Just before we closed out 2011, Blackout Beach snuck in their new album Fuck Death into our favorites of the year. I almost don’t want to tell you it’s a loose concept album about a war deserter, because you don’t need to know that to love this thoroughly unsettling album, but there it is. Like the rest of these songs, there’s a pop element here - but another thing they share is the degree to which that melody gets mussed up.
It’s still winter, and I’m still taking it easy. These four bands have been getting a lot of play at home. Between them is a spectrum of psychedelic rock that spans from the classic Bay Area sound all the way to a more modern brand of late-night, double-cup grooves. Follow the links and pick up the records. Gap Dream’s got a cassette out now on Burger Records, with an LP on the way.
It took me a few tries to get into Pat Jordache’s warble, but once it clicks, his signature warble is one of the most comforting sounds you’ll find. There are so many flavors of weirdness in a voice, so what makes one feel right over another? I don’t know, but here’s to all of the weird crooners.
The days are moving slower lately. The holidays have zapped the city’s energy and nights at home are preferred. I’m feeling lazy and lofi. Naturally, I’ve gravitated towards sounds that aren’t going to harsh my mellow. Lucky for me there’s been an influx of homemade R&B pop recently. Great for both the dance floor and living room floor.
I know the beginning of a new year is a time to look forward and think about the the future but isn’t it also, in a way, a time to look back and revel in the past? Ok I’m sorry that’s totally ridiculous but I do really enjoy the old-timey nature of these songs. The do-wop backup girls on Someday, the surf guitar lick on Hippys, and the endless repetition of Lovin on an Older Gal that makes you feel stoned and like there’s nothing better.
New Year’s happened, and at the Whiskey Sherpa offices, it happened with vigor. We had a great 2011 (with lots of good tunes), and 2012 is already shaping up with some awesome music. Yesterday, daddy was a little hungover, and you probably were too, so let’s just ease into this whole new year with some pretty melodies.
Who said anything about “best”? These are the songs we liked most from 2011. They’re the songs we played twice before leaving the house, the hooks we sang while biking, the requests we shouted out too loudly at the end of a show, even though you know they were gonna play it as the encore anyway. If we were a couple minutes late meeting you out, it was because we were just listening to one more song — and it was one of these.
So here’s to 2011, the first year of Whiskey Sherpa. Thanks for the laughs, dudes.
And, since we can never agree about anything, here’s our top records of the year, by your individual sherpas.
Andy: Personally, I thought 2011 was great. I can think of at least 20 more albums i could have easily included in this list. It seemed to be all about cut-and-paste, genre-busting, collage pop this year. The music was weird, but that seems to be what we were looking for. There were plenty of nods to musical styles of the past. Though, what seemed to grab everyone’s attention were the nods to the future.
Destroyer - Kaputt John Maus - We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves Clams Casino - Instrumental Mixtape Real Estate - Days Pure X - Pleasure Ford & Lopatin - Channel Pressure Elite Gymnastics - Ruin Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact The Weeknd - House of Balloons Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring For My Halo
Orr: I hate forcing my favorite records into a strict order, as if the #4 album of the year somehow won more points than #7, but goddamn if EMA’s “Past Life Martyred Saints” didn’t jump out of every list I scribbled and threw out. Not only is it a bunch of good songs (and a collection of distortion-as-art that scratches every weird itch), but it’s a near-perfect album album, draped over three movements — three long, slow-building songs that are composed of dramatic elements themselves. It also just rocks, with guitars. Take it how you want it, there’s enough life packed into this record to last a year.
1. EMA - Past Life Martyred Saints
The Antlers - Burst Apart Balam Acab - See Birds EP Blackout Beach - Fuck Death Deleted Scenes - Young People’s Church of the Air Destroyer - Kaputt Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact Mutual Benefit / Holy Spirits - Mutual Spirits (split 12”) Peaking Lights - 936 tUnE-yArDs - w h o k i l l Woods - Sun and Shade Wye Oak - Civilian
Drew: 2011 was a great year for sophomore albums. Tune Yards, Sonny and the Sunnsets, Guadalupe Plata, Yellow Ostrich and Mayer Hawthorne all released stellar second albums to build on great debuts. Some great new releases from a few reliable sources, and funky debuts from new arrivals like Gardens & Villa and Delicate Steve rounded out a 2011 that sounded great and bodes well for the future.
Sonny and the Sunsets - Hit After Hit tUnE-yArDs - w h o k i l l White Denim - D Blitzen Trapper - American Goldwing Gardens & Villa - Gardens & Villa Guadalupe Plata - Guadalupe Plata Destroyer - Kaputt Mayer Hawthorne - How Do You Do Yellow Ostrich - The Mistress Delicate Steve - Wondervisions
Yall like lists, right? We do. Keep an eye out Monday for a big Whiskey Sherpa mix of our favorites from 2011, plus a couple bonus lists.
We launched just this summer, and we’ve already got 55 mixes under our belts — to be honest, that’s more follow-through than any of us have had, on anything. To celebrate, here’s our favorite mixes from the year 1 W.S. Thanks for the support, and check back Monday for the big mix!
The first time I heard Balam Acab’s gaping piano hymn “Oh, Why,” I listened to it three times straight. I ended up going back to this mix over and over because his music, and the others’ here like Grimes and James Blake, fill up that headphone space so perfectly.
I had every intention this week of making a mix that reflects the wintry weather and my concomitant sour mood but then I stumbled upon Young Buffalo’s “Baby Demons.” The song immediately reminded me of Tame Impala’s garage psych-rock and I knew this mix had to be made. I don’t think this kind of music gets nearly enough attention and Tame Impala’s Innerspeaker was easily one of my top five albums of 2010. Pond is an old/new project from three of the members of Tame Impala and drifts more towards straight garage but holds on to a bit of that psychedelic flavor. Unknown Mortal Orchestra get even more out there and have one of the most fun albums from this year.
This mix opens up with an otherworldly rock ‘n’ roll jam from Nicholas Jaar’s new project, Darkside. A lot of the great experimental music being made right now sounds that way; as if from the future or space. It’s the kind of music you put on and forget about, but not really. Everything sounds right but then all of a sudden you realize you’ve never heard anything like this before.
Hat tip to the recently deceased Altered Zones, who championed a lot of these amazing artists.