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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Top 25 Albums of the Decade – 5 to 1


When I first began this list I predicted that it might end up taking two months to complete. That was November 2nd, so I suppose I beat the prognostication by a couple days, and just got it under the wire for the change of the decade. And speaking of the wire, be on the lookout for my breakdown of the best TV shows of the decade sometime in the new year.

Here’s a recap of how we got here. Click on the links to read the write-ups/listen to the song samples.
25. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (2009)
24. Jay-Z – The Blueprint (2001)
23. The Cardigans – Long Gone Before Daylight (2003)
22. Radiohead – Kid A (2000)
21. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever to Tell (2003)

20. Elliott Smith – Figure 8 (2000)
19. Wolf Parade – Apologies to the Queen Mary (2005)
18. Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People (2002)
17. Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (2006)
16. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago (2008)

15. Common – Be (2005)
14. Interpol – Turn on the Bright Lights (2002)
13. Feist – The Reminder (2007)
12. Tegan and Sara – So Jealous (2004)
11. Okkervil River – The Stand-Ins (2008)

10. Okkervil River – The Stage Names (2007)
9. Kathleen Edwards – Failer (2003)
8. Stars – Set Yourself On Fire (2004)
7. Arcade Fire – Neon Bible (2004)
6. The National – Alligator (2005)

Click on to find out the top five.
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April Recommendations

recommendation
It’s time for another installment of me giving quick recommendations from assorted pop culture categories of things I’m currently into. These things may or may not be current, but are things that I’m currently enjoying (or have recently enjoyed) that I think you (the reader) might enjoy as well. Provided that you enjoy things that are awesome.

In the past, I’d write reviews of things that I wanted to recommend, but I don’t have as much time to write those reviews as I used to, so instead of deciding how good something is, or weighing pros and cons, and all those things a responsible reviewer does, I’m just gonna come right out and say “I like these things. They are worthwhile”, which is basically what anyone is looking for when reading a review anyway. And because blogging can (and should) be a two-way street, please feel free to leave a comment with any recommendations you’d think I’d be into.
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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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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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