Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Jorna Taylor's Top 10 of '11

I'm lucky enough that I can turn my computer on most days - let alone link video or pictures in this list - so here's my "just the facts" Top 10 of 2011. Judge away - I'm doing the same to you!

Jorna’s Top 10 of '11

10. Real Estate – Days – I think given more time with this album, it would find itself higher on the list. But I really like their happy, upbeat sound, they are like my Jaill of 2011. “Out of Tune” is on heavy rotation these days, but the whole production is a hidden gem of this year.

9. Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto – I’m pretty sure they take away your hipster-cool kid card if you admit to liking Coldplay. That’s okay, I don’t own skinny jeans anyway. But then again, I’m also the girl who brought an entire Top 10 list of country albums a few years back.  I digress. I thoroughly enjoy listening to this album. My pick is “Paradise.” The beauty of the interwebs is that you can download the album from iTunes or order it from Amazon so no one will catch you actually purchasing the CD. 

8. Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire – After the debacle of Orion in 2010, a split from the Cardinals, and well, the marriage to Mandy Moore still standing, I was starting to believe Ryan might no longer be capable of producing something that could restore my faith. Ashes & Fire is a great reunion of his old sound. “Lucky Now” is a solid first single off the album, lyrically a cross between “Two” and Come Pick Me Up” and musically one part “La Cienega Just Smiled.”

7. Adele – 21 – It must suck to be so depressed at 23. But it makes for a terrific release. “Set Fire to the Rain” and of course, “Someone Like You” top the list. If you are going through a break up do not listen to this album.

6. Danger Mouse & Daniel Luppi – Rome – A brilliant collaboration! Although I feel like there are two camps on this performance – you either love it or think it is ridiculous. Maybe it is my love of classical. Or perhaps an extension of my ongoing love affair with Broken Bells. Whatever the reason, I dig the concept and flow of this album while applauding the effort of producing a cinematic feature without the accompanying pictures.

5. Feist – Metals  - This Canadian stole my heart (the 2nd to do so in a year). Her smoky-bluesy voice makes me want to sit in a dark club sipping dirty martinis and smoking cloves.  But since I like neither of those things, I’ll stick to the album on repeat.  I suggest checking out “Graveyard”.

4. jamie xx & Gil Scott-Heron – We’re New Here – Dear jamie xx, I love you. You are amazing. Please create/record/remix more tracks as soon as you can.  And an enthusiastic thumbs up for the genius of combining your ethereal electronic sound with the funky vibe of Gil Scott-Heron. Sincerely, Me. PS – a new record from the xx would be terrific as well, but I’ll take what I can get. Check out – “I’ll Take Care of U”

3. The Weeknd – House of Balloons – Love. This. Album. Reminiscent for me of a Mark Farina Mushroom Jazz joint only with a fuller, darker, more lush sound mixed with some sort of neo-soul stylings. Moves along impassively without being boring or caring about building up to a self-imposed apex. This would have been the perfect soundtrack to my younger years, just out of college while I was living in Madison working for the student movement – chillin’ on my friends’ couch any given night, a pack of busted up Swisher Sweets on the coffee table and Famous Dave’s on speed dial… J

2. Wilco – The Whole Love – We were lucky enough to fall in to last minute tickets to the Vic show in Chicago and I’ll forever be a fan because of it! I remember the first time I saw I Am Trying to Break Your Heart in the summer of 2003 when my taste in music was much more La Cage and less Turner Hall. Over the years I’ve grown to appreciate Wilco and in particular, Jeff Tweedy. His guidance last year on Mavis Staples’ album was beyond reproach.  For me it was always about Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and I was hopeful the new album would live up to that fame. “I Might” is catchy and most fans will tell you that the 7+ minutes of “Art of Almost” is the best part but I’m going with “Born Again” for the win. Or “Capitol City.” Maybe “Whole Love”… it’s all pretty great.

1.  James Vincent McMorrow – Early in the Morning – Melancholy and moody and romantic and heartbreaking all that the same time. He is a phenomenal storyteller taking the listener on a very personal self reflective journey. McMorrow’s like a more effusive folksy version of The National – dark and brooding lyrically with sweet guitar and piano chords to accompany his soft almost-whispery tenor voice. This album gets my top pick of the year because it drew me in from the first listen and hasn’t let go yet. Highly recommend “We Don’t Eat” and “If I Had a Boat”.

Honorable Mentions –

Scars on 45 – Give Me Something EP (only bc it’s an EP it didn’t make the Top 10)
The Weeknd - Thursday
They Might Be Giants – Join Us
Thurston Moore – Demolished Thoughts
Cold War Kids – Mine Is Yours

Shows of the Year –

1. Ray LaMontagne/Brandi Carlile -  Theatre St. Denis, Montreal
(not only amazing, but also my birthday present)

2.  The National – Aragon Ballroom, Chicago  & Riverside Theater, Milwaukee
(They can do no wrong in my book. Ever.)

3.  Wilco – The Vic, Chicago

4.  They Might Be Giants – Pabst Theatre, Milwaukee

5.  Dropkick Murphys - Summerfest

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