Music from 2011 in Review (Part Two)

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

While Nathan is busy reviewing songs about college that he heard in commercials years ago, I am actually up with the times; as long as you don’t count 95% of what I listen to. Last year, I did a year in review of the music that came out in 2010. I did this on my Facebook page. This year, I decided to do it on the blog. For more information and other reviews, read my first part.

REM – Collapse into Now

REM called it quits this year, presumably to never release another album as REM. Just prior to this announcement they released one hell of a last offering. There is little bad to say about this album, if any. Depending on whether you count Duran Duran’s “All You Need is Now” as 2010 or 2011, this is probably my favourite (or second favourite) album of 2011.

“Uberlin” is a song that even if you like it from the first listen is misleading as to how good it really is. I would suggest listening to it a few times just to pick up on the subtleties.

“Alligator Aviator Autopilot Antimatter” is one of the more upbeat tracks, and feature Peaches on supporting vocals. I like Peaches. I’ve seen Peaches live. I just kept hearing Kate Pierson when I listened to this track, even though I know it’s not her. I’ll get over it. Peaches sounds great on the track, and it’s a fun song.

“Blue” is a track that I can’t even begin to explain how much I love it. It features Patti Smith on supporting vocals. Michael Stipe’s choice of vocals for this track borders on spoken word, and the music, calling back to “Country Feedback” is thick, sonic, and a bit melancholy. Simply amazing work.

Roxette – Charm School

This was an album that I noticed was out, listened to a few tracks, and then forgot it was out. The first reason is that I couldn’t find all the tracks on You Tube, and the couple that I did find were a little lackluster. Coming back to it now, near the end of the year, and finding the full album up, the truth is that it’s not such a bad album. It’s not as immediately catchy as “Look Sharp” or “Joyride,” but if you like Roxette or late 80s Europop (which basically means that you like Roxette) then you’ll probably enjoy most, or all, of this album. This is a reason to sometimes come back to an album that didn’t catch your full attention initially. In most cases, even I wouldn’t worry about it, but with a group like Roxette, I was willing to come back and hear the full album to be sure. I’m glad I did.

“Big Black Cadillac” is just a great song from the very beginning, but gets so much better when it gets to the chorus. While I appreciate that they can’t both sing lead on every song, it’s great when they can.

“She’s Got Nothing On (but the Radio)” is one of the emphasis tracks. It kind of seems to go all over the place the first couple of times you hear it, but it’s a pretty solid track.

“In My Own Way” is the track that most resembles “Listen To Your Heart” in general feel, while going about it in a different way. If the ballads are what you like about Roxette, then this is the track you most want.

Bayside – Killing Time

Bayside has more talent than innovation. I say that as a neutral statement for purposes of review. You’ve heard some folks complain that an album is too polished, and maybe as a basic concept you don’t care. I sometimes do care though. This band promises to be a mixture of the bands Brand New and Avenged Sevenfold from the first track, and to an extent they even succeed, though drenching it with a much more pop feel. The problem is that I think I would rather be listening to any number of groups that skirt this sound, including Cage the Elephant, who put out an album at the start of 2011 that I’m sure to review somewhere in these posts. All in all not a bad album, but it delivers on musicianship rather than innovation.

“Not a Bad Little War” is not a bad… eh, I can’t do it. Too cheesy even for me. If there is a track on this album that I just life without reservations, it’s this one.

At points, I hear some Ben Folds influence in the vocals. Like on “Seeing Sound.”

“Sick Sick Sick” is an ok song. What catches my attention is that Current 93 did a song called “Lucifer Over London” in which he starts repeating the work “sick” and at first you think he’s saying “six six six” which would make sense for a song with Lucifer right there in the title. Of course, I’m talking about a song other than the one I’m reviewing, so I should stop.

And that’s it for this go ’round. These posts are almost harder to make, even though I get a free pass on subject matter. I’ll do as many as I can without getting bogged down.

Leave a Reply