Best of 2011: Music and Beer

For those of you who can’t get through the holidays without reading someone’s opinion on insignificant products in regards to the wide spectrum of life, here is my “best of” list.

Really though, I believe it’s a healthy practice to look back on oneself at year’s end. Rediscovering and reflecting over what I’ve spent my money, time, and ears on over the course of a year is something I’ve always enjoyed.

Now that it’s almost over, were the things my heart desired worth all the fuss? Did it last more than two weeks in my Ipod? (Yes I’m still rocking an Ipod, not Ipad, Itouch, or Iphone. I’m cool like that).

As I get older, I find myself not purchasing as much music or seeing as many movies as I used to. So this year, I decided to include some other things I’m starting to enjoy, including but not limited to: beer, old vinyl records, as well as disappointing albums that made me want to punch walrus’ in their teeth.

Old Vinyls that found their way into my arms, ears and brainal canals:

At the beginning of the year my grandfather showed me his box of old records and let me pick out a few. I thought I was really cool and unique for liking Sam Cooke after finding an old one in his stash. But then I went into Bop Street Records in Seattle and found that they can barely keep his vinyls in stock. So there you have it, a hipster no matter how hard I try not to be.

  • Bumps Blackwell Orchestra-Sam Cooke
  • Hits of the 50s-Sam Cooke
  • Fats Domino Swings-Fats Domino
  • Slow Train Coming-Bob Dylan
  • In Concert Brandeis University 1963-Bob Dylan
  • David Live-David Bowie

The Best Brewskis for Sureskies:

Nothing goes better with an old vinyl than a tasty beverage. But if you’re going to drink beer, drink good beer and drink in moderation so you can truly enjoy it. These brews didn’t necessarily come out this year, but I sure did enjoy them!

  • Mocha Death-Iron Horse Brewery
  • Cutthroat Porter-Odell Brewery
  • ‘90 Shilling-Odell Brewery
  • Old Rasputin-North Coast Brewing Company
  • Christmas Ale-Anchor Brewing

 Albums That Made Men Out of My Ears:

The Ones Who Wait-Denison Witmer

After his last album, Carry the Weight, I admit I was expecting a similar constructed—well-produced pop album. But The Ones… was completely different. It was stripped down and honest.

That’s what I love about Denison. He is real with his music. There was also a short EP released of him playing three or four songs in some cathedral in Philadelphia. I think it’s probably the most powerful thing he’s ever done.

Fleet Foxes-Helplessness Blues

Though the lasting power isn’t holding up like I thought it would, Blues is still a one of a kind, amazing collection of songs. I did landscaping this last summer and put this album on every time I went to work in the sun. I remember looking out over Lake Coeur d’Alene from a high mountain and singing the words that I so easily related to.

I will always associate this album with those days. Yes, even the day I drove the lawnmower down the hill by accident.

Radiohead-The King of Limbs

Fans are still split on this one. After all the expectations are taken out of play, I believe they released a great album. It’s weird, short, dominated by Thom’s solo sound, but overall great songwriting and creative studio craftsmanship. If you didn’t like this album, I urge you to put it on again, drink some coffee and be sucked in to its brooding atmosphere.

Bon Iver-Bon Iver

I never actually bought this album, but thanks to Spotify, I’ve been able to enjoy it as if I owned it. It’s wonderful, abstract, and incredibly hipster. I know. I can’t help it. I never really got into Bon Iver’s last album, so at least I have that going for me. I put this album on just to tell myself it would sound exactly the same as his previous effort. And then I couldn’t stop listening to it.

Beastie Boys-Hot Sauce Committee Part 2

What can I say; it’s the Beastie Boys.

Albums That Disappointed My Face:

First off, because they’re disappointing, it most likely means that I had expectations that are clouding my opinion (see Radiohead). But nonetheless:

Coldplay-Mylo Xyloto

Before you tell me how dumb I am, please understand that I did enjoy probably half of this album. But to be a truly great album it has to grab me from start to finish. The best albums are those that have heart, soul and are intentionally one complete thought. After a couple really solid songs, the album suffers (that Rhianna song, really?). Plug whatever band into the formula and they will sound the same and sell records. Such a shame.

Blink 182-Neighborhoods

Blink 182 is all about a good hook on a memorable chorus. This whole album, besides maybe one or two tracks, was flooded with forgettable melodies and catch-less hooks. Take that away from Blink and what is left?

City & Colour- Little Hell

I’m not sure what happened here. It’s a decent record for sure, but disappointing none the less. I haven’t given this album the full chance it needs, but so far it hasn’t given me any reason to pursue it further.

Songs That Rocked My Preverbal Songs Off:

Just because they released a record that’s under par doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a song or two off of it, such as Coldplay or Foster the People. This list feels really incomplete, but I didn’t have as much time to look back as I’d hope. Still, these are all worth mentioning.

  • Perth-Bon Iver
  • Brooklyn with Your Highest Wall-Denison Witmer
  • Ok-Beastie Boys
  • Down in the Valley-The Head and the Heart
  • Afternoon-Youth Lagoon
  • Blinded-Thrice
  • Pumped Up Kicks-Foster the People
  • Hurts Like Heaven-Coldplay
  • Lotus Flower-Radiohead
  • Holocene-Bon Iver

Oh yeah, Merry Christmas you filthy animal!


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