I have mixed feelings about end-of-the-year lists: I enjoy reading them, mostly because I’m curious about what records friends and other critics enjoyed throughout the year, and I love that they help me catch up on music I missed or didn’t spend enough time with (because I obviously have listened to every single record that was released in 2011…).
What I have a hard time with is the argument of who made the “best” record. That’s not to say I refuse to participate in the list-making at work — I certainly suggested certain albums should be higher or lower on our list — but it can get a little ridiculous. When I make my own year-end list, it’s just my personal favorites: I don’t mean it to say that one album is definitively better than another in terms of music, lyrics, whatever, or that my picks are better than everything else that came out during the year, but this was the music I connected with, what I listened to the most and what had the biggest effect on me.
Also, because I do use other people’s lists to catch up on what I’ve missed, that means there might be music that came out this year that I’m just now starting to fall in love with (see: Kurt Vile). And if we’re talking about my favorite musical discoveries of the year, there are quite a few artists whose music I heard for the first time in 2011, but they haven’t released anything recently (Patty Griffin, everything Mark Kozelek, Kathleen Edwards — the latter has already made one of my favorites of 2012). And if you ask me in a few months what my favorite 2011 records were, my response might be a little different than the following list. But for now, these were my favorites; my top 10 are in an order that could easy change over and over again, and then a bunch of others I loved listed alphabetically.
ALSO: Here is a mix of 27 songs I really liked this year — from many of these bands — for your downloading pleasure. Enjoy!
Confession: I made this dish a couple weeks ago, one of the last posts conceived in my old kitchen, because I moved last weekend! Apologies for the lack of posts in the last couple weeks — between traveling to Michigan for my cousin’s wedding, packing up my apartment and moving, and my 17-year-old brother coming to visit this weekend, blogging has sort of taken a backseat (but not for long, I promise!).
Simple tomato gazpacho (recipe at the bottom)
It has been hotter than hell in the city, which has made the thought of cooking quite unappealing. Standing over a stove or in front of an oven? In a sauna? No, thank you. (OK, so I’ve still had to do it a bit anyway; but it’s awful.) So I made gazpacho, cold soup that doesn’t require any cooking. To go with it, check out a few summery songs I’ve heard recently — maybe they’ll make you forget about the heat for a little while?
This weekend was HOT. One of my best friends was in town visiting from Michigan, and we were out and about for three straight days — mostly in direct sunlight, sweating more than we would’ve liked to while walking and eating our way through the city. After getting back to my apartment every evening, we needed a light and refreshing meal to cool us down — and on her last night in town, that was sauteed kale and baked tilapia fillets topped with peach-pineapple salsa. The salsa matches how I feel about Washed Out’s music: They’re both bright and combine different textures, but they’re still low-maintenance. The salsa doesn’t require much thinking to make, and it doesn’t take much thinking to enjoy Washed Out’s woozy, repetitive tunes with few vocals — not to mention they’re both perfect for summer. And I chose the peaches because, not only are they refreshing, but Washed Out’s Ernest Greene grew up on a peach farm in Georgia. Washed Out on MySpace (New record Within and Without is out now on Sub Pop)