Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Top 10 of 2011

I, like most critics, have a top 10 list for the end of the year. See my choices below or take a look at my ballot on the Village Voice's poll.

1. Bright Eyes - The People's Key. For the first time ever, a fairly mainstream band tops my list. This was definitely my most-listened-to album of the year and I had the pleasure of reviewing it and a live performance of it.

2. Workout - Workout. I went to college with this Brooklyn glam outfit, but they have really blossomed this year with this fun music video. I recently listened to this album while having teeth pulled.

3. Radiation City - The Hands That Take You. This arty and vintage-fuzzy local indie band is blowing up. You heard it here first.

4. Mr. Gnome - Madness in Miniature. One of the most creative bands playing today reinvented themselves this year with a stripped-down rock 'n' roll sound.

5. YOB - Atma. The band that is putting Oregon metal on the map has done it again with an album you probably shouldn't listen to at night by yourself.

6. The Tomorrow People - Rose City Rose. I'm honored to be the first to review this extremely well-crafted album that emerged from a closet-sized studio in St. Johns.

7. Dirty Mittens - Heart of Town. I'm glad this class act finished their much-anticipated first full length before breaking up. Their shows were legendary, and it would have been tragic for their music not to be captured in an album that, when I reviewed it, made their future look so bright.

8. Witch Mountain - South of Salem. Portland's oldest and best doom metal outfit was way overdue for a second album. The cover alone makes it a classic, which is why I actually recommended it as a Christmas gift.

9. Cool Nutz - The Cook Up. The best known rapper in Portland made a foray into hipster crossover last year. Like many critics, I really enjoyed it. But in 2011, he quietly released a fully bad-ass return to basics. Versatility is the name of the game for this experienced MC.

10. Wizard Rifle - Speak Loud Say Nothing. The young duo that keeps Portland metal fresh gave the underground metal community a shot of irreverence this year with their debut album. Hard to believe I was their first interview ever. This is definitely a band to watch in 2012.

Image: Workout by Sunny Shokrae.

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