ETB’s Favorite Music of 2011

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!

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Pumpkin Nightcrawler Cupcakes (Inspired by Widowspeak)

Pumpkin-coffee cupcakes with mocha frosting, “dirt” and bugs (recipe here)

One of my favorite records that came out this year was the self-titled debut from Brooklyn act Widowspeak, and Halloween was a perfect excuse to use it on here: Their music is full of eerie, smoky (and gorgeous) vocals, and there’s a song called “Nightcrawlers,” in which frontwoman Molly Hamilton sings, “Nightcrawlers stay up late, nightcrawlers take the blame.” I made the classic little-kid cupcakes with cookie “dirt” and bugs (specifically, gummy centipedes from Economy Candy and Willy Wonka Sluggles — possibly the cutest name I’ve ever heard for bugs), and for the lyric about staying up late I thought of caffeine (and, of course, the sugar highs kids get from their Halloween candy) and made the cupcakes pumpkin coffee-flavored with mocha frosting. Happy Halloween! Widowspeak – “Nightcrawlers” by forcefieldpr

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