The Cave Singers

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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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Last Friday night we made it down to Bloomington for the first time in far too long to see Lia Ices and The Cave Singers at Russian Recording. Before I get into the show itself, I need to mention that Russian Recording might just be my new favorite venue in Indiana – it’s a recording studio they set up to serve as a club, and holy cow! It’s so great! It’s intimate, cozy, and of course, sounds amazing. After a particularly soaring coda to one of her beautiful songs, Lia Ices looked especially startled and pleased, saying something like, “that sounded really cool”. All night, the audience seemed to have a clear understanding of the superior sound we were so privileged to be experiencing, and there were many times you could hear a pin drop during the two sets. So yeah, Russian Recording: Bloomington’s best-kept concert secret you guys.

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Below you’ll find a couple songs from The Cave Singers.

A buddy of mine passed these guys along to me last week, and they’ve had me entranced ever since. This is just exactly what I’ve been into lately – rootsy, soulful, and really really pretty. They’re from Seattle, but their sound is straight outta appalachia, relying on time-tested folk methods to weave their hardy tunes, with just a hint of more contemporary tricks up their sleeves. Last year’s record, Welcome Joy, is full of little gems like the songs below, and you really ought to listen to it. Honestly, these two songs aren’t enough. You just really need to be listening to these guys. Seriously.

Welcome Joy is out now on Matador.

mp3: The Cave Singers – Leap
from the album Welcome Joy (buy it here)

mp3: The Cave Singers – Beach House
from the album Welcome Joy (buy it here)