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Clarence Ewing: The Million Year Trip writesCHIRP Radio Best of 2011 (Clarence Ewing)

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members' top albums of 2011. The next list is from Assistant Online Media Director Clarence Ewing.

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

  1. tUnE-yArDs – W H O K I L L (4AD)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    I’m not the kind of person who stands on street corners loudly exclaiming “Holy S#%!” with my headphones on, yet that's just what I did when I first gave this album a listen while waiting for a bus. Merrill Garbus' melodic gymnastics and fiercely inventive technique (backed by Nate Brenner's sweet bass lines) are just brilliant.
  2. Battles – Gloss Drop (Warp)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    They combine the blunt force of a punk band with the dexterity and precision of a chamber orchestra, genre-hopping all over the place to suit their needs. It's the most focused and confident experimental music or the most advanced pop music I've ever heard. Either way, it's fantastic.
  3. White Hills – H-p1 (Thrill Jockey)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    A hot vortex of noise-rock that brings to mind jet engines, the drone of a billion computer servers, sports stadium entrance music, the static-y aftermath of bomb explosions, and political rallies, all mashed together and powered by anger and fear. No other album I've heard in the last decade so completely nails what the 21st century sounds like.
  4. Panda Bear – Tomboy (Paw Tracks)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    I was prepared to be underwhelmed by this album when it was first released. The knock on Noah Lennox's follow up to his landmark album Person Pitch was that it’s “more of the same.” But sometimes that's a good thing, especially when it comes from a gifted musician who continues to sharpen his electro-ambient-avant-pop craft.
  5. Julianna Barwick – The Magic Place (Asthmatic Kitty)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    If forests could sing, I suspect this is what we would hear.
  6. Daedelus – Bespoke (Ninja Tune)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    A remarkable sampler of the bleeding edge of dance and electronic music from a group of today's brightest talents (including Milosh, Inara George, Baths, and Young Dad) whose common denominator is Alfred Darlington, an accomplished musician in his own right and one of those guys who knows everyone in the scene.
  7. Blueprint – Adventures in Counter-Culture (Rhymesayers)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    A terrific offering from a gifted rapper who draws from many musical sources to express himself (everything from gangsta beats to club-ready dance tracks to New Wave retro to Coldplay-ish anthemic mainstream pop), tied together by an undercurrent of melancholy and world-weariness. It's not just a great musical journey but a vivid picture of an individual.
  8. The Cool Kids – When Fish Ride Bicycles (Green Label Sound)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    When it comes to rap, artists need to either move forward into new territory, or go back to what made it so great to begin with. This album from Antoine "Sir Michael Rocks" Reed (Matteson, Illinois) and Evan "Chuck Inglish" Ingersoll (Mount Clemens, Michigan) takes the latter path, using stripped-down beats and vocal dexterity to breathe new life into an increasingly stale pop genre.
  9. The Fleshtones – Brooklyn Sound Solution (Yep Roc)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Remember a time when you could not play Rock unless you knew how to play Blues? The Fleshtones remember, and this legendary New York outfit serves up meat-and-potatoes glam-garage jams that pack more punch than most of today’s distortion-and-effects-laden alt-rock. And they make it sound effortless (after all, they've been doing it since 1976).
  10. The Eternals – Approaching the Energy Field (Addenda / Submarine)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    The Eternals sound like what would happen if a funk band and an avant-garde jazz ensemble had a jam session one sunny afternoon in the ‘70s. Channeling the spirit of Sun Ra and Sly and the Family Stone, with political comment and poetry added for good measure, this is the modern example of how to do Fusion.
  • And Some Outstanding Singles from 2011...
    "Beat and the Pulse" by Austra
    "Fast Challenges" by Chad Valley
    "Mop It Up" by Gauntlet Hair
    "As young As Yesterday" by Korallreven
    "Natural Causes" by Nite Jewel
    "Amor Fati" by Washed Out

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2011

Curtis Swank writesCHIRP Radio Best of 2011 (Curt Swank)

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members’ top albums of 2011. The next list is from volunteer Curt Swank.

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

  1. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring for My Halo (Matador)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
  2. tUnE yArDs – W H O K I L L (4AD)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
  3. Likki Li – Wounded Rhymes (LL)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
  4. EMA – Past Life Martyred Saints (Soulterrain Transmissions)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
  5. Washed Out – Within and Without (Sub Pop)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
  6. Steven Malkmus and The Jicks – Mirror Traffic (Matador)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
  7. The War on Drugs – Slave Ambient (Secretly Canadian)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
  8. Wild Flag – Wild Flag (Merge)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
  9. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (Mute)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
  10. Mates of State – Mountaintops (Barsuk)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2011

Kilo Wattson writesMetro and CHIRP Radio Host December Food Drive

This December, Metro partners with CHIRPradio.org for the annual Metro/Smart Bar Food Drive benefitting the Greater Chicago Food Depository!

From December 1 – 31, Metro patrons, neighbors and community members are invited to drop off canned goods to the Metro Store at 3730 N. Clark Street. The Metro Store is open Monday 12-6pm, Tuesday through Saturday 12-8pm, and closed Sunday. In addition, the Metro Store remains open during any show at Metro, so patrons coming to shows in December are especially urged to bring a donation (you do not need to be attending a show to donate).

The Greater Chicago Food Depository says the most needed items are peanut butter, beans, canned fruit, canned vegetables, cereal, chili, tuna and pasta. Through the years, Metro has collected thousands of pounds of food to help feed hungry Chicagoans, and this year the need is higher than ever, so come by and help Metro and CHIRP stock the shelves of the Greater Chicago Food Depository this holiday season!

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Categorized: CHIRP Radio News and Info.

Topics: metro

Dylan Peterson writesCHIRP Radio Best of 2011 (Dylan Peterson)

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members’ top albums of 2011. The next list is from Dylan Peterson.

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

  1. Detroyer – Kaputt (Merge)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    I don’t think a great album can ever be neutral. The best records probably get an equal amount of love and hate (I’m thinking Trout Mask Replica, Velvet Underground, Another Green World, In Rainbows, Rumours, anything by ELO, etc.). Believe it or not, people still think Bob Dylan has a weird voice. And yeah, Kaputt should divide us. People should get upset when they hear this easy-listening, cheesy-sax-drenched, vocals-recorded-lying-on-a-couch, artsy shit.

    But what can I say. I haven’t listened to any other album this year more than Kaputt. I am infatuated with every track here. I guess artistic audacity just gets me every time. I want to hear someone giving a crazy idea his all, even if that could potentially mean utter failure. Dan Bejar could’ve made the worst decision of his life by releasing Kaputt, but as long as listeners like me are around, we’ll make sure this isn’t the last time an artist doesn’t play it safe. Kaputt is my favorite album of the year.

     


    Best Track: Kaputt

  2. Real Estate – Days (Domino)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    I completely slept on Real Estate’s self-titled debut, but after seeing their show at the Subterranean this summer, along with a majority of new songs in their set, I woke up. You don’t have to look too deep beneath the haze to hear a band that cares deeply about music. Precision and harmony are of utmost importance to Real Estate, and the result is an arresting album of indie surf rock. And no, you shouldn’t just listen to this in summertime. I just listened to it again, and it sounds great on 40-degree Chicago evenings.

     


    Best Track: All the Same

  3. Washed Out – Within and Without (Sub Pop)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Chillwave came out of the bedroom in 2011. Washed Out is the frontrunner of the movement, and is taking pride in being so. Whether you’re getting high, having sex, dancing, reading, or sleeping, Within and Without should be the soundtrack. It’s a strange time for music like this though. Washed Out opened for Cut Copy on their last North American tour, and leaving the venue I overheard some awful girl call Washed Out “the hipster Enya.” First I wanted to turn around and tell her to check this out, but then I just shrugged it off and thought, “Enya is awesome.”

     


    Best Track: Soft

  4. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring for My Halo (Matador)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Hey, guitars! Yeah, that’s an instrument for old dudes, but Kurt Vile doesn’t care. He knows how to write a great song with his guitar, and he should continue. Kurt has an aura that you can’t really fuck with. The timelessness of songwriting wins again here, whether you’re a fan of Bruce Springsteen, Sonic Youth, or Arcade Fire, Kurt Vile’s music somehow stretches across decades of rock and roll cool and comes back with a uniquely original style.

     


    Best Track: Jesus Fever

  5. Korallreven – An Album by Korallreven (Acephale)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    It was a great year for quiet music. Actually, I don’t know. Does screamo exist anymore? Is punk still a thing? I have a feeling that loud shit doesn’t do as much for us anymore because of how easy it is to make a high-quality album in one’s bedroom with a laptop. Our ears are collectively refined, and emotional music can’t be achieved as easily or brutishly these days. Korallreven is like new-age, Native American, sacred music, ambient, Sigur Ros and chillwave delicately smooshed into one lovely as honey viiiiiibe.

     


    Best Track: The Truest Faith

  6. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (Mute)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    It was 2011’s epic album. And hey, if I’m looking for something grandiose and overwhelming, this is the stuff. It sounds like the 80s, but no, it actually doesn’t. It sounds like 2011. This is music that people are connecting with right now. We’re not going back in time. We’re hearing synths clearer than ever, and they warm our hearts. Don’t forget about shoegaze either. M83 is a culmination of a couple decades worth of ideas, succeeding today and today only.

     


    Best track: Midnight City

  7. Chad Valley – Equatorial Ultravox [EP]
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    If anything should be considered a “surprise” in my top 10, I guess this would be it. Equatorial Ultravox wasn’t even reviewed on Pitchfork, so y’know. But these seven tracks still get me up. He sounded great at Schubas, so I have really high hopes for a full length (or another EP, or whatever he decides to release). It’s the ideal chillwave, and I am still unapologetic about loving it. These guys are making fresh music, and it gives me the bliss.

     


    Best Track: Fast Challenges

  8. G-Side – The One…Cohesive (Slow Motion Soundz, LLC)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Rap album of the year. In a recent interview I did with ST 2 Lettaz and Yung Clova, they said that their music is not cloud rap, just Alabama music. But whatever we want to call it, G-Side has the most radical sound in hip-hop today. They sample Beach House, Enya, and Tame Impala like it’s nothing. Seriously, they’re not gimmicky at all. If the sound works for their song, that’s why they’re sampling it.

     


    Best Track: How Far

  9. Bon Iver – Bon Iver (Jagjaguwar)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    I couldn’t stop listening to this when it came out. Replay value is what gets an album in my top 10. I would\ rather not even explain why this album works for me, it just does. If you also put these songs on repeat, you got it. If you turned it off seconds after hearing it, fine. I don’t think this an album that needs to be defended.

     


    Best Track: Beth/Rest

  10. Active Child – You Are All I See (Vagrant)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    An ex-choirboy plays the harp over post-dubstep beats. I don’t really feel the need to say anything more. He gets a guest vocal from How To Dress Well, brought Chad Valley along as the opener of his North American tour, and is now the opening act for M83’s tour. He is running with the right crowd. We will hear a lot more Active Child in the years to come. You Are All I See is a beautiful haunt of an album, but it really feels like the beginning of something special.

     


    Best Track: Hanging On

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2011

CHIRP DJ writesCHIRP Radio Best of 2011 (Liz Smyth)

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members’ top albums of 2011. The next list is from Liz Smyth.

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

  1. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake (Vagrant)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    This album is beautiful in its quiet grace, and the honesty of its lyrics. Even 9 months after its release these songs still get happily stuck in my head.
  2. The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar (Atlantic/Canvasback)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    This group is very easy to listen to (beware of spontaneous sing-alongs). Their accessible rock/pop mixes lilting verses with grungy, crunchy choruses.
  3. The Weeknd – House of Balloons (XL)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    The title track is great, and the rest of the album is filled with solid, lush night music.
  4. Timber Timbre – Creep On Creepin’ On (Arts & Crafts)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    I love the inventiveness of this group, and especially on this album. It’s like the melancholy love-child of a crooner and a folk-rock band, with atonal influences.
  5. Blind Pilot – 3 Rounds and a Sound (ATO)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    This album is perfect for quiet mornings. I appreciate the detail given to every song, from the lyrics to the subtlety of its chord and voicing changes.
  6. Radiohead – The King of Limbs (Ticker Tape Ltd.)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    This is another album that contains a ton of musical detail. I’m probably in the minority, but I really enjoy the electronic and jazz influenced direction Radiohead has gone lately.
  7. Likki Li – Wounded Rhymes (LL)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Lykke Li portrays her vulnerability with such passion on this album. “I Know Places” is one of my favorites.
  8. Adele – 21 (XL)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    I and every person in America love this album, but who can deny the pull of “Rolling In the Deep” or “Someone Like You”?
  9. Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 (Capitol)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    This album makes me feel like a bad-ass, which is hilarious. I especially like the first half of the recording.
  10. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Does anyone else feel like Fleet Foxes are our generation’s Simon and Garfunkel? The title track is one of the best on the album in my opinion.

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2011

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