Steve jobs made me forget how to enjoy music. I get so overwhelmed knowing that I can listen to any song in my iTunes library with the click of a button that I barely finish listening to a song before skipping to another. I’m absolutely pathetic! And I listen to tapes because I am so pathetic. Tapes remind me that I have an attention span. When I put one on, I don’t think about what other music could be listened to outside the casing of the tape deck. I’m intent on giving my full attention to the album and it’s usually the only way I can appreciate an album as an independent piece of music. For that reason, I decided to limit my end-of-year music list to the 60-something tapes I accumulated in 2k11. Rather than mulling over all of the crap I downloaded into iTunes, I figured limiting my denominator to tapes would help me choose my favorites. This wasn’t as easy as I originally thought since I bought/traded these tapes for a reason (i.e., they were already some of my favorites). Ugh, I feel pretty lame putting together one of these lists. Oh well, here are some of my favorites (Note: Albums are listed alphabetically by artist name. Yes, it’s a copout.).
Jon Barba - If we say it in unison…
2k11 was the year of the Barba. Dude put out some great stuff and it was tough choosing my favorite because everything Jon Barba does amazes me. If you’ve never heard Jon, this is a great starter album since it’s filled with catchy jams, great lyrics, and a general feeling of angst/apathy. Pick up a copy of this bad boy from Bridgetown. I predict 2k12 will be the year of the Kidman.
Kevin Greenspon – Common objects
I love this album so much that I own the LP, cassette, and mp3s. Needless to say, the cassette version is my favorite. I can easily pop this one into my Walkman and listen to it over-and-over again for hours at a time. It’s completely flawless, totally lush, and utterly heartbreaking. This one is guaranteed to send chills down your spine. The cassette version was a limited tour only edition, but you can snag a copy of the LP from Family Time or Bridgetown.
Mandarin Dynasty - Perpendicular crosswalk
I listened to this album about eight times the first day I got it. It’s not fuzzy. It’s not buzzy. It’s not drenched in reverb or delay. Well, then what is it?! It’s the best pop album I’ve heard in a long time. It doesn’t need to hide behind effects to sound good. Don’t believe me? Listen to the song below and tell me you don’t want to bang your head! After all, when was the last time you listened to something that made you want to bang your head?! Pick up a copy from Bridgetown and thank me later.
Motion Sickness of Time Travel – DreamcatcherDo you ever feel empty? Like you want something but can’t identify/articulate what it is? I was feeling that way about music before this one reached my front door. Dreamcatcher filled the void and told me what to want. I couldn’t have imagined anything like this before hearing it. It was like discovering a vibrant new planet in the dark abyss of space. Dreamcatcher is not of this world.
Nova Scotian Arms - Winds over Silmäterä
Winds over Silmäterä is a force against which you are defenseless. The oceanic soundscapes of drone and tape loops will pull you in, but the impetus lies in subtleties just beneath the surface. Like a lover that leaves you hanging on every word, you will find yourself at its mercy as you wait for a sign of warmth and affection. Listen closely and you will learn the virtue of patience. You will be rewarded.
Nova Scotian Arms- Veil Hollow (excerpt) by Hooker Vision
Pawko – Pawkward
Pawko's an honest man just trying to sing an honest song, and there's something really special about that given how dishonest the world can be. I haven't enjoyed a folk album for a very long time, but there’s something about this album that will get you thinking about life. It’ll make you ponder your past, recognize your present, and get you excited about the future. It’s equally enjoyable when listened to alone or as background music while hanging out with friends. I guarantee it will stimulate meaningful thoughts and conversation. Pick up a copy from Your Warmth.
Reedbeds - Winds on highWho the crap is Reedbeds?! In just under 45 minutes, Winds on high delivers everything I look for in a tape from guitar noodling, entrancing synth loops, to contemplative/gentle piano. Reedbeds crosses into disparate territory throughout the album, while bringing it all together under a common theme: beauty. I wish I could articulate exactly how incredible this album is, but you can pick up a copy of from Hooker Vision and find out for yourself.
Solids – Generic dogs
It took about three weeks for this one to make it into my tape deck because the album art is pretty gnarly. I’m glad I listened because I was reminded of the old "don’t judge a book by its cover" saying. And actually, I really like the album art now. This album sounds like something I would’ve enjoyed in high school but would also enjoy today (and I do). In other words, it’s timeless. Side A repeats on Side B which makes listening to it over-and-over again even easier. Pick up a copy of the tape from L’oeil Du Tigre, or you can get the CD or LP from Machette Records.
Terrors – InequipoiseI’ll admit that I downloaded this one first, but loved it so much that I had to order the tape. Terrors creates a haunting mix of folk, drone, noise, and field recordings. Lonely, nostalgic, and bittersweet -- Inequipoise is many things, but one thing is certain: Terrors sings the blues. This is bedroom music at its finest. Pick up a copy from Monorail Trespassing.
Vehicle Blues – Koz Park
Didn’t my last post convince you that Vehicle Blues is awesome?! Exhibit B: Koz Park. Never in my life has a cassingle left me so satisfied, yet thirsty for more. Try to find a copy on Discogs.