Dean Uvin invited feedback on his Top 10 of 2011 list, and students didn’t hold back. I’ve snatched as many comments off the Social List as I could reasonably fit in the blog but, fortunately, a plugged-in student, Michael, solved my space problem by creating a scholarly archive of the suggestions for this year and 2010, saying:
For your studying convenience, I’ve compiled the albums and songs recommended by Dean Uvin and fellow students into a single public Spotify playlist: Fletcher Music 2011: The Groovin’ Uvin Project (http://open.spotify.com/user/grahamagp/playlist/29o96Vbw2BQLb3vFBPwyuj). Last year’s recommendations are in a second playlist, Fletcher Music 2010: Before the ‘Stache (http://open.spotify.com/user/grahamagp/playlist/29o96Vbw2BQLb3vFBPwyuj).
Blog readers, please check out the Spotify lists for the two scholarly works. (I included the url as I’ve had inconsistent success in opening the lists from a link. Plug the address into the Spotify search box.) But, because you might want to know what comments accompanied the choices, I’ve compiled a few. Here (with my apologies if I missed typos in unfamiliar album titles) are the students’ contributions to the listening pleasure of the community, with a little marker (~~~~~~) to indicate a change from one student to the next.
This was my favorite thread last year and my favorite again (albeit I still think too early — there’s a whole month left). With that said…Here are my top 10:
1. Girls — Father, Son, Holy Ghost
2. Youth Lagoon — The Year of Hibernation
3. The Weekend — House of Balloons/Thursday
4. James Blake — James Blake
5. St. Vincent — Strange Mercy
6. Drake — Take Care
7. Tune-Yards — WHOKILL
8. Los Campesinos — Hello Sadness
9. M83 — Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
10. The Antlers — Burst Apart
If I were to include reissues: The Rolling Stones — Some Girls reissue is awesome, but the Beach Boys — Smile Sessions is mind blowingly awesome. The outtakes for “Heroes and Villains” are amazing on their own.
Raphael Saadiq — Stone Rollin’. For those vintage soul fans:
M83 — Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. Sweet electropop with great melodies.
Jay-Z and Kanye West — Watch the Throne. The best of the two best in hip hop.
Kurt Vile — Smoke Ring For My Halo. Guitar driven rawk a la Burce Springsteen or Jeff Buckley (but more clever).
Fleet Foxes — Helplessness Blues. Gorgeous, accoustic-inspired indie rock and complex harmonies.
Lykke Li — Wounded Rhymes. Ephemeral Swedish pop that was the soundtrack to my summer.
Assuming the role of Debbie Downer, I have to say I found it to be a really disappointing year musically. More and more bands sound the same and like too many other bands that came before them — like rock/pop music’s death by entropy. In some cases, it can work really well (such as M83 shamelessly channeling the 80s) but in most cases it just sounds boring and samey. Which leads to my thesis: “Has rock/pop music exhausted itself as a genre and done everything it can do?” I’m pretty sure I could get Dean Uvin to sign on as a thesis adviser.
Holy Ghost! — Holy Ghost! For those of you into the indie dance genre… Fun, smart, hip disco groove full-length album from two New York guys on DFA (the label of LCD Soundsystem, Hercules and Love Affair, Hot Chip…).
Brigitte — Et vous, tu m’aimes? The album is a standout — ranging from pop ditty to cover of a rap song to country inspired to a finale of a gospel song turned upside down called “Jesus sex symbol.” Listening will help you with your language exam!
Feist — Metals. Music on this album hovers around the intersection of indie and alt country, a good place for her, and one which she inhabits beautifully. It is such a mature album; I love it.
The Weekend — House of Balloons. Dark and brooding genre-bending debut from a 20-year old Toronto kid. Blew up after a tweet from Drake. Download for free on his website and become one with your morose self.
Tune-Yards — W H O K I L L. Lo-fi eclectic sonic collage. Merrill Garbus rocks and did this whole album on her own. This will give you an idea.
I would be oh so sad if Florence and The Machine’s new album Ceremonials wasn’t in the running. That girl has some piiiiiiiipes. It’s the perfect mix of gut wrenching, rock it out, go-out-there-and-win-this-thing inspiration. AND Beriut’s The Rip Tide album. Love the vibrato of his voice and the horn harmonies are fantastic.
Dean Uvin. Once again making sure we learn the important things.