Top 10 Albums of 2011

Remember when we owned things?


2011 was an odd year for me and music. Looking around year-end lists by other publications made me worry about how out of step I’ve become. Yes, some of the albums you’ll see on this list have popped up on other lists, but not as often as in year’s past. I’d like to say it’s because I’ve become more original and iconoclast, but honestly, it seems like the way to make this list was to be an artist I already liked releasing an album of similar quality to that which I’ve liked in the past (although it could just be that what was buzz-worthy this year was genres I don’t really care for). While I stand by my choices here, it’s possible that in the future, I may end up thinking of 2011 as the year my tastes calcified and I just gave up. But until then, at least I’ll have these albums to sustain me.
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Top 20 Albums of 2009

He likes their eclectic sounds. Either that, or he prefers jewel cases to digi-packs for chewing on.


Some people look at the calendar and think “doing a year end list over a third of the way through the following year is beyond indulgent”. I’m actually one of those people, but if I cared about being indulgent, I wouldn’t exactly be posting my thoughts about my favourite things to an ambivalent audience of dozens, now would I? This list, like all the lists I’ve been doing since January, was delayed due to personal reasons like being busy with work and my newborn son (pictured – already a developing music snob). With this particular list, there was also the practical reason that I spent most of 2009 listening to the best albums of the decade. So I needed these past few months to really experience and embrace the music of 2009 – and once I did, I must say, it was a pretty good year for music. So good that I couldn’t let it go unlisted (of course, my own compulsions probably wouldn’t allow it to go unlisted even if it were an average year for music).
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List: The 15 Most Influential Albums of My Life

This is a meme making the rounds at Facebook (I guess now that everyone is done writing 25 random things about themselves, they need something else to write about). The idea behind it is thus:
“Think of 15 albums, CDs, LPs that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life, dug into your soul. Music that brought you to life when you heard it. Royally affected you, kicked you in the wazzoo, literally socked you in the gut, is what I mean.”

Okay, first off: IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR AN ALBUM TO LITERALLY SOCK YOU IN THE GUT!!! Contrary to popular opinion, the term LITERALLY does not mean “a term used to express exaggeration”, it actually means the exact opposite, in that it is to be used to distinguish reality from exaggeration (or figurative speech). But, getting back on topic, this is a topic I’ve thought about in the past to use as a blog post, as I’ve seen interviews in some music magazine (maybe Spin?) where they interview musicians asking what albums changed their lives.

Of course, those interviews are generally more interesting because: A) famous people are more interesting than random bloggers (at least that’s what US Weekly tells me), and B) as musicians, they’re probably talking about albums that convinced them to become musicians and influenced their style of music. Whereas for the rest of us, we’re talking about albums that maybe helped you through a break-up/taught you about the mysteries of love/first got you laid. In my case, these 15 albums helped shape my life as a fan of music, making me the audiophile I am today. Allow me to tell you why…
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Top 20 Albums of 2008

They still make CDs?

They still make CDs?

After the banner year in music that was 2007, I suppose it was inevitable that 2008 would be a let down. And it was. It’s not that there wasn’t any good music released this year; after all, I was able to come up with a full list of 20 (unlike with 2006, where I wimped out at ten). But there was a lack of greatness this year, with albums that rank very highly this year that would have ranked much lower the year previous. In fact, until I seriously started to think about how this list would shape up, many of the albums on it had failed to grab me throughout the year. In part, this has more to do with the fact that I spent the year listening to older music, but still, if I loved these albums like I loved the ones that topped last year’s list, I would’ve taken notice much earlier. The result is a list where I’m more comfortable with the bottom half (20-11) than I am with the top half. Not because the albums at the bottom are better (if they were, they’d be higher on the list), but because those albums feel like 20-11-type albums, whereas the albums that place highly on this album don’t really feel like high placing albums, but this year they are.

That said, these are all good to very good albums, and to prove it, I’ve included playable songs from each album. If that’s not enough to convince you click on the (more…) link, then there’s a good chance you don’t like my writing. And who needs you?!?
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Playlist: Best Hip-Hop Songs of the 90s


If you haven’t known me for a long time, it might surprise you to learn that I spent my youth listening to hip-hop. Exclusively. (I suppose the flip side of that is that if you only knew me then, you’d be shocked to learn that I no longer listen to hip-hop. The rest of you probably just clicked here due to some search, and are wishing I’d get on with it already). I don’t listen to it much anymore, other than the most popular, backpacker types (Common, Kanye, Lupe Fiasco, etc), nor do I listen to the music of my youth that often. I pared down my hip-hop CD collection from 400+ to somewhere around 30, and thrust myself into the world of indie rock as hard as I once followed urban American music.
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My Record Collection: A-M

That’s right, RECORD collection, AKA vinyl, AKA those big old black round things your parents listened to music on, AKA the hipster music accessory for the new millennium. I started to collect vinyl a few years back, for no good reason other than to do it. Sure, aficionados will tell you that music sounds better on vinyl, and talk about audio waves and digital loss or whatever, but I can’t really say that’s true given that my record player isn’t exactly hi-fi.

Instead, I collect records because I like them. I like owning things, but the digital revolution has made that less and less necessary. I download music all the time, so this isn’t some luddite reactionary thing. But in an era when owning music means having something on your hard drive, I guess going back to a clunky, classic format is a way of separating myself from the herd. Any idiot with a decent internet connection can avail themselves of almost any album (and I usually do), so I guess listening to records is my way of showing that I’m more of a fan of music than them. Or maybe I just think it’s cool.

I’m posting my collection here for the usual stupid reasons: to show off my collection (even though I suspect no one cares), to have a digital copy of my collection should something happen (you know, like theft or fire), so I can remember what I have when I’m away from my house (possibly on my way to buy more records on a lunch break), and for the off chance anyone reading this is thinking of buying me a record, they can consult this list to avoid duplication (look for a link to this post on the sidebar of my blog). And, you know, the whole point of being an obsessive collector is to obsess. So feel free to peruse, critique, discuss, blahblahblah.
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List: My Favourite Album for Every Year I’ve Been Alive

This is a list exercise that has made the blog rounds of late. I discovered it via Steve Hyden of the AV Club Blog, who in turn picked it up from Idolator. The premise is simple: list your favourite album for every year you’ve been alive.

There’s a couple different ways to go about this, with the most obvious being choosing what your favourite album from a given year is now, but a different way would be to try and recollect what your favourite album was then (at least for years where you were old enough to have an opinion). I’m choosing the favourite album now way to go, since I think it’s more interesting posting opinions I can defend now, as opposed to ones where I can just say “what do you want from me; I was a kid”. That said, in years where I didn’t have a strong favourite, or needed a tiebreaker, I chose albums that defined the year for me at the time.

So here’s the list, with some thoughts about how it all shaped up to follow:
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