Tk’s Club of Curious Oddities, Outcasts, and Otters
2011 was a year and it had music. To be precise, it was a year with music. To be even more precise, it was a year of music. And that music was witnessed by me: the witness.
Yes, folks, I witnessed that holy crime of musical merriment and am here to offer my testimony. This is PART I of the testimony and it goes by the name of Tk’s Club of Curious Oddities, Outcasts, and Otters. To be precise, there are no otters here and only a few oddities. To be even more precise, you will find lists and analysis of the music that didn’t fit into my Top 10. This will include the following: Song of the Year, 10 Honorable Mention selections, Disappointments, and The Jury is Still Out.
Are you sure? You don’t look ready to me. I see 9 other tabs open on your computer and you’re about to click on the one to the immediate left of this one. THIS IS NOT TIME TO MULTI-TASK!
Okay, now you look ready.
Song of the Year
“Helplessness Blues” by Fleet Foxes: If you’re having trouble understanding why I connect with this song so much… well, it’s because… I was raised up believing I was somehow unique. Y’know, like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes, unique in each way you can see… This is a jaw-dropping track with airtight harmonies showing Fleet Foxes at their most Simon & Garfunkel. The words seem to be written for every 20-something Millennial and are characterized by a total lack of pretense, such as: “If I had an orchard, I’d work ’til I’m sore.” Have a listen for yourself:
Ambrose Akinmusire – When the Heart Emerges Glistening: Real Oakland trumpet jazz. I don’t claim to know much about jazz, but upon first listen to Ambrose’s latest release, I could feel a creative, vibrant energy in the songs and an unrelenting warmth in his playing style.
Beirut – The Rip Tide: The Rip Tide is Beirut’s best album to date. He has always shown promise, but his previous releases made me feel like I was drowning in an overwhelming sludge of pleasant monotony. This album is short and sweet and wisely offers retreats from his mid-tempo, instrument-heavy tracks on “Santa Fe” and “Vagabond.”
Demdike Stare – Tryptyck: An overlong but invigorating journey — the ambient result of one DJ and one record collector combining their found sounds, rumbling beats, and chilling melodies. Tryptyck is a rewarding listen but not for everyone.
Egyptrixx – Bible Eyes: A mostly-dark, always-patient beast of bass music. Egyptrixx is David Psutka of Toronto, who finds an impressively mature and well-realized sound on this hypnotic debut outing.
Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring: A more aggressive Nick Drake with a hint of Fleetwood Mac and a dash of some 1990s holed-up-in-a-room heaviness. Vile reaches spine-tingling peaks on “Baby’s Arms” and “Runners Up.” Alas, tracks 2 and 3 provide an unfortunate detour from his otherwise gripping and personal sound.
PJ Harvey – Let England Shake: Situated at the peculiar intersection of old English folk and slightly disturbed singer-songwriter, this album feels timely and important. It also feels alot like those pesky albums of years previous that stick around so persistently, pulling on my shirt and asking over and over, “Why didn’t I make your Top 10?” This time next year, I’ll probably have no good answer.
SBTRKT – self titled: ‘Subtract’ is an electronic producer from London who, rumor has it, dabbles in post-dubstep (or as I prefer to describe it, “pre-two-step”). He also dabbles in costuming, with native ceremonial masks in tow for his performances. The album sizzles its way through 12 heavy-handed tracks and features guest vocal aplenty. The glittery “Sanctuary” shows SBTRKT in top form.
Scroobius Pip – Distraction Pieces: In his first album without dan le sac, Dr. Pip has plenty to say and does so in a notably thick British accent. He’s a little bit irreverent, a little bit political, and a lot bit interesting. Drawing from both hip-hop and punk, some of it is rapped and some is simply spoken. He wins the prize for most effective lyrical delivery in “Soldier Boy” for the line that begins: “If we’re stopping terrorists…”
Tune Yards – W H O K I L L: Her Kid A moment. That’s right, I said it. Tune Yards’ latest will go down as her boldest and brightest achievement but, alas, I never seem to feel compelled to actually turn it on.
Wilco – The Whole Love: It never ceases to amaze me how Wilco can slap some fuzzy noise on one or two songs and then everyone decides that they have ‘gone experimental.’ It’d be like calling Justin Bieber ‘edgy’ if he got a tattoo. Wilco remains the best boring band making music. They never excite me but they always delight me, just like Cheerios.
Shabazz Palaces – Black Up
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – It’s a Corporate World
Panda Bear – Tomboy
Bright Eyes – The People’s Key
The Jury is Still Out
Pinch & Shackleton – Pinch
Schlomo – Bad Vibes
Joseph Calleja – The Maltese Tenor
The Weeknd – House of Balloons
The Caretaker – An Empty Bliss
The Field – Looping State of Mind
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Tags: 2011, ambrose akinmusire, beirut, bright eyes, caretaker, dale earnhardt jr. jr, demdike stare, egyptrixx, field, fleet foxes, honorable mention, joseph calleja, kurt vile, odditties, otters, outcasts, panda bear, pinch & shackleton, pj harvey, sbtrkt, schlomo, scroobius pip, shabazz palaces, tune yards, weeknd, wilco