Friday, December 09, 2011

Best of 2011: pleasant surprises

I've looked at the disappointing, album's that aren't necessarily bad, but simply didn't live up to my expectations. It's now time to swing in the opposite direction with the album's for which I had few expectations, but exceeded them.

Urge Overkill- Rock & Roll Submarine
It's hard for even the best bands to take 15 years off and manage to return with a winner.  This isn't the best album of the band's career, but it is a solid effort and yields the killer track "Effigy".  Their live performance was one of the best of the year as well.

R.E.M.- Collapse Into Now
Let's face it, R.E.M. has been a pretty poor recorded band for nearly 20 years now.  However, this record was a semi-return-to-form that helps them go out on an up note.

Iron & Wine- Kiss Each Other Clean
Regular readers will know that I despise boring schlocky melodramatic folk (I'm looking at you Bon Iver).  Usually Iron & Wine falls into that category.  However, there was something fresh and gripping about this record which will land it near the top of my final year end list.

Dave Stewart- The Blackbird Diaries
When I think of terrible music of the '80s The Eurythmics are often in the mixtape my mind creates.  So I was blown away by the honest rawness of Stewart's record.

My Morning Jacket- Circuital
If there's one thing I hate almost as much as boring schlocky melodramatic folk acts it's boring stoner jam bands.  My Morning Jacket have always been on the cusp with me, but on the new album they threw in just enough to plant them firmly on the good side.

Red Hot Chili Peppers- I'm With You
First off, let me make it clear that this is by no means a good album.  However, it is far cry from the downright atrocious pap we've gotten from the former funk master since they struck it big in 1991.

Social Distortion- Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes
For more than 30 years Social Distortion have managed to put together solid punk rock records by incrementally updating their sound.  This time around they add gospel choir backing vocals of all things, and it works wonderfully.

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