A decade ago, I wrote a series of entries ranking my favorite albums from 1985 to 2004. My collection has expanded greatly since then, particularly in the last five years. So I wanted to see what has changed in 10 years.
Spotify finally arrived in the US in 2011, and at the time, digital releases meant iTunes downloads. Vinyl album releases still came with CDs to go with them.
Like 2012, the 2011 Favorite Edition doesn’t alter the original list very much, and releases from that year haven’t really made its way into my collection since then.
- Duran Duran, All You Need Is Now
- Kuriyama Chiaki, CIRCUS
- Chiara String Quartet, Jefferson Freidmann: String Quartets Nos. 2 and 3
- SuiseiNoboAz, THE (OVERUSED) END OF THE WORLD and I MISS YOU MUH-FUH
- MO’SOME TONEBENDER, MO’SOME TONEBENDER
- Matt Alber, Constant Crows
- James Blake, James Blake
- Steve Reich, WTC 9/11 / Mallet Quartet / Dance Patterns
- Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, Here We Rest
- Frank Ocean, nostalgia, ULTRA
Other favorites from the year:
- Edwin Outwater, From Here On Out (Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony)
- Kronos Quartet / Kimmo Pohjonen / Samuli Kosminen, Uniko
- NOW Ensemble, Awake
- The Decemberists, The King Is Dead
- itsnotyouitsme, Everybody’s Pain Is Magnificent
- John Lunn, Downton Abbey
- Death Cab for Cutie, Codes and Keys
- Abigail Washburn, City of Refuge
Jason Isbell and Frank Ocean are retroactive additions. I wouldn’t have been aware of either artist before 2011. nostalgia, ULTRA is probably Ocean’s best album, and Here We Rest shows Isbell prepared for the breakthrough of Southeastern two years later.
Kronos Quartet and The Decemberists get bumped from the Favorite 10 as a result.
Edwin Outwater is a late discovery but also emblematic of the music I was exploring at the time. His album with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony is about as literal as you can get with the term “indie classical”.
2011 was also the final year I lived in Austin, Texas. I didn’t get around to posting the year-end list till March 2012 because I was busy with my move to Seattle in January.
Tags: abigail washburn, chiara string quartet, death cab for cutie, duran duran, edwin outwater, favorite edition, frank ocean, itsnotyouitsme, james blake, jason isbell, john lunn, kimmo pohjonen, kronos quartet, kuriyama chiaki, matt alber, mo'some tonebender, now ensemble, rewind, samuli kosminen, steve reich, suisei noboaz, the decemberists
Part of me still misses ICE Magazine, the publication dedicated to reporting on new releases and reissues. Super Deluxe Edition has done a good job recapturing the kind of reporting that went into ICE. I’ve adjusted to using Pause and Play for tracking new releases, but sometimes, I get more relevant information from the personalization features on Discogs.
ICE launched in the early ’90s to track compact disc releases. It ended publication just as the download market ate into CD sales. If a similar publication were to launch today, it would probably report on which artists have made their content exclusive on which streaming service. And vinyl. Talk about turnabout being fair play.
10,000 Maniacs, Twice Told Tales, April 28
This latest incarnation of 10,000 Maniacs brings Mary Ramsey back into the fold and welcomes a guitarist who also doubles on vocals. For this album, the Maniacs reach for the roots, covering the traditional music that has informed their sound.
Roomful of Teeth, Render, April 28
Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I had the temerity to stick with my composition studies in college. It might have sounded like the stuff happening in Brooklyn with the likes of Roomful of Teeth, So Percussion and Alarm Will Sound.
Takaakira Goto, Classical Punk and Echoes Under Beauty, May 5
Taka wrote this album around the time MONO started getting orchestral. I’ve enjoyed the rougher sound of Rays of Darkness too much to want to go back in time.
Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, The Traveling Kind, May 12
Brian Ahrens didn’t produce this second duet album, but Harris and Crowell wanted The Traveling Kind to reflect where they are as artists now. It’s hard not to have high expectations.
Deebs/Jarrell Perry, Shift, May 19
A lot of attention will focus on the second album by Frank Ocean, but for my money, Jarrell Perry does a far more adventurous job pushing the edges of R&B.
Faith No More, Sol Invictus, May 19
Yeah, yeah, insert grumbling about Jim Martin’s lack of involvement here. I’m still curious.
NOW Ensemble, Dreamfall, May 26
See above about labelmates Roomful of Teeth.
Jason Isbell, Something More Than Free, July 17
Damn, Jason Isbell is looking mighty fine on that cover photo. I couldn’t get enough of Southeastern, so I’ve spent the last few months devouring his 2011 album Here We Rest. Now a new set is just going to keep this jones going.
Frank Ocean, Boys Don’t Cry, July 2015
Hey, Frank, could you convince Universal Music to put out a decent vinyl issue of channel ORANGE as well? Thanks.
Duran Duran, TBD, September 2015
Not since Colin Thurston has Duran Duran worked with the same producer twice. Mark Ronson brought out not just the vintage sound of Duran Duran but also the unmistakable essence of a Duran Duran song. Here’s hoping the latter gets retained if the former evolves.
Tags: 10000 maniacs, deebs, duran duran, emmylou harris, faith no more, frank ocean, goto takaakira, jarell perry, jason isbell, looking ahead, now ensemble, rodney crowell, roomful of teeth