2011 has been a remarkable year. It has seen volcanic eruptions disrupt global travel, political uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, an official end to the US occupation of Iraq, the emergence of a genuine political protest movement in Occupy Wall Street, incredible flooding in South Asia and Southeast Asia, the end of the second Steve Jobs era at Apple, the return of The Muppets and a continuing effort in the US to dismantle due process and replace the “will of the people” with the profit motives of corporations.
It has also been full of interesting musical activity — intriguing new releases practically every week of the year. So much music that it would be impossible to spend the time to give each a fair shake. So here I have gathered my favorite releases of 2011 which had attracted my continued or repeated attention. There are many omissions, to be sure, but that is why I read others’ lists.
Selections in alphabetical order (mostly)
Burial — Street Halo
Burial returned this year with a stellar 12-inch and several choice collaborations. Expanding on his strengths as a producer of atmospheric and emotional sound design, Burial also played with some different tempos on Street Halo.
Another list. I look forward to skimming through others’ lists to see what I missed or dismissed too easily in 2010 or what never made it to my ears.
My picks, in alphabetical order:
Akira Rabelais — Caduceus
The latest from Akira Rabelais delves further into his finely textured soundworld. Having built a delicate and detailed sonic vocabulary since the 1990s, this composer continues to impress me with his skilled digital manipulations. Finely tuned grit.
I am happy to announce that two of my beats have been selected for inclusion on The Beat Tape, Volume #1.
Big thanks to Ivan for putting the effort into soliciting and compiling the material from his readership. And thanks, especially, for picking my stuff for volume one. Congratulation to all the other producers, too.
It seems that 2009 is the year when I shifted my attention back to rock and pop music. Dubstep still holds my attention but not to the extent that it did back in 2006 when it took over my brain. Here are the things I enjoyed most in 2009, in no particular order.
The XX — XX
Thanks to my friend, Tony, who first mentioned this band to me. The XX are a young bunch who make lean pop music consisting of boy/girl vocals, hand-played drum machines and perfectly placed guitar lines. This album quickly became a habit.
I love when I find something that I forgot that I was looking for…
I used to search for this song at every record store I visited from around 1996–2000. It was not a new song at the time, but I really wanted it on 7-inch. Amoeba Records in San Francisco had a corner filled with shelves which were filled with long boxes of Jamaican singles and I would flip blindly through those records, not really knowing much about most of them.
I never found the record.
But today I stumbled on the song again in mp3 form! An old old itch has finally been scratched.
Starting this Sunday, I will be hosting a radio show on KANM — “the college station of College Station.” It is an AM station, as well as cable FM on Suddenlink Communications. There is a stream available at http://kanm.tamu.edu, which seems like the most normal way to access the show (what is cable FM?).
The show will be free-form.
I will be sharing music I like, and maybe some stuff the station makes me include. The majority of programming on the station is indie rock-centered, so if I do pull from their library I should be able to find some good music. My focus will be dubstep, roots/dub reggae and other musics of the Jamaican diaspora, hip-hop, possibly grime, Bollywood/filmi songs and maybe even some experimental/modern classical music.
Sundays 12–2pm KANM, College Station
campus cable TV channel 88 kanm.tamu.edu
It is hard to believe that it is December already almost January. It is even harder to believe that I had to scrape sleet off my windshield today last week in the middle of Texas.
This year saw some big changes:
1. I now live in TX.
2. I now have a regular job. I am not self employed so I have to wear pants and talk to people.
3. I ditched that horrible razr. iPhone, baby!
4. I bought a house.