Top 5 Records of 2011

I don’t have much time to seek new stuff out so I’m the first to admit that I rely on friends and Pitchforks for music recs. That said, I did spin some records more than others this year so here’s a list.

Bill Callahan, one bad MF.

1. Bill Callahan – Apocalypse. I’ve been a fan of Smog since my best friend dubbed me a copy of Julius Caesar in 11th grade, so speaking as a 15-year+ fan, I have to say — without qualification — that this is Callahan’s best yet. You’ve seen the video for “America,” haven’t you?

2. Bon Iver – s/t . While I find Justin Vernon’s stardom ethos absolutely nauseating (Best Buy exclusive releases, town parades and all that bullshit) and supposed bravado of “Beth/Rest” still puzzles me, it’s hard to deny the reach of this record. I can’t get enough of the other nine tracks.

3. Tim Hecker – Ravedeath, 1972. Perhaps the only ambient record that will ever make a year end top 5 in my lifetime. Thanks, Tim, for helping me through the reading load of my first semester of the grad grind. Drop that piano, IHML.

4. Eleanor Friedberger – Last Summer. Better than anything the FF’s ever put out. Ditch the bro, sis. “My Mistakes” is/was pure summer gold.

5. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring for My Halo. An trashy, emotional ride from a songwriter who can somehow make the last scene in S2 of Eastbound and Down feel genuinely romantic.

Others: Atlas Sound – Parallax, PJ Harvey – Let England Shake, Wye Oak – Civilian, Why the Wires – Telegraph Flats, Roger Bryan and the Orphans – 37, Races – Big Broom EP, Widowspeak – s/t