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2011 According to… Eric Kossina

Read the rest of our end of the year coverage as well:

Songs of the Year

These are in no particular order, I just wanted to make a mix that would flow and sound good from track to track. It is not a representation of my favorite songs but the following is a mix of songs that defined certain areas of my year. Whether for a moment, a minute, a day, a week, a month, these are areas that I remember listening, where everything else was void. You won’t feel the same, but I hope you might.

  1. Colin Stetson – “The Righteous Wrath of an Honorable Man”
  2. Holy Ghost! - “Do It Again”
  3. Light Asylum – “Dark Allies”
  4. Pale Sketcher – “Seventh Heaven”
  5. Jai Paul – “BTSTU (Edit)”
  6. Forest Fire – “Future Shadows”
  7. Kurt Vile – “Runner Ups”
  8. Austra - “The Choke”
  9. Todd Terje – “Ragysh (Original)”
  10. Xxxy – “Ordinary Things”
Hear all of these songs on Eric’s Spotify playlist [link].

Albums of the Year

Honorable Mention:  Cass McCombs & Forest Fire
Two artists who never get enough press and absolutely blew me away this year. It was a very hard decision but it had to be made.  This list mostly represents an area of music I felt deeply affected by this year, and these two artists just barely missed the cut.  I find many similarities between all the artists listed, including these two, it mostly comes down to the fact that I couldn’t find anything to say, so they shouldn’t be listed at all.  Thus Honorable Mention, I love them just enough that I couldn’t bare to cut them, so please enjoy them.

10. Colin Stetson - New History of Warfare, Vol. 2: Judges

When I think back on 2011, I’m going to remember the experimentalism more than anything that topped the blogosphere.  Whereas 2010 seemed like a capstone to the 00’s with releases from the biggest stars of their era (LCD Soundsystem, M.I.A., Kanye West, Arcade Fire), 2011 really seemed like the beginning of something new.  New sounds emerged around every corner and some artists who spent the last decade in obscurity are finally starting to perfect their craft.  Judges is not an easy listen. It often asks too much of the listener and stretches far too long than most dare to go, but Colin doesn’t care.  His work stands on its own, a vision of one artist’s integrity and dedication to craft.  It is a seminal work in spatial song arrangement and proves there are still boundaries to be broken.  Judges stands as a springboard for innovation, a solid and coherent statement from which we can jump into the future.  If only we decide to jump.

09. The FieldLooping State of Mind

Looping State of Mind refers to returning thoughts; not being able to move past an idea because of its reoccurrence.  In essence, it explores the control music has over its listeners and whatever after effects that might bring.  These beats are Willner at his most confident, a producer so in touch with his craft he seems untouchable.  It isn’t pompous or haughty; he takes eight minutes to give us his most uplifting achievement, “Then It’s White.” Willner is demonstrating his confidence as a producer, he feels great, at the top of his game.  It’s better that we all know it.


08. Nicolas Jaar - Space Is Only Noise

Speaking of the future, Nicolas Jaar redefined what dance music could accomplish this year, not just by slowing things down.  The space he creates in his music applies a Portishead noir; it implies dance rather than overstating it or merely providing the means.  Jaar seems to be feeling his way around the dance world and slowly touching everyone he passes.  It’s touching music, more emotional and less cathartic, it’s a redefinition that makes all other dance music seem traditional. Jaar is redefining the typical emotions of dance music, something we never knew could change.

07.  Tim Hecker - Ravedeath, 1972

The main thing remarkable about this album is its power; ambient music lacks it, noise music misinterprets it.  Ravedeath synthesizes the two and somehow finds what both of them were missing, emotional depth.  It adds a layer that makes it more accessible, more long lasting.  Ambient music finally has emotional weight.

06.  Lady Gaga - Born This Way

This woman topped the charts this year because she deserved it.  Yes, I’ve laughed at her a few times but an interesting thing happened this year, the guilt left me.  I honestly don’t give a fuck anymore.  I don’t care whether she’s stealing from Madonna, or if I can find a message in any of her videos, or whether her lyrics are hilariously obvious.  I’m over it.  I love this album.  Love it.  Every song is pure pop gold, and pop is shameless.

05.  Radiohead - The King of Limbs
I think the main reaction was that this album was unfinished, that Radiohead didn’t really take all their time with this one.  That’s the point isn’t it? They aren’t making albums anymore, Yorke has said it countless times in countless interviews, the band wouldn’t survive if they did.  What we got this time is another leap forward, a collection of songs a band decided to release into the world, ignoring format, doing what they pleased.  I don’t think it was a misstep, I think it’s the future.  The greats, they can be misunderstood like that.
And don’t forget the invention of Dubstep-Rock

04.  Todd TerjeRagysh
Few EP’s are better than an entire discography of work.  Terje has made three purely perfect tracks, one so good it closes the disc beatless. Whether he tops it doesn’t matter, dance is a different world entirely.  What matters is the achievements reached, the people touched; this beat, this dance, this floor, this ecstasy, right now.  I reached that point multiple times throughout the year, this was my go-to record, the one that always set me straight.  The reset button.

03. Balam Acab - Wander / Wonder
The album art so perfectly encapsulates everything great about Wander / Wonder.  There’s something mysterious on the other side of that rock, something beautiful, something you’ll go great lengths and great depths to see.  Acab does a beautiful job of soundtracking that journey.  As Charon, he is our guide, mucking through the darkness so we can find heaven.  Spoiler Alert:  we never get there.  The album ends with a “Fragile Hope,” for the destination; fragile because it’s less important, less pressing.  Heaven is an endless journey and its realization only creates the next one.
02.  Oneohtrix Point Never - Replica
I imagine Daniel Lopatin as a story teller; more so than legendary lyricists.  Some artists add texture, they can add qualities to emotions they are demonstrating, but Lopatin illustrates terrain.  Replica is an apocalypse caused from nostalgia, illustrations of a world left in thought.  It isn’t pretty.

01.  Destroyer Kaputt
It so happens the most innovative music comes from the the most forgotten.  Although no one really forgot about lounge music, it’s a fact no one listens to it.  Yet, in today’s mellow music-verse, it makes more sense.  Part of Destroyer’s success is “right place, right time” but I think more than anything, the availability of unexplored and unpopular sounds gave Dan Bejar room to relax.  His music has room to grow and breathe, partial to Bejar not giving a fuck.  There’s a point in many musician’s lives where they stop caring about the music they make, it happens just after the peak of their career.  Bejar might be too smart for that, maybe he’s just proof that confidence comes with age.

  1. nothingsoundsbetter posted this