BEST OF 2011: Carter Maness' Picks
(Photo: The War On Drugs)
Perhaps we'll remember 2011 as the year we returned to "the song." Yes, I know, music is almost always based around songs, but those elusive mysteries with actual choruses, verses, bridges (remember those?) and emotions seemed kind of rare for awhile. Whether in the loose slacker forms of Kurt Vile, the Petty-meets-experimental vibe of The War On Drugs, Drake making the club sound like some hellish, inescapable monster, Cass McCombs turning even further into stark emotional honesty or PJ Harvey reminding us that she is incredible and singular, it seems like songcraft has finally beat back the slew of by-the-numbers bedroom recordings.
While this happened, cheap yet easy-to-use software also made it easy for the masses to make maximalist songs with a million tracks that sounded more like sonic sludge than anything resembling music. Maybe that's why I'm drawn to atmospheric efforts like Burial's "Street Halo" or the fine instrumental clouds of Clams Casino that put a premium on space and texture rather than blowing up my speakers with the deepest bass possible.
No matter your taste, there were many directions to explore in 2011. Here are some of my favorites.
RCRD LBL Picks
Wooden Shjips - Lazy Bones
Stacy Lane - No Ending
The War On Drugs - Come To The City
A$AP Rocky - Kissin' Pink (feat. ASAP Ferg) (prod. Beautiful Lou)
Widowspeak - Harsh Realm
Drake - Club Paradise
Bon Iver - Calgary
Curren$y - Scottie Pippen (feat. Freddie Gibbs)
Twerps - Dreamin'
The Field - Then It's White
Future Islands - Before The Bridge
Cass McCombs - County Line
Kurt Vile - Jesus Fever
Jay-Z & Kanye West - Niggas In Paris
Smith Westerns - Weekend
Drake - Marvins Room
Burial - Street Halo
Peaking Lights - All The Sun That Shines
PJ Harvey - The Words That Maketh Murder
Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx - I'll Take Care Of U