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Mike Pakowski writesCHIRP Radio Best of 2011 (Mike Pakowski)

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members’ top albums of 2011. The next list is from Promotions Director Mike Pakowski.

(Click here to get the complete list of CHIRP Radio members’ picks.)

  1. Detroyer – Kaputt (Merge)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Dan Bejar is one of the coolest people on the planet and this album is just effortlessly smooth and brilliant from beginning to end. Every time I listened to it I found something new that kept me coming back for more throughout the year.
  2. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake (Vagrant)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Thank you Polly Jean for this amazingly sombre and beautiful gem. An incredible heartfelt album filled with powerful songs/stories.
  3. Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges (Constellation)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    The most unique and exciting album I heard this year hands down. This is music I’ve never experienced before and the fact that it comes from one musician, playing one instrument, recorded in one take is absolutely mind-blowing.
  4. Julianna Barwick – The Magic Place (Asthmatic Kitty)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    A beautiful, dreamy, hypnotic album. Julianna Barwick’s voice is enchanting, soothing and magical.
  5. Dirty Beaches – Badlands (Zoo)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    I’m a sucker for nostalgia albums and there was no shortage of them this year. However with Badlands, Alex Zhang Hungtai did something really special with this low-fi take on 1950’s rock n’ roll.
  6. Shabazz Palaces – Black Up (Sub Pop)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    A hip-hop album that sounds like it came from outer space instead of from Seattle.
  7. tUnE-yArDs – W H O K I L L (4AD)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Such an enjoyable album from start to finish. There are so many musical genres uniquely blended together on whokill; and Merrill Garbus sings and plays her heart out on every track.
  8. Tom Waits – Bad As Me (ANTI-)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    To be honest, I don’t have much of a history with the music of Mr. Waits. But after spending some time with the lovely and honest Bad as Me, I can’t wait to grab some whiskey and find out what I’ve been missing.
  9. John Maus – We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves (Ribbon Music/Upset The Rhythm)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Thought-provoking minimalist synth-pop.
  10. NewVillager – NewVillager (IamSound)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    This was my feel good album of 2011. Just a fun, enjoyable mix of soul and indie-pop.

 

Honorable Mentions

  • Sandro Perri – Impossible Spaces (Constellation)
    Cults – Cults (In The Name Of)
    Eleanor Friedberger – Last Summer (Merge)
    Girls Names – Dead To Me (Slumberland/Tough Love)
    Black Lips – Arabia Mountain (Vice)

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2011

Sara writesCHIRP Radio Best of 2011 (Sara Miller)

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members’ top albums of 2011. The next list is from DJ Sara Miller.

(Click here to get the complete list of CHIRP Radio members’ picks.)

  1. JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound – Want More (Bloodshot)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Chicago’s favorite soul crooner is back in full force with the fabulous Uptown Sound for their first release on Bloodshot. The only thing better than this album is seeing these guys live.
  2. Various Artists – Thai? Dai!: The Heavier Side of the Luk Thung Underground – Finders Keepers
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Finders Keepers is at it again with an awesome collection of tracks I would have never known existed if it weren’t for them. A grab-bag of funky, pyschy, rocky tracks from Southeast Asia; what’s not to like? Also of note this year from Finder’s Keepers, Bollywood Bloodbath. Musical bits and pieces from Bollywood Horror flicks – fantastic. Next time you see ‘em, buy those fellas at Finder’s Keepers a drink.
  3. Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – Bulletproof Brass EP (ChoiceCuts)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Need to get pumped up about something? Then listen to “Touch the Sky.” This Chicago band of brothers (literally) will have you up and out of your seat in no time. If that song doesn’t get you moving, then let’s face it, you were never going to run that marathon anyway.
  4. Darren Johnston’s Gone to Chicago – The Big Lift (Porto Franco)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Some of the finest players in Chicago improv jazz appear on this album led by San Francisco trumpeter Darren Johnston. Want a taste of what’s going on with jazz in Chicago these days? Then give this album a spin and take a ride with “Glass Ceiling, Paper Floor.”
  5. A Lull – Confetti (Mush)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    This is one of those albums I bought just for one song, “Weapons of War.” After hearing that single, I knew I had to find out what else this Chicago band had to offer, and they didn’t let me down. I’m not sure why, but this album has become my defacto morning commute album. It’s somehow upbeat and calming at the same time. Kind of a perfect combination for a Chicago morning, just add coffee.
  6. Booker T. Jones – The Road from Memphis – ANTI-
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    The brillant Booker T. is backed by the Roots on this album, and Questlove produces. That alone makes this a top ten. Add to that guest apperances by Matt Berninger, Sharon Jones, and Lou Reed. Must I say more?
  7. Jamie Woon – Mirrorwriting (Candent)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    I admit it, I have a crush on this man, and his music. I know James Blake is the young rising dubstep star of the year, and for good reason (he’s made my honorable mentions list); but there’s something about the R&B stylings of Woon than just slay me. I could listen to “Night Air” on repeat for days.
  8. YACHT – Shangri-La (DFA)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Cramming for a final? Trapped at the office for another 15 hour day trying to meet a deadline? Try this album by YACHT. There’s enough dance pop energy here to get you through the longest of long terrible weeks. Liquified, it’s like drinking twelve 5-hour energies at once, just, not as bad for you.
  9. Slow Club – Paradise (Moshi Moshi)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    This Sheffield duo knows how to create some mighty fine pop music if you ask me. The songs “Two Cousins” and “If We’re Still Alive” took up some serious real estate on my stereo this past fall after the September release. Also of note, the gorgeous black and white video for “Two Cousins.”
  10. The Roots – Undun (Def Jam)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    I just listened to this album for the first time when it came out in early December, and I’ve been listening to it nonstop ever since. Undun has already gotten a ton of acclaim, and it’s sure to be a huge win for the Roots. Apparently, it’s the 13th time that’s the charm.

 

Honorable Mentions

  • James Blake
    Bill Callahan
    Colin Stetson
    El Rego
    tUnE-yArDs

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2011

algabor writesCHIRP Radio Best of 2011 (Al Gabor)

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members’ top albums of 2011. The next list (in no particular order) is from Al Gabor.

(Click here to get the complete list of CHIRP Radio members’ picks.)

  • PJ Harvey – Let England Shake (Vagrant)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Grim, haunting songs sweetly sung. Next time, PJ, more guitar please.
  • Brief Candles – Fractured Days (Guilt Ridden Pop)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Shoegazers from Milwaukee = bowling shoe gazers. Stellar from start to finish.
  • Yuck – Yuck (Fat Possum)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    These kids do the 90s better than most 90s bands.
  • Wilco – The Whole Love (dBpm/ANTI)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Best since Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
  • tUnE-yArDs – W H O K I L L (4AD)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Wha? Ukelele-driven African beats? One of the year’s best surprises.
  • Little Gold – Weird Freedom (CDBY)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Former Woods guitarist gets his pubrock/psychedelic/alt country freak on.
  • Cults – Cults (In the Name of)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Bouncy but creepy take on sixties girl group sound and themes.
  • Eleanor Friedberger – Last Summer (Merge)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Stream of consciousness tour of Manhattan and other islands.
  • Tom Waits – Bad As Me (ANTI-)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Waits and Nick Cave give aging rockers hope.
  • The Decemberists – The King Is Dead (Capitol)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Decemberists get rootsy, release one of their strongest efforts to date.
  • Archers of Loaf – Icky Mettle (Merge)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Favorite reissue. 18 years later and still crunchy.

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2011

Matt Garman writesCHIRP Radio Best of 2011 (Matt Garman)

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members’ top albums of 2011. The next list is from of the Top 10 Underrated/Overignored Releases of 2011 is by Matt Garman.

(Click here to get the complete list of CHIRP Radio members’ picks.)

  1. Madeline – Black Velvet (This Will Be Our Summer)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    This latest album is a slightly more psychedelic, Southern Gothic approach to pop. Madeline’s greatest asset, however, remains her angelic Joni Mitchell-esque singing voice and strong songwriting ability.
  2. The Lonely Forest – Arrows (Trans/Atlantic)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    The third full-length from this Anacortes, Washington pop band is clean and smooth, crackling with arena-ready anthems that draw strength from lead singer John Van Deusen’s powerful voice.
  3. Police Teeth – Awesomer Than the Devil (Latest Flame)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    The third LP from this quartet is their best to date, a collection of melodic, catchy post-hardcore punk. Mixing chaotic heaviness with tuneful pop, you can hear the exhilarating influence of Superchunk, Drive Like Jehu, and the Wipers.
  4. Cristina Bautista – Gold Parts EP (Local 638)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    This is a punchy set of pop songs, hook-laden and earnest. Bautista’s greatest strength lies in her enormous voice, sounding occasionally like Neko Case and/or The Reputation’s Elizabeth Elmore, applying it to her irresistibly shiny power-pop compositions with dramatic effect.
  5. Sandrider – Sandrider (Good To Die)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    A huge polished slab of triumphant stoner heaviness on this Seattle band’s debut, a succinct recording of catchy riffage, booming drums, dynamics, and surprisingly melodic vocals. Even if you don’t like metal or heavy rock, you might want to give this a try…and yes, the name is a Dune reference.
  6. Frank Ocean – “Novacane” single (Self-Released)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    This R&B number was an insidious earworm for me in 2011. “Girl, I can’t feel my face / What are we smoking, anyway?” You can’t smoke novacaine, Frank. But you can sure feel numb if you rub your life raw.
  7. Seacats – “We Don’t Sleep” b/w “Hard Truth” 7” single (Fin)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    If “Novacane” was my jams for the second half of 2011, “We Don’t Sleep” by Seacats was there for the first. The song is simple pop catchiness, with moog synths and handclaps, all of it made by high school students. I’m not even kidding – these kids are literally kids. They wrote a song that is amazing!
  8. Bone & Bell – Loom EP (boneandbell.com)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Chicago songwriter Heather Smith has a special talent for melancholy, precise folk songs that are instantly hummable and carefully crafted. Her music is regal and charming, possessing a literary feel.
  9. Radiation City – The Hands That Take Us (Tender Loving Empire/Apes Tapes)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    This is a mellow, lush exercise in pan-genre-pop: swirling atmospherics and chanting atop walls of guitar in one moment, cool soul in the next. As a means of combining eras and elements of various pop trends, from the quietly blipping drum machine percussion to the generous application of reverb and synths, this album is remarkable.
  10. Slow Skate – Count the Days with Me (Parlour Trick)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Languid, ethereal Americana featuring reverb-infused vocal and guitar lines from married duo Caitlin Sherman and Jason Goessl. Slow Skate resembles a jazzy Mazzy Star playing a Beach House where Joanna Newsom meets Portishead.

 

Honorable Mention

  • Favorite New NOT Underrated/Overignored Release of 2011: Shabazz Palaces – Black Up (Sub Pop)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    “The shit I pop is heated cuz I love it and I mean it.”
    -Palaceer Lazaro

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2011

Richard Paul - The Quest writesCHIRP Radio Best of 2011 (Richard Paul)

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members’ top albums of 2011. The next list (in reverse order) is from DJ Richard Paul.

(Click here to get the complete list of CHIRP Radio members’ picks.)

  1. Tape – Revelationes (Häpna)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    “Gorgeous” is the best word to describe the ambient, experimental, instrumental folk from this Swedish trio.
  2. Washed Out – Within and Without (Sub Pop)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Ernest Greene’s got the voice and he fuses it seamlessly with electronics. It’s hard not to like this music. Every track does well.
  3. The Field – Looping State of Mind (Kompakt)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    How do you do it Sweden? And I have a feeling we’ll be seeing you again on this list. Who would have thought repetitive loops would make a “Best of” list? The Field must have. And so, I thank you Axel Willner.
  4. Gotye – Making Mirrors (Eleven)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    The Belgian-born Australian Wally De Backer took home the 2011 ARIA awards (think Australian Grammys) for Single of the Year, Best Pop Release and Best Male Artist all for very good reason.
  5. James Blake – James Blake (Universal Republic)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    I do not like dub-step, but James Blake has molded it into something I like very much.
  6. Detroyer – Kaputt (Merge)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    This album really kicked off the year with a bang…in a soothing sultry kind of way.
  7. Nils Frahm – Felt (Erased Tapes)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Nobody gets as much emotion out of a piano as the Berlin gentleman named Nils Frahm.
  8. The Drift – Blue Hour (Temporary Residence, Ltd.)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    There’s no better way to grieve than through your art form. Experience the anger and resolution as The Drift deal with the loss of their trumpet player, Jeff Jacobs.
  9. Roll the Dice – In Dust (The Leaf Label)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Ah, Sweden again. If you ever need to fast forward time. Put on this album. After one song, you’ll swear that 10 minutes did not just pass by. When, in fact, they definitely have. But you have no complaints about how those 10 minutes were spent. No complaints at all.
  10. Explosions in the Sky – Take Care, Take Care, Take Care (Temporary Residence, Ltd.)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Explosions can just do no wrong in my ears. They may not be as cutting edge as they once were but I believe that they completely put their all into every single song that they make. And for that, they have all of my gratitude.

 

Honorable Mentions

  • Beirut – The Rip Tide (Pompeii)
    Talkdemonic – Ruins (Glacial Pace)
    Loney, Dear – Hall Music (Polyvinyl)

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2011

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