Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Outtakes 2011: Albums

It's Day Five of the Tip of Your Tongue, Top of My Lungs year-end extravaganza! 100 Songs for 2011 will be available December 5. Until then, we're taking a daily look at five good songs that didn't make the cut. Today's theme: Albums

As you've probably heard, the album is dying.  I'm not here to argue that this is right or wrong, but it must be noted that huge segments of the pop music landscape aren't really even trying to make coherent records anymore.  As someone who spends the entire year compiling a singles list, this doesn't really concern me.

Still, I do like the album as an artifact, and I appreciate bands who consider the album an art form in its own right.  Sometimes,though, it feels like the crafting of a complete album comes at the expense of great singles.  Here are five songs highlighting albums that I enjoyed this year, even if the albums may be un- or under-represented on 100 Songs for 2011.

Wilco - "Art of Almost"

As with the last several Wilco albums, the most interesting moments here are individual parts of songs, not so much the whole songs themselves. A lot happens in this one, and I like most of it.

Ryan Adams - "Lucky Now"

Ilana said this song sounds like the kind of music they'd choose for a mediocre modern dance performance on "So You Think You Can Dance," which kinda ruined it for me.  Still, it makes me happy that Ryan Adams is making consistently excellent albums again.

Girls - "Honey Bunny"

Almost definitely going to be Pitchfork's album of the year. And they're from San Francisco! Still, there isn't really one track that stands out for me ... yet. My guess is that, looking back on 2011 in a few years, there will be at least one Girls track I wish had made the list.

Decemberists - "June Hymn"

I was half-joking when I proclaimed The King is Dead album of the year back in January, but it's probably been the most consistently enjoyable listening experience of the year for me.  I'm not going to do a top albums list this year, but this one might have been the wire-to-wire winner.

Mountain Goats - "For Charles Bronson"

"Focus on the parts that make you feel good / Be grateful for the attention / Set your sights on good fortune ..." Every Mountain Goats album is a gift. If you're not convinced by now, you probably never will be, but I'll keep trying.

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