Well, it’s here.
The moment you’ve ALL been waiting for,
TANGENTS & THE TIMES’ FAVORITE ALBUMS OF 2011.
Thank you for being patient. It’s taken me a whole week to do this because of all the other shit I have to do that is moderately more important than making lists like five people give one fourth of a fuck about, but that’s okay. I really appreciate you giving one fourth of a fuck to be here.
There may be some of you who are late to the game & don’t realize that the only reason my blog started to matter is because of a particular group of music bloggers that became my friends & pushed me into stardom & then I started writing features for Pitchfork’s now defunct Altered Zones and my boy Ian’s blog, Friendship Bracelet. I seriously don’t know how any of that really happened since I mostly relate music to my feelings & moods instead of objective opinion. I’m not an authority by any means but I do think I’m somewhat of a tastemaker in terms of leading a leisurely Southern California lifestyle. And these albums are the watermelon mojitos of my iTunes.
That’s what this list brings you.
These are my favorite albums,
not necessarily the best albums.
These are albums for sunny days,
for day drinking & hard lounging.
Albums for long drives down the coast
& weekends spent camping with friends.
This is a list that sums up my 2011,
so drink up.
– – –
10. Summer Camp, Welcome To Condale
I’m not a huge fan of synthesizers, but Summer Camp does it right. Instead of using them as a means-to-an-end in terms of music making, Summer Camp uses them like they would have been a Billboard Top Ten band in ’86. Honestly, if you didn’t know better, you’d probably be asking yourself what Molly Ringwald film these songs were written for. Young love & the suburbs? I’m in! And the supreme use of a Weird Science quote? BITCH PLEASEEEE. Too good. I nearly broke my ankles dancing in new platform shoes in my underwear to this the first day I got it, sooo if that doesn’t say anything, I don’t know what will.
Favorite Track: “Brian Krakow” & “Welcome To Condale”
9. Tennis, Cape Dory
Despite how much I hate being so damn predictable, Tennis’ Cape Dory has me written all over it. Beachy pop about relationships on the high sea? I’m not going to sit here & act like just this past week I saw them at Spaceland (fuck you, it’s still Spaceland) & wasn’t singing along with every single song. Because I was! Eagerly! Just like I did in my car for six weeks straight after this came out. I don’t disagree with the argument that this is “girl music”. It’s catchy, it’s cute and it’s preppy pop, rendering it completely irresistable to me. Luckily, I am a girl so I can listen to it all I want without emasculating myself. If you have/had a vagina, you probably have sung at least a couple songs in the mirror too.
Favorite Tracks: “Baltimore” & “Bimini Bay”
8. Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues
EVERYONE. SHUT UP. JUST SHUT UP. I REALLY LIKE THIS ALBUM. I don’t care how much pretentious-ass guff I get for this pick. Look, I’m a sucker for masterful instrumentation & heavenly harmonizing. Throw in some universal themes and call me cooked. I can’t help that these fools are supremely talented. Much like The Beatles, yeah, you don’t have to like them but if you can’t respect their game, I’m genuinely worried about your moral character.
Favorite Tracks: “Montezuma” & “Blue Spotted Tail”
7. Shannon & The, Clams, Sleep Talk
Such a great album, one of those you can listen to all the way through without skipping a song. I love that. It’s a real throw-back to the surf days of yore, but with a couple of twists including elements of soul, punk and tinges of classic R&B. It’s very entertaining to listen to, and I also enjoy that Shannon & The Clams seem to have a bit of a sense of humor about themselves (See the tiki-hooting of “The Cult Song” & you’ll get what I mean, I swear that song should be in some 60’s Gidget rip-off flick right before some cheap Elvis looking fool gets sucked into a cave or something). It’s lo-fi, it’s fun, it’s a rolicking roll at the beach, immediately prompting fantasies of tandem long-boarding with your number one babe. This should have been the soundtrack to your summer. Luckily for all of you who slept on this, we have another summer in like five months, so hold tight!
Favorite Tracks: “Sleep Talk” & “You Will Always Bring Me Flowers”
5. Woods, Sun & Shade
The quintessential folk album of 2011. Done & done. Woods has been around for a minute, but much like early Devendra Banhart, their initial releases were just a little too weird for me. They were enjoyable and skillful, but lacked the melodic patterns I personally need in order to listen to an album on the reg’. Sun & Shade takes the experimental flare that drew me to Woods in the first place and exemplifies the structure I desperately craved. The album itself is a faultless mingling of psych-rock with pop sensibility, and folk with innovation. Sun & Shade is thoughtful yet still rousing, and the ideal place to lose yourself on a sunny afternoon.
Favorite Tracks: “Be All Be Easy” & “Out Of The Eye”
5. Dirty Beaches, BadLands
This album is exceptionally sexy. Just, so so sexy. On a dark, blown-out beach of beats and crashing waves of reverb, there is Alex Zhang Hungtai on the shore, slicking back his hair with a comb under a blanket of stars. Dirty Beaches is the beddable bad boy who makes you weak in the knees. Even though you’re so fucking afraid of motorcycles, but you get on his motorcycle anyway because he holds your hand and you melt. His Adonis-greaser vibe and nearly sinister crooning is masturbation inducing. It’s swooning. It’s eerie. It’s a tantalizing trip to Twin Peaks, if Twin Peaks had a couple of dark lifeguard towers to lose your virginity in.
Favorite Tracks: “A Hundred Highways” & “Lord Knows Best”
4. Monster Rally, Coral
Oh, Monster Rally, how I adore thee. Definitely the most talked about project on my blog for more than a year and a half, the Cleveland bedroom-musician-cum-DJ-or-something-or-other incredibly mixes romantic romps through the tropics. It’s this jungle-dream-jazz-world vibe that is simply unparalleled, in both sound and mixing expertise. While looking for a way to explain Coral, all I can say is it sort of makes me feel like a less drug addicted version of Elvira Hancock. Like, that I’m probably living lavishly in 1970’s Hawaii, lounging by immaculate beaches all day & wearing long, too-low cut dresses all night. I serve perfect cocktails from my wet bar & sashay across shag carpet. I’m the classiest adult with a wild side while listening to this album. Like, oh, she’s so domestic! Look at the way she shakes that martini! BUT WAIT! NOW SHE’S SKINNY DIPPING!
I lead a very, very rich fantasy life. And Monster Rally is the soundtrack.
Favorite Tracks: “Color Sky” & “The Birds (Pt. 1 & 2)”
3. Real Estate, Days
I feel like Real Estate and I have a lot in common. Lush lawns, chlorine pools, taking it easy. At first, Real Estate seems almost minimalistic, but a good listen reveals layers of skillful sequences and nearly elegiac lyrical conclusions. It’s not sad, but it’s definitely reflective. Maybe it’s that I spend a lot of time mulling over the circular driveways and tree lined Main streets that harbored my own youth, but I can’t help but get lost in this album. I’m really glad it didn’t suck, TBH. Their first album has been my absolute go-to since its release and I was nervous for my suburban soul mates, but they came through, just like I knew they would. Also, so so so glad Alex got to sing on this album! That song, “Wonder Years” has some seriously mental guitar shit going on.
Favorite Tracks: “Green Aisles” & “Wonder Years” & “It’s Real”
2. White Fence, Is Growing Faith
Good fucking god, I love White Fence. So many bands have tried to capture a true yet organic take on the sounds of the 60’s & 70’s, but most fail. Not White Fence. White Fence sounds like some gem you’d accidently stumble upon in the dollar bin of your favorite record store, but is still fresh as fuck. Tim Presley is the best musician in Los Angeles, and arguably one of the best in the world, in my sort of professional opinion. You just do not get the craftsmanship, vision and innovation that White Fence encompasses in just any band. It has a nearly Beatles feel to it, with its steady beats and I love Presley’s punch-drunk vocal delivery. It’s catchy and quixotic, so basically, fanfuckingtastic.
Favorite Tracks: “And By Always” & “Sticky Fruitman Has Faith” & “Lillian (Won’t You Play Drums?)”
1. Connan Mockasin, Forever Dolphin Love
I discovered Connan Mockasin when Dudefriend got this insane surf video I’m obsessed with, Lost Atlas. This album completely changed the game. Reminiscent to what could be cheaply described as a more accessible Ariel Pink, this album is an acid-dipped storybook dreamscape, residing somewhere between sunglass-shaded & stoned drives down PCH and the moss covered caves that foster my prettiest fantasies. It is clean psychedelia, something with imagination and precision. Ethereally sharp, Forever Dolphin Love simultaneously leads the journey while holding your hand down the path, narrating your current life– a soundtrack that not only reflects the present, but somehow manages to influence the future. I swear I’ve only had one bong rip guys, but really, this album is really a magical & adventurous beast. Anytime I am listening to it, I feel like I am in the most beautiful place in the world & feel as though at any moment, anything could happen; my life could begin.
Yes, this album makes me feel like I could be born again, right now.
Favorite Tracks: “It’s Choade My Dear” & “Faking Jazz Together” & “Forever Dolphin Love”
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So, that is that. Thank you for joining me on this exploration of my year in music. I sincerely hope you check out anything you didn’t already know about & support these awesome artists. I absolutely love talking about myself & my incredible taste so I hope you had as much fun as I did. xo
• Monster Rally’s Permanent Vacation (for IMPOSE Magazine)
• A Tangent Exemplifying How Shamefully Crazy I Am (About Tennis)
• I Have A Confession (About Fleet Foxes)
• A Tangent About SXSW
• Shit I’d Marry: Lost Atlas