Listen Up: Eddie Ashworth’s Top Music Picks for 2011< < Back to
Eddie’s Favorite Records of 2011 (in no particular order):
1. Wilco, The Whole Love: The quintessence of this band’s best work over the past decade. Heartfelt songs, edgy-yet-welcoming arrangements, wonderful sonics. Best album track of the year: “One Sunday Morning.”
2. White Denim, D: This Austin band’s breakthrough. A bracing blend of garage rock, prog, folk and psychedelia.
3. Blitzen Trapper, American Goldwing: The Portland-based band continues to refine their winning combination of raucous folk and rootsy rock, with songs that are little short stories dealing with love, loss, moving on and other mysteries of life.
4. Diego Garcia, Laura: Latin-tinged folk pop for lovers.
5. Raphael Saadiq, Stone Rollin’: “You’re givin’ me a heart attack-ack –ack!!!”
6. Lydia Loveless, Indestructible Machine: Columbus’ own turns it up to eleven with this unruly country rock gem.
7. Tinariwen, Tassili: Timeless music by Tuareg and Berber musicians from the deserts of Mali.
8. Wild Flag, Wild Flag: This album takes no prisoners. Great drumming by Janet Weiss.
9. Fool’s Gold, Leave No Trace: Afropop meets gypsy rock at a kibbutzim. Awesome use of analog synthesizers.
10. Mastodon, The Hunter: These guys just keep getting better and better. Heavy shredding and deep thoughts about the cosmos.
11. Butch Walker & The Black Widows, The Spade: Clever, impossibly catchy pop rock. One of the most underrated writer/performer/producers in music today.
12. Atlas Sound, Parallax: Bradford Cox does the near-impossible by making bedroom records of experimental music that is also catchy pop. Or is it catchy pop that is also experimental?
13. F—– Up, David Comes To Life: Soaring, melodic, epic hardcore. Too bad about the band name…
14. Ida Maria, KATLA: This Butch Walker-produced set shows off all of the Norwegian rocker’s formidable vocal and songwriting chops while revealing she can also pull off melodic pop tunes.
15. TV On The Radio, Nine Types Of Light: Brooklyn futurists’ improbable collection of songs about love. Their most accessible album yet.
16. Nick Lowe, The Old Magic: The “Basher” continues his remarkable shift from rocker to purveyor of wry torch songs with this finely observed collection. Lowe makes it look easy.
17. Robyn Hitchcock, Tromso, Kaptein: Another sterling collection of wonderfully off-center psychedelic pop songs by music’s leading eccentric.
18. Wye Oak, Civilian: Spooky and sexy all at once.
19. Glen Campbell, Ghost On The Canvas: Campbell’s haunting swansong hearkens back to his classic work, while adding a contemporary spin with contributions by Paul Westerberg, Robert Pollard and James Iha.
20. The Beach Boys, The Smile Sessions: My favorite reissue of the year.
21. Ryan Adams, Ashes And Fire: A stripped-down ode to Los Angeles, its losers, winners and dreamers that reconfirms Adams’ status as one of our most consistently excellent songwriters.
22. Thrice, Major/Minor: Math rock with a beating heart and something to say.
23. She’s A Tease, Millionaira: Super fun dance music from the Mexico City new wave band.
24. Dawes, Nothing Is Wrong: These guys give the whole Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter thing a new lease on life on their second record. “A Little Bit Of Everything” is my favorite song of the year.
25. Sloan, The Double Cross: Venerable Canadian rockers show they’ve still got the goods after all these years.
I also loved: 2011 (The Smithereens); So Beautiful Or So What (Paul Simon); Megafaun (Megafaun); Smoke Ring For My Halo (Kurt Vile); The Last Place (Army Navy); Wasting Light (Foo Fighters); Darwin Deez (Darwin Deez); WHOKILL (Tune-Yards); In The Mountain In The Cloud (Portugal, The Man); Screws Get Loose (Those Darlins); Lenses Alien (Cymbals Eat Guitars); Revelation Road (Shelby Lynne); Here We Rest (Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit); Everything Is Saved (David Wax Museum); 3 (Buffalo Killers); Tripper (Fruit Bats); Death Of A Decade (Ha Ha Tonka). Also the reissues of Achtung Baby! (U2) and Nevermind (Nirvana).
Eddie Ashworth is an assistant professor in the School of Media Arts & Studies at Ohio University, where he teaches courses in record production and music industry studies. He is also a veteran record producer, engineer and mixer who has worked with artists such as Sublime, Pennywise, Unwritten Law and Slightly Stoopid, and most recently Athens favorites Duke Junior & The Smokey Boots and Columbus-based Maza Blaska.
This is the third in a series of year-end blog posts by WOUB staff, volunteers and contributors, as well as area musicians, music retailers and plain old music fanatics. Think we missed something? Let us know at email@example.com.