramid"


Kurt von Stetten - Aioki


A GIFTED CREATOR - Kurt von Stetten (Static Motor) is New England's top new talent having released two remarkable albums over the last 13 months now. A photographer and a complete musical artist, recording, editing, producing, pitching and even painting his own album covers, it still took me some time to fully appreciate KVS's magic. The man wears his heart on his sleeve and much of the magic ends up on the records here. Cyclops is the new one and here we find the best sound of the two, it's a fantastic example of isolationist creativity. Von Stetten proves, time and again, he is his own man. Pyramid (a record you can now download for free) offers up more digestible indie pop with dissonant border skirmishes here and there. Together, these two records are hard to beat - demonstrating that New England has a prolific genius on its hands and his name is Kurt von Stetten.


Viva Voce
"The Future Will Destroy You"



SENSUAL SOUNDS / KINETIC WAVES - Anita and Kevin Robinson released, "The Future Will Destroy You" - a solid candidate for album of the Year in 2011 (I have them at #3 out of God knows how many I've listened to the last 12 months.)Regardless of what you are doing and what your mental state is, this is the perfect escape. Listen to the whole album then go out and add this one to your collection. I recommend keeping a copy in the car for when you need to really free your mind. Highly Recommended!

Web / Fb / Tw / Vanguard

Tom Waits
"Bad As Me "



A STRANGE WORK OF ART - This is an elegant masterpiece from that whisky-marinated, road gravel troubadour and wandering minstrel. The mood ranges from a full-on channeling of every great bluesman that ever lived, to sensuous nocturnal desert meanderings, to a 1950s Big Bopper romp, smoky barroom blues bliss, voodoo magic and burning torch rock ‘n’ roll exorcism. Amidst songs of love, life, and being on the road, is poignant commentary on economic disparity and the ravages of war.
Web / Fb / Tw / Anti

The Wandas
"The Wandas"


The Wandas - Forever and Ever

ONE OF THE COUNTRY'S BEST LIVE SHOWS - The Wandas' long awaited self-titled record was released - and was immediately celebrated by fans who were clamoring for new material that more accurately reflected the band's often epic live shows. (Mission accomplished.) Barring a few standout songs from your back catalog, this is your best stuff to date and it makes me hopeful for the road ahead!

Web / Fb / My / Tw


We Are Augustines
"Rise Ye Sunken Ships"


We Are Augustines - Chapel Song

A Modern Masterpiece - Rise Ye Sunken Ships is the follow-up album that predecessor band Pela never made. Billy McCarthy and Eric Sanderson have soldiered on together and after three years of work, they have something truly amazing to share with the world. The songs are majestic, rising and still somehow earthy. The duo added drummer Rob Allen to round out the trio with great results. If you only buy ten records this year - this certainly should be one of them. READ MORE

Web / Fb / My / Tw


White Hills
"H-P1"



SWALLOWED BY SPACE ROCK - There a slim chance you might find a darker song that White's Hill's album opener "The Condition of Nothing" in anything released this year, but you won't find one more engulfing. From the opening chord the track is so massive you'll feel the need to steady yourself in the face of it (I guess live it must be a quite intimidating proposition). For me, that kind of overwhelming sound is actually quite beautiful. Even if that seems a stretch, the power of White Hill's sound will surely bludgeon you into submission. READ MORE

Web / Fb / Album


WILCO
"The Whole Love"


Wilco - I Might

PRECISION ATTACK - America's Band returns, generating a record that is a little less magic, a little more skill. The Whole Love features 12 new original tunes and is produced by Jeff Tweedy with Patrick Sansone and Tom Schick. The band, Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt, Glenn Kotche, Nels Cline, Patrick Sansone, and Mikael Jorgensen have proven to the world that Wilco is a group of technicians. Cline and Kotche are standouts on this record, made to be played loud, its songs performed live.



WU LYF
"Go tell fire to the mountain"


A NEW SOUND FOR THESE ODD YEARS - WU LYF are a conglomeration of jarring elements that shouldn't work together (airy guitar, grinding blues vocals, stadium drums, etc.), but that somehow add up to an extraordinary sound you won't hear anywhere else. Empowering, Loft, Driving, Scary - ultimately remarkable! Don't you want to hear something truly fresh from this year's best of list? READ MORE - LIVE PHOTOS


Wye Oak
"Civilian"



TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL - Wye Oak's reputation for being a strong setup act has been well earned the last few years but the success of their new album, Civilian, may put an end to them being anything more than tour headliners. The record and its title track were given a big boost when it appeared on the Season 2 trailer for zombie show "The Walking Dead" exposing many thousands of new listeners to their music. One of the year's standout records.

Web / Merge / My / Fb / Tw


Young Buffalo
"Young von Prettylips" EP


Young Buffalo - Catapilah

TOP NEW ACT IN AMERICA IN '11 - Bold talk, I know, but I sincerely think this soulful and rocking band from Mississippi is going places. First of these, we hope will be to play our show in Austin this March during SxSW. But that, friends, is another story. This band is worth exploring.. LIVE PHOTOS

Web / Fb / My / Bc