Before we start, a couple of items:
Am I the only one who is absolutely floored by the fact that Jerry Sandusky wrote an autobiography before all the allegations, and it was called Touched: the Jerry Sandusky Story?
It would be absolutely hilarious if the allegations weren’t so heinous.
Also, and this is actually even more ridiculous than the above, at least to me: the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has apparently become a legitimate American holiday tradition, up there with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown, and Times Square on New Year’s Eve. The promos treat it like some sort of sacred mass, worshipping at the alter of Cleavage Christ.
What time’s it on?
So, this is the reason I started a blog: a chance to bore everyone who stumbles upon it with my taste in music, movies, books, and television. I’ll try to put out a list each week until the end of the year.
I would like to stress that not everything in the upcoming lists is from 2011. I tried, but I’m not a critic and don’t get thrown advanced copies or tickets to screenings. I have to get my entertainment the old-fashioned way: download it illegally.
We’ll start with music: the best albums I heard in 2011:
1. Pala: Friendly Fires: Beautiful. My wife says every song sounds the same. She’s right. They all sound like an ocean breeze after a day at the beach. Could not stop playing it.
2. Degeneration Street: The Dears: For all of us who want something that sounds like Radiohead before they started to suck. Which is, secretly, everyone. Lead singer has a great voice with lots of soul.
3. The King is Dead: The Decemberists: Started listening to this in the winter and did not stop. I was done with this band after Hazards of Love, but they pulled off a flawless set of country-tinged pop.
4. The Head and the Heart: The Head and the Heart: Newbie band. I really don’t know what they have left, or if they’ll be vital at all, but this is beautiful, especially for all of us waiting for the new Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons
5. 21: Adele: What can you say? I’m not immune. If she was on a rock in the ocean, I’d steer my ship right at her and I wouldn’t stop until we were all dead and drowned. That’s praise, right there.
6. Tha Carter IV: Li’l Wayne: I hate Li’l Wayne. I think he makes Kanye West look like a completely normal human being. I love this album. I listen to it when I mow the grass. I feel like a total MF’in’ G.
7. Here for the Party: Jason Aldean: This album does not make me feel like a total MF’in G. It is a good collection of tracks, and reminds me of Hilton Head, when it was one of the few CDs we had in the car. Thank goodness it was this, and not the Glee soundtrack, which I hid from my wife during the drive down.
8. This is Country Music: Brad Paisley: Love me some Brad Paisley. This isn’t as strong as American Saturday Night, but he can write a song, and he’s the best guitarist on the planet right now.
9. Bad as Me: Tom Waits: The best Tom Waits album since Swordfish Trombones. People say they hate his voice. I say, which one? He’s learned to adapt his instrument to each song and is one of the best vocalists working. This one should probably be higher on the list.
10. James Blake: James Blake: For a while, in the spring, I did not listen to anything else. He managed to take things I find precious and overly-produced (multi-tracking, vocal effects, a kind of dub-step repetition) and make them heart-breaking.
11. W h o k i l l: tUnE-yArDs: This album should’ve gotten a lot more attention. All I listened to in August. Played it for my kids. They hated it. Philistines.
12. Helplessness Blues: Fleet Foxes: This album was so good that it made me re-listen to their first, which I now think it great too. Sometimes a sound hits you at the right time. I needed me some tight, spacey harmonies and folky reverb in April and this fit the bill.
13. Bon Iver: Bon Iver: Not altogether successful, and not as good as To Emma… but if you take James Blake and Fleet Foxes and force them to make sweet, sweet love for hours while listening to Kanye West, the baby would sound like this album. I don’t know how, but it would.
14. Treats: Sleigh Bells: I have a friend who had his iTunes on shuffle; he said that when this album came on he thought his speakers had blown or malfunctioned. Turned out it was just the first track. Sweet.
15. Blood Pressures: The Kills: Now that the White Stripes are defunct, it’s nice to have The Kills to take up the mantle of post-punk garage rock.
16. Lasers: Lupe Fiasco: When I first heard this, I thought it was inferior to My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy. I still think that, but on it’s own terms and out of that enormous shadow, it’s a fun and front-to-back solid hip-hop album
17. Barton Hollow: The Civil Wars: Hard not to love. Too mellow at times, to my lights, but so pretty you’ll wade through the slower tracks.
18. Wasting Light: Foo Fighters: What can you say? It’s the Foo Fighters. They do what they do. It never changes, and it never gets old.
19. Rome: Danger Mouse: Just weird. WEIRD. It’s a fake soundtrack for a Sergio Leone film, inspired by the soundtracks of Ennio Morricone. My wife and kids have banned it from the house. My wife calls this “Matt-music.” That means I listen to it to feel cool, not out of enjoyment. She has a point, but I like this as well as feel cool when I listen to it. If I wanted to be cool and listen to sucky music, I’d listen to Destroyer.
20. Goblin: Tyler the Creator: I originally wanted to put Civilians by Wye Oak here, but my students finally convinced me to listen to some of the Odd Future hip-hop collective, and this as well as Domo Genesis are fun and skanky.
Alright: and here are the best songs, in no particular order, sans comments:
“Marry You”: Bruno Mars
“Blunt Blowin’”: Li’l Wayne
“Old Alabama”: Brad Paisley
“Flyover States”: Jason Aldean
“Walk Again”: Foo Fighters
“Fire to the Rain”: Adele
“Pumped Up Kicks”: Foster the People
“Tell ‘Em”: Sleigh Bells
“Hawaiian Air”: Friendly Fires
“Losers”: Belle Brigade
“Lights”: Ellie Goulding
“The Show Goes On”: Lupe Fiasco
“Rise to Me”: The Decemberists
“You’re So Square”: Cee-Lo Green
“I Never Learned to Share”: James Blake
“Give Me Everything”: Pitbull
“Down in the Valley”: The Head and the Heart
“Lorelai”: Fleet Foxes
“Perth”: Bon Iver
“U and I”: Lady Gaga
“Stronger”: Kelly Clarkson
“Monster”: Kanye West
“Skyscraper”: Demi Lovato
“I Don’t Want the Night to End”: Luke Bryan
“Good Feeling”: Flo Rida
“Dedication to My Ex”: Lloyd