and now, without further ado…
BEST REISSUE OR SPECIAL EDITION OF 2011 CONTENDERS–BEST BETS FOR YOUR GIFT GUIDES:
THIRD MAN: Check out the official TMR Revolution record player, TMR 45 carrying case, and TMR cleaning kit– (see image below) separate shots of which are all readily available should you want to include them in holiday gift guides.
RYAN ADAMS: Ashes & Fire 3-D Deluxe Box (PAX-AM/Capitol)
ARCADE FIRE: The Suburbs Deluxe Edition (Merge)
BEASTIE BOYS: Hot Sauce Committee Part Two Deluxe Edition (Capitol)
PAUL McCARTNEY: McCartney I & II reissues (Hear Music/Concord)
NIRVANA: Nevermind 20th Anniversary Reissue (Universal)
QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE: expanded remastered reissue (Rekords Rekords/Domino)
STRAIGHT UP BEST OF 2011 CONTENDERS:
RYAN ADAMS: Ashes & Fire (PAX-AM/Capitol) – Hailed by ESQUIRE as “the record we always suspected he had in him” and “too good not to write about,” Ashes & Fire is eleven succinct and beautiful samples of Ryan Adams at his songwriting, performing and singing best. Produced by Glyn Johns, renowned for his work with the likes of The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Clash and The Rolling Stones, and featuring guest turns from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench and Norah Jones, Ashes & Fire debuted at #7 on the U.S. album chart–tying the career high chart debut of Adams’ Easy Tiger in 2007. The album and its accompanying run of sold out tour dates continue to generate escalating raves at press time…
BEASTIE BOYS: Hot Sauce Committee Part Two (Capitol) – DELUXE EDITION OUT NOVEMBER 25… In a 4 star lead review, ROLLING STONE called Hot Sauce Committee Part Two “the sound of master musicians in their comfort zone, doing everything their own way”–and the first B Boys’ album in seven years to feature both their legendary rhyming skills and their musical prowess wasn’t the only masterwork Mike and the Adams put out there in 2011: The all-star time traveling half-hour epic “Fight For Your Right Revisited” and the Spike Jonze-directed “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win” mini action thriller (featuring Santigold) provided mind-blowing visual accompaniment to Beastie Boys’ unparalleled musical vision.
THE BLACK BELLES: The Black Belles (Third Man Records) – Released Nov. 8, a mere week after Olivia Jean, Ruby Rogers, Shelby Lynne and Lil’ Boo rocked NYC, The Black Belles’ debut album moved CONSEQUENCE OF SOUND to rave “Jack White’s Third Man Records has cultivated and released music from a wide variety of artists, but no act in White’s stable may be more interesting than The Black Belles. The band — comprised of basisst Ruby Rogers, drummer Shelby Lynne, synth player Lil’Boo, and guitarist/vocalist/organ player Olivia Jean — create a dark blend of ’60s garage rock and soul with a modern twist.” And if you happen to be in Nashville Nov. 11 and make your way to their release party at Third Man, one of the 300 copies of pressed on TMR’s exclusive new “Absinthe vinyl” and featuring the censored original cover art would make a great twisted stocking stuffer.
DANGER MOUSE & DANIELE LUPPI: Rome (Capitol) – Hopefully the appearance of “Black” playing over the final scenes of the BREAKING BAD season finale’ reminded you what an incredible and unique piece of work this record was and is. Just as the combination of Danger Mouse and Daniel Luppi’s breathtaking score and Norah Jones’ smoky vocal perfectly complemented the denouement of possibly the best season of television in recent memory, so did Rome and its many other highlights–not least of which was “The Rose With The Broken Neck” featuring Jack White–pay sincere and stunning homage to classic Italian Western soundtracks like Ennio Morricone’s Fistful of Dollars or The Good, The Bad & The Ugly. Danger Mouse and Luppi went to such lengths to preserve this aesthetic as traveling to Rome to use Morricone’s studio and musicians who actually played on these soundtracks. Vintage instruments were tracked down and bartered for, and every note was recorded in analog with no studio trickery or synthetic instrumentation.
EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY: Take Care, Take Care, Take Care (Temporary Residence Ltd) – Here at nasty, we like living in a world where Austin, Texas’ foremost all-instrumenal act Explosions In The Sky can see its fifth album Take Care, Take Care, Take Care debut at #16 on the Billboard Top 200–nearly doubling the first week sales of the band’s previous album, 2007’s All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone. Equally amazing was seeing Explosions In The Sky take its widescreen cinematic live experience–called “one of the most ecstatic displays of loud rock I’ve ever seen” by THE NEW YORKER–to the stage of Radio City Music Hall, where they headlined for the first time earlier this year, and beyond…
FOO FIGHTERS: Wasting Light (Roswell/RCA) – Finally! Foo Fighters’ seventh album was the band’s first to hit #1 in their native U.S.–not to mention 11 other countries! And who have we seen work harder for these just desserts here at nasty than the Foo Fighters since we started working together some 16 years ago? We weren’t alone in hailing the artistic and commercial triumph of Wasting Light and its all-analog glory as captured completely on tape by Butch Vig and the boys in Dave Grohl’s garage: Wasting Light has generated some of the most positive critical notices of Foo Fighters’ career. In a four star Rolling Stone lead review, David Fricke called Wasting Light “the best Foos album since the first two,” while Us Weekly hailed the album as proof that “rock is not dead,” while People’s four star lead review lauded the Foos’ “undiminished intensity,” and Entertainment Weekly awarded it an A- summing up “Here’s the miracle, though: Foo Fighters never feel like a backward-looking band. Light is a muscular rock & roll throwdown, featuring the Foos delivering exactly the kind of catchy, pummeling anthems they’re known for, with total disregard for the whims of the masses.” What’s more, the band’s every triumph and tragedy of the band’s career was chronicled in the Foo Fighters: Back & Forth documentary (directed by Academy Award winner James Moll) which received similarly rapturous reviews upon its theatrical and video release.
GORILLAZ: The Fall CD & digital release (Virgin) – The album created largely on iPad throughout the Gorillaz 19-date North American Tour last autumn and gifted exclusively to members of the Gorillaz fan club on Christmas of 2010 was finally released commercially this spring. Recorded on a daily basis in various hotels and venues, and produced by Gorillaz and Stephen Sedgwick, The Fall, is a 15-track sonic diary of that amazing journey.
PAUL McCARTNEY: Ocean’s Kingdom orchestral release (Hear Music/Telarc/Concord Music Group) – Paul McCartney’s first foray into the world of dance, Ocean’s Kingdom marks the first time Paul has written an original orchestral score or any kind of music for dance and is the result of a collaboration between Paul and New York City Ballet’s Master in Chief Peter Martins, who worked together to present the world premiere of the ballet for in September. Conducted by John Wilson, produced by John Fraser and performed by The London Classical Orchestra, Ocean’s Kingdom saw Paul approaching the project in the same way he writes all other music, driven by his heart rather than his head and inspired by feeling rather than specific technical knowledge. An hour long score featuring four stunning movements – “Ocean’s Kingdom,” “Hall of Dance,” “Imprisonment” and “Moonrise” – the ballet tells of a love story within the story of an underwater world whose people are threatened by the humans of Earth. A potently expressive and richly varied work, the score is Paul’s most challenging and emotionally complex yet. As he explains: “What was interesting was writing music that meant something expressively rather than just writing a song. Trying to write something that expressed an emotion – so you have fear, love, anger, sadness to play with and I found that exciting and challenging.”
PJ HARVEY: Let England Shake (Vagrant) – “Is Harvey still the single most uncompromising, restless presence in modern rock?” asked THE NEW YORKER. If Let England Shake was any indication, the answer was a resounding yes. Recorded in a 19th century church in Dorset with longtime collaborator Flood–who co-produced with PJ Harvey, John Parish and Mick Harvey and also mixed the record–Let England Shake addressed the state of the world through a uniquely personal lens, resulting in a remarkable album unlike any other in the PJ Harvey canon–or anything else for that matter. Let England Shake recently took the prestigious 2011 Mercury Prize–the first time any artist has won the Mercury Prize twice in his or her career–and is destined for similar honors atop the Best of 2011 of any discerning musical aficionado.
RADIOHEAD: The King Of Limbs (tbd) – Any year when Radiohead does anything at all is a good year here at nasty–and for the world in general–so 2011 is bound to go down as one of the best: the February surprise self-release of The King Of Limbs, followed by its March physical release, the “Lotus Flower” video, the newspaper album, the two historic shows at the Roseland here in New York City, new songs “Staircase” and “The Daily Mail debuted respectively on this year’s Saturday Night Live season premiere and a one-hour special edition of The Colbert Report, the surprise Late Night with Jimmy Fallon appearance… it’s the little things. Except that these weren’t little things at all. From the “open your mouth wide” exhortation at the start of album opener “Bloom” (which would miraculously metamorphosize into one of Radiohead’s fiercest live grooves ever) to the sublime closing of “Separator” and its “wake me up” refrains, The King Of Limbs was everything we wanted and needed in a Radiohead album: challenging, divisive, revelatory in a live setting and out this year!
* And lest we forget, TKOL RMX 1234567, the accompanying double album compiling the Radiohead-commissioned remixes of The King Of Limbs material, was also released this year.
SEASICK STEVE: You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks (Third Man Records) – We knew this album was going to be incredible when Seasick Steve provided one of jaw-droppingest highlights of this year’s South By Southwest. Playing without a band and wielding a bare bones arsenal of the trusty and well-worn guitar known as the three-string trance wonder and the wooden stomp box christened the Mississippi Drum Machine, Seasick Steve slayed the SXSW crowd with tracks from the then-unreleased You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks. In the months since, You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks, which features contributions from nasty little man’s beloved John Paul Jones, has gone gold in the UK–where Steve played this year’s Reading, Leeds and Isle of Wight festivals and sat in with Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones for an encore at one of the Foo Fighters’ two sold out shows at the 65,000 capacity Milton Keynes Bowl.
BEST LIVE SHOW OF 2011–TELL US IF THERE WAS ONE WE MISSED:
All this and we still have RYAN ADAMS at Carnegie Hall, FOO FIGHTERS at Madison Square Garden coming up…
ARCADE FIRE at Coachella – The orbs have it.
EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY April 6 at Radio City Music Hall – There are no words… in more than one sense.
FOO FIGHTERS at Lollapalooza – Man against nature… and man won.
LCD SOUNDSYSTEM April 2 at Madison Square Garden – “The Long Goodbye” indeed!
PAUL McCARTNEY July 15 & 16 at Yankee Stadium – Just when NYC thought it couldn’t get any more incredible than Citi Field ’09
RADIOHEAD September 28 & 29 at the Roseland – Come back soon please…
RAMMSTEIN anywhere–but especially their U.S. network TV debut on JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE.