Recently, Academic Dean Peter Uvin sent an urgent message to the student community.  The content will be of concern to anyone who shares his intellectual interests.

Dear Students,

The Arab Spring. The Belgian Greek debt crisis. IMF director Lagarde asking Latin American countries for money to help Europe get out of the debt crisis. The coffee at Mugar Café. All worthwhile issues of debate. And yet, they passed by me unnoticed. My mind was on a far more important task:  the production of my annual Top-10 Music List for the year 2011. This is just one of the things an Academic Dean must do, and do well. I hereby share the results of this major research project, which took me hundreds of hours of listening and reflecting. Obviously, I cannot imagine that anyone could improve on this fine work, but in the spirit of free inquiry and frank debate, I do welcome all feedback.

Best wishes,
Peter Uvin
Academic Dean and Henry J. Leir Professor of International Humanitarian Studies
Director, Institute for Human Security
The Fletcher School |  Tufts University

And so, dear blog readers, I share with you the results of Dean Uvin’s research.  Next week, I will collect the student feedback.  Meanwhile, please feel free to offer your own choices in the comment section below.

Dean Uvin’s Ten Best Albums of 2011

Kiran Ahluwalia — Aam Zameen: Common Ground. Indian neo-traditional  music, phenomenally produced, with a stunning voice. The first song, a remake of a famous song by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, is done with Mali’s Tinariwen—it gives new meaning to the term “world music.” A great album.

AA Bondy — Believers. Very sad, haunting, dark, slow album, gorgeously sung and played. Stunning.

Anna Calvi — Anna Calvi. She sounds like a copy of Siouxsee and the Banshees, but what a voice, what guitar playing, what power. I can’t wait for more from her.

Bon Iver — Bon Iver. I was, frankly, not so blown away by his To Emma CD as everyone else seemingly was,  but this one is amazing. I know I will still listen to it 20 years from now. A true classic.

Michael Gordon — Timber. Rather different, and probably not to listen to while having a conversation in your car. But this is brilliant work of so-called contemporary classical music, mesmerizing if you are in the right mood, boundary shifting and refreshing.

Grouplove — Never Trust a Happy Song. Clearly a misnomer, for these are some of the happiest songs around. Not since Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes have I heard an album so unashamedly feel-good. I know I will probably get sick of it at some point (especially if advertisers keep on picking it up), but this is just a great smile-on-your-face-provoking record.

Amy LaVere — Stranger Me. I admit it: I am a country fan. I listen to a lot of it, although not so much to what plays on the radio. This is definitely a country-rock album, but she does come from a real country background. (Her previous excellent album showcases that.) Fun texts, good melodies, and a beautifully fragile-yet-strong voice.

Radiohead — King of Limbs. I am almost ashamed to put it here, because it is so obvious. But it needs to be said: Radiohead made, once again, a phenomenal album. Nobody comes close to these guys—they are the defining band of their generation.

TV on the Radio — Nine Types of Light. This is, once again, a very good album of a very good band, maybe the best band in this country at this time. They continue to innovate with power, rhythm, and voice. I love this.

Robag Wruhme — Thora Vukk. I listened to a lot of electronic music this year. The competition was between three Germans (what’s new?) — Robag Wruhme, Apparat, and Pantha du Prince.  Robag won. I think this record is a little masterpiece, and a true record, with a flow from beginning to end. At the end of the year, Oneohtrix River Never came to muddy the water, almost making it to first position in the electronic category, but I decided to stay with my German roots.

Runner Ups
Enrico Rava — Tribe. Always a gorgeous jazz musician–albeit, in my opinion, of the more background music type–this CD, like so many others of this Italian jazz master, is truly a beauty. Everyone who hears this cannot but fall under its spell.

Son Lux — We are Rising.  His At War with Walls and Mazes is one of the five best albums of the entire 2000s, and this one is good too, albeit less so. The problem is: I had too high expectations. It just fell out of the prizes for the year.

Wye Oak — Civilian. Gorgeous, as are all their albums.  A bit more rhythm, maybe, but still so ethereal, so beautiful, so sensual.


2 Responses to Dean Uvin’s applied research

  1. Thanks so much for the tip, Katherine. It looks like a good site for conducting further scholarly investigation. And thanks for reading the blog!

  2. Katherine Gassauer-Fleissner says:

    A suggestion for future research :

    With best wishes,

    Katherine Gassauer-Fleissner
    Fletcher ’74
    now living in Vienna, Austria

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