The TOP TWENTY ALBUMS of 2011 (The Year-End Awards)

Originally posted 2012-02-05 02:00:04. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

It is the best and truest mark of artistry in the music industry, and sales are no indication of significance.  Sequencing and thematic continuity, sonic experimentation within a basic set of familiar parameters, a healthy range of types and topics: these are the standards by which to judge an album.

The album.

It ascended into an art form in the mid-sixties under the careful work of artists like the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and the Beach Boys.  It was taken to new heights with the experimentation of later bands, from the concept albums of the Moody Blues to the spin-off success of artists like Bruce Springsteen.  The album – and rock in general – saw a rebirth in the nineties, with the work of those like Weezer, the Wallflowers, the Barenaked Ladies, and a slew of others who led a surge of excellent rock music.

These days, the album has faced a crossroads.  Specifically, with the advent and surge of digital sales, the physical formats of music are on the chopping block.  Still, with the rise of vinyl sales even as CD sales continue to decline, there is hope yet.  And, contrary to an army of naysayers, there are still excellent albums being made.  This year, as with the past several years that I have been tuned into a vast array of albums, I would say there are about five albums that will undoubtedly stand the test of time and compete for top spots when I eventually get around to my Best Albums of All Time list.  Which, at this point, might have to wait until I hit retirement.

But, for the moment, you have my Best Albums of 2011 list, and if you’re interested in reading more about any of these albums, you can access my Weekend Review report (including star rating, production info, and a full review) by simply searching the album title and band name in the search bar above.  And, of course, if you see reason for disagreement or any gaps in my list, it’s up to you to leave comments below.

1)  The Whole Love (Wilco)

2)  The King is Dead (The Decemberists)

3)  Last Night on Earth (Noah & the Whale)

4)  Wasting Light (Foo Fighters)

5)  Bad As Me (Tom Waits)

6)  Unfortunate Casino (Gerry Beckley)

7)  The King of Limbs (Radiohead)

8)  Yuck (Yuck)

9)  Lasers (Lupe Fiasco)

10) W H O K I L L (The Tune-Yards)

11) The Graduation Ceremony (Joseph Arthur)

12) Vol. 2: High and Inside (The Baseball Project)

13) Collapse Into Now (R.E.M.)

14) Move Like This (The Cars)

15) The Valley (Eisley)

16) Cloud Maintenance (Kevin Hearn)

17) I’m With You (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

18) Alpocalypse (Weird Al Yankovic)

19) No Color (The Dodos)

20) Nighty Night (8in8)

 

Honorable Mention:

The Way It Was (Parachute)

The Dreamer, The Believer (Common)

The Weekend Review: April 2011 Report

Originally posted 2011-12-17 08:03:13. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

After a much-too-lengthy absence, the Weekend Review returns.  If I hope to catch up on all the months worth of music that I’ve missed, it’s going to have to be more concise.  But I’m determined!  Stop back soon — as the year winds down, there’s sure to be something new here just about every day, whether it be a cover song music video, a music review, or a “best of” list to celebrate the year of new music.

Loverboy
Brett Dennen

Released:
April 12, 2011

Rating:
2.5/5 stars

Top Two Tracks:
“Sydney (I’ll Come Running)” & “Dancing at a Funeral”

This album falls into that enigmatic class of records that defy a clear rating.  Working on the five star system, a three star rating suggests not only an enjoyable experience but also a general mediocrity that is inescapable.  One star records are unlistenable, either for a lack of interesting songwriting and/or performance ability.  A five star album offers beautiful, masterful, thoughtful musical near-perfection.  What Brett Dennen’s Loverboy offers splits the rating system.  The first six tracks are excellent, some of the best songs of the year even – “Sydney (I’ll Come Running),” “Surprise, Surprise,” “Comeback Kid (That’s My Dog).”  These songs are vibrant and upbeat, musically interesting, and catchy sing-a-longs waiting to happen.  However, some of their brilliance threatens to be lost in the sidestep presented by the second half.  Somewhere around track seven, Dennen flips a switch and the ostensible motivation from there on appears to be a trip down memory lane, picking up retro elements and fusing them with the sound he has heretofore established on Loverboy.  “Only Rain” sounds like a take on the Grover Washington, Jr. and Bill Withers sound (“Just the Two of Us,” anyone?).  “Song for Leaving” also adopts a late seventies, early eighties feel.  This is to take nothing away from these songs; they are, in fact, quite good if you’re open to this brand of derivative composition.  The tracks I didn’t mention – “Queen of the Westside” being the exemplar among them – I can’t say the same for.  Some of these latter half tracks are masturbatory at best, like the intro tag to “Queen.”  They simply lack the craftsmanship of the first six songs on this album, not to mention the songs on his previous releases.  Perhaps the most perplexing aspect to note is the material Dennen chose not to include on the album.  The two Amazon MP3 exclusives – “Walk Away, Watch Me Burn” and “Alone Again” – not only should have been included but also should have replaced some of the tracks on the album proper.

 

  Wasting Light
Foo Fighters
Producer:
Butch Vig

Released:
April 12, 2011

Rating:
4.5/5 stars

Top Two Tracks:
“Arlandria” & “Rope”

Hands down, one of the best rock albums by any band in recent memory.  Wasting Light reminded me what a rock album is supposed to be like, and it would not be overstatement to say that the Foo Fighters – surprisingly, given their (in this writer’s opinion) bland album sequencing ability – have encouraged a reconsideration of what I have liked in recent music.  As I’ve stretched out my tastes and sensibilities, I may have forgotten the value and the appeal of a scorching opener like “Bridge Burning,” a riff-centric single like “Rope,” or a raw, guttural track like “White Limo.”  “Arlandria” is classic Foo Fighters at their prime, blending smooth vocals into all-out screams of choruses and torrents of distortion guitar blasts.   The album takes a fade to a degree after the halfway point, but this even the second half is eminently listenable. I haven’t had a good thing to say about a Foo Fighters album since The Colour and the Shape, but Wasting Light breaks that drought.  One of the best of the year, and my favorite rock album since R.E.M.’s Accelerate in 2008.

 

So Beautiful or So What
Paul Simon

Producer:
Phil Ramone & Paul Simon

Released:
April 11, 2011

Rating:
1.5/5 stars

Top Two Tracks:
“Rewrite” & “So Beautiful or So What”

Paul Simon has, without question after the critical reception of this album, received some sort of honorary status as an untouchable.  That So Beautiful or So What has earned such high praise is an otherwise indecipherable phenomenon to me.  If reverb hadn’t been invented previously, then I might understand the fuss.  Sure, the vocals are smooth, even beautiful in places,  but the lyrics are juvenile and the songwriting is structurally loose, depending on certain sounds and feels to guide the track rather than true progressions and thoughtful crafting of movements.  Turns out I find much of it beautiful, but I’m strongly in the “so what?” camp.  Take note, though: it’ll make for pleasant background music at your next gathering of fifty- to sixty-somethings.

 

  Nine Types of Light
TV on the Radio

Released:
April 11, 2011

Rating:
3.5/5 stars

Top Two Tracks:
“New Cannonball Blues” & “No Future Shock”

In the manner its sounds and sequencing flow along the same lines as its synthetic medium, Nine Types of Light is a success.  When it does find a catchy line or beat, however, TV on the Radio seem to rely too heavily on it, often failing to develop much beyond what is established early.  This criticism, however, should not undercut the standouts, like the cool “No Future Shock” and the fuzzy, dance trip of “New Cannonball Blues.”

 

“Times Like These” (Foo Fighters Cover)

Originally posted 2008-04-17 09:46:15. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jeff Copperthite:

Welcome to your Thumpin’ Thursday edition of The Laptop Sessions. Today I bring you a song by request. It’s one of the Foo Fighters most well known songs, and most agree that the acoustic version of this song is better than the original, full-band version.

Well, the song is “Times Like These”, of which there is a terrific video of Dave Grohl playing the song on the acoustic, with piano and string accompaniment on Youtube.

I had just purchased new guitar strings and this is the 2nd video I recorded with them. I had recorded this song in the same session as my previous video, but the new strings make this song sound a heck of a lot better, so I did it again.

The song is off their great album “One By One”. I’ve always been a Foo Fighters fan since their original self-titled release.

I hope this translates well to the acoustic version, although you may notice that I do not do the “screaming” chorus, because my voice…well, it just isn’t suited for screaming.

I hope you enjoy today’s edition, and keep checking http://laptopsessions.com/ for more from FMP, and for pictures/video from our live performances!

Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, Jeff’s acoustic cover song music videos are no longer on YouTube, but we decided to keep his cover song blog posts up.  We figured these music blog entries would be good for posterity’s sake and because Jeff always gave such insightful posts each Session.  We hope to see Jeff’s impressive catalog of acoustic rock songs here on the Laptop Sessions cover songs and original music blog again in the future.  But, for now, please make sure to check-out hundreds of other acoustic cover songs from all of your favorite bands here on the Laptop Sessions music blog!

Foo Fighters’ “Foo Fighters” (1995) – Yes, No, or Maybe So

Originally posted 2010-04-21 16:19:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Foo Fighters’ Foo Fighters (1995) – MAYBE

The Foo Fighters' self-titled debut (1995)

The Foo Fighters' self-titled debut (1995)

(July 4, 1995)

Review: 

A bit raw and predictable around the edges, but an upbeat debut album with clear rock sensibilities and strong potential for the future (The Colour & the Shape, anyone?) from almost-Heartbreaker Dave Grohl…

Top Two Tracks:  

“This is a Call” & “I’ll Stick Around”