13 & God, Own Your Ghost (Anticon/Alien Transistor)
Underground hip-hop got a dose of self-reflection when 13 & God returned this year. The collective of Dose One, Jel and Notwist demonstrated a versatility that even seasoned jazz aficionados would shake their heads in disbelief at.
Handsome Furs, Sound Kapital (Sub Pop)
With '80s new wave, rocksteady disco beats and propulsive energy, Sound Kapital is a pulsing, sweaty box of crack-covered chocolates. Put in on, turn up your furnace and dance until you bleed tears of ecstasy.
Thurston Moore, Demolished Thoughts (Matador)
I await every Sonic Youth related output with trepidation, it never fails to shock. And so did the second solo LP from Thurston Moore, not because of distortion and mayhem but because of its beautiful juxtapositions and lush soundscapes. If SY is truly dead---then long live whatever comes next.
Frederick Squire, Sings Shenandoah and Other Popular Hits (Blue Fog)
Two albums in a year, and this was the finer of the two if only for the live-from-the-floor takes and close micing that captured every detail. Accomplished and patient storytelling. There wasn't a finer indie-folk album this year.
Gillian Welch, The Harrow & The Harvest (Acony)
How this went under most radars, I have no idea. It is by far her best collection in recent memory---the voice is exquisite, the songs and arrangements more confident. It should have been huge.
Ryan Adams, Ashes & Fire (PAX AM/Capitol)Bad Vibrations, Black Train (Brotherhood) LOCAL
Dog Day, Deformer (Fundog) LOCAL
tUnE-yArDs, w h o k i l l (4AD)
Tom Waits, Bad as Me (ANTI-)
Wild Flag, Wild Flag (Merge)
Year end lists tend to focus on the handheld product, but more and more great stuff can be found with just a few keystrokes. Here are a few of my favourite not too far off the beaten path limited edition or online only music picks from 2011. by Dave Hayden.
Sloan, "Is That All I Get" (sloanmusic.com)
The official bootleg from 1993 finds the band at their slap-happy and energetic best, shining its way through this less-than-perfect audio capture. Honourable mentions: *Sing For Your Meat: A Tribute to Guided By Voices* mp3 download (No More Fake Labels) and *Iron And Wine/The Low Anthem: Daytrotter Session* limited edition vinyl (Daytrotter).
Noyes Records 7" vinyl subscription (noyesrecords.com)
Do we want more local vinyl? Of course we do. Along with Joel Plaskett's dedication to the format, I really have to tip my hat to Chad Peck and the Noyes crew for stepping it up a notch with limited edition 7inches (coloured vinyl at that!) featuring local bands and fantastic artwork tying the series together. Order online now for a glorious 10 months of vinyl delivered right to you.
Fugazi Live concert series (www.dischord.com)
Dischord once again leads the way with this massive new archive which will supposedly top 800+ shows available for download. Like their infamous fair ticket price legacy, each show can be downloaded for $5 (or whatever you think is fair). You can search by song and/or city to see what was recorded (yes, the Halifax show has been recorded).
Would you have given your left arm to attend the Yo La Tengo Hanukkah shows? or maybe the seven night Pavement stint in Central Park? This site is for you---be there without leaving the comfort of your own bed. My week was not complete without checking out what show they had recently captured.
The Strombo Show iPhone app
The Strombo Show is simply great radio. Period. Where else can you hear such a wide array of hip-hop, punk, indie, new wave and electronica all seamlessly woven together by a host who not only has the knowledge but a passion for music not heard since the glory days of *Brave New Waves*? With this app, you can stream any show that has ever aired at any time in the car, in the kitchen (or as I do) in the operating room. Need to hear the amazing covers episode again? You got it. This app alone makes my iPhone worth every penny.
Dave is always searching for the next great love-gone-wrong song. Moved to Halifax to be closer to Eric's Trip and Hardship Post. Performs surgery in his other job.