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Music 2011

This was a small year for me as far as new music went. I only got 42 albums, which is most likely my lowest total in a decade or more. It's not that I didn't want new music but I just didn't pick up as much. Thanks to podcasts, though, I heard a lot of music and have a list a mile long of things to get. I also didn't listen to many albums as much as I normally would after getting them. It's not that I disliked them, per se. It was just an atypical music year for me. Even so, it's hard for me to not do a Top Ten list in this category, which means you get one...

1. Wilco/The Whole Love - Really, how could this not be my favorite album? I've liked the last 2 albums but I love this one. It has a stunning opener, a long engaging closer, and in between it's full of great songwriting and tons of John Stirratt's bass.

2. Sloan/The Double Cross - Speaking of bands I love, the tenth album by this still under-the-radar Canadian power-pop band is really really good. It was the soundtrack of my summer, just chock-full of great songs. If you haven't heard this band, this album is as good a place as any to start.

3. Telekinesis/12 Desperate Straight Lines - Speaking of power pop goodness, this sophomore album from Michael Benjamin Lerner is full of it. I played the hell out of it in the early part of the year.

4. Wild Flag/Wild Flag - From the ashes of Sleater-Kinney comes this group and album. This is rock music at its finest. Turn it up.

5. Yuck/Yuck - This is a new band, a debut album. They sound as if Teenage Fanclub and Dinosaur Jr. had a baby. That's such a great combination.

6. J Mascis/Several Shades of Why - Speaking of Dinosaur Jr, this mostly acoustic outing by its front man is excellent. A perfect album for late at night.

7. Apex Manor/The Year of Magical Drinking - This is the band that rose from the ashes of the late, lamented The Broken West. Lead singer Ross Flournoy is back with this batch of great power pop songs. "Teenage Blood" just might be my song of the year.

8. Wye Oak/Civilian - I didn't know this band before this year. That's on me. If you still don't know this band, that's on you. The title track is another candidate for my song of the year.

9. Fountains of Wayne/Sky Full of Holes - I'm as surprised as you are that this album is here. I could have put Old 97s, St. Vincent, The Black Keys, Fleet Foxes, or The Decemberists in this spot easily and maybe I should have. However, each time I here this one I like it more and more. I listened to it during my year-end relisten and then listened again when I was done. Great pop songs that aren't as disposable as you might think.

10. Matthew Sweet/Girlfriend - Yes, this album came out 20 years ago. One of my abandoned projects this year was a series of blog posts about 1991, the year that changed my musical life. This album was one of the first I reached back to and I couldn't stop playing it. That's a testament to the greatness of this music. Even 20 years later, this is still one of the best albums I played a lot this year. Thanks, Matthew.

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1. I 4 U & U 4 Me (Home Demo)/The Decemberists (15) - last played on 8/19/15
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Sunday Shuffle #448

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5 X 10

I've recently found myself listening to albums that came out 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 years ago. Here are some thoughts...

The Broken West/I Can't Go On I'll Go On (2007) - "Down in the Valley" hooked me the first time I heard it streaming on KEXP. At the time, the band was still called The Brokedown, but that would soon change to due copyright issues; that's okay, I like The Broken West as a name better anyway. To get back to "Down in the Valley," what grabbed me were the ringing guitars, layered harmonies, and the organ that weaved in and out. And the lyrics, of course - "I had my feelings like the Dutchman has his gold/Deep in the canyon by the river that runs cold." Speaking of The Dutchman's Gold, that was the name of the EP that I learned had already been out and used my eMusic credits to grab it. "Down in the Valley" was the lead-off track, but there were six other great power pop songs and I was both in love and even mor…