REVENGE OF THE WRITERS: Best & Worst of 2011 (Pt. 1)

In which the folks who work in the trenches get in the last word. Hey,
nothing’s stopping you from doing your own list, so don’t bother complaining!




As part of our ongoing year-end wrap-up – go here to view BLURT’s Top 50
Albums of 2011, and here to read an interview with our Artist of the Year – we
now yield the podium to the staffers and writers and their personal picks for
2011. We think we have a pretty diverse and lively crew here at the BLURT ward
(it helps that we ply them hourly with tequila and Oxycontin), and their
selections reflect a true music aficionado’s eclectic ideals. Guarantee: all
dialogue reported verbatim. (This story continues on the next page at Part 2.)


If you want to compare these lists with last year’s, check out our Top 50 of
or (if you dare) our Writers’ Picks
for 2010


2009 Best-Of coverage is here (Artists
Top Tens), here (Revenge of the Writers) and here (The
Blurt Top 50).


2008 Best-Of coverage is here and here.


Follow BLURT on Facebook and Twitter.









Top 10 New Releases

Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers – Gift Horse (Vanguard)
Fountains of Wayne
– Sky Full of Holes (Yep Roc)

Ron Sexsmith – Long Player Late Bloomer (Thirty Tigers)

Amos Lee – Mission Bell
Ken Will Morton – Contenders (Ghostmeat)

Various Artists — This One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy
Clark (Music Road Records)
Will Sexton – Move the Balance (independent)
Avett Brothers – I And Love And You (American)

Middle Brother – S/T (Partisan)

Dawes – Nothing Is Wrong (ATO)


Top 10

Beach Boys – Smile (Capitol)
Who – Quadrophenia (Universal)

Loudon Wainwright III – 40 Odd Years (Shout Factory)
Beau Brummels – Bradley’s Barn (Rhino)

Paul Kelly – The A-Z Recordings (Universal)
Various Artists – The Bridge
School Concerts (Warner
John Prine – The Singing Mailman (Oh Boy)

Various Artists – The Best of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
+ Museum Live (Time Life)

Mickey Newbury – The American Trilogy (Drag City)
Paul McCartney – McCartney and McCartney II (Capitol)


Music DVDs

Various Artists – Bridge
School Benefits (Warner

The Hollies – Look Through Any Window (Eagle)

The Rolling Stones – Some Girls (Eagle)

Neil Young – Here We Are in the Years (Sexy Intellectual)
The Grateful Dead – The Grateful Dead Movie (Shout Factory)


Music Book

Judy Collins – Sweet Judy Blue Eyes (Crown)



Various artists – Cayamo Cruise 2011, Caribbean

Various artists — Orlando Calling, Orlando Florida
– Chris Isaak as the stand-out

Roger Daltrey – Hard Rock Live, Hollywood Florida
Various artists – Mariposa Folk Festival, Canada
Robert Plant & the Band of Joy, Hard Rock Live, Hollywood, Florida



Cowboys and Aliens – With a title like that, who would have
Super 8 – ET meets Close Encounters

Midnight in Paris
– Woody Allen’s best in years

The Descendents – gives me reason to like George Clooney

The Help- Heaven help you if you don’t dig this film


Best Record Label

Yep Roc – My pick for the second year in a row – given their
roster (Paul Weller, Nick Lowe, Robyn Hitchcock, Chuck Prophet, they’ve
got the hippest group of artists any label could ever hope for.


Best Music-related
Website (of course)


In Memoriam: Most
Lamented Death

Bert Jansch


Best New Artist
The Head and the Heart


Worst New Artist
Florence and
the Machine


Dumbest Band Name
Ditto – Florence
and the Machine


Sex Object of the

Emmylou Harris – by consensus of most of my friends


Asshole of the Year

Kanye West – He can claim this title for life


Best Hair or Facial

Either Avett Brother (When they grow it out) – cited with a nod to my wife
Alisa who has a serious crush on both these boys


2012 Release I Am Most
Like last year, new Avett Brothers


Coolest Trend or
Freebies from the artists – be it free Daytrotter sessions, free live
recordings or whatever – artists’ willing ness to give back to their fans is
certainly admirable.


Most Fucked Up or
Annoying Trend or Whatever

Continuing emphasis away from physical discs and towards
downloads, streams, I-Tune exclusives etc. There’s nothing like music in a
physical form, replete with credits, artwork and track listings etc. Same
fucked up trend I railed about last year…


Favorite story or
review I wrote for BLURT (include URL)

Matthew Sweet “Sweet Success”










Top 10 New Releases (in reverse order)

Honorable mention – The Kills – Blood
Pressures (Domino) – another stellar album from The Kills, it amazes me that
these guys are not more critically acclaimed or popular as they constantly have
put out sold albums.

10 – Sloan – The Double Cross (Yep Roc) – another stellar album from Sloan too,
the first four tracks (Follow the Leader/The Answer Was You/Unkind and Shadow
of Love) are just pure power-pop bliss.

9 – The Latebirds – Last of the Good Ol’ Days (Second Motion) – yeah I can
immediately get canned here for mentioning an album on my own label. And if you
read on you may see more, but if you were to look at history of my 20+ years in
this business I have never played favorites in regards to picking albums that I
was involved with, worked on, etc. I have always been impartial and if the
record clearly hit me in a way alongside other albums then I give credit where
credit is due.  If you saw The Latebirds at our showcase and day party at
SXSW last year then you know what I mean. This band from Helsinki, Finland
really captures American roots music
at its core.  The disc itself is brilliant and then when you add in a
second disc of “Woodstock Sessions” that features Levon Helm, Kris
Kristofferson, David Rawlings and others, its a can’t miss album for anyone
that loves good ol American influenced rock and roll.

8 – R.E.M. – Collapse Into Now (Warner) – REM’s swan song is not as great as Accelerate but another stellar, under
appreciated great album from an incredible career.  I am a long time fan
and argue this record holds water to any of the “they haven’t done a great
album since Bill Berry left” bullshit. Maybe not a great “album” but damn good.
R.E.M. can be proud that they have ended on a high note.

7 – PJ Harvey – Let England Shake (Vagrant) – I have not been crazy about PJ’s
last two albums but this one really hit me, it takes a few listens and then ‘pow’
it hits you like a rocket.  Proud to have her on the cover of Blurt #10.

6 – Joy Formidable – Big Roar (Canvasback/Atlantic) – saw these guys in NYC
when The Big Takeover‘s Jack Rabid
suggested I have to go see them as they were “one of the best live bands I’ve
seen in quote some time” whoa that was a big statement especially coming from
him.. and he was right.  I was immediately intoxicated with the band.
 The record is maybe a little too overproduced and misses some of the
energy of their live set but it’s still full of great pop songs.

5 – Wilco – The Whole Love (dBpm/Anti) – great record, much better than the
last two (although I still like Sky Blue
a lot) this is a return to form in a different direction, it seems as
if the band is started to gel and maybe collaborate more and it’s taking
positive effects.  The last track “One Sunday Morning” is worth buying the
entire album.  12 minutes of Wilco at their best.

4 – Twilight Singers – Dynamite Steps (Sub Pop) – although I was a huge Afghan
Whigs fan, I’ll admit coming late to the party for Twilight Singers.  This
is by far their best album yet and if you are not sure, just YouTube their
Letterman performance of “On the Corner” and you will be hooked.  

3 – Dexter Romweber Duo – Is That You In The Blue? (Bloodshot) – brother/sister
combo Dexter and Sara Romweber hit a home run with this one.  This record
struck me so much that I found myself going back for the first time in years
and re-listening to all of the old Flat Duo Jets albums.  Very underappreciated
record here and with all of the hype of bands like The Black Keys and Jack
White/White Stripes, its amazing to me that more people do not discover how
much of a genius Dexter truly is.  Hometown hero for me here in Carrboro, NC.

2 – Tommy Keene – Behind The Parade (Second Motion) – ok yeah yeah yeah. It’s
on my label but man, first time Tommy send me a copy of this album as it was
being mastered I just about fell out of my seat. Tommy has been writing
incredible pop songs for over thirty years and as just about every single
review or feature states with every album he does “why is this guy so
overlooked and underappreciated?” its a fact for sure and history tells us that
nothing is going to change this.. He has to be one of the most underappreciated
pop songwriters of our time. A lot of his records are good but never seem to be
just mind-blowing enough to get the general public to stand up and demand more
attention be paid to Tommy. (or at least since Songs From The Film, his 1986 masterpiece that is the only record
of his career to chart in the Billboard Top 200. #148).  But Behind The Parade is arguably his best
record ever, certainly holds water to anything else he has ever done and we
have found those who have bothered to listen to the album are equally blown
away.  It may not make a ton of Top Ten lists, but even if you are tired
as I am of the “power pop” typeset and stereotype and find that you don’t
always like the kind of bands in that category, you may love this album.
 If you start anywhere start here and then go backwards.  If you love
bands like Big Star, Guided By Voices, Paul Westerberg, The Kinks, Matthew
Sweet, etc then you must buy this album.. You will not be disappointed.  I
think the only reason I did not put it #1 was because it is on my label and I
don’t want people suggesting I am doing it for that reason only and it feels a
bit weird to do that. In fact I have never done that and this is the highest
I’ve ever praised a record of mine in 20+ years on my year-end ‘chart’. I have
never named a record I have been a part of to top off my list for the year. So
that should tell you something.  I love,  love this record.

1 – Tom Waits – Bad As Me (Anti) – I had heard from many that this was a good
Tom Waits album, let’s face it not all of them are but when he’s on, boy is he
on. I was in Chicago
record store shopping one lovely evening with friends and the store owner put
this on. It was a beautiful fall day, perfect weather and hanging with friends,
talking music to cool stores in Chicago
and about to go out and get drinks.  Can’t ask for a better setting.
 After having a challenging personal year in 2011, this is exactly what I
needed.. The owner says he will put it on so I can hear it… Having no idea
what the name of the first song was. I hear the early lines “Everything will be
better in Chicago”: I just started laughing and
looked up and said “is the first song called Chicago?” and the owner of the store said
“yep” and I said “ha! Good job on that, SOLD!” And bought it right away. Since
then I have been on a feverish Tom Waits kick going back and listening to all
of his records.  We are lucky to have this man in our lives, one of the
best songwriters of our generation, period.

Top Reissues

 1- REM – Life’s Rich
Pageant (EMI) – incredible reissue, the b-side demos are amazing and worth the
price alone.

2 – Archers of loaf – Icky Mettle (Merge) – one of my
favorite albums of all time, just brilliance.

3- Rolling Stones – Some Girls (Universal) – and then
re-discovering how much I love the Stones!








Top Ten New Releases

Skull Defekts —
Peer Amid (Thrill Jockey)

Psychic Paramount — II

David Kilgour —
Left by Soft (Merge)

King Creosote and
Jon Hopkins — Diamond Mine (Domino)

Dirtbombs — Party
Store (In the Red)

Gem Club —
Breakers (Hardly Art)

Mogwai — Hard Core
Will Never Die But You Will (Sub Pop)

Sidi Toure — Sahel Folk (Thrill Jockey)

UV Race — Homo (In
the Red)

Bonnie Prince Billy
–Wolfroy Comes to Town (Drag


Best Record Label

Thrill Jockey


In Memoriam: Most
Lamented Death

Bert Jansch


Best New Artist

Gem Club



Favorite story or
review I wrote for BLURT

Times New Viking “Giving 300%”









Top 10 New Releases

The War on Drugs – Slave Ambient (Secretly Canadian)

Yuck – Yuck (Fat Possum)

Wild Flag – Wild Flag (Merge)

Dum Dum Girls – Only in Dreams (Sub Pop)

Disappears – Guider (Kranky)

Iceage – New Brigade (What’s Your Rapture)

Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo (Matador)

VA – Eccentric Soul The Nickel and Penny Labels (Numero

Cold Cave
– Cherish The Light Years (Matador)

Spaceships – Let it Beard (Guided By Voices)



Disappears – Hideout Block Party, Chicago

Stilts – Empty Bottle, Chicago

A Place to Bury Strangers –
Empty Bottle, Chicago

Fresh and Onlys – Pitchfork, Chicago

Edwyn Collins – SXSW, Austin TX









Top 10 New Releases

Tom Waits – Bad As Me (Anti-)

Oneohtrix Point Never – Replica (Software)

Jason Isbell – Here We Rest (Lightning Rod)

Lykke Li -Wounded Rhymes (LL)

The Ettes – Wicked Will (Fond Object)

Warren Haynes – Man In Motion (Stax)

Charles Bradley – No Time for Dreaming (Daptone)

Those Darlins – Screws Get Loose (Oh Wow Dang)

Tommy Keene – Behind the Parade (Second Motion)

tUnE-yArDs – whokill (4AD)


Top Archival/Reissues

The Who – Quadrophenia: Director’s Cut (Universal)

Long Ryders – Native Sons: Deluxe Reissue (Prima)

Calexico – Road Atlas (Our Soil, Our Strength) (disclosure: I wrote the liner notes to this
12-LP box set, but in doing so it just reaffirmed my love of the band

Radio Birdman – Live in Texas (Career)

Tim Buckley – Time Buckley (Deluxe Edition) (Rhino Handmade)

Various Artists – Those Shocking Shaking Days
(Now-Again/Stone’s Throw)

Ride – Nowhere: 25th Anniversary Edition (Rhino

Giant Sand – Chore of Enchantment: 25th Anniversary Edition (Fire)

R.E.M. – Life’s Rich Pageant (I.R.S./Capitol)

Beach Boys – SMiLE (Capitol)

Rainer with Joey Burns and John Convertino – Roll Back the
Years (self-released)

Father’s Children – Who’s Gonna Save the World (Numero

Can – Tago Mago Deluxe (Mute)


Top Singles,
Tracks or Downloads

The Roots – Lyin’ Ass Bitch (for Michelle Bachmann, live on

Karen O/Trent Reznor – Immigrant Song (Null Corporation)

A Brokeheart Pro – Bullets Ain’t Brakes (self-released)

Black Keys – Lonely Boy (Nonesuch)

Lykke Li – Get Some (LL)

Grimes – Vanessa (Hippos in Tanks)

JC Brooks & the Uptown
Sound – I Am Trying to Break Your Heart (Bloodshot)

Vex Ruffin – I’m Creative (Stones Throw)

Lana Del Rey – Video Games (Stranger)

Mazzy Star – Common Burns (Rhymes of An Hour)

Joseph Arthur – We Stand As One (self-released, for Occupy


Music DVDs

Primal Scream – Screamadelica Live (Eagle Rock)

Wild Man Fischer – Derailroaded: Inside the Mind of Larry
“Wild Man” Fischer (MVD)

Talking Heads – Chronology (Eagle Rock)

Jimi Hendrix – The Dick Cavett Show (Legacy)

Phil Ochs – There But for Fortune (First Run Features)

A Tribe Called Quest – Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels
of a Tribe Called Quest (Sony Pictures Classics)

U2 – From The Sky Down (Island;
part of the Achtung Baby box set)


Music Books

I Want My MTV
Craig Marks & Rob Tannenbaum (Dutton)

Fug You: An Informal History Of The Peace Eye Bookstore, The Fuck
You Press, The Fugs, And Counterculture In The Lower East
– Ed Sanders (DaCapo

Ticketmasters: The
Rise of the Concert Industry and How the Public Got Scalped
– Dean Budnick
& Josh Baron (ECW Press)

Love Goes To Buildings
On Fire
– Will Hermes (Faber & Faber)

Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music – Rob
Young (Faber and Faber)

The Resurrection Of
Johnny Cash:
Hurt, Redemption And American Recordings – Graeme Thomson (Jawbone Press)

Inside Scientology:
The Story of America’s
Most Secretive Religion
– Janet Reitman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Are We Still Rolling?
Studios, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll – One Man’s Journey Recording Classic Albums
– Phill Brown (Tape Op/Hal Leonard)

Keep On Pushing: Keep
On Pushing: Black Power Music From Blues to Hip-Hop
– Denise Sullivan (Lawrence Hill Books)


Music Videos

Beastie Boys – Make Some Noise

Trent Reznor/Karen O – Immigrant Song (Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trailer/scene; directed by David

Grimes – Vanessa

tUnE-yArDs – Bizness

Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit – Alabama Pines

The Ettes (w/Tom Scharpling and Patton Oswalt) – Excuse

Arrica Rose – Video Killed the Radio Star

Those Darlins – Screws Get Loose

Tommy Keene – Deep Six Saturday

Dengue Fever – Cement Slippers



Moogfest – various venues, Asheville NC

Warren Haynes Christmas Jam – Civic Center, Asheville NC

The Ettes – Grey Eagle, Asheville NC

Bootsy Collins – Orange Peel, Asheville NC

Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit – Bele Chere Festival, Asheville NC

Femi Kuti – Orange Peel, Asheville NC






Cowboys and Aliens

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. II


Best Record Label

(multiple tie) Light In The Attic


Rhino Handmade

Stones Throw/Now-Again


Best Music Related

The Audio Perv


In Memoriam: Most
Lamented Death

Clarence Clemons (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band)


Best New Artist



Worst New Artist

Foster the People (NOTE: this is not a reactionary vote
coming on the heels of the group’s massive success in 2011; way back in March I
saw the band in Austin and went on record as saying they were the worst band I
saw at SXSW, so I stand by my comments.)


Dumbest Band Name

Letting Up Despite Great Faults


Sex Object of the

Lykke Li


Asshole of the Year

(tie) Tyler, the Creator (for his homophobia)

John Maus (for his attack on indie
record stores


2012 Release I Am
Most Anticipating

(tie) Jim White – Where It Hits You (Yep Roc)

A Brokeheart Pro – Josephine the Outlaw King (self-released)


Coolest Trend or Whatever

(tie) – Record Store Day + Black Friday (viva la vinyl, as
well as the celebration of physical releases; with any luck, these events are
helping to educate the next generation of music fans how important their local
mom ‘n’ pop indie store is to the community).

 – The arrival of
Spotify in the U.S. (streaming on demand is the future of music consumption, so the next thing we need is to convince
bands who resist placing their music with streaming services such as Spotify
and Rhapsody that such services are not the new Napster-like bogeyman, but a
legitimate and promising means of generating revenue and broadening your

– The BLURT editorial braintrust getting iPads!



Most Fucked Up or
Annoying Trend or Whatever

The accelerated fragmentation of the independent music
scene, what I call the “decentralization of indie.” It’s incredibly dismaying
to engage in a conversation with someone about music only to learn that they
haven’t heard of ¾ of the bands or artists you’ve been listening to – it’s like
the large-culture equivalent of everyone being isolated behind their earbuds
and their own personal playlists. Yet remember when iPods were still considered
novelties, and you’d read stories about people on subways exchanging earbuds in
order to check out what the other person was digging? We need the large-culture
equivalent of that. (All the niche-music blogs and websites ain’t helping the

        Everyone does
and should have favorites, but the evolution of indie music requires an opening
up, not closing, of minds and attitudes. If I had a nickel for every
holier-than-thou Americana
purist who wouldn’t be caught dead at a DJ event, or every dance music hipster
who dismisses fiddles and twangy guitars as brainless hillbilly music… you get
my point. I thought of this while attending the second annual Moogfest in
October, where I was struck by the incredible diversity of sounds represented.
True, electronica was the core focus, but there was still something for
everyone over the course of the 3-day event (a phenomenon that’s also true at a
handful of the other festivals around the country, in particular Bonnaroo,
which has grown well beyond its early jamband-centric roots).

        Music should
be about dissolving barriers, not erecting them. But I fear that the current
trend of marginalizing one’s interests – perhaps, to be fair, in the interest
of one’s own sanity, given the steady barrage of input we are hit with on a
daily basis – may ultimately marginalize the musicians as well, leaving them performing
in front loyal but static audiences, possibly earning enough to subsist but not
really seeing much opportunity for growth. Translation: the ball’s in your court, music fans.



Favorite story or
review I wrote for BLURT

Jason Isbell – “Leap of Faith”


(Conducted to be a short Q&A sidebar to a review of
Isbell’s Here We Rest in the Spring
print edition of BLURT, the amount of “content,” as we say I the journalism
biz, that I collected from Isbell was massive – he was candid, and revealing,
and willing to go deep whether it meant discussing the new record, his early
roots in Alabama, or even his relationship with his old band, the Drive-By
Truckers. There was no way I was not going to get the entire conversation out
to our readers and to Isbell fans.)








Top 10 New Releases

Destroyer – Kaputt (Merge)

The Black Keys – El Camino (Nonesuch)

Kate Bush – 50 Words for Snow (Anti-)

Tom Waits – Bad As Me (Anti-)

Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges

Nick Lowe – The Old Magic (Yep Roc)

Julianna Barwick – The Magic Place (Asthmatic Kitty)

Garland Jeffreys – The King
of In Between (Luna

Charles Bradley – No Time for Dreaming (Daptone)

Wussy – Strawberry (Shake It)


Top 10

Supreme Dicks – Breathing and Not Breathing (Jagjaguwar)

Loudon Wainwright – 40 Odd Years (Shout! Factory)

Boddie Recording Company: Cleveland, Ohio
(The Numero Group)

Human Switchboard – Who’s Landing in My Hangar? (Bar/None)

The Rolling Stones – Some Girls (Universal Republic)

Willie Wright – Telling the Truth (The Numero Group)

Mickey Newbury – An American Trilogy (Drag City)

Van Dyke Parks – Arrangements Volume 1 (Bananastan)

Tindersticks – Claire Denis Film Scores 1996-2009

The Beach Boys – The SMiLE Sessions (Capitol)


Top 10 Singles,
Tracks or Downloads

Leonard Cohen – Show Me the Place (Columbia)

Foxy Shazam – I Like It (I.R.S.)

The Black Keys – Lonely Boy (Nonesuch)

Jens Lekman – An Argument With Myself (Secretly Canadian)

Charles Bradley – Heart of Gold (Daptone)

Mazzy Star – Common Burn (Rhymes of an Hour)

Cosmo Jarvis – Dave’s House (25th Frame)

Nikki Lane
– Gone, Gone, Gone (Iamsound)

Adele – Rolling in the Deep (Columbia)

Lou Reed & Metallica – Junior Dad (Warner Bros.)


Music DVDs

Rolling Stones – Some Girls Live in Texas ’78 (Eagle Vision)

Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest
(Sony Pictures Classics)

George Harrison: Living in the Material World (HBO

Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune (First Run Features)

Music Makes a City: An American Orchestra’s Untold Story
(Owsley Brown)


Music Books

Will Hermes – Love Goes to Buildings on Fire (Faber &

Robert Greenfield – The Last Sultan: The Life and Times of
Ahmet Ertegun  (Simon & Schuster)

Dean Budnick and Josh Baron – Ticket Masters: The Rise of
the Concert Industry and How the Public Got Scalped (ECW Press)

Dorian Lynskey – 33 Revolutions Per Minute: A History of
Protest Songs, From Billie Holiday to Green Day (Ecco)

Ellen Willis – Out of the Vinyl Deeps (University of Minnesota


Music Videos

Cosmo Jarvis – She Doesn’t Mind



Moogfest -Asheville,

Ray Davies – The Vogue – Indianapolis,

“She’s Got the Power”: Ponderosa Stomp and Lincoln Center
Presents the Girl Groups – Lincoln Center Out of Doors – New York City.

Eugene Chadbourne and Tatsuya Nakatoni – Southgate
House – Newport, Ky.

Olafur Arnalds – Southgate
House – Newport, Ky.



The Tree of Life

Nostalgia for the Light

Like Crazy

The Descendants



Best Record Label

The Numero Group


Best Music-related


In Memoriam: Most
Lamented Death

Howard Tate


2011 Release I Am
Most Anticipating

Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas (Columbia)


Coolest Trend or

New Music/Contemporary Classical is attracting people raised
on rock/pop, and is being presented in clubs and unusual venues that are an
alternative to the old-fashioned concert halls.


Most Fucked Up Trend

The number of bands or songs with “Fuck” in their name.


Favorite Story or
Review I Wrote for Blurt in 2011

Loudon Wainwright: “40 Odd… and Counting”






Top 10 New Releases
M.I.A. – Vicki Leekx (

Wild Flag – Wild Flag (Merge)

British Sea Power – Valhalla
Dancehall (Rough Trade)

T-Model Ford and GravelRoad – Taledragger (Alive)

Hayes Carll – KMAG YOYO (& other American stories) (Lost Highway)

Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes (LL)

Chicharrons – Roots of Life (Tummy Touch)

tUnE-yArDs – Whokill (4AD)

Lupe Fiasco – Lasers (Atlantic)

The Limousines – Get Sharp (Orchard City)

Top 10 Archival/Reissues
Ray Charles – Singular Genius- The Complete ABC Singles (Concord)

Various Artists -Bossa Nova And The Rise Of Brazilian Music
In The 1960s (Soul Jazz)

Miles Davis – Bitches Brew Live (Sony Legacy)

Nick Lowe – Labour of Lust (Yep Roc)

Human Switchboard – Who’s Landing in my Hangar? (Bar/None)

Sir Douglas Quintet – The Mono Singles ’68-72 (Sundazed)

The Bats – Daddy’s Highway (Flying Nun)

Johnny Cash – Bootleg, Volume 2: From Memphis
to Hollywood
(Sony Legacy)

Jimi Hendrix – Hendrix in the West (Sony Legacy)

The Crystals – Da Doo Ron Ron: The Very Best Of The Crystals
(Phil Spector/Legacy)

Top 10 Singles, Tracks or Downloads
Doc Ish – “She Did It Again” (In Ya Head)

Hail Mary Mallon – “Meter Reader” (Rhymesayers)

Chiddy Bang “Rebel – ” (

The Milk – “(All I Wanted Was) Danger” (Naim

Zeds Dead – “1975” (Soundcloud)

Adele – “Rumour Has It” (Columbia)

Tapes ‘n Tapes – “Freak Out” (ibid)

Let’s Wrestle – “In Dreams Part II” (Merge)

Emika – “Save It” (Ninja Tune)

The Chain Gang of 1974 – “Devil is A Lady” (Modern


Music DVDs
Rolling Stones- Some Girls Live in Texas,

Mott the Hoople- Ballad of Mott the Hoople

Talking Heads- Chronology Deluxe

Kinks- Kinks Kollekted

Sigur Ros/Inni


Music Books
Courtney E. Smith “Record Collecting For Girls” (Mariner

Bill Adler and Dan Charnas – “Def Jam
Recordings: The First 25 Years of The Last Great Record label” (Rizolli)

Ellen Willis “Out of the Vinyl Deeps” (University of Missouri

Jay-Z – “Decoded” (Spiegel & Grau)

Will Hermes – “Love Goes To Buildings On Fire” (Faber &

Top 5 Concerts
Amon Tobin-
Brooklyn Masonic
Temple (New York, NY)

Pennsylvania Blues Festival
(Palmerton, PA)

Tom Ze at Alice Tully Hall (New York, NY)

Big Star- Baruch Performing Arts Center
(New York, NY)

Old 97’s at Royale (Boston,

The Artist



The Ides of March

Even the Rain (Tambien La Lluvia)

Best Record Label


Best Music-related Website

Immodestly yours… Perfect Sound Forever


In Memoriam: Most
Lamented Death

Steve Jobs (with all due respect to Amy Winehouse & Gil


Best New Artist



Worst New Artist



Dumbest Band Name

Tie: Gringo Star/Ringo Deathstarr – Starkey should sue ‘em


Sex Object of the

Nikki Minaj


Asshole of the Year

Donald Trump


Best Hair or Facial

Rick Rubin


2012 Release I Am
Most Anticipating

Garbage’s next album


Coolest Trend or

Another major label disappearing


Most Fucked Up or
Annoying Trend or Whatever

Quality publications drying up, disappearing and bleeding
themselves to death


Favorite story or
review I wrote for BLURT

“Where Were You on 9-11”









Top 10 New Releases

Radiohead King of Limbs (tbd)

Paul Simon So Beautiful Or So What (Concord) 

Joe Lally Why Should I Get Used To It (Dischord)

Tom Waits Bad As Me (Anti-)

Anthrax Worship Music (Megaforce)

Bill Orcutt How The Thing Sings (Editions MEGO) 

Psychic Paramount II (No

PJ Harvey Let England Shake (Vagrant) 

The Roots Undun (Def Jam)

Stilts In Love With Oblivion (Slumberland)


Top 10 Archival/Reissues

The Beach Boys SMiLE Sessions (EMI)

Pearl Jam Vs./Vitalogy Legacy Edition (Epic-Legacy)

Bitch Magnet Bitch Magnet (Temporary Residence, Ltd.)

Ride Nowhere: 20th Anniversary Edition (Rhino Handmade)

Lungfish The Unanimous Hour (Dischord)

The Smiths Complete (Rhino)

Throbbing Gristle The
Second Annual Report/D.O.A. The
Third & Final Report/Heathen
Earth/20 Jazz Funk Greats/Throbbing Gristle’s Greatest Hits
(Industrial Records)

Human Switchboard Who’s Landing In My Hangar: Anthology
1977-1984 (Bar-None)

MF Doom Operation: Doomsday (Lunchbox Edition) (Metal Face)

Beau Brummels Bradley’s Barn: Handmade Edition (Rhino


Top 10 Downloads

Fugazi Live Series

Ocean Nostalgia. Ultra.

Four Tet at Mister Sunday May 29, 2011

Swans Live at ATP Festival 2011

Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 Live at ATP Festival 2011

Thom Yorke 6 Mix 2011-10-16

Clams Casino Instrumental Mixtape

Rock Creek

Immortal Technique The Martyr

Flying Lotus Lovers Melt II


Music DVDS

Pearl Jam PJ20 (Columbia

Rolling Stones Some Girls Live in Texas ’78 (Eagle Rock)

Mark Kozelek On Tour: A Documentary (Caldo Verde)

X The Unheard Music (MVD Visual)

Fantomas The Director’s Cut Live: A New Years Revolution


Music Videos

Beastie Boys “Make Some Noise”

R.E.M. “Every Day Is Yours To Win”

Foo Fighters “Walk”

Superchunk “Crossed Wires”

Wild Flag “Romance”


Top 5 Most Underrated
Albums of 2011

Oblivian Rat
City (Big Legal Mess

Three Mountains Tres Mts (Monkeywrench)

C. Joynes Congo
(Bo Weavil)

Vladislav Delay Vladislav Delay Quartet (Honest Jons)

Gavin Friday Catholic (Rubyworks)



Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. II

War Horse

Water for Elephants

Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone



Best Record Label

Sacred Bones  


Best Music-related


In Memoriam: Most
Lamented Death



Best New Artist

The Sweet Clementines         


Worst New Artist

Rebecca Black


Dumbest Band Name

Gauntlet Hair


Sex Object of the

Kat Dennings


Asshole of the Year

The Republican Majority of the U.S. Congress


Best Hair or Facial

Danny Brown


2012 Release I Am Most

El-P Cancer for the Cure or the upcoming Rick Rubin-produced
Black Sabbath reunion LP


Coolest Trend or

OccupyWall Street


Most Fucked Up or
Annoying Trend or Whatever

Voter ID Laws – in addition the music industry’s continuing
trend of force feeding digital downloads and streams to writers for review and
coverage consideration. Enough already!


Favorite story or
review you wrote for BLURT

Pearl Jam: “Choosing Their Own Destiny”










Top 10 New Releases

Dum Dum Girls – Only In Dreams (Sub Pop)

Ry Cooder – Pull Up Some Dust (Nonesuch)

Bobby – Bobby (Partisan)

Stephen Malkmus — Mirror Traffic (Matador)

Wilco – The Whole Love (dBpm)

Hiss Golden Messenger – Poor Moon (Paradise
of Bachelors)

Bill Callahan – Apocalypse (Drag City)

David Kilgour & the Heavy Eights – Left by Soft (Merge)

Mount Moriah – Mount
Moriah (Holidays for

Veronica Falls – Veronica
Falls (Slumberland)


Honorable Mentions

Grails – Deep Politics (Temporary Residence)

Eleanor Freidberger – Last Summer (Merge)

Veronica Falls – S/T (Slumberland)

Reigning Sound – Abdication…(Scion/AV)

John Howie Jr. & the Rosewood Bluff – Leavin’ Yesterday
(Hands Up!)

Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes (Atlantic)

The Roots – Undun (Def Jam)

Chelsea Wolfe – Apokalypsis (Pendu Sound)

Yardwork – Brotherer (Lunchbox)

Mikal Cronin – S/T (Trouble In Mind)

Maggie Bjorklund – Coming Home (Bloodshot)

Yuck – Yuck (Fat Possum)

Andy the Doorbum – The Man Killed the Bird, and with the
Bird the Song, and with the Song, Himself (Slanty Shanty)

Joe Henry – Reverie (Anti-)_

– Here Comes a City (Arts & Crafts)

DevotchKa – 100 Lovers (Anti-)

Braveyoung – We Are Lonely Animals (The End)

Mike Adams at His Honest Weight – Oscillate Wisely (St.

Booker T. Jones – The Road From Memphis

Howe Gelb – Allegrias (Eureka)

Antlers – Burst Apart (Frenchkiss)

Brontosaurus – Cold Comes to Claim (Plus Tapes)

Siskiyou – Keep Away the Dead (Constellation)

Ralfe Band – Bunny and the Bull soundtrack (Ghost Ship)


Top 10 Singles,
Tracks or Downloads

“Son of Pomegranate” – Yardwork/Brotherer (Lunchbox):

“Coming Down” – Dum Dum Girls/Only in Dreams (SubPop)

“Country Clutter” – Dolorean/The Unfazed (Partisan)

“Drover” – Bill Callahan/Apocalypse (Drag City)

“The Anchor Song – Maggie Bjorklund w/ Rachel Flotard/Coming
Home (Bloodshot)

“I Follow Rivers” – Lykke Li/Wounded Rhymes (Atlantic)

“Medicamentum” – Andy the Doorbum/7” single (Kinnikinnik)

“Fondre” – Marianne Dissard/L’Abandon (Trop Expres Music)

“I Want the Lights On After Dark” – Memphis/Here Comes a
City (Arts & Crafts)

“A Little Lost” – Nat Baldwin/People
Changes (Western Vinyl)


Favorite story or
review I wrote for BLURT

Marianne Dissard: Under the Tucson Sun


(Besides being a charming and erudite interview partner,
Mme. Dissard wound up my favorite profile of the year because of our discussion
of the Tucson
scene in the aftermath of the Gabriel Giffords shooting that took place a few
months prior. Hearing Dissard, in that rich French accent, describe how the
music/arts community came together afterward was more than heartening, and
reminded me again how important music is to our lives.)








Top 10 New Releases
& Honorable Mentions

Wilco – The Whole Love (dBpm/Anti)

Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit – Here We Rest (Lightning

The Black Keys – El Camino (Nonesuch)

Tom Waits – Bad As Me (Anti)

Bon Iver (Jagjaguar)

Girls – Father Son Holy Ghost (True Panther)

Drive By Truckers – Go Go Boots (ATO)

Dum Dum Girls – Only In Dreams (Sub Pop)

My Morning Jacket – Circuital (ATO)

tUnE-yArDs   – Whokill

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop)

Blitzen Trapper – American Goldwing (Sub Pop)

The Mountain Goats – All Eternals Deck (Merge)

TV On the Radio – Nine Types of Light (Interscope)

Yuck (Fat Possum)

Warren Haynes – Man in Motion (Stax)

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 – From Africa
With Fury: Rise (Knitting Factory)

Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring for My Halo (Matador)


Top 10
Archival/Reissues & Honorable Mentions

Derek & the Dominoes – Layla: 40th Anniversary Edition

Rolling Stones – Some Girls Deluxe Edition (Universal)

Miles Davis – Bitches Brew Live (Legacy)

Neil Young & the International Harvesters – A Treasure

Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On: 40th Anniversary Edition

Howlin’ Wolf – Smokestack Lightning: Complete Chess Masters
(Hip-O Select)

Leonard Cohen: Complete Albums Collection (Legacy)

Grateful Dead – Europe 72
Vol. 2 (Rhino)

Drive By Truckers – Ugly Buildings,
Whores and Politicians: Greatest Hits 1998 – 2009 (New West)

Love – Black Beauty (High Moon)

Nick Lowe – Labour of Lust (Yep Roc)

Superchunk – Foolish (Merge)



Prince, Madison
Square Garden,

Drive By Truckers, Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn, NY

Wilco/Nick Lowe, Central Park
Summerstage, NYC

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Music
Hall of Williamsburg,
Brooklyn, NY

My Morning Jacket, Madison Square
Garden, NYC,

Robert Plant and Band of Joy, Beacon Theater, NYC

Patti Smith, Castle Clinton, NYC

Dawes/Blitzen Trapper, Webster Hall, NYC

Mekons, The Bell House, Brooklyn, NY


Music Books

I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video
Revolution – Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum (Dutton)

Ticket Masters: The Rise of the Concert Industry and How the
Public Got Scalped – Dean Budnick and Josh Baron (ECW)

Aerosmith: The Ultimate Illustrated History of the Boston
Bad Boys – Richard Bienstock (Voyaguer) (Yes, we are related, but I still
recommend the book)

See A Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody – Bob Mould
and Michael Azerrad (Little, Brown)







Blog: I Don’t Wanna
Grow Up ( /blogs/author/64/)


Top 10 New Releases

Flogging Molly – Speed of Darkness (Borstal Beat)

Foo Fighters – Wasting Light (RCA)

Chuck Ragan – Covering Ground (SideOne Dummy)

Haunted Continents – The Loudest Year Ever (Forest Park Recordings)

Werewolf Academy
– Everything Is Alright So Far (Damnably Records)

Todd Snider – Live: The Storyteller (Thirty Tigers/Aimless

The Drowning Men – Beheading the Songbird (Borstal Beat)

Frank Turner – England Keep My Bones (Epitaph)

Chris Trapper – The Few and the Far Between (Starlit)

Cobra Skulls – Agitations (Fat Wreck Chords)


Best Record Label

SideOne Dummy Records


In Memoriam: Most
Lamented Death

Clarence Clemons, longtime E Street Band member


Dumbest Band Name

Diarrhea Planet – great band, shitty name (no pun intended)


Asshole of the Year

Rick “the Prick” Perry


2011 Release I Am Most

Springsteen’s rumored new album


Most Fucked Up or
Annoying Trend or Whatever

Planking. When my six year olds are doing this, you know its


Favorite story or
review you wrote for BLURT (include URL)

Flogging Molly: “The Motor City
is Burning”









Top 10 New Releases

The Bevis Frond – The Leaving of London (Woronzow)

The Blurries – Paper Cuts (self-released)

The Breakers – s/t (Wicked Cool)

Brother Eye – Emotional Fingers (self-released)

The Decemberists – The King is Dead (Capitol)

The Feelies – Here Before (Bar/None)

Leatherbag – Yellow Television (self-released)

Raphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin’ (Columbia)

Gillian Welch – The Harrow
& the Harvest (Acony)

Wiretree – Makeup (self-released)


Top 10

Peter Case – The Case Files (Alive)

The Church – Starfish (Second Motion)

Giant Sand – reissues (Fire)

Human Switchboard – Who’s Landing in My Hangar? Anthology
1977-1984 (Bar/None)

Paul Kelly – Greatest Hits: Songs From the South Vol. 1
& 2 (Gawd Aggie/Universal)

Stephin Merritt – Obscurities (Merge)

Nova Mob – The Last Days of Pompeii (Cond’or/MVD)

Sir Douglas Quintet – The Mono Singles ’68-’72 (Sundazed)

Ups & Downs – Out of the Darkness: Sleepless, Singles
& Other Stories (Feel Presents)

The Who – Quadrophrenia: The Director’s Cut (Universal)




Continued in Part 2



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