Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Top 15 Music Recommendations for 2011

Pretty much everyone who knows me knows I have a music problem. They might not know the full scale of it, but they know it's there. Well, it's time for me to try to rub that problem off on you with my 2011 favorites. iTunes informs me I purchased 583 tracks in 2011, and a bit of simple math tells me the top five songs with the most plays have been listened to forty seven hours total. That means for my top five songs (all used while writing MagicalNovel), I listened to them for two entire days of my life. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Anyway, this list will be skewed toward the pop/ rock that I bought rather than the folk/ Celtic/ soundtrack that I bought, just because I realize that the latter has a more narrow listenership. But I can be bullied into talking about those too, and many of them will come out when I post the playlist for MagicalNovel (which I can talk about and reveal a cover for, turns out, in just a few weeks). Without further ado, here are my top four albums for 2011.

**actually, further ado: musicians, like authors, are able to do this crazy thing for a living because of legal purchases of their intellectual property. If you love a track, please buy it legally from iTunes, Amazon, or your local music peddler.**

1 - Death Cab for Cutie - Codes and Keys
Full disclosure: I'm a huge Death Cab fan. Their album Plans has always been my favorite, and I was hoping for something even remotely similar. Well, I think this album might beat out Plans for me. The album is one of those rare and lovely things: a bunch of songs that work perfectly by themselves but have even more impact when played together. "Monday Morning" is one of my favorites.

2 - Zoe Keating - Into the Trees

I'm not sure MagicalNovel could have been written without this album. If you are a cello fan, you'll adore Zoe Keatings's latest, which is her cello recorded over itself many times over. It's haunting. (And if that's not enough to spur you to listen, she worked with Imogen Heap). This song - "Escape Artist" - is one of my favorites off the album.

3 - Boy & Bear - Moonfire

An Australian newcomer for me. I got this recommendation while on tour. Basically, this is what I wanted Fleet Foxes' latest album to sound like. "Feeding Line" is the catchiest single off it, but my actual favorite is "Lordy May."

4 - Florence & the Machine - Ceremonials

More disclosure: I really liked Florence & the Machine's last album. A lot. It's one of those albums that is grand for putting on and then cleaning your entire house (which I'm not sure was my editor's intention when he sent it to me). I didn't have my breath held for this album, but . . . wow. Great from beginning to end. My favorite track off the album is "What the Water Gave Me" but if you are a fan of Maxfield Parrish or the 1920s, check out her fantastic video for "Shake it Out."

5 - Ramona Falls - Intuit
I'm sneaking this one on there, because it wasn't released in 2011 — that's just when I discovered it. I'm not sure if I would've been sucked in without their weird and distressing music video for "I Say Fever," but I did, and the rest is iPod history. Ah! Listening to it makes me think of MagicalNovel!

And here are my top 10 favorite singles.
1 - Coldplay - “Major Minus
Didn't love the album, but love a few of the tracks.
I like it because: it moves.

2 - Gotye - “Someone That I Used to Know
Another Australian recommended to me by a book blogger.
I like it because: it reminds me nostalgically of the Australian rock from the 80s/90s.

3 - Switchfoot - “The War Inside
True confession: Switchfoot is the very lightest of the hard stuff in my album. Much of my musical taste runs to the "my mother would not bear it" variety. But it's got to be catchy.
I like it because: it saved my bacon on MagicalNovel. Also, it makes me want to jump on cars.

4 - Adele - “Rolling in the Deep
More true confessions: Adele is not normally my kind of music. But I saw the video for this in France (wow, I sound worldly!) and the tune is just . . . infectious. I like every version of it.
I like it because: It sounds like anticipation.

5 - Imogen Heap - “Lifeline
Imogen Heap is doing a cool thing where she releases singles every few weeks instead of releasing an entire album. I highly encourage you to check out her website if you like her style. So far, this is my favorite of her new tracks.

6 - City & Colour - “Little Hell
Just because I'm not working on the Shiver trilogy any more doesn't mean I have lost my insatiable desire for bittersweet/ miserably sad musical tracks.
I like it because: it is bittersweet/ miserably sad.

7 - The Civil Wars - “Barton Hollow
A recommendation from my friend Natalie, one of those people who says "I have a song for you" and I rush to buy it without thinking, because our tastes are so similar.
I like it because: it sounds like my '73 Camaro. Or kudzu.

8 - Foster the People - “Pumped Up Kicks
This song has gotten so much radio play, I'm not certain it needs me to say anything. But in case you haven't heard this, here it is. Catchy and summery and as an artist, I appreciate that it's about something difficult that the band was trying to process.
I like it because: It's summer.

9/10 - Lost Lander - “Cold Feet” & “Afraid of Summer
This band gets bonus points because they are so new that you get to be the cool person for knowing they exist. At least for a few months. If you love The Shins, I reckon you'll love them too.
I like it because: This is the radio sounds when it plays in my dreams.

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