I like lists. I list everything – from things I have to do, to music I want to check out (a never-ending list), items that need to be remembered. I’m certain my list-making has been noted with interest on here over the course of the last year. Top Five lists in particular. I wonder if that means I’m somewhat indecisive – I can never pick just one. So I make a list.
I got an email notification the other night after Lila posted her song list for 2011. Imagine my delight at having a new list to read. The best part of reading lists created by others (especially those that hold music to the same standard I do) is that they make you think and consider what you would put on your own list of similar making.
I’ve spent the last couple of nights reveling in thoughts of the last year. Remembering the songs that stick out. Highlights of memories.. Perhaps it’s too early yet for this kind of reflection – don’t most people save that for a New Year? Regardless of timing, this is my counter to Lila’s 2011 list. My Top 13 songs of 2011. It should be 12. I’d say I’m being rebellious, but the fact is, I couldn’t cut any more out. I whittled it down so much already, I couldn’t bear to take another out. Every song is tied to a memory from the past year. Every song has been shared in some way with those closest to me. Some given to me, like small gifts. Some shared with those I hold in the highest regard. Each and every one part of the essential makeup of who I am, what I’ve done and where I’m going. They have shaped my year. Have a listen.
Ryan Star, Start a Fire
My year both started and ended with Ryan Star. A January NYC adventure with Lila to see Ryan, Hesta Prynn, Gambit and Hot Chelle Rae at Webster Hall. This was the show that began my year. Ryan Star opening for Goo Goo Dolls in Erie was the last concert I saw this year, again, with my favourite travel companion – Lila. Truly amazing that Ryan began and ended my soundtrack of the year.
Even better is that I have managed to influence others to his musical fortitude. My rides to work are laden with his music (shout out to Melissa, who I maintain will be in tow should Ryan Star ever announce a Canada concert date… she was an immediate fan).
Despite the changes the last year have brought, the ability to listen to Ryan’s music, sing along loudly, dance wildly when alone and run faster when it’s on my iPod has not wavered.
Pretty Girls Make Graves, The Teeth Collector
This is where Sean B. gets a huge shout out. The scene: At work. New guy sitting in the room, reading his books diligently. Until my phone alarm goes off and I’m begged to go turn it off. I walk in, do so and am faced with the question: “Hey, is that Florence + the Machine?” Instant musical friend. Sean B. has shared a great deal of musical talk and influence over the last year. A quintessential musical snob (never ever trash Depeche Mode to him and never ask him to listen to the Foo Fighters), he never fails to share music and thoughts. And even when we don’t agree, he is still one of my first go-to guys for musial knowledge.
Pretty Girls Make Graves was one of the bands shared with me almost one year ago. Hundreds of songs given all at once. And while Pretty Girls are no longer making music together, they were an instant favourite. Retro-90s-girl-grunge. The guy knows good music.
Girl Talk, Jump on Stage
Another Sean B. recommendation. Girl Talk gets on the list since it is my at-home pilates work out music. An eclectic mix of classics and modern pop. It is the only way I can remotely tolerate current “pop” music – all part of a great mix. Girl Talk was shared freely (literally – the music is free) with so many people over the last year. I’ve yet to meet anyone who hasn’t loved it instantly. The album All Day became an ice breaker at parties, the music I sweat to and a constant friend of my iPod.
Jump on Stage was chosen since it features sampling from Portishead. ‘Nuff said. I had to.
Grab Girl Talk here: http://illegal-art.net/allday/
Beastie Boys, Don’t Play No Game I Can’t Win
Hot Sauce Committee Part Two. It was the album that revived my love of the Beastie Boys. Not that it ever really waned, but they became a part of my past soundtrack. Now, as part of my current soundtrack, I have shared my love of this album with many. A great return. Add in DJ Z-Trip’s phenomenal mix of past and present Beasties and it was music love.
The video for Don’t Play No Game? Classic. Who couldn’t love it?
Find DJ Z-Trip’s remix here: http://ztrip.bandcamp.com/album/z-trip-presents-all-access-a-beastie-boys-megamix
Hollerado, Got to Lose
Summer of 2011. I had held tightly a sense of musical snobbery, ignorant of much of the current Canadian indie scene. Got to Lose was shared with me and launched months of great music shared. With lyrics like “we sipped red wine with our lips upon the vine and our bodies got tangled in the night”, my interest was piqued. Maybe I was due for a change. It was likely a challenge of super hero-ish proportion to get me to pay attention.
Even now, their current release, “Good Day at the Races” makes me smile and sing. They are eclectic and fun.
Hey Rosetta, Welcome
A song that makes you pay attention to the detail. Whether it is how bright the stars are in the sky (something I’ve noted with increasing frequency this year – all because of those late night/early morning runs) or the guitar riff that plays two-thirds of the way through the song, the song became a reminder to appreciate the small things. And then to share them with those that will appreciate them with you.
Yoav and Emily Browning, Where is My Mind
The Pixies did it first. The Sucker Punch soundtrack reminded me of it. The soundtrack that played throughout my summer. The movie that played and reminded me how to be at my strongest. And when I heard the oldest of my “Little Beats” singing along to the Pixies version, my pride was strong.
This was a song played during nights of solitude. A bottle of wine, my thoughts and anticipation. A song just for me.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Paris
Summer 2011 ended with a tour of Toronto with Lila and a meet-up with my favourite French Mafia member, Sophie and her cousin Jill. Sound Academy. Packed house and being blown away by the sheer power that is Grace Potter. I’ve loved her music for ages, but seeing her live was a great ending to my summer. Warm winds at the waterfrong, Ben Harper’s crooning voice after the electric energy of Grace Potter, fried dill pickles and amazing company. A stellar combination.
Young the Giant, My Body
My Body started it. I have to properly thank the superhero who shared this first. I had no idea. This was the song that made me run harder, run faster, run happier. At work, it came on the radios and the mood changed on the entire line. People smiled. Volume increased. Tapped toes. Bobbed heads and sang along. Watching a song change people this way and charge the atmosphere made me realize Young the Giant were something great.
Followed by the release of Cough Syrup, they have maintained their status as a favourite of the year’s soundtrack. Every time I hear Cough Syrup, I share that I’ve heard it and welcome the fact that there are people who listen for me when I can’t hear it. It makes me smile and remember and think of excellent things.
Even better will be to share Young the Giant at Sound Academy with Sophie in March. Continuing their inclusion in my daily soundtrack is a great thing.
Company of Thieves, Won’t Go Quietly
This is where I thank Lila. She has been my musical partner in crime for ages, but we have had an amazing 2011 together. We have shared great music (even when we disagree on it). She has been a truly amazing friend and I’m eternally grateful for her.
Lila shared Company of Thieves with me when Death of Communication came out. Then when Running for a Gamble dropped, she made sure I had it in my hands. Of course, it was immediately shared with those that influenced me the most this year. My gift back to them.
Florence + the Machine, Shake it Out
2010 had Flo on the soundtrack as well. Which means that when Ceremonials was released, it was immediately downloaded and reflected upon. And while there are some who claimed Shake it Out sounded like an 80s sitcom montage (I’m taking that as a compliment.. it means it’s a memorable song.. ha!), I instantly loved much of the album. The acoustic version of Shake it Out is what gets sung to the loudest. The lyrics resonate, Florence Welch’s voice gives me shivers and I dance wildly. A great vision.
Although Shake it Out and What the Water Gave me were both pre-released the remainder of Ceremonials didn’t disappoint. No Light, No Light has shown up on my running list countless times. An album that will likely show up on next year’s list as well.
Foo Fighters, Walk/These Days
I think if I was going to choose a single album of 2011, Foo Fighters’ Waking Light has to be it. Which is extremely surprising for me. Perhaps a sign of good influence showing me that not all great music is not “popular”.
It started with Randy Scott Slavin (of Hesta Prynn video fame) and his directing of a White Limo video. Parquay and crazy monkey business.
It finished with These Days being a near constant thought in my head. Music shared with those that are like-minded sounds better. Proof that old dogs (so to speak) can learn new tricks. Which is to say, I learned something this year. To listen better. To leave behind my snobbery and be open to new ideas.
Even Walk was a near constant shared listen. Even after it was noted to me that the video was based loosely on the movie Falling Down (one enjoyed ages ago and completely forgotten).
I took a poll of which song to pick. It was decided we couldn’t pick just one. Walk and These Days.
Foos have always been sort of background music (save for Everlong.. a truly great song). Never has a Foos song been so prevalent in my soundtrack. They’ve always been there – steadfast and good – to be sure. But not overtly current. Waking Light was a great album, at a great time, to have them at the forefront. Here is my appreciation to those that shared it with me and reminded me that, even I, could appreciate “popular” music. When it’s great.
I’ll take all that with a side dish of Cheese Whiz, please.
The Black Keys, Lonely Boy
Howlin’ For You was another one of those summer songs that made people smile and rock out while checking cars. Not that the Black Keys were off my radar before this song (Tighten Up was enjoyed), but it was the one I heard most this summer.
When El Camino was released, I had to have it. The pre-released Lonely Boy was another one of those shared songs. Even better was when I shared the video. Shared laughter. Was that really it? Best video ever. Followed by catching up on the SNL performance. Lonely Boy is one of those songs that makes me smile every time I hear it. Both because of its shared value and because it’s just a damn good song. It’s a song that makes me jump up to share it when I hear it. And I’m calling it now – Gold on the Ceiling from El Camino (which was performed at SNL) will be one of the songs to start my 2012 soundtrack.