Aquarium Drunkard :: 2011 Year In Review

Here it is – our obligatory year-end review.   The following is an unranked list of albums that caught, and kept, our attention in 2011. As the criteria is comprised of full-lengths only, a number of worthy 7"s, singles and EPs didn't make the cut. Also, a point was made to not include too many reissues and/or compilations (something we mostly succeeded in). Go nuts.   Cheers - AD

Atlas Sound —  Parallax: No matter the incarnation, be it recording with Deerhunter, under his Atlas Sound moniker or releasing spontaneous, off-the-cuff, material via his blog, Bradford Cox continues to intrigue. His latest Atlas Sound endeavor, Parallax, is no exception. (buy)

MP3: Atlas Sound :: Terra Incognita

Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring For My Halo:  ’€¨A haunted psych-folk record, Smoke Ring is a potent sub-strain of American roots music more in the vein of Skip Spence and David Ackles than, say, Gram Parsons or Bruce Springsteen. In opener “Baby’s Arms,” Vile flicks a taut string that quivers across 10 tracks of cigarette warmth in a dark room. These are the 21st century blues as sung by a young Philadelphian.  (buy)

MP3: Kurt Vile :: In My Time

The War on Drugs — Slave Ambient: “My life is consumed with fear / I cannot believe the truth,” Adam Granduciel sings on “Brothers.” “Ohhhh,” he moans, “What am I feeling?” The whorling phase-shifting and barreling drums of Slave Ambient circle Granduciel’s twang like ambient tornadoes, the nauseous music mirroring the singer’s existential state. Harmonicas wheeze in loneliness as if pinging the void, lost in circles of guitars, but the steady thump of the snare drum moves the music along, like a train rolling through a morning fog so thick its conductor can’t see the tracks. (buy)

MP3: The War on Drugs :: Baby Missiles

Bombino - Agadez: Taureg guitar music is long-form, repetitive, trance-inducing. Young gun Bombino plays it with an unadorned, melodic style and a captivating personality–a fresh, unrefined interpretation. Agadez is studio hi-fi, but it has all Bombino’s live energy and showmanship. For a Western comparison: more slow motion duck-walker than psychedelic shredder.  (buy)

MP3: Bombino :: Tigrawahi Tikma (Bring Us Together)

Charles Bradley - No Time For Dreaming: On his first full-length, Charles Bradley shows just how far he's come from his “Black Velvet” James Brown shtick to become an original, bombastic performer in his own right. This record is solid NYC soul a la Daptone, and Bradley’s act stands out with personal songwriting that avoids stock and filler. (buy)

MP3: Charles Bradley :: The World (Is Going Up In Flames)

Roadside Graves - We Can Take Care Of Ourselves: An eleven track song-cycle concerning S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, We Can Take Care Of Ourselves is Roadside Graves most ambitious work to date. In a deft and subtle move the band get inside the material without hitting you over the head with it.  Allusive and expansive, the album adheres to the conceptual, while showing the flourishes of growth in their sound.   (buy)

MP3: Roadside Graves :: Glory

Destroyer - Kaputt: A sonic redirection, Kaputt feels like easy-listening as viewed through a noirish lens -- coming out the other end darkened, damp and cynical. Dan Bejar’s voice, as ever, is the linchpin, intoxicating and ever so slightly mad as far-off nowhere horns and street-wet synths pull the landscape in around his words. Brilliant. (buy)

MP3: Destroyer :: Chinatown

Crystal Stilts - In Love With Oblivion: The first of their two releases this year, Crystal Stilts continue to prove their mettle on their sophomore album. For Doors apologists (raises hand, fuck you) the New York band scratches an imaginary itch -- one in which Jim Morrison fronts the '67 Velvet Underground at Warhol's Factory. Taste the whip! (buy)

MP3: Crystal Stilts :: Precarious Stair

Dirty Beaches - Badlands: ’€¨At first listen, Alex Zhang-Huntai sounds hungry, distant, and in need of a center -- stuck in a velvet haze of nowhere. But as you allow yourself to stop thinking about the deserted, grainy sounds he’s making, the pictures he’s painting, or the people in his stories, there’s this perfect moment of tranquility and space. (buy)

MP3: Dirty Beaches :: True Blue

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