Rick’s Definitive Favorites of 2011

Rick’s Definitive Favorites of 2011
(Definitively my favorite cropping edit of my favorite picture of myself from 2011)
Yo, you want to know what I liked from this past year of 2011? If the answer’s no stop lying to yourself (You got past the title for some reason, yea?).  Here’s my alphabetical list. The past couple of year’s favorites lists included some sort of disclaimer introduction (2010 LPs, 2010 EPs, 2009). I’m foregoing it this year. I definitively find these to be my favorite releases from 2011. No digital only releases. I own a store that sells strictly physical releases so you can put the digital ones on your cloud and pray they’re still there in the next hour. Preaching to the converted et cetera ad nauseum blah blah blah.  In addition to the write ups are links for the places online we have them for sale (for the ones still available; for some it might be temporarily out of stock while others may be out of print). Of course, it is verily encouraged that you just come by the store and get ‘em (and maybe tell me how dumb some of this is or how great something you didn’t even know existed before is or something in between).

ANV (Autre Ne Veut) Body (Hippos In Tanks)
Hypnogogic pop that is catchy and infectious and weird (I used the word hypnogogic, right?).

Bestial Mouths Hissing Veil (Dais)

Goth is definitely the knee-jerk reaction response to first hearing this and it’s totally understandable to think that with the warbling feminine vocals, the synth melodies and the production that makes it echo as if you’re listening down the other end of a hall. More accurately, this is dark rock and roll that really resonates (literally and figuratively) with me.
[Buy Online]

Big Freedia Azz Everywhere (540 Records)

I have a booty bass collection. That is pretty much all you need to know. You might also like to know this is Nola bounce music. Nola, as in New Orleans. Bounce music as in that which lies between Miami bass and Chicago juke. Big Freedia is also a transgendered artist and she got booed off the stage at a festival in Hartford in May last year (if you’re as contrarian as I can be then that’s as much a reason as any to check it out; live on Jimmy Kimmel recently).

Bjork Biophilia (and related singles) (One Little Indian / Polydor / Universal / Nonesuch)

This one is bigger than just the release itself. It was an event and continues to be an event. It’s an application for computational devices. It’s classes in Iceland for young school children. I understand why people overlook this record. Bjork has a way of building up expectations; teasing her new instrument made specifically for this album for instance. When it isn’t a monumental extraordinary piece of bliss people get disappointed. This album itself is good, but it is not just an album and if you only see it that way you’re missing out.
[Buy Online]  [Original Review]

Blawan What You Do With What You Have (R&S Records)

I really enjoy the name Blawan. It’s fun to say. This is my favorite release of his from last year. Bass music for dancing or head nodding (as I mostly do these days). He’s also got a track on another release done with Hessle Audio that I’ve got on this list. I’ll probably be more specific about what attracts me to this type of music there.
[Buy Online

Borden, Ferraro, Godin, Halo, Lopatin
Frkwys Vol. 07 (Rvng. Intl.)

I’m going to continue to address how I like OneOhTrix Point Never’s latest release (“Replica”), but somehow continue to leave it off this list. This list includes 2 releases that Daniel Lopatin is a major contributor to which I personally enjoy more. This one would be a record you might think should suffer from too many chefs in the kitchen, but somehow just ends up being sublime. Perhaps no one wanted to get in the others’ way. Perhaps they all agreed to keep it simple ahead of time so that not one person was ever conducting the rest. Whatever the circumstances, this ended up being a favorite for putting on and zoning out to and then coming out of that zone and realizing the record is ready to be flipped (and re-flipped and repeat and repeat and replicate [derp]).

Clams Casino Instrumentals (Type)

Clams Casino is a hip hop producer who has worked with Lil B and Souljah Boy and many in between and out of bounds. He released a free pack of instrumentals. Those are fine and good and worth hearing. These are far better. I’ve listened to those once through (the free ones) and can listen to one track at a time from those within a larger playlist. These (the main focus here) are phat beats that work collectively as an album. For me it all builds up to side D and drops the hammer and leaves me wanting more (but not those others mentioned – more like this album).
[Buy Online]  [Original Review]

Com Truise Galactic Melt (Ghostly International)

If you haven’t heard anything from this guy yet go track down “VHS Sex” and by the end if you don’t want to hear more then forget all about it. Elektro green computer graf-x soundtrack time.
[Buy Online

Cut Hands Afro-Noise 1 (Susan Lawly / Very Friendly / Dirter Promotions)

I almost left this off because the LP versions didn’t come out until January 2012 (this month). The CD has been out for a while though so it should be on here (which is a bit contrary to a couple other releases on here, but blah blah blah it’s a list).  The title of this pretty much explains what you’re getting into. Beyond that, it’s the project of William Bennett of Whitehouse. He’s recently done some podcasts for Radio Web MACBA about his sound collecting from around the world – if you want deeper insight into how much this album makes sense to come out of him. I really did go into listening to this expecting to like it, but after repeated listens it really shines brighter and brighter each time.
[Buy Online]  [Original Review]

DMX Krew Cosmic Awakening EP

Ed DMX released a bunch this past year (12”s) and this is my favorite of the batch. Electro funk. I went to a loft party he played at in the financial district of Manhattan (probably 8 years ago at this point). I had to say “No” to the question “Are you a cop?” I’m so glad people don’t believe cops have to identify themselves anymore (wouldn’t that make things a little more quaint though?). How dumb is that notion? Pretty dumb. The party he played was pretty dumb too (there was lots of cigarette (and other) smoking in an enclosed not well ventilated area). His performance was great though. Fun story. That place also had a secret room that I learned about on a previous visit.  I think it just ended up being a storage area (maybe wrong/doesn’t matter).
[Buy Online

Dream Boat Widow (AMDISCS)
Disaffected pop from Providence, but it really could be from space or anywhere isolated (bedroom production bedroom listening music).
[Buy Online] [Original Review

Elzhi Elmatic (Jae B. Group)
Will Sessions Elmatic Instrumentals (Fat Beats)

Detroit state of mind full time from this. It’s Illmatic transplanted. It’s really that simple. It’s a fresh take on a fresh golden age classic. Will Sessions’s instrumentals are a fresh take on the beats of “Illmatic” and harkens back to the golden age of hip-hop production. There’s been a lot of that trend lately and I’m really enjoying it.
[Buy Online]  [Original Review]
EMA Past Life Martyred Saints (Souterrain Transmissions) 

Erika M. Anderson is a singer song-writer with a background in experimental droning less-than-rocking music (Gowns). These songs are promising and good of themselves. “Marked” had a loop in my head for a few weeks after my initial listen. They are songs, however, that don’t really always complement each other and this often comes across as a compilation (it didn’t help that I’ve read an interview where Ms. Anderson says that this is basically how the album came together – a bunch of songs she’s written over a long stretch of time and collected to make this).  Forgot I was writing about favorites right now.  This is entirely melancholic and cathartic and other things that rhyme with icepick and feel like one going into your numb abscess of a heart (frikkin’ deep, eh?).
[Buy Online] [Original Review]

Fatima Al Qadiri Genre Specific Xperience (UNO)

Water themes and electronic music work well. Well, Drexciya works. I can’t think of a hundred other examples. Drexciya has been getting some much appreciated reissues lately. Electro funk goodness. I have now hardly discussed Fatima Al Qadiri. It’s great. I like it quite a bit more than the Ay Shay stuff from the same artist. It’s way more fun and way more Drexciyan. Have I mentioned how much I love Drexciya? The Fatima Al Qadiri videos are really fun too. View them.
[Buy Online

Ford & Lopatin Channel Pressure (Software)

Pop jams from the present (not like all those Full Sail University factory pumped tunes relying on equations from the past). Daniel Lopatin also released a record as OneOhTrix Point Never recently. That made a lot of year end lists. It’s good, but this is more my personal speed. Synth-pop jams. Yea, they have a 1980s aesthetic, but there’s no mistaking it for something from the 80s.
[Buy Online

Fostercare / †‡† (Ritualz) †‡† vs. Fostercare (Robot Elephant Records)

Witch house still exists. Stop taking heed of any words to the contrary. It exists. I like it. Industrial EBM goth club stompers and slow hip-hop faded.
[Buy Online]  [Original Review]

Jason Grier With Nite Jewel Heart Shaped EP (Human Ear Music)

Twin Peaks songs that were made far too late to appear on the series (this is not factual).
[Buy Online] [Original Review]

Laurel Halo Hour Logic (Hippos In Tanks)

Hypnotic rhythms and drones. Hip knotted. Disaffected overlapping techno down the hall behind a closed door (Zipperspy in the basement while you’re in the bathroom 2 stories up and a young woman is humming while making a snack in the kitchen on the first floor).
[Buy Online

HTRK Work (Work, Work) (Ghostly International)

There are a couple albums in this list I hold a bit closer to the heart than the others. This is one of ‘em. I’ll point out the other as well. Le petite morte post coital blues plague tunes.
[Buy Online] [Original Review]

Holy Other With U (Triangle)

Disaffected pop in the witchy realm (Have I mentioned how I enjoy freestyle jams? Yes, I did.). This is definitively my favorite Triangle release this year. This has gotten plenty of love and plenty of descriptive ramblings so I’ll just say yep.
[Buy Online

Hudson Mohawke Satin Panthers (Warp)
Hud Mo Pleasure Principle (Pleasure Principle)

Super fun polished dance jams for attention deficit dance music fans.
[Buy Online

Iceage New Brigade (What’s Your Rupture?(currently))

These young dudes play rock and roll with a ton of energy and the arrogance of youth
(specifically the arrogance of youth; don’t get it confused with actual arrogance). It’s a combination that people seem to embrace or reject. I embrace it and definitely listened to this multiple times in a row multiples of multiple days and nights throughout the year. 

[Buy Online] [Original Review]

Jam City Waterworx (Night Slugs)

Party party party. Bass bass bass. Neck cramps.
[Buy Online

Katy B On A Mission (Rinse)

Party ballads with dance production. It’s basically pop drum ‘n’ bass. Her voice isn’t flawless. Really, to me, this has the same attraction as 80s freestyle jams. I like the imperfections of it. It doesn’t aspire to be an Adele record (for instance). It aspires only to be hot dance tracks. It succeeds. “Lights On” all night. I’m also hoping this gets an LP release; it’s only on CD now.
[Buy Online

Knxwledge Klouds (All City)

Hip-hop beats with a disaffected treatment. This label, All City Records, is also one of the most consistent label with quality releases again and again. This is the only release that’s made this list, but plenty others definitely come close. All City is a hip hop beat label out of Ireland at its heart and it occasionally veers off that, but never extremely far and all of it is quality.
[Buy Online

Kuedo Severant (Planet Mu)

Fresh take on italo-disco soundtracks from half of the Vex’d duo.
[Buy Online] [Original Review]

Light Asylum In Tension (Mexican Summer)

Dark dance pop. Crazy good voice and crazy good New Order loving songs.
[Buy Online] [Original Review]

Lykke Li Wounded Rhymes (Warner / Atlantic / EMI / LL / You get it, a bunch of majors in different sectors of the world)

This came out really early in the year and this is the other (this and HTRK) that I hold a little higher than the rest of the list. Crazy, right? Unexpected? Probably. Shouldn’t PJ Harvey’s album (“Let England Shake”) be on here and probably higher than the rest (even HTRK!)? No, I did like the PJ Harvey album, but not enough to even make this list and not nearly as much as this. It definitely owes or more accurately pays homage to older PJ Harvey recordings mixed with some Phil Spector styled producing (well-orchestrated girl pop done melancholic in other words).
[Buy Online

Maria & The Mirrors Travel Sex (Parlour Records)

If this was a full length it’d probably be on that upper echelon too. Primal noisey pounding and squelching.
[Buy Online] [Original Review]

Mater Suspiria Vision Crack Witch (Living Tapes)
Mater Suspiria Vision Seduction Of The Armageddon Witches (Mishka)

The “Crack Witch” cassette came out in 2010, but the LP in 2011 and even so the “Seduction…” 7″ definitely came out in 2011 so just go with it. I love this band and they release a ton of material all the time. I just ordered another LP of theirs in fact. The best band easily to fully embrace the term witch house. Zombie raves. Oh, and the Living Tapes label has also been solid this past year with releases also by Mellow Grave and Crypt Thing among others. Mishka is more a culture accessory (read: t-shirt/clothing/streetwear) company, but the few releases they’ve had on 7” have been solid too (I don’t think I need to even mention all they do; they’re active and doing a solid job of it all). The Hussle Club single almost got to this list as well.
[Buy Online] [Original Review]

Nguzunguzu Timesup EP (Fade To Mind)

There a bunch of 12”s in the bass realm on this list that I actually thought about grouping together. I like them all for basically the same reasons. Bass bass bass. Head snapping goodness. Fade to Mind is a new label subsidiary of Night Slugs headed by Kingdom and so far he’s off to a good start (this is the first release and there is just one more so far – MikeQ released just a week or so ago). Looking forward to more from this upstart.
[Buy Online

Pure X Pleasure (Acephale)

Shoegazin’ melodic indie rock. Derp. Yo, it’s good. Forget all the trappings that come along with saying something is shoegaze. I know as well as anyone how tired it is to use that phrase. This is refreshing and great. They did a split with Sleep Over as Pure Ecstasy (I don’t know what made them switch to just the X) and I thought Sleep Over outshined them on that, but Pure X outshined Sleep Over with their full length. Sleep Over’s LP is also well liked, mind you, but it is another release of the past year I liked not quite enough for this list. Blam-O!
[Buy Online


Post dubstep in the utmost or just modern dubstep. Either way, this record is pure alt-pop goodness. He also has done a lot of work outside of this full length and truthfully if this wasn’t so great as a whole I probably would have included a few 12”s or EPs. Delicious.
[Buy Online

Shabazz Palaces Black Up (Sub Pop)

My man from Digable Planets is doing it! I don’t actually know him. I’d hang though. This is easily my favorite hip-hop release from the past year. Do it.
[Buy Online] [Original Review]

Shlohmo Bad Vibes (Tall Corn)

This is the third of the couple albums (yea, I maybe should have said few) that I hold a little closer to my favorite heart than the rest from the year’s hearts. This is an album of down tempo hip-hop beats that at times is sick azz chillbient and at times is just chill and not so ‘bient.  

[Buy Online]  [Original Review]

Andy Stott Passed Me By / We Stay Together (Modern Love)

The Modern Love camp this past year has been unsurpassable. Love it. I’m a little late to the party and am just digging into some of the archives. Andy Stott is top of the heap (Miles, GH, Demdike Stare and the lot are not far behind). Techno dark and mangled.
[Buy Online

Supreme Cuts Trouble (Small Plates Records)

Illbient is a phrase I probably should use more. This is hot illbient jams to the roof and back down to the bassment (shout to Lokash). It’s a 10” record EP and I really do wish it was twice as long because I have yet to listen to it just once through and then move on. I usually play it 3 times actually before pushing on. There is promise of a full length somewhat soon.

Teeth Swarm/Shift/Sequence/Spawn (Ramp Recordings)

This is chill dubstep or post dubstep or just cool electronic music that’s mostly about head nodding (I seem to do a lot of that).
[Buy Online

//TENSE// Consume EP (Desire)

This is another instance of having come out in one form in 2010 (CDr) and then getting an LP release a bit later (actually in 2011). Tense also released a 12” (“Escape”) in 2011, but I have not gotten my hands on that yet. I do want it. Heavy bat cave vibes filtered through early Ministry.
[Buy Online

Trust Bulbform (Sacred Bones)

Trust played a show with Balam Acab at Le Poisson Rouge (NYC) that I attended. I had seen Balam Acab at Wesleyan a couple weeks (week and a half perhaps) prior and I actually enjoyed that performance from him (and her; live accompaniment) a bit more. Trust however blew me away with how much I enjoyed it. Keeping on the bat cave theme I remember saying how transported I felt back to the days of the Bat Cave / Albion at club Dowtime in Manhattan or the Bank on Houston Street (clubs that are now long gone). It was a pleasurable dark dancing time. Looking forward to more than just an EP from this act (next month!).
[Buy Online

Various Artists 116 & Rising (Hessle Audio)

For a while I had a hard time getting the Hessle Audio stuff into the shop and then when I finally could with ease this came out and I listened to it in abundance. Forward thinking bass music; not dumbed down square wave tsunami drum n bass for certain. I’d love to mention just about every track on this (James Blake is on it which is easily the most recognizable name).
[Buy Online]  [Original Review]

Various Artists Bangs & Works Vol. 2 (Planet Mu)

I loved volume 1 of this. I love volume 2 equally. Equally. Volume 1 was on my favorites list last year. Here’s number 2! Chicago juke joints.
[Buy Online

White Ring Hey Hey, My My + Felt U (Handmade Birds)
White Ring Black Earth That Made Me (Rocket Girl)

The “Black Earth…” release is another that is technically a re-release. The Neil Young covering release however is definitely a fully-fledged 2011 release. Cathartic and hovering droning darkwave glitch (witch house).
[Buy Online

Zomby Nothing (4AD)
Zomby Dedication (4AD)
I was a little surprised at the recent signings by 4AD. I wasn’t surprised because they were signing acts completely from left field, but rather because they were signing heavy weights in a realm they hadn’t dwelled before. It was a good move (the Joker release aside). These two releases by Zomby are solid. Electronic head phone jams on “Dedication” and straight up rave head partying on “Nothing” (which is really the one I listen to a hundred times more; hyperbole there). 

I realize I have gotten to the end of this and haven’t mentioned our New England neighbors in NNA Tapes. Part of this is because I get orders from them infrequently and I’m personally a little behind on their releases. I am however psyched on all the moves they’ve done lately and particularly am pleased with the vinyl releases and am looking forward to more experimental pop droning goodness. Great job, fellas! Hats off to y’!

So, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed that. Again, feel free to come in and tell me how much you disagree or agree with any of it or let me know what I left off (I know I’ll be telling myself some things down the line). Yell at me for including basically ZERO hardcore or metal releases (oh well, that’s how it fell for me this past year). There’s already been a couple releases of 2012 I’m pretty sure will make a year-end list. Here’s to music! If you’d like to keep more up to date with what I’m listening to I also run a podcast/radio show/mixtape/a bunch of music that I introduce and occasionally talk about/blog/tumblr over at NothingUnderTheSun.Tumblr.com.