I meant to do this in June, when the year is technically “half-over” but I just didn’t get around to it (I’ve been having some health issues on top of being a husband, Daddy and pastor, so real-life has gotten in the way of the blog quite a bit this year; so sorry).
I love music and I love year-end lists. So I wanted to pick my top five albums at mid-year and then compare with the end of the year and see if those five albums were still at the top. So, in order, here are my top five favorite albums of 2011 (so far):
Josh T. Pearson: Last of The Country Gentelmen
This is admittedly a difficult album. Gone is the driving anthemic space-rock of Lift to Experience. Last of the Country Gentlemen is a hushed, painful affair. With most songs stretching out over 10 minutes with minimal accompaniment, a wave of acoustic guitar here, a splash of piano there and a dollop of violin to add spice, the center here is Pearson’s plaintive voice, whispering about heart-break and too much drink. Yes, he does use some “bad words,” so be warned if you’re sensitive about that in your music I wrote about that here). Pearson channels an emotional rawness missing in most music.
Here he is with pianist Dustin O’Halloran performing “Country Dumb:”
Fleet Foxes: Helplessness Blues
This album actually caught me a bit by surprise. I like Fleet Floxes but this album has helped me love them. The soaring harmonies, the deep melodies, the sound of sunshine longing:
Here is the official video for “Grown Ocean”
Bon Iver: Bon Iver
This album will most likely move up the list as I’m able to spend more time with it, but for now; wow. Just when it becomes difficult to imagine how Vernon could follow up For Emma, Forever Ago, he expands on the minimalistic palette and makes and makes a “band” album that does not detract from the rawness of the previous album but simply adds lush textures to it, expanding.
Here is the official video for “Calgary”
Seryn: This Is Where We Are
Beautifully balanced harmonies, poetic lyrics, master musicianship, great hooks, phenomenal live presence, what can’t you say about Denton’s Seryn? Though it’s their debut album, Seryn has emerged with a fully formed presence; a sense of self that frees them from the notion of wearing their influences to visibly. With hints of rock, folk, jazz and even modern classical, Seryn truly forges an identity of their own. Can’t recomend this album enough.
Here is Seryn in my living room performing “So Within”
Chris Bathgate: Salt Year
Just when I didn’t think anyone would top Seryn this year, I heard Bathgate’s Salt Year. The title is a reference to a difficult year in which Bathgate shed more than a few years, and that emotional depth shines through in every song. Probably classified as “alt. country” to most, Bathgate’s lyrics show a broken heart and the music only accentuates this; weeping steel guitar, soaring violins and always at the present, Bathgate’s lyrics. Truly a wonderful album.
Here is Bathgate performing “No Silver”