It’s been pretty quiet around here for awhile (so quiet that we’re pretty sure just our mom’s are checking this thing at this point) (hi moms!), but even though we haven’t been writing all that much, we promise we’ve still been listening to loads of good music. So putting this list together has been a good chance for us to finally put down how we feel about some of the great stuff we’ve heard this year. We just hope it’s as fun for you to browse through as it was for us to pull together!
Before reading on, just a quick note about a record that’s not on this list: The Head & The Heart’s debut record saw a major label release this year (on Sub Pop), and although we’ve probably listened to that absolute gem of a record more than just about any other this year, we didn’t include it on account of it being on our year-end list for 2010, since they self-released it that year. But just know this: under different circumstances, The Head & The Heart would most certainly top this list. So if you haven’t heard them yet, let that be your invitation! Because they are so great!
So with that out of the way, we’re ready to unveil our Top 21 Albums of 2011. Just remember that this list represents our favorite albums of the year, and not necessarily the best albums of the year. If we had to pick what we thought were the very best albums critically, this list might look a little different. But we’re not critics, so we’re not going to worry about who made the greatest artistic strides or whatever this year. These are simply our very favorite albums of the year: the ones that made us laugh, cry, dance, smile, press repeat, wet our pants, etc. Basically, this is what we’ll remember when we look back on 2011.
I know this kind of activism isn’t our usual thing on here. And I know that Yo Gabba Gabba is just a kids show. But if you’ve ever actually seen an episode of the show, you know that it’s not just a kids show. It’s imaginative, it’s quirky, and it’s got really great taste in music.
Well Yo Gabba Gabba is in trouble, you guys. And we have to save it.
Here’s an excerpt from an email sent to me by a friend associated with the show:
Nickelodeon (who airs Yo Gabba Gabba) is at it again… pulling their corporate pouty-pie routine because they don’t completely own Yo Gabba Gabba. Although the show keeps increasing its popularityÂ here and internationally, they won’t commit to another season. They are also dragging their feet playing someÂ of this seasons’ new episodes (they keep using the old ones)… holding those new episodes hostage, so to speak.
Well that sounds pretty lame. So here’s what we can do about it:
If you would be so kind to sign this petition to show interest in the show, many fine/hard-working entertainers, musicians and crew could be employed again. It takes about 30 seconds to fill out the form. Pass it along, too! Thanks so much.
It actually only took me 24 seconds to fill out. So yeah. There’s really no reason not to. Here’s the link:
A good friend sent this to me the other day – it’s a behind-the-scenes video of MOS’s stop at Yo Gabba Gabba (you know, the kid’s show with incredible music taste). Below it is a link to their actual performance in the episode. Below THAT is another link to a news story on the Mates, focusing on what it’s like to be a parent/rock-star on the road. Consider this entry just another submission to the “Mates of State Are Ridiculously Cute” file. That file is getting rather large, actually.
We’ve been hearing rumors about this for awhile now, but we’ve finally got some details to give you about a new Mates of State album. It’s called Crushes (The Covers Mixtape), and it’ll be out sometime this summer. It’s a collection of assorted covers, ranging from Tom Waits to Girls, Belle & Sebastian to The Mars Volta, Death Cab for Cutie to Vashti Bunyan. Very cool. According to the Mates:
We’ve been talking about doing a covers record for a long time. Â We’d hear a great song at 2 AM while driving the straight line from one part of Texas to the next, and all we’d want to do is play that song as if we had written it. Â There are so many artists we considered, some for the mere fact that they wrote aÂ perfect song, some for nostalgia’s sake, some because more people need to hear them, some for the challenge, and some to shed a whole different light on a song: Our light… make it a duet, more optimistic or maybe less traditional.
Get the track “Laura” for free in the box below. It’s pretty solid, and I love the liberty they’ve taken with the call-and-response lyrics in the middle. I think I’m going to love this record.
Crushes (The Covers Mixtape) tracklist:
1. Laura (Girls)
2. Son et Lumiere (The Mars Volta)
3. Sleep the Clock Around (Belle & Sebastian)
4. Technicolor Girls (Death Cab for Cutie)
5. Long Way Home (Tom Waits)
6. Love Letter (Nick Cave)
7. Second Hand News (Fleetwood Mac)
8. 17 Pink Sugar Elephants (Vashti Bunyan)
9. Roller Coaster Ride (Dear Nora)
10. True Love Will Find You in the End (Daniel Johnston)
You might have noticed yesterday that we have a brand new face around here! Our very good friend Niels is going to be a regular contributor from now on, popping up as much or as little as he likes. So be sure to give him a warm-whale-in-a-cubicle-welcome so he’ll feel at home on here!
Niels has been a close friend of mine and Logan’s for a long time, and a big part of our musical taste for just as long. In fact, I’m pretty sure the first time the three of us hung out was going to a concert in Park City, so there you have it. Music friends 4L. <3’s up in here. Well here’s a little playlist to celebrate Niels getting on board, and to just celebrateÂ all of my (our) amazing friends. I have no doubt that I’ve got some of the best friends in the world, and I know that Niels and Logan feel the same way, so this is for all you guys/girls. Enjoy!
PS: That Lagwagon song on the end happens to be one of my very favorite songs from my youth. It’s a little out of character for this site, but punk rock was a big part of my teenage years (AKA: my bros before nice-young-ladies years) – and punk rock, with all it’s angst and us-againt-the-world pathos, also happens to be one of the most friends-centered genres of music out there (ahem, BroHymn). And you know what? In it’s drunken juvenile sort of way, this song is just as affecting as the more eloquent ones on here.
I just listened to that Mates of State remix album we heard about way back when it was only available on vinyl. Well it’s called Re-arranged: Volume 1, and it’s finally available digitally, so you can now stop by your local digital distributor and take a listen.
It’s only 5 tracks, all remixes of songs off last year’s near-perfectRe-arrange Us, and they range from very good to very so-so. None of them are bad, but a couple of them are stand-out awesome, like the RAC remix of “Now” and the Amp Live take on “The Re-Arranger”. Go check it out: the whole thing is pretty fun, and definitely worth a listen.