Amie’s Best of 2011: New Stuff I Loved This Year

I don’t traditionally do “best of” music lists, but this was a banner fucking year at the old Bender Simon/Speights family, in which I managed to cull together a pile o’ great stuff from music sent to me, and CDs I picked up at Sonic Boom after hearing a few tunes at the listening stations.

Thus, I share with you (in no particular order) music that makes me happy — and might make you happy too.

The PausesA Cautionary Tale
First off, the cover of this is SIMPLY BRILLIANT. Secondly, and I cannot stress this enough, I love every single goddamn thing about this album. I don’t hand out 9 out of 10 ratings lightly, my friends. I would have probably even given this a 10 — if my imaginary cohorts would have let me. :) But I digress! This Orlando, FL band’s debut album makes me wanna dance, cry, scream, and do some handstands. Really, it’s THAT good. Trust me.

Must-hear tracks:
Go North
Beyond Bianca
Little Kids

The DrumsPortamento 
I didn’t think I could love anything more than The Drums self-titled first album, but I think I might love Portamento even more. It has the same joyful, poppy beats at the first, with a tinge more grown-uppedness — and it still makes me want to dance my pants right off. In fact, why even start with pants? This is clearly underwear-dancing music.

Must-hear tracks:
Book Of Revelation
Hard To Love
I Need A Doctor

Blue Skies for Black HeartsEmbracing the Modern Age 
I saw these guys open for Tennis Pro last summer and OMFG they are tight. Seriously, one of the best live bands I have ever, ever seen. And hooray! The CD is just as good. Somehow I missed knowing who this Portland band was before then, because they apparently have quite a few CDS out — but this one is good stuff. Love the retro-pop sound (especially on “Caroline Make Up Your Mind”) and the heart-tugging vocals on this as much as I loved seeing them perform. Good times.

Must-hear tracks:
Caroline Make Up Your Mind
Damn Those Girls
Taking Advantage

Tennis ProShimokita is Dead
Ah, Tennis Pro! Running into frontman David Drury at SIFF last year made me remember how much I like this band, and their latest CD does not disappoint. Tennis Pro is a party band through and through; they clearly want you to have as much fun as they’re having, and it shows on this CD. Frenetic dance-pop mingles with old-school rock for an album that’s a total blast to listen to.

Must-hear tracks:
Dance Hit Number 1
Rock Over Tokyo
Clothing Optional Christian Barbecue

M83Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. 
I admit, I was skeptical about this — as I am about anything that’s getting heaps of critical praise — but honestly, it’s good. It’s really, really good. Dreamy, electro-pop beats join with pretty lyrics and harmonies for an album that’s perfect for just about any mood you’re in. Road-trip, dance-party for one, friendly gathering, sipping cocktails, good conversation — the options are endless. LOVE this, and so glad I got over my stupid stupidness and took a listen.

Must-hear tracks:
Midnight City
Steve McQueen

Pony Time – (self-titled) 
This is one I picked up after listening to a few tracks at Sonic Boom. A Seattle two-piece (Luke & Stacy), this bass and drums duo kicks out some pretty sweet rockin’ tunes. It’s the kind of music you’d want to hear at a dive bar on a Friday night after a few beers — and it’s meant to be CRANKED up and played loud.

Must-hear tracks:
Bad Behavior
Gary Numan
Lori + Judy

Gauntlet Hair – (self-titled) 
These guys are weird. I admit. I mean, you can tell just from the name, right? But I kinda fell in love with their crazy drums & keys tunes, combined with almost angelic (?) vocals and pretty oohs and ahhs. I don’t know how to explain it. JUST LISTEN.

Must-hear tracks:
Keep Time
Lights Out
Mop It Up

This cute-as-a-button retro rock two-piece consists of a pretty and talented ex-coworker of mine, Leah, and her equally talented partner, David. Long story short: I backed their Kickstarter campaign because I love their fuzzy ’80s-esque Jesus & Mary Chain-like indie pop rock and I love their determination and I LOVE them. There, I said it. And yes, I would marry them. So shut up.

Must-hear tracks:
Drugs Help

One Comment to “Amie’s Best of 2011: New Stuff I Loved This Year”

  1. Yay for The Drums!


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