Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: The Year in Music

All right, I don't really go through new (or even "new to me") music that much in a year, particularly not when compared to the books I read. In a given year, I'm lucky if I discover a few new songs, never mind new albums. Still, one of the blogs I love to read just did back-to-back "Year in" entries for books and for music (I was already doing the book thing anyway), and it got me thinking. I'm not exactly on any cutting edges, but the music I've discovered this past year has entered into me, and so it's worth reflecting on a bit, at least for my own sake.

Over the summer, I was thinking about the high school a cappella group I direct (students do the administration of the group, but I handle the musical side, which includes arrangements). So I was thinking about music and I was hoping to bridge the gap a little between my tastes and my students tastes, so I figured I would be well-served by seeing what was in vogue and, out of that cesspool of banality, choose some things that didn't make me gag.

Of course, with those prejudices on the table, it should be no surprise that my methodology probably left something to be desired, since I avoided entirely all of the official Top-40 type lists where that actually-popular music shows up. Instead, I ended up focused on Esquire's 30 Summer Songs Every Man Should Listen To. I listened to all 30, primarily with an ear to what would work as a cappella, but also with an ear toward what I myself liked. Judging by the few that I've put before them, my students have never heard of any of them.

One of them really grabbed both Lauren and me: "Anna Sun" by Walk the Moon. Not only did we love the song, but then we found out that they'd all gone to Kenyon (and the song itself was very Kenyon-referential). How we failed to buy their album, I'm not sure.

We also both really liked: "Lost in My Mind" by The Head and the Heart and "Losers" by The Belle Brigade. I was also a fan of "Coming Back to a Man" by Dawes.

Our big discovery this year was Miracles of Modern Science, which we heard one Sunday on NPR. Lauren, perhaps because she used to play viola, particularly loved this rock group based on violin, cello, upright bass, mandolin, and drums, so I surprised her with a copy of their new CD Dog Year for Christmas. As an added bonus, when I ordered the actual CD through their website, not only could I download it immediately and listen to it for almost a month before Lauren did, but I also received a personal thank you card from the band for buying the album. How cool is that? On the strength of this--and their quirky yet effective music--I have to give them the status of top album of the year. For the record, I did buy at least one other album this year. At least.

1 comment:

  1. You are clearly more cultured than I am. Cee Lo Green's F You song (the real version) was pretty much my anthem for the year.

    On a happier note, I also discovered songs like the Gabe Dixon Band's All Will Be Well, which I quite like.