Best of 2011- Chris’s Favorite Albums

10) GirlsFather, Son, Holy Ghost (True Panther Sounds): This is undeniably the most ambitious album on this list, probably one of the most ambitious pop records of the year, and I would say definitely the most ambitious sophomore effort I have heard in a long time. Album (2009) was/is one of my favorite records and this LP definitely shares a similar sense of outstanding pop features. With that being said, I do not love this album and in fact I think it is a bit too epic, too diverse, too much. At least for my taste, I am sure there are plenty of people out there that will love every second of it. I really enjoyed this record, but more imporantly I have a lot of respect for the band for making it. Girls really pushed themselves, exploring all sorts of areas of the music world; it really feels like a gigantic, classic rock record, especially with tracks like “Vomit.” If you have heard this, you know what I mean, when it explodes into the “looking for loveee” part(s) of the song. Good stuff. I would have prefered shorter songs, but that’s alright, this list is supposed to be devoted to praise anyway, so nevermind me. “Honey Bunny” is an essential, fucking amazing pop ballad.

9) Fat History MonthFucking Despair (Sophomore Lounge): Fat History Month is representing Boston (KLYAM’s hometown) and the Boston underground on this list, and if you don’t know anything about any bands from this area, then Fat History Month is an excellent place to start. I myself only know some bands, but FHM is the cream of the crop and Fucking Despair showcases everything that is awesome about this duo. It is often hard to describe their music and it seems like everyone comes up with their own little, weird interpretations, so I’ll leave it up to you, because I have faith in you. “Old Lady Smokers” and “Things I Enjoy” are constantly racing around my psyche, seriously these suckers are having fun being stuck in my head. They are short, but sweet, you just want them to never end, kind of like an orgasm. So, yeah it’s a musical orgasm.

8) Atlas SoundParallax (4AD): Bradford Cox is the best songwriter of our generation, at least in my book. Parallax is a great pop record, not the best from Bradford, but that is like asking Scorcese why one of his films is not as good as Taxi Driver; they cannot all be amongst the greatest records of all time, but that does not take away from the fact that this an above average album. “The Shakes,” is my favorite song. I know it sounds extremely cheesy, but I literally am shaking when I hear this song. It is so damn powerful as with nearly all of Bradford’s material. His songs just have that emotional effect that a lot of other artists lack. He can make things sentinmental witout making them come off as lame. Rock and Roll is alive and well.

7) Natural Child1971 (Infinity Cat): I just mentioned about rock and roll being alive and well, Natural Child is a further testament to this. Another artist, I cannot promote more. Seriously, if you dig this “garage” revival kind of stuff like the Black Lips, Ty Segall, Nobunny, etc, then Natural Child is up your alley. But, even if you do not dig those artists and you are one of those bastards that only listens to rock and roll that was created at least twenty-thirty years before you were born and you scoff at others that drink PBR, while you yourself are only drinking Bud Light, well then Natti Child can and will serve a dish you cannot refuse. The name of the record is 1971, just think of it that way. If you really love the Stones, I do not see why these Nashville boys deserve any less of your attention. It’s only rock and roll.

6) Ty SegallGoodbye Bread (Drag City): Need I say more? Okay fine. Ty Segall expands upon the reputation he has built up thus far as a fun, frat rockin’, psychedelic artist. Per usual, the record is sonically amazing, and just engulfs the listener. Strong pop hooks ensue.

5) Smith WesternsDye It Blonde (Fat Possum): Here is a band I really started getting into this year and rightfully so; Dye It Blonde is fantastic pop record, an ode to pop music. Each song is a carefully constructed, melodramatic ballad. Listening to this album is like shooting up pop music, you get that instantaneous pop sensation rumbling through your body from the first few moments of “Weekend.” I can picture Smith Westerns lyrics being plastered all over the facebook walls of bratty, depressed teenagers all across America. “I should’ve realized life is such a joke, it makes me wanna choke,(“Smile”). Mmmm gotta love them at that age!

4) Mark SultanWhatever I Want (In The Red):
I am big fan of Mark Sultan’s past two LPs, The Sultantic Verses (2007) and $ (2010), but I think this LP is even greater, exemplifying Mark’s strengths as a songwriter. The hooks are stronger than ever especially on tracks like “Axis Abraxas,” “Just For a Moment,” and “Song In Grey.” “Axis Abraxas” is an incredible opener and just gets the listener pumped for the whole record. I wish more opening tracks were like this. Definitely one of the year’s finest and one of the most underated.

3) Shannon and the ClamsSleep Talk (1-2-3-4 Go!): One of my new favorites from twenty eleven. Another truly kick ass rock and roll band that is totally underated. I remember hearing this about six months back and thinking this would probably end up on my list and I was right, not much can top it. First and foremost, Shannon Shaw is a fabulous singer, one of the best living today. Secondly, the band are masters at creating (or recreating) early 60s esque rock and roll both in songwriting and in sound quality with really nice, clean, analog. They also add an extra umpph to several of their songs, giving them an old school punk sound as well. All in all, there is not much you can hate about this band/album, they just represent what is great about the music I enjoy. Alas, you will not see this record on any of the major magazines’s or web sites’s end of the year lists like several other underappreciated records on this list.

2) Hunx and His PunxToo Young to Be In Love (Hardly Art): If Sleep Talk has a companion twenty eleven LP then it is Too Young to Be In Love. Shannon Shaw provides vocals in both bands and just like on Sleep Talk, she sings with incredible force and control. In general, all of the girls shine more on this album than the band’s debut, Gay Singles. That is probably the best part of this record, the fact that the band sounds fuller and more complete. Admittedly, I am a bigger fan of the first record, but I adored and still cotinue to greatly adore this record. In many ways, it is completely different: slower, more serious, and more 60s based. If you dig 60s girl groups, I highly recommend this album as it is quite reminiscent of that era. “Lovers Lane,” the opening track is a great example of this and my favorite from the whole record. Hunx’s lead vocals are better than ever and the girls’ backng vocals nicely complement his. Hunx and His Punx are doing something truly unique and unlike anyone else today.

1) Black LipsArabia Mountain (Vice):
What do you expect? Of course, Arabia is number one. Of course, Black Lips are number one, they always are! I have to say though I am not a robotic fan or anything like that, they are not an automatic number one for me by any means. This year they simply released their greatest studio album in my eyes. Like Glen and other punk slimers, I greatly anticipated this release, probably more than any other album in my life. When I heard Mark Ronson was on board, I was not sure what to make of it, but knowing the Lips, I felt we were in good hands. They stayed true to themselves and simply used Ronson’s skill to enhance what already made them great. I see this record as a salute to what makes the Black lips a kickass band: Cole’s weird, raspy vocals (sounding better and clearer and more effective than ever) on “Family Tree,” the band’s simple committment to fun in “Go Out and Get It,” indeed an incredibly simple, but catchy tune, and overall a striking personality that no other band can match. Personality is what makes bands memorable and the Lips have mythologized themselves into the greatest rock and roll band currently in existance.

Best EP of 2011?


Still never going stop him… and his band from appearing on my lists!

WavvesLife Sux EP (Ghost Ramp)

Yep, there should be no surprises here. We spend the whole year yapping about our favorite artists, so when it comes to these year end lists, it should all look familar.

Best of 2011- Chris’s Favorite Shows

I saw 30 or so shows this year, slightly more than usual. It was quite a year. Like Glen, I saw more basment/DIY esque shows than ever. I saw more Black Lips shows than any other year (3). It was hard making this list and it should be known that this list includes the greatest shows I have ever seen. Many, many are not included here, but are not forgotten at all.

1) Black Lips and Vivian Girls @ Paradise Rock Club
2) Black Lips, Davila 666, and X Ray Eyeballs @ Webster Hall, NYC
3) Best Coast, Wavves, and No Joy @ Paradise Rock Club
4) Black Lips and Night Beats @ Bowery Ballroom, NYC
5) Fucked Up and Wavves @ Royale

AND I can’t forget this one

6) Nobunny, Triple Thick, The Tampoffs, and The Party Pigs @ The Church

Best Of 2011 – Glen’s Favorite Shows


It looks like another year in concerts has concluded for me. I made it out to 19 shows (22 in 2010) at quite a few different venues around Boston/MA (including more basement/non-traditional club shows than ever) and three non-Massachusetts shows (all Black Lips).

1. Black Lips, Night Beats @ Bowery Ballroom – July
2.
Black Lips, Vivian Girls @ Paradise Rock Club – April
3. Black Lips, Davila 666, X-Ray Eyeballs @ Webster Hall – October
4. Nobunny @ Church – June
5. Mark Sultan @ Magic Room Gallery – December

Favorite Bands That I Saw For The First Time In 2011: Atlantic Thrills, White Wires, Peach Kelli Pop, Sara Lee, Night Beats, and Davila 666.

Best Of 2011 – Glen’s Favorite Albums


1. Black Lips
Arabia Mountain – My excitement for this album grew steadily once the news came out that they were working on one in early 2010. The original release date set for “when school gets back in” was pushed back once Ronson joined as co-producer. As we all know by now, the band had a delightful time working with him. So it’s no coincidence that Arabia is filled with some of the catchiest songs I’ve heard in a while. The sound production is not as muddy and psychedelic as the band’s previous effort 200 Million Thousand; instead, it’s clean and clear. The songs themselves cross the kind of rock and roll terrain that the Lips have always found themselves in, including but not limited to: clangy, jangly, country, punk. This stuff is addicting (for people with an ear for it like me) and tough to remove from the record player. I guess that’s a quality that the best album of the year should possess. 


2. Ty Segall – Goodbye Bread – This is another one that I was counting the days until release. Ty’s last record Melted received an ‘honorable mention’ in my Best of 2010, but would have comfortably cracked the Top 5 if I redid my list a few months later. Goodbye Bread was a quintessential summer listen and still holds the test of time as this part of the country is freezing over. The thing that Ty does so well (and has always done so well) is arranging his songs. There’s optimal fuzz, hard-pounding drums, and a lingering bass line in nearly every song at some point and a lot of it is unexpected and fresh. I love the opening of “You Make the Sun Fry,” and the ever so crunchy chorus in “My Head Explodes,” in particular. Goodbye Bread affirms Ty’s status as one of the most talented song writers in modern rock and roll. At the least, it goes to show that noisy relatively straight-forward garage isn’t all the dude is about. 


3. Atlas Sound
Parallax – Last year (as I just said above) I made the folly of overlooking some records. Another one of them was Halcyon Digest. Sure, it was among my Top 10, but I didn’t really appreciate as much in 2010 as I should have. With Parallax, I gave it several listens before reviewing it and over the course of listening the real beauty of it really came out. It’s mainly a light affair with several streaks of brilliance that some could dub ‘experimental’ or ‘odd’, but to me is just as pop as anything typically labeled that. Bradford knows catchy better than most. The by product of this is a mass of songs that are inspirational and healing. 


4. The Beets
 – Let The Poison Out – The Beets are one of those bands that I regret not getting more into earlier on in my KLYAM career. After seeing them open for No Age at Wellesley College back in April 2009, I failed to do significant follow up research. Well, now I’d say I’m fairly well versed on the Beets; all the credit to them for infectious releases and superb live performances. Let The Poison Out works so well because it’s just so hard to not be hooked on the Beets raw rock, pop, n’ roll . It makes me want to start pounding on some drums while blasting it loudly. “Doing As I Do” and “I Think I Might Have Built A Horse” are sing-alongs like none other. 


5. Mikal Cronin
 – Mikal Cronin – You can tell this guy has spent some quality time hanging around Ty Segall. Not to say he hasn’t spent quality time with other musicians. The Moonhearts are nice. Well anyway, this album really captivated me as it fits in perfectly on a scale of Ty and Thee Oh Sees. Like those folks’ records, Mikal Cronin is quite instantaneously hooky (with like two exceptions, but those are still real good). Picking favorites is a challenge. I love “Situation” a great deal, because right from the get-go it is extremely fun. The San Fran rock ‘n roll region had quite a 2011.

Honorable Mentions

Shannon and the Clams – Sleep Talk
The Orwells – Remember When
Thee Oh Sees – Castlemania
Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Natural Child 1971
Mark Sultan Whatever I Want
The Hussy Cement Tomb Mind Control
Davila 666 Tan Bajo