The Antlers

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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.

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If The Antlers’ Hospice elicited tears and heartache, Burst Apart elicits muted utterances of, “Holy crap.” (or more creative expletives)

Burst Apart appears to be the story of two people involved in an absolutely bitter (and very possibly abusive) relationship. Each song  deals with this crumbling relationship and is largely presented in a one-sided conversational tone. “I Don’t Want Love” and its opening line “You wanna climb up the stairs, I wanna push you back down” is your first introduction to what you’re going to be experiencing throughout this album. This line immediately immerses you into the destructiveness and abject horror of the relationship that will accompany you throughout the entire album.

The music of Burst Apart precisely matches the resonance of the lyrics and together they create a haunting atmosphere and environment that unfolds before you. The echoing mandolin of “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out” and the jarring strum of a guitar on “Putting the Dog to Sleep” (and is there a snare drum behind that? I have a horrible musical ear) are prime examples of the music being used to convey the emotion of a song.

In Hospice the album closes with the death of the hospice patient and Burst Apart closes with the end of the aforementioned relationship. However, this doesn’t mean closure, far from it. Instead, Burst Apart ends with the melancholy “Putting the Dog to Sleep” where the singer laments on what has crossed all of our minds after a breakup, “What now? Am I just going to die alone?” Like “Epilogue” on Hospice, this final track on Burst Apart concludes the story but lets the listener know that this is hardly the end and that the pain of this experience will continue to haunt those involved for some time.

The Antlers have managed to push forward creatively in Burst Apart, both thematically and sonically, without jettisoning the core of what made Hospice so enthralling. Peter Silberman has once again managed to capture your emotions and takes you on a ride through the ups and downs of an individual being absolutely torn apart emotionally. Burst Apart is not an airy lightweight listen, neither was Hospice, but it is that frightening level of realism and almost crippling devastation that makes both of these albums so remarkable.

mp3: The Antler – I Don’t Want Love
from the album Burst Apart (buy it here)

mp3: The Antlers – Parentheses
from the album Burst Apart (buy it here)

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2009 Top 25Well it’s that time again. It’s been a good year in music for sure – so much so that we’ve bumped our list up to 25 albums this time around, and even then we were having to painfully cut out some clearly great records.

Remember, this list represents our favorite albums of the year, not necessarily the best albums of the year. If we had to pick what we thought were the very best albums critically, this would probably be a very different list. But we’re no critics, so that’s not what we’re going to do. 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. This is what we’ll remember when we look back on 2009.

Here we go:

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