This is a Friday at the time of year when people publish their "Best Of" lists. And we all know that at Hard News, Fridays are for music. So I ought to be publishing a list of the best music releases of 2011.
But I have a problem with that.
See, I think there is now so much music available, everywhere, to anyone with an internet connection, that it may have become redundant to purport to declare the "best" of it. So this ought to be seen as merely an incomplete list of what I found, liked and listened to.
I really can't enthuse enough about this record and what it contains. It's a meeting of talents between Home Brew's Tom Scott, Nothing To Nobody's Lui Tuiasau and the Grey Lynn production prodigy Christoph El Truento. It's witty, authentic, soulful and culturally dense. From the vivid observations of 'Home' to Tom's elegant musings in the title track, this is a great, great New Zealand record.
I took particular pleasure in hiring Christoph for the LATE at the Museum gig I ran, congratulating Lui's dad on his son's work at the same show, and seeing it all on stage one crazy party night up at Khuja Lounge. I think this record represents an important creative community and I look forward to everything they all do in 2012.
This album is a name-your-price download on Bandcamp.
The Bats, Free All the Monsters
The thing everyone says is that this album, nearly 30 years on from the day The Bats convened, might just be their best work. And it's true -- it bloody well just might. This is core Bats; all sweet simplicity, with Kaye Woodward's guitar and vocals of particular note. 'See Right Through' has stayed with me since the first time I heard it. Visit their website.
Panther and the Zoo, More Fun
Dry, droll, classic indie-pop, thematically centred on the over-thinking of relationships. And more fun than that sounds.
$10 download from Bandcamp.
Fabulous Arabia, Unlimited Buffet
What else would you call a collab between Mike Fabulous and Lawrence Arabia? Some call it disco, some call it boat rock. Think of Boz Scaggs in a mildly ironic fashion and fix yourself a pina colada already.
$10 download from Bandcamp.
Vondelpark, NYC Stuff and NYC Bags EP
Languid, sinuous lovejams from Surrey. Like The Guardian's reviewer, I thought for ages that they were American. You can check out various tracks on the Hype Machine, but I'm damned if I know where you buy it, apart from eMusic.
Gil Scott Heron and Jamie Xx, We're New Here
Gil Scott Heron was a big loss this year, but at least he went out with a great record. Last year's flawed but worthwhile I'm New Here, reinvented as a fine, slightly mysterious work.
2011 has also been, for me, the year of Adele remixes. I don't own her album, it's not quite my thing, but lord that voice and those songs have been brilliantly conjured with at times.
My Top 5 Adele Remixes
And some other tracks ...
Most of the above are downloadable MP3s (at the Hype Machine links you need to click through to the original blog posts to find the MP3s).
Righto. Your turn ...