Brett’s Top 10 Albums of 2011
10. Cold Cave – Cherish the Light Years
The title of this album suggests that there is glimmering feeling transmitted when you push play. After opening track “The Great Pan is Dead” entered my brain for the first time, I quickly realized that the light years were being cherished because they did not exist. This album is for a dimly lit room with plenty of space to get up and bang out. The quest for one shining moment is the message that I am left with every time I listen to this record. This record leaves me empty in a good way. I feel like I am stuck in the mines of Chile, face full of dust, yearning for salvation. The fact that I enjoy this dark musical dungeon is reason alone why Cherish the Light Years makes this list. As I look around my apartment I find a handful of light builds that need to be replaced. I think it can wait.
9. The Rural Alberta Advantage – Departing
This album is a void filler. We all understand what it feels like to be the rebound, but albums like this make it feel comfortable. Lines like “I will hold you tight enough to crush your veins” in opening track “Two Lovers” sends a gripping message to me. This album is about loss and The Rural Alberta Advantage brilliantly makes me ok with the topic. Losing anything in life can be a personal challenge, but songs like “Tornado 87” make it relatable. There are few records that should be used as medicine or a coping mechanism and Departing certainly is my remedy for any thrashing defeat. Although the scars of defeat remain, Departing gives us a direction to head in order to mend.
8. The Bonesetters – SAVAGES!
It is absolute honor to put a local album on my list. The Bonesetters deserve this one. Rob’s review was laid out so brilliantly that I can’t possible think of anything more to say about it. I am so excited to be in the space for this band’s escalation. The ceiling is high for the Bonesetters, and believe me, we will let you know about their every move. They have earned it with this initial gift to Indianapolis.
7. The Drums – Portamento
The proud sophomore effort that sings like a plea but is as confident as the class president. I feel like I am walking the halls of my high school, but the era is the 80s. This album is the answer to all of The Smiths requests from years back. Lines like “The people look at me with a little sympathy” make me think that The Drums were the underappreciated youth of their respective schooling systems. A subtle popularity to own and I am glad Portamento drives this under the radar status symbol in the proper direction.
6. Cults – Cults
A book of snippets laid out more like a photo album than a record. I see before I hear when I visualize this record. This drastic switch in my experience flips the script while changing my outlook on music. “Go Outside” was the first song I heard from this record and it has paved the road and painted the lines into my 2012. The writing is on the wall in lyrics, “You really want to hole up, you really want to stay inside and sleep the light away.” A relatable situation where Cults step in a presents me with a challenge. Why not yonder outdoors, I will turn the page because there are plenty of pretty pictures.
5. Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost
The guys from Girls write about relationships. Their debut Album and EP Broken Dream Club taught me this. These two first releases was the coaching that allowed me to truly appreciate what Girls was all about. After listening to Father, Son, Holy Ghost for the past few months I feel like I finally understand Girls enough to pass their test. These guys rarely have the answer to their own female problems, but they use music as an elixir. Song, ‘Die’ yells “No, nothing’s gonna be alright, no we’re all gonna get fucked up tonight, no, nothing’s gonna be okay, no it’s all going down the drain tonight”. Certainly, the remedy to any post relationship blues.
4. Yuck – Yuck
It feels like this album has been with me the longer than any release of the year. It feels like an old pair of ripped jeans that I just can’t part with. While some doubt the authenticity of Yuck because of their homage to a collection of indie rock forefathers, I continue to feel genuine comfort with each successive spin. Describing each of their songs might take so long that it puts another hole in my Wranglers. As the winter continues, Yuck will inevitably provide me warmth. Even as the oncoming snow storms enter the air, Yuck sews a patch on my jeans as the ball drops on 2011.
3. Smith Westerns – Dye It Blonde
Smith Westerns grew up a lot with Dye It Blond. Although, these guys are not of legal drinking age I feel like they are so musically mature that they deserve a free pass in any bar in America. Dye It Blond is like a fake ID. It not only makes the band look older than they may appear, but also serves as evidence that they belong in the same scene as the older kids. The guitars on “Still New’”are perfectly placed and layered. The lyrics of “Imagine Pt. 3” are the work of an old savvy songwriter. The tips that they convey on “End of the Night” can be used by any man, of any age, regardless of circumstance. Straight to the point “Oh, it’s the end of the night, it’s the end of the night, are you going to go home?” I wish I had this kind of courage. I guess I will listen to Dye It Blonde a couple more times for inspiration.
2. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
It is rare that I describe an album as beautiful, but this is one of those times. It does not feel right to listen to this record on anything, but vinyl. It was made for the time. I feel cold as I listen to every single lyric of Justin Vernon. Bon Iver released this masterpiece in June, but it is peaking now because it embeds itself in the blistering winter months on the horizon. The tip of the icicle has yet to be formed for this record for me. The point is that this album has withstood a half a year and traveled through many different locations on my musical map. Minnesota, WI, Hinnom, TX, and Lisbon, OH to name a few. Authentic or not these are all places we have all traveled. This record is just a means to bring us all back these spaces at the same time. I feel like I am riding in a sled and Bon Iver is the driver. Who knows where we are heading next? I have my coat and mittens. Thrilled to me along for the ride.
1. Real Estate – Days
Real Estate Days is me. It is everything I look for in a record and more. The melodic guitars carry me from beginning to the end. It is Alpha and the Omega and I’m stuck in between. They build a comfortable space for me each and every time I reach for a listen. Tracks like “Green Aisles” challenge me not only to explore myself but my surroundings. Lyrics “All those wasted miles, all those aimless drives through the green aisles, our careless lifestyle, it was not so unwise, no” provide validity to my own personal cause. This album teaches me that it is completely acceptable to mess up, because it will point me in another direction. Days is a seasonal inspiration to me. Days is my lotion in the sunlight and winter jacket in the snow. It is the perfect protector. It is the compass that directs my next move. This album teaches me to tighten my strings, even if my first attempt is a bit out of tune.
Written by Brett McGrath
Greg’s Top 10 Songs of 2011
10. Craft Spells – “After the Moment“
Catchy. Pop. Music. It’s a song that truly understands and encompasses that perfect night with someone else. We’ve all been there, and we all can listen to this jam and remember the past moments, live the present ones, and hope for more to come.
9. Twin Sister – “Bad Street“
A song with some serious vibe and sex appeal. Not to mention a funky beat. “Feel it with you, in you feel it. Feel it with you, feel it in you. I want it bad!” Really, enough said, this song brings some funk, pop, and a great voice all together perfectly.
8. Smith Westerns – “All Die Young”
Probably cliché to say, but when I hear this song I get some serious Beatles vibe going on. From the wailing guitar to the boisterous chorus, it’s a big project from a young band. And they pull it off.
7. The Antlers – “I Don’t Want Love“
My initial favorite off this album was “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out”, but as the year went on, this song stuck out more and more. The falsetto vocals bring so much feeling, and heartbreak, that for me, this song hits me right where it counts. Add in the haunting wail at the end, and this fits in right behind” Two” as my second favorite Antlers song.
6. Cults – “You Know What I Mean“
Two people. A girl singing like it’s 1965. A guy playing guitar. And perhaps the best chorus of 2011. Feel that drum beat and say it, “Cause I am afraid of the light, yeah you know what I mean.”
5. Bon Iver – “Beth / Rest“
Simply put, this song makes me want to cry. It reminds me of listening to 1980’s songs on the radio on Sunday nights courtesy of my Mom while growing up. From the lyrics, to the guitar solo, it’s my favorite track off Bon Iver’s self -titled masterpiece.
4. Friends – “Friend Crush”
A newcomer to the scene in 2011, this song struck me the first time I heard it. I couldn’t get it out of my head, and I don’t think I ever want to. It says everything about wanting to feel connected to someone else.
3. Real Estate – “Out of Tune”
I know this song was released in 2010. I don’t care, because I didn’t hear it then. It’s my favorite song off an unbelievable album. An album about getting lost in life in the suburbs, this song is its anthem.
2. Holy Ghost – “Jam for Jerry“
This is an ironic song for me. While it’s a tribute to their late drummer Jerry Fuchs, it’s the song of 2011 that brings me the most happiness whenever I hear it. As soon as those first words come out, “You set the tempo, set the pace”, a smile hits my face and life is good again.
1. M83 – “Midnight City“
Well Anthony, the city is indeed my church. And this is the song of the year. Why? Well, you only need to listen to it to understand:
Written by Greg Dahman
IndyMcGrath Conquers Pitchfork Music Festival 2011
Back within the confines of Indianapolis, I find myself reflecting on how fantastic it would be to teleport. I spent the bulk of my 200-mile trek home from Chicago attempting to frame up all that was Pitchfork Festival 2011. Tons of bands, hundreds of hipsters, sticky hot heat and a big, old city to bring it all together. I love P4KFest for two simple reasons:
Year in and year out, P4KFest is able to grab all of the bands that are buzzworthy and surround their energy with a core group of headliners. Union Park proved optimal for catching every act that I desired, because of it’s small size. With plenty of opportunity for shade, attendees were able thrive amidst the heat. I felt excited after each day, not drained like my unfortunate experience at many other festivals.
In order to appropriately capture all that I enjoyed at P4KFest I will make this write-up extremely structured. I will cover my Top 10 acts, food, fashion, misc., and after shows. Please feel free to reach out @IndyMcGrath
10. Yuck (London, England)
The self-titled debut LP from this collection of 20 year olds is one of my favorite albums of 2011. Their ability to play loud or soft while embracing the roots of their forefathers (Pavement, Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth) is extremely impressive. Their performance was great and exactly what I had expected. Unfortunately, I have to ding them a bit for the guitar malfunction during fan favorite “Operation.” The band battled through a rough minute of the song was before quitting completely. This moment brought me down to earth and reminded me that this is still a group of children. There are always bumps along the road. As long as you look cool while dealing with those bumps, then success remains. These guys looked cool.
9. tUnE-YarDs (Connecticut)
The mind of Merrill Garbus is something I extremely admire and I was honored to see it come to life. Tune-yards opened up the entire festival for me by playing on the secluded Blue Stage on Friday afternoon. To answer your questions: Yes, that voice is real and yes, it sounds like that throughout the entire performance. Her stage presence, endurance and energy are the items that stood out to me. Out of nowhere, the band’s rendition of “POWA” caused my excitement to spill over. It rocked me like a lullaby and kicked me in the butt. P4Kfest had arrived.
8. Toro y Moi (Columbia, South Carolina)
What started as a college musical project to pass the time has transformed the indie scene and given birth to the sub-genre we now know as Chillwave. Chazwick Bundick is the mind and creator for what we know as Toro y Moi. Chaz completely won me over with the tight sound his band was able to produce. They opened with “New Beat” off of their sophomore release Underneath the Pine and took Chillwave Nation for a spin. The strength of Chaz’s vocals impressed me more than any other aspect of their performance. I will officially tag him as the Sinatra of Chillwave.
7. Gang Gang Dance (NYC)
This served as the old catch a band while I solidify my spot for the next show routine. I am glad I hit the jackpot with Gang Gang Dance. I was familiar with them heading into P4KFest, but they were not on my to-do list. I had listened to their latest release Eye Contact a few times, but never thought much about them. Do not to miss this act if they come to your area. Front chick, Lizzi Bougatsos might be one of the hottest ALT chicks I have ever seen. She commanded the attention of the crowd and got everyone moving with her stellar looks. I will make sure to purchase their entire catalog and love it forever.
6. The Radio Dept. (Lund, Sweden)
Everyone was excited for these indie Swedish Sensations. A group that rarely tours the U.S. and continues to produce classics that everyone loves has earned this band a significant cult following. Whether you call their sound Dream Pop or Shoegaze, it does not matter because they delivered a relaxed sound that you can tap your toes to. The crowd exploded for songs like “Heaven’s on Fire” and “David.” Elin Almered gave off extremely good vibes and seemed quite bashful in front of the U.S. crowd. The vulnerability of The Radio Dept. made me understand them better and appreciate all that they do.
5. OFWGKTA (Los Angeles, California)
They were Pitchfork. They were the buzz. They were the most talked about band. You could not move around Union Park without hearing the words “Odd Future”. I do not care what they rap about, what kind of music they put out, or even if it is good or not. If you are being talked about by everyone—all of the time—then you are doing something right. Tyler, the Creator was brilliant. He transmitted his Twitter persona to life. He controlled the crowd like a maestro. He is a nut. It is not an act. I was convinced after I survived Odd Future. He jumped into the crowd TWICE, despite a broken leg. The highlight for me was when the crowd screamed the line “I’m stabbing any blogging faggot hipster with a Pitchfork” during “Yonkers.” Although the line is heinous, the correlation with Pitchfork was brilliant. I left their set thinking two things: 1. I am glad I was not hurt because there were bodies everywhere and 2. I think Hodgy Beats might be a bigger nut than Tyler.
4. Fleet Foxes (Seattle, Washington)
Fleet Foxes are indie-rock icons known for their folk freakouts. This was the impression I had both before and after their set. Robin Pecknold’s song selections sent the crowd on a sensational roller coaster of highs and lows. “Sim Sala Bim” from recent release Helplessness Blues got the crowd jiving. “Mykonos,” “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” and “Lorelai” all touched a sweet spot in my heart. The crowd was huge and our folky friends delivered. I will also go as far to say that Mr. Pecknold currently has the best beard in music. Cheers Fleet Foxes.
3. Cold Cave (NYC)
I was fortunate enough to see Cold Cove a few months ago at a tiny bar in Cincinnati and was wowed by their performance. I consider these guys the modern day Joy Divison. They get your blood pumping with their dark synth pops and cool all black wardrobe. They look like a dark team from the 80’s rocking our socks off one synth blast at a time. This was the band I was telling everyone at the festival that they had to see and they did not disappoint. I was literally jumping throughout the entire performance. The highlight for me was when they rocked out to the song “Confetti.” I think everyone who saw them gained a new-found respect for Cold Cave. For me, they went from a band that I liked a lot to one of my current favorites.
2. Guided By Voices (Dayton, Ohio)
This show was a long time coming. Growing up a little bit outside of their era, I was introduced to GBV by author John Sellers after reading his book Perfect From Now On. Robert Pollard’s openness and blue-collar indie rock lifestyle immediately drew me in. Transforming from a band of drinking buddies to one of the most influential bands that the indie scene has ever seen is remarkable. I heard Franz Ferdinand, LCD Soundsystem and Times New Viking as I gushed over their set. Mixing it up perfectly while drinking Tequila in the 90 degree heat Robert Pollard was just a cool old dude. Toe touches were prevalent throughout the set. I was legitimately concerned that he was going to tear a hamstring until he busted out “Gold Star for Robot Boy”. Balancing their set list betweenAlien Lanes and Bee Thousand while mixing in some old favorites was a great move. When I am their age I can only hope I to be half as cool as GBV – though I can do without the drinking problem.
1. Cut Copy (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)
The Aussie Dance Party closed out my entire P4KFest experience. I wonder whether these guys are #1 because it was the last show that I saw or if their performance was really that good. I slept on it. I thought about it my entire drive from Chicago to Indianapolis. I continued to reflect while writing. My feelings were confirmed as I thought about how much fun I was actually having during their set in comparison to all others. Cut Copy wins. “Lights and Music” involved the crowd more than any other song of the festival. The crowd was yelling it out and bouncing to Dan Whitford’s every command. “Take Me Over” was also a bloody good time. I was honored to have been sent off in such a thrilling fashion. The excitement I had as I left P4KFest had lasted throughout the festival’s three days. I can not believe it is over. I guess time flies when you are having fun. Thanks Pitchfork.
FOOD, FASHION, ETC:
I want to thank whoever was responsible for organizing all the details for this festival. The crowd was able to overcome the extraordinary heat only because of the volunteers’ dedication to hydrating fans. Everywhere you turned a new face was offered a free, frosty bottle of Ice Mountain. I would not have survived the weekend without it.
Not much of a choice here. Heineken or Heineken Light. They serve as the festival’s primary sponsor, so I understand it. New Castle’s Summer Ale was available in small doses. I do not hate Heineken, but I drank so much of it that I will not touch it until next year.
I made sure to balance my food consumption with the heat and the beer intake. I ate at the same stand twice and will be sure to return. Thanks Wishbone for offering fantastic festival food. I ate their North Carolina-Style hot dog, pulled pork sandwhich, and Hoppin’ John’s Salad. ALL FANTASTIC!
No people watching quite compares to that of P4KFest. Everyone is giving off good vibes and dressed to the nines. Here are some items I noticed that were prevalent amongst our Hipster community.
- Retro Champion NBA Jerseys – Saw a ton of Rodman (Pistons/Bulls). I think the best one I saw was a Scottie Pippen Trail-Blazers jersey. It was fantastic.
- Crop Tops with Fringe
- High Wasted Shorts
- Flat Bill Hats
- Bandeau Tops
- Leg Tattoos
Friday, Lincoln Hall: Smith Westerns (Chicago, Illinois) & Das Racist (Brooklyn, NYC)
I am a big fan of Smith Westerns and enjoyed their work on Dye It Blonde. They show an amazing amount of maturity and technical savvy, despite their age. They rocked out and have come a long way since I saw them last year. I was surprised that they ended up opening for Das Racist. My guess is that the promoter worried that DR may arrive late from their Pitchfork performance. DR was what I expected, a tamer Odd Future but extremely clever with their delivery.
Sunday: Unknown Mortal Orchestra (Aukland, New Zealand) and Yuck (London, England)
UMO is a brand new project and they are one of those bands that I had liked everything that I had heard prior to their initial release. Frontman Roban Nielson (Former Mint Chicks guitarist) was born to lead a band. He transmitted loads of energy to a 200-person capacity crowd. I can honestly say that he is the best guitarist that I have seen in a long time. “FFunny FFrends,” “Strangers Are Strange” and “How Can U Luv Me” brought down the house. I ran into their drummer (teenage prodigy) Julien Ehrich after their set. I told him how great I thought his band was and told him that that I considered UMO a cooler version of Tame Impala.
Yuck was awesome and a lot better indoors. Their sound boomed off of the walls and fans were digging it. Cullen Omori from Smith Westerns was at the show and got several shout outs. I believe Yuck played a reverse order of their set list from earlier in the day, which I thought was cool. “Get Away” and “Georgia” were my highlights. It was a fantastically exhausting and fun idea. I am thrilled I attended.
This was the best weekend of music that I have ever experienced. The best part of the weekend was that I did not have a single problem with the format of the festival or the way that it was operated. It seems like Pitchfork improves with every year that I return. Shelling out $160 for three days of music is completely justified when the host is evolving each year. Thank you bands, friends I made along the way, organizers and the sun for being so bright. See you next year Pitchfork.
Written and experienced by Brett McGrath