WU LYF – Triumph (Demo)

So it seems (at least according to a cutely worded note on the band’s website) that Wu Bro has, as a band, met the final curtain (that or they’re just being funny, we’ll allow you to decide). With the note was posted the unreleased “Triumph” which you can stream below (you can also read singer Ellery Roberts’ note below too):


I am gone. This isn’t the end. This is the begging.
We done business to be as free as we want to be; I’m exercising this freedom. Manchester and the life we maintaining is leaving me empty. It is a beautiful/ incredible/ insane world we live and I’m done walking round in baby step circles in a self involved bubble. WU LYF isn’t that important. So go do what you want to do. If you wanna play together, Play! your talented musicians so don’t waste that. I am bored of the most challenging thing in WU LYF being deluding myself of its relevance. Dirty free, as that show ended it concreted my decision that a change has to come. “Be the change you want to see” said a wise old man.
I’m going to keep on doing what I do; if the time comes in the future where we all truly want to collaborate on something then that door is always going to be open; I have nothing but love for you all.

But I want to live life that’s true to me.

Stay safe
your Brother from another mother…

(I’m gonna stay on email so keep in touch.)”

WU LYF (Official)

Rating 8.3


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LIVE SHOW REVIEWS: WU LYF w/ Crystal Antlers @ The Echo, L.A. July 26th, 2011


I tried not listening to WU LYF before their show @ The Echo on Tues, 7/26. Resistance was futile. To quote Alice Walker’s The Color Purple: “we are the ones we have been waiting for.” WU LYF’s debut Go Tell Fire To The Mountain channels this ineffable feeling of a universal consciousness, an evolved spirituality for the disaffected youths of the early 2000’s. If you haven’t given WU LYF’s LP a spin by this point, do yourself a long overdue favor. Songs like “Heavy Pop” and “Concrete Gold” (both of which have been on the Superhighway for 18 months now) gain a greater meaning when heard within the album’s overarching concept: a prodigal son kills his father the king then is turned away when he attempts to assume the throne.

You get more bees with honey than with vinegar. WU LYF’s reticence to speak to the media has officially begun to overshadow their music. Their recent Radio 1 interview is quite hilarious, but I could see the casual listener turned off by their caustic demeanor and not give the tunes a proper spin. Transparency is the only answer to speculation. With a level of popularity comes great public expectation, which none of us can control, for such is the nature of human epistemology.

Crystal Antlers’ impassioned set tided fans as they streamed into the venue. Although they weren’t originally listed on the bill, a solid majority of attendees were inside by the third song from the Long Beach, CA natives. We initiated a spirited discussion RE: idea bands vs. song bands – it’s only fitting that an idea band like Crystal Antlers would open for fellow idea band WU LYF. Such distinctions, while often counter-intuitive, prove extremely helpful in this case. By this I mean WU LYF would never tour with The Vaccines or The Arctic Monkeys, for example, since they operate on opposite ends of the indie spectrum.

I was afraid that WU LYF might sound a little sloppy live, since they’ve only played about three dozen shows. I was quite surprised by their tightness and how true they stayed to the LP. This speaks volumes for their unique sound which, despite paying homage to SST, early Modest Mouse, The Pixies, Tom Waits etc., could never be classified as derivative.

I can’t say anything negative about their live performance. Absolutely phenomenal! Their music is imbued with this creative imperative i.e. they make music not because they want to but because they have to. Every measure is joyously cathartic. Those who know the lyrics sing along; everyone else stands transfixed, bobbing to the backbeat. If only they’d done a cover of “Flip Your Wig” or “Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine”, I would rate their performance a perfect 10, but maybe that’s asking too much. Let us hope that WU LYF tour more of America next time around, so they can share their talents with more disenfranchised youths, the listeners who need their music the most.

WU LYF could be the biggest band on the planet if they wanted, but they already are in the hearts of their most devoted followers. – Chris Gedos

WU LYF – Dirt (BBC Radio 1 Session 20/7/11)

Wu Lyf england: (Official) (Myspace) (Facebook)

July 26, 2011 @ Echo Set List:
Cave Song
Summas Bliss
Such A Sad Puppy Dog
Spitting Blood
14 Crowns For Me And Your Friends
Concrete Gold
Heavy Pop
Scissors For Your Hair
We Bros





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WU LYF – Cave Song


“Cave Song” is swirling, cavernous, rapturous. This is as radio friendly as WU LYF gets on their debut album, Go Tell Fire to the Mountain, which was released on Monday in the UK and is set for August 22nd here in North America. The band has dismissed notions of secrecy and given several interviews over the past three weeks. Per lead singer Ellery Roberts, Go Tell Fire To The Mountain is a concept album originally envisioned as a film. In a nutshell: Son metaphorically kills father-king then is turned away when he attempts to assume the throne. Shakespearean Bros, Shakespearean! “Cave Song” has the best back-up yelping this side of Apologies to the Queen Mary. Any comparisons to Modest Mouse, Walkmen et all are to me evolution rather than derivation. Counting the days to their show @ the Echo July 26th. – by Chris Gedos

WU LYF – Cave Song

Wu Lyf england: (Official) (Myspace) (Facebook)

Rating: 9


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Wu Lyf – Dirt


Given all of the hype and ‘secrecy’ surrounding Manchester outfit WU LYF, their material so far speaks for itself. “Dirt” is no exception with a soulful vocal sitting nicely amidst a variety of syncopated concepts, WU LYF continue to peak our curiosity and anticipation to experience them in a live setting. The band has a handful of shows scheduled around the world in the next few months, dates are on their site. Hat tip to b3sci fam Chris Gedos for the heads up on the track.

Wu Lyf – Dirt

Wu Lyf: (Official) (Myspace) (Facebook)

Rating: 8.3

reviewed by

Wu Lyf – L Y F


Contributed by Christopher Gedos

Q: Does this band know how good they are? A: Of course. Otherwise they wouldn’t have kept their cards superglued to their chest over the past year. Otherwise they wouldn’t self release their album (Go Tell Fire to the Mountain, out in the UK June 13th), nor would their website look like an art gallery installation. Otherwise their music wouldn’t bubble with such untamed emotion, nor would their videos border both catharsis and parody. These guys are so far ahead of the pack it’s scary, and their other songs are of equally uniform quality. WU LYF’s U.S. debut this April Fool’s Eve at Glasslands Gallery in Brooklyn is sure to be AN EVENT.

Wu Lyf – L Y F

Wu Lyf: (Official) (Myspace) (Facebook)

Rating: 8.7


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WRAP: The Great Escape 2014 in Brighton, UK


The Great Escape continues to be an awesome event for new music enthusiasts wanting to get a leg-up on international bands poised to make moves. With the 2014 edition including 400+ bands playing over three days in 30+ venues, there’s no lack of good music to check out. The festival is growing quickly with 100 more bands compared to last year. While The Great Escape (a.k.a. TGE) does share the SXSW danger of becoming too big for its own good, this event (for now) still has far more intimacy than the aforementioned Austin festival. Like always, more bands also means more schedule conflicts, and also like SXSW, even top tier Delegate and Press credentials won’t penetrate lines (or in some cases no lines) at venues. For example, Future Islands sounded great… from outside, and the TGE showcase for Wild Beasts would have been great to review had we also remembered to buy a ticket for it (thought that’s what passes were for)? And so for festivals like this, it seems the best plan of attack is to focus on artists that, to date, either haven’t or rarely play live. Both Bruce and Mike from team B3SCI were on the grounds for TGE and here’s their report:

Some 2014 faves for Bruce included Courtney Barnett, who is not only blowing up in the US but in England as well. She plays a mean guitar as it turns out. The melodic electronic artist East India Youth has been an NME darling this year, and as TGE proved, is doing quite well in England. His one-man show has a clean sound and he’s quite animated on stage. The Isle of Wight brothers, Champs, serenaded us in a church at TGE with their sweet harmonies and were also major highlights. Two UK bands, growing in local buzz, who delivered nicely onstage were Childhood and Jaws. The Australian band Calling All Cars is a metal/electronic hybrid with great songs, and they blew the walls down. Interestingly, they will soon be relocating to Manchester. Fellow Australians Sheppard just had a #1 pop single in their homeland and have a commanding stage presence to back it up. The UK’s Echotape have forsaken their art-pysch direction for a more straight forward rock direction that shows strong potential. Amber Run was a fave (see below). Finally, Portland’s Rare Monk must get a shout out. I joined Mike from B3Sci for their 1:30am set on Saturday night. This Portland band is making major forward strides. Their mid-tempo bluesy rock is played with precise power and competence.

Some 2014 faves for Mike came from both the expected and unexpected. Amber Run won audiences with pitch perfect harmonies and pop songs primed for college campuses throughout the world. The young 3-piece of/from Blaenavon lived up to their radar worthy hype with a stellar rock show to boot – big promise here. Hozier was good, while “Take Me To Church” stole the show; the band dynamic felt a bit on the safe side. After being tipped from a friend, Brussels band BRNS were a favorite surprise of TGE, with an energetic and expressive live show that was, at times, reminiscent of heavy pop pioneers WU LYF and indie rock mainstays Local Natives. Rare Monk’s alluring melange of atmospheric indie rock proved a powerful UK debut. Annie Eve drenched listeners with her knack for clever song and a live band including an accordion no less. Peace performed a pleasant ‘surprise’ set at the NME showcase, which was definitely a highlight, and Khushi was another favorite with his live band set up, showcasing what really counts… his songs.

Have a listen to some of our favorite picks from the TGE Festival below:

The Great Escape england (Official)

reviewed by

Races w/ The Living Things @ The Echo, Friday, March 30th, 2012

By Chris Gedos


Races’ much anticipated debut LP, Year of the Witch, is a loose concept album about a uniquely difficult break-up, was released Tuesday, March 27th via Frenchkiss Records, with Friday night’s sold out show at the Echo serving as its official unveiling for their faithful Los Angeles following (which has witnessed Races’ steady rise to the top of the indie rock buzz list). It’s well deserved adulation; Races is a great live band. All six members are essential in creating a subtly dynamic, captivating and extremely successful live performance.

St Louis-based indie punk group The Living Things took stage before Races. The band brought a solid, MC5-style set, replete with yelping and a surety of purpose. They’ve got good licks and a wealth of political overtones – as frontman Lillian Berman is a sort of 21st century folk hero, having been shot at in Dallas and stabbed in the leg while crowdsurfing in Kansas City, so goes the Wiki-lore. Berman and his two brothers, Eve and Bosh, were joined by two female back-up vocalists, giving their music a beneficial, softening effect. Most were engaged in the set, with many fans there to see The Living Things specifically. They slayed it in no small part to their tremendous Matchless amps (keeping it local to LA roots).

As remaining concert goers filed into the max capacity Echo, Races began a lengthy soundcheck. The atmosphere was exactly as you’d want at a concert: a little uncomfortable and flooded with the smell of common humanity. I overheard some dude say, “This is the longest sound check!” They also had a long soundcheck when I saw them open for Caveman on December 8th, but I’d much rather have a band tinker around with their levels for a few extra minutes as opposed to not. To me it shows that Races takes great pride in the quality of their live performance. They’ve been touring incessantly for the past six weeks and this was to be a special moment within the Races’ gigography.

They played almost everything off of Year Of The Witch, (if not everything—the turnout made it difficult to keep tabs on a setlist), in addition to a previously unheard-by-my-ears cut for the encore. “Hey, we’re Black Jesus!” lead singer Wade Ryff quipped a couple songs in, referencing their previous band name. In all likelihood this was the tightest show I’ve seen since WU LYF at the end of July. And while both groups have concept LPs involving a loosely entwined narrative, WU LYF’s magic is centered on Ellery’s nebulous grunts; in contrast, Ryff’s lyrics are easily deciphered. The delicate arrangements and prominent backing vocals make Races’ live performance all the more impressive. It’s a very good album, but it gains a certain mystique when viewed within the context of their live performance. They dropped a cache of balloons at the end of the set, in reference to the “Big Broom” video, but that was only window dressing. Races doesn’t need to rely on gimmickry to deliver a powerful set. They’ve earned their buzz the old fashioned way.

Year Of The Witch doesn’t have those giant Tom Petty choruses or that same “epitome of a niche generation” appeal as an album like Funeral, but it’s not 2004 anymore. Kerry lost and indie grew up. It’s 2012 now, and Year Of The Witch is the most enjoyable and cohesive album the year has given us thus far.


Races california (Facebook) (Official)

Rating 9.22


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SHOW REVIEW: Howler / The Static Jacks / TOPS @ The Echo LA, March 23rd, 2012

Review by Chris Gedos

PHOTO: Jordan Gatesmith of Howler

The only way to accurately judge Howler’s debut album is to break it down and critique each individual variable, such as songs, production, musicianship, originality, etc., for to approach it otherwise forces one to harp upon Is This It. Not that America Give Up is trying to be The Strokes verbatim, but the two bands have already been so relentlessly linked by the populace that we’re really beating a horse dead by this point. Two American bands who both broke big in England first and both are trying to save “Garage Rock” and etc., which many regard as the most pure descendant of that old time rock n’ roll. Many bands have done the same thing before and after, the story is old, let’s move on.

Howler is from Minneapolis, which gave us The Replacements and Husker Dü, and Howler does compare favorably with Tim at moments, namely “This One’s Different” and “America”, but for me America Give Up really calls to mind a different mid-80’s masterpiece, Psychocandy, by the Scottish band, Jesus and Mary Chain. Both Psychocandy and America Give Up succeed by merging pop and noise while transcending the noise pop moniker. Jesus and Mary Chain wrote noisy songs that want to be poppier, while Howler writes poppy songs which want to be noisier. If WU LYF plays “Heavy Pop”, Howler plays “angry pop”, music too robust for the Warped Tour Scene but also too supposedly pastiche for some tastemakers, but for those more discerning it’s a wonderful break from the self-serious rock we’ve been too accustomed to as of late.

America Give Up is a great album, incredibly listenable from A to Z, a 2012 album with a proper A-side and a B-side. So with all these thoughts swirling about, I was very interested to hear Howler live. Would they play America Give Up verbatim?

PHOTO: Montreal based TOPS opening the show.

Mad props to current tour-mates The Static Jacks for warming up the crowd right before Howler. Fresh on the heels of their first full-length, If You’re Young, they’re also about to tour for the second time with The Wombats. Static Jacks brought a powerful and thoroughly enjoyable set with pretty good songs across the board. Their style’s slightly more pop-punk than a band like Howler, but it’s loud and abrasive and all that good stuff. In other words: they sound exactly how a band like them should sound. They’ve also got the same ironic sense of humor as Mr. Gatesmith and cohorts. The Static Jacks hail from New Jersey; fans of fellow Jerseyites, The Milwaukees, will find much to love. Very good live band.

PHOTO: The Static Jacks

Howler opened their set with “Wailing (Making Out)”, and that magical guitar lick about halfway through the song. That’s the thing about Howler: for me their songs blend together somewhat, but they have these magical moments which rank with the great debuts of yesteryear. They’ve also had the good fortune of honing their live set in front of a highly critical UK audience. They therefore weren’t fazed by the zombified LA crowd, i.e. no one was grooving to these insanely catchy tunes. From there they transitioned into LP opener “Beach Sluts”, a song which sets the tone for what Howler’s about. The song they played from the EP is a welcome departure from the LP, as the EP showcases Gatesmith’s versatility as a lyricist. We fans kept screaming out for the song “Free Drunk”, but the band never played it, rather keeping the set short and sweet, nine songs in barely half an hour. It would’ve been nice to hear a couple more, but Howler chose to let their youthful hubris shine on a cool March evening at the Echo. They instead took some time with fans after the set, something which occurs less and less often these days in an attempt to make a band seem more ‘mysterious’. But Howler is a transparent band (check out their tour videos) with a memorable if transparent album. What you see is what you get. They wouldn’t have it any other way.

PHOTO: Howler

Howler – Beach Sluts

Howler minnesota (Facebook)



reviewed by

Fast Years – Let Me Try

By Chris Gedos


“Let Me Try”, a hot-off-the-presses dittie from Fast Years, is some perfectly saccharine surf-pop in anticipation for their SXSW premiere and debut EP later this spring. For a brand new band, they know their sound. It serves them very well that the two most well-known bands they’ve opened for, Howler and The Vaccines, are perfect compliments for their style of play (better than Metronomy or even Wu Lyf, for instance). Stay tuned for an interview from b3sci HQ with the contagious four piece.

Fast Years – Let Me Try

Fast Years newyork (Facebook)

Rating 8.43


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REVIEW: Tribes – Baby [LP]

By Chris Gedos


A lot of great things have already been said about Tribes’ Baby, which was released digitally and in the UK on January 16th. Here’s another English band that’s easily mistaken as American. Globalization has erased many of the boundaries in our arts, to the point where a band doesn’t immediately disclose themselves as English (Joy Division), Irish (U2), or American (REM) as they did 30 years ago. Tribes’ most autochthonous moment, “Corner of an English Field”, is no “Village Green Preservation Society” in terms of a prototypical homage to the English pastoral. Bands claim a greater allegiance to genres these days, as is the case with WU LYF (Heavy Pop), Holwer (Garage Rock) or Tribes (Power Pop). But Tribes is so fully rooted in the power pop tradition; this is the true flag to which they pledge allegiance. They know to always go big in the chorus, and they know how to keep a listener on their feet with shifting dynamics. While Holwer practices more of a ‘kitchen sink’ approach on America Give Up (with solid success), Tribes opts for a very specific language and employs an economy of sounds (gimmicks, if you must) within that language. As a result, Baby sounds like the direct result of several decades of combined musical experiences. On “Himalaya” and “Night Driving”, ditties which other bands may chicken out and play too soft, Tribes retains their raw energy and ‘fuck off’ ethos throughout. The Londoners have truly hit it out of the park with Baby. If they hadn’t already released “We Were Children” and “Sappho”, even more pundits would be comparing Baby to The Blue Album. Better poised than The Vaccines to make a US splash, they’ve set the bar awfully for the first half of 2012.

Tribes – When My Day Comes

Tribes – Half Way Home

Tribes: england (Official)

Rating 8.9


reviewed by



Although we’ve come to the end of the road, still Adele we can’t let you go. We’ve reached 2011’s closing hour and now it is time: b3sci presents it’s Top 50 Albums of 2011. No one’s even come close to having the year Adele’s had. The most albums sold in a single year since 2004, two of the biggest singles of the year, etc, a truly international breakthrough both commercially and critically on a level we haven’t seen in a long time. Adele, our girl, the crown is yours. 21 is b3sci’s Album of the year.

So where the fuck is Adele on many of these respected-indie-press-dude best of lists? That period between Nov 2010 when “Rolling in the Deep” first broke and the lead up to the album’s release in late January, Adele ruled the blogosphere, the fold was united. Then “RITD” got overplayed to the point of absurdity, your mom bought the record, probably your grandma bought it too; those bros that listen to Foo Fighters and Deadmau5 started bumping “Someone Like You” out their trunk. Soon, the “wrong people” liked 21 and Adele’s brief moment atop the indiesphere was over. Right.

Thanks for reading this year, y’all. We’ve got some big plans for 2012. Stay tuned. Much love.

01. Adele – 21 (Buy It) (Read)

02. The Weeknd – House of Balloons (Buy It) (Read)

03. Drake – Take Care (Buy It) (Read)

04. James Blake – James Blake (Buy It) (Read)

05. Kendrick Lamar – Section.80 (Buy It) (Read)

06. Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx – We’re New Here (Buy It) (Read)

07. WU LYF – Go Tell Fire on the Mountain (Buy It) (Read)

08. Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch the Throne (Buy It) (Read)

09. The Horrors – Skying (Buy It) (Read)

10. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (Buy It) (Read)

11. Wye Oak – Civilian (Buy It) (Read)

12. Girls – Father Son, Holy Ghost (Buy It) (Read)

13. Real Estate – Days (Buy It) (Read)

14. A$AP Rocky – Live Love A$AP (Buy It) (Read)

15. Sepalcure – Sepalcure (Buy It) (Read)

16. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake (Buy It) (Read)

17. The War on Drugs – Slave Ambient (Buy It) (Read)

18. Charles Bradley – No Time For Dreaming (Buy It) (Read)

19. Metronomy – The English Riviera (Buy It) (Read)

20. SBTRKT – SBTRKT (Buy It) (Read)

21. Oneohtrix Point Never – Replica (Buy It) (Read)

22. The Vaccines – What Did You Expect From the Vaccines (Buy It) (Read)

23. Destroyer – Kaputt (Buy It) (Read)

24. The Antlers – Burst Apart (Buy It) (Read)

25. tUnE-yArDs – w h o k i l l (Buy It) (Read)

26. Beyonce – 4 (Buy It) (Read)

27. Wild Flag – Wild Flag (Buy It) (Read)

28. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds (Buy It) (Read)

29. Big K.R.I.T. – Return of 4eva (Buy It) (Read)

30. Clams Casino – Instrumentals (Buy It) (Read)

31. Gillian Welch – The Harrow and the Harvest (Buy It) (Read)

32. Low Roar – Low Roar (Buy It) (Read)

33. AraabMUZIK – Electronic Dream (Buy It) (Read)

34. Active Child – You Are All I See (Buy It) (Read)

35. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues (Buy It) (Read)

36. Raphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin’ (Buy It) (Read)

37. Cults – Cults (Buy It) (Read)

38. Radiohead – The King of Limbs (Buy It) (Read)

39. Florence + The Machine – Ceremonials (Buy It) (Read)

40. Alex Clare – The Lateness of the Hour (Buy It) (Read)

41. Nicolas Jaar – Space Is Only Noise (Buy It) (Read)

42. Jhene Aiko – Sailing Soul(s) (Buy It) (Read)

43. The Stepkids – The Stepkids (Buy It) (Read)

44. Freddie Gibbs – Cold Day in Hell (Buy It) (Read)

45. Gardens & Villa – Gardens & Villa (Buy It) (Read)

46. Laura Marling – A Creature I Don’t Know (Buy It) (Read)

47. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo (Buy It) (Read)

48. Foster the People – Torches (Buy It) (Read)

49. Explosions in the Sky – Take Care, Take Care, Take Care (Buy It) (Read)

50. Friendly Fires – Pala (Buy It) (Read)

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B3SCI STAFF PICKS: Top 10 Albums of 2011


2011, it’s been real! To kick off our b3sci 2011 year end coverage, we start with Top 10 albums lists from each of b3science’s seven contributors. (We’ll detail our overall site picks in the next few days). 2011.



01. Drake – Take Care
02. The Weeknd – House of Balloons
03. M83 – Hurry Up We’re Dreaming
04. Metronomy – The English Riviera
05. A$AP Rocky – Live Love A$AP
06. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
07. James Blake – James Blake
08. Kendrick Lamar – Section.80
10. Active Child – You Are All I See



01. WU LYF – Go Tell Fire to the Mountain
02. The Vaccines – What Did You Expect From…
03. Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch the Throne
04. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
05. Low Roar – Low Roar
06. The Weeknd – House of Balloons
07. Wye Oak – Civilian
08. Explosions in the Sky – Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
09. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
10. Raphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin’



01. WU LYF – Go Tell Fire To The Mountain
02. Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost
03. Giraffage – Comfort
04. The Vaccines – What Did You Expect From..
05. Washed Out – Within and Without
06. James Blake – James Blake
07. The War On Drugs – Slave Ambient
08. The Postelles – The Postelles
09. Harrison Hudson – American Thunder
10. Caveman – CoCo Beware



01. James Blake – James Blake
02. A$AP Rocky – Live Love A$AP
03. Wale – Ambition
04. Raphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin’
05. Harrison Hudson – American Thunder
06. Fiore – Fiore
07. Benjamin Francis Leftwich – Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm
08. M83 – Hurry Up We’re Dreaming
09. Mike Higbee – Secret Life
10. Chris Wollard & The Ship Thieves – Chris Wollard & The Ship Thieves



Let’s be honest. I probably didn’t listen to ten complete LPs this year that I would somehow deem “best” – it just isn’t in me anymore, maybe. I did, however, have enough musical bests paired with actual full records I loved to complete a top ten. Let’s review my 2011 faves: there are ten, they are not ranked.

tUnE – yArDs, W H O K I L L (4AD)
If someone forced me to name my best record of the year, I’d bet this would be it. While I’ll never get over the late 90s stylization of her musical pseudonym, Merrill Garbus made songs that said things I wanted to hear couched in melodies and harmonies that push me from Africa to doo-wop to “America.” There is true joy in the music she makes, even if she’s talking about eating disorders or inner-city violence. High up on the “things I danced to alone in my room” list of this year.
While I’d consider mostly dead in my day to day life, it ruled my world for a few weeks over the summer. I heard more great stuff I know I would’ve never come upon on my own, but I guarantee you it wasn’t in dubstep rooms. I spent time chatting and playing jams with friends I wouldn’t see for months. Turntable gave me all of the plus factors of a 1996 chatroom backed with a way better soundtrack than I would’ve had then. Spotify swooped in a few weeks later, and now I find myself listening to nearly anything I want at any time while creating playlists with friends throughout the day. Not as immediate as turntable, but somehow less of a time suck. I don’t love the ads, but I know I can get rid of them if I want.

PJ Harvey, Let England Shake (Island/Vagrant)
Overwrought concept albums can be a drag. (Confessional: I am a long-time PJ Harvey fan, guilty of knowing all of the words to “Rid of Me” by heart at a very young age.) If someone had told me a concept album by Harvey about England, bloodshed and warfare would be one of my favorite releases this year, I might have been a bit perplexed. The melodies, language, and instrumentation around this record, however, do more to transport listeners rather than alienate them. “Inaccessible” is a word often used to describe records, and I could see how some of Harvey’s records may be that way. This, however, works magic.

Jay-Z & Kanye West, “Why I Love You” (Roc-A-Fella/Roc Nation/Def Jam)
I know this record is on everyone else’s list, and that’s fine, but only one of its tracks got repeat plays with me. The production on Watch The Throne is amazing, I can’t deny it, but nearly nothing about that record sticks for me. I revisited it months after it leaked and I still couldn’t get into it as a whole. Jay-Z and Kanye West are two of my all-time favorites and I thought this record would be my dream. It wasn’t. “Why I Love You”, though, is a jam. Great sample, great chorus, okay-enough rapping.

Iceage, New Brigade (What’s Your Rupture?)
There will never be a time in life that I don’t like channeling my inner teenage dude. I know he’s there, just waiting for me to listen to the Stooges for another few hours or cackle while watching episodes of Beavis & Butt-head. 24-ish minutes of gothy punk energy (the longest track at 3:08), Iceage are my Ramones for 2011.

Drake, Take Care (Young Money/Cash Money)
I can’t stop playing this record. Merrill Garbus and Drake might have to duke it out. I thought Thank Me Later was lackluster – too much bravado and cameo, not enough actual persona. With Take Care, though, I feel like Drake is getting back to a place where he’s comfortable: an introspective, lonely look in the mirror at fame and alienation from where he thought he was a few years ago to now. On hip-hop records I’m usually disappointed if they’re not full of bangers but this one tempers enough production with the same amount of restraint.

Willie Mae Rock Camp & Kelly Clarkson, “Since U Been Gone” (RCA)
Over the summer, I volunteered for the first time at Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls in Brooklyn. I spent an exhausting and fulfilling week making sure a bunch of 8 & 9 year olds made it to their instrument class, ate their lunches, and sort-of listened during workshops about the blues, gender, and other topics regarding women in music. Every counselor had her musical kryptonite and everyone very quickly found out Kelly’s jam was mine. I danced & sang to it all week when it played during various end-of-day dance parties, and one of the campers and I shared it as our best memory of the week from songwriting class. At the showcase wrapping up camp, the volunteer band played it as their song for soundcheck. I belted it just as I had every other day.

Party of Helicopters at Death By Audio, Williamsburg, February 13, 2011
I got my knees slammed into the stage all night long at this show, with terrible bruises to show the next day, but it was well worth it. They are my favorite band from my most formative years, the one whose album art my body will carry to my grave; every opportunity to relive that time while seeing them live is worth it. Even though they’ll never play “A New Kind of Power” for me no matter how many times I request it, I don’t care. I love them. Forever.

Björk, Biophilia (One Little Indian/Polydor)
There was a time growing up that I spent most hours lying on the floor in my room listening to records. Bjork was always a part of this ritual, and listening to this record sends me back to that time in my life (I am full of memories this year). “Crystalline” is a perfect hybrid of Telegram-style remixes and Vespertine vocals. “Cosmogony” hearkens back to the antics of Medulla. Everything is nostalgic, but everything is new. The David Attenborough-narrated companion iPhone app is an excellent companion if you can’t make up your own visuals in your mind.

Sharon Van Etten, “Serpents” (Jagjaguwar)
Seeing her play this live last Tuesday only further got me stoked for her record next year. Her voice is the most haunting to me, and this is that quality at its finest. Percussion and expansion of her sound into what it is on this track alone (I hear you, Aaron Dessner) bode well for the rest of Tramp. Can’t wait.



01. The Kills – Blood Pressures
02. Elbow – Build A Rocket Boys
03. The Airborne Toxic Event – All At Once
04. The Vaccines – What Did You Expect…
05. Foster The People – Torches
06. TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light
07. The Black Keys – El Camino
08. Sleeper Agent – Celabrasion
09. The Rapture – In The Grace Of Your Love
10. The Wombats – This Modern Glitch

11. Honorable mention to My Morning Jacket and Teddybears



01. Alex Clare – The Lateness of the Hour
02. Nero – Welcome Reality
03. Thievery Corporation – Culture of Fear
05. Tyler, the Creator – Goblin
06. Bassnectar – Divergent Spectrum
07. Dave Nada – Blow Your Head Presents: Moombahton
08. James Blake – James Blake
09. M83 – Hurry up, We’re Dreaming
10. Crookers – Dr. Gonzo

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