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Top Ten Albums of 2011

You know what December means, besides reading schmaltzy Christmas books?  It’s Top Ten time!  Without further ado…

Yuck

10.  Yuck – Yuck
It’s 1993 again, you guys, except no homework!
Favorite songs: “Georgia,” “The Wall,” “Sunday”

Bobby Long

9. A Winter Tale – Bobby Long
Whatever – I’m not ashamed.
Favorite songs: “In the Frost,” “Two Years Old,” “Being a Mockingbird”

Bright Eyes

8. The People’s Key – Bright Eyes
Conor Oberst goes mainstream (with the my favorite crazy ramblings – paaaahmagranate).
Favorite Songs: “Jejune Stars,” “Shell Games,” “Triple Spiral”

Explosions in the Sky

7.  Take Care, Take Care, Take Care – Explosions in the Sky
I think this may be my favorite work of theirs so far; it feels the most warm to me.
Favorite songs: “Trembling Hands,” “Postcard from 1952,” “Last Known Surroundings”

Bon Iver

6.  Bon Iver – Bon Iver
I can even forgive the song that sounds like bad* Phil Collins, because the rest is so good.
Favorite songs: “Holocene,” “Towers,” “Calgary”

The Decemberists

5.  The King is Dead – The Decemberists
The Decemberists are back on form, and thank God.  Best ballad-writing of the year!
Favorite Songs: “January Hymn,” “Calamity Song,” “June Hymn”

Mates of State

4.  Mountaintops – Mates of State
Because everyone needs a little glee in their lives, and I’m not talking about the TV show.  Best singalong of the year!
Favorite songs: “Maracas,” “Palomino,” “Change,” “Desire”

Fleet Foxes

3.  Helplessness Blues – Fleet Foxes
I want to curl up in front of a fire with Robin Pecknold’s voice.  Best harmonies of the year!
Favorite songs: “Helplessness Blues,” “Battery Kinzie,” “Grown Ocean,” “Montezuma,” “Lorelai”

Gruff Rhys

2.  Hotel Shampoo – Gruff Rhys
Gruff’s most sophisticated solo album yet, and its inclusion here is hardly surprising.  Best lounge rock of the year!
Favorite Songs: “Vitamin K,” “Honey All Over,” “Christopher Columbus,” “At the Heart of Love,” “Follow the Sunflower Trail (Theme Tune for a National Strike) [bonus track]”

The Vaccines

1.  What Did You Expect from the Vaccines – The Vaccines
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!  Album of the year!
Favorite songs:  Pretty much all of them, but especially “Post Break-Up Sex,” “Wetsuit,” “If You Wanna,” “A Lack of Understanding,” “All in White”

And here is a bit more:

Best songs from albums on the cusp:
“Weekend” from Dye it Blonde by Smith Westerns
“Heart in your Heartbreak” from Belong by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
“Dig a Little Deeper” from Gimme Some by Peter Bjorn & John

Biggest disappointments:
Burst Apart – The Antlers
Kaputt – Destroyer

Embarrassingly Small List of Concerts I Attended (or, as my husband puts it, Wow, We Were Lame This Year)
(this may be the strangest list ever)
The Antlers
Bobby Long
Usher
Journey
Lil Wayne
Morrissey

Please feel free to share your top tens or favorites from this year in the comments.  I’d love to see what you thought of this year’s music!

*Not all Phil Collins is bad… you do know this, right?  Don’t make me break out “Take Me Home” on you.

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I haven’t really been able to write much in the last six weeks or so… or maybe it’s been more like two months.  I’ve been having trouble with my back, and it makes sitting for any amount of time  uncomfortable.  Workdays are managed through use of painkillers and frequent breaks to stand and walk around, and by the time I make it home, there’s just no way I can sit and type.  I have a hard time typing while lying on my back (one of the only positions that is comfortable).

And rather than inspiring words to flow like bottles of good red wine, the drugs are blocking my creative juices like I’ve eaten two pounds of cheese.

I apologize for the previous paragraph.

Anyway, while I haven’t been working on any of my ongoing projects  much, I did lay the groundwork for another novel (while I lay flat on the couch!), this time a young adult book with a bit of a supernatural twist.  I’ve been kicking this idea around for a while, and I guess it was getting impatient with me.  So I endured a bit of pain to sketch out the beginnings of it.  This one will be a bit of a stretch for me – the female protagonist isn’t an outcast (in the conventional sense, anyway), and there’s baseball in it!  I’m also setting it in small-town East Texas, and I’m relying on my friend Tori to help me fill in the details.  She grew up in a town similar to the fictional town in my story.

On top of that, I had yet another idea come to me yesterday, and I really like it.  It’s got all of my favorite things (romance, teenagers, nerds), and I’m thinking of using it for National Novel Writing Month this year.

Did I mention that we’re planning to sell our house on national television?  I’m sure I’ll have more on that later.

The good news is that I am seeing a neurosurgeon and recently had an epidural injection into my back, which has stopped a lot of the pain so that I can start seeing a physical therapist and get back into the gym.  I have high hopes that I can then lose the painkillers and start writing again.

So, that means I:

  • am working a full-time job (and hey, I got a promotion!)
  • am revising my first novel
  • have a half-finished sequel waiting in the wings
  • have two more books begging to be written
  • will be doing tons of physical therapy

… and all the while, trying to keep up with movies, TV, theater, food, and spend time with my friends.  And I should be blogging more as well.  Sleep is overrated, right?

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Top Ten Albums of 2009

Another year, another list.  Ladies and gentlemen, here it is:
10. Still Night, Still Light – Au Revoire Simone
Au Revoir Simone
A great album of dreamy pop music.
Favorite songs: “Anywhere You Looked,” “Another Likely Story”
9.  It’s Blitz – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Yeah Yeah Yeas
This YYYs album grabbed me like none of their others did, which is almost of the theme of this year’s top ten.  I know most people love them for the uptempo, dancey stuff, but I love the atmospheric slow songs the best.
Favorite songs: “Hysteric,” “Runaway,” “Zero”
8.  Middle Cyclone – Neko Case
Neko Case
So “This Tornado Loves You” would be enough to get this album on the list, but I’m glad there are so many other songs on here that I love.
Favorite songs: “This Tornado Loves You,” “Prison Girls,” “Vengeance is Sleeping”
7.  Years of Refusal – Morrissey
Morrissey
It’s no surprise that Morrissey shows up on this list, because he’s just been so good lately.  Middle age definitely suits him.
“It’s Not Your Birthday Anymore,” “Black Cloud,” “I’m OK by Myself”
6 .  Dark Days/Light Years – Super Furry Animals
Super Furry Animals
SFA returned to form this year, even though there were still a couple of clunkers on this album (and yet another awful album cover).  They outdid themselves on the happy-sounding songs this time.  Favorite songs: “Inaugural Trams,” “Where Do You Wanna Go,” “Lliwar Llachar,” “Helium Hearts”
5.  Fantasies – Metric
Metric
For me, this is the best Metric album to date.  I often have a hard time relating to their songs, but I didn’t have any trouble with this one at all.  On the contrary, it didn’t leave my car’s CD player for weeks.
Favorite songs: “Satellite Mind,” “Help, I’m Alive,” “Collect Call”
4.  My Maudlin Career – Camera Obscura
Camera Obscura

The more albums they release, the more I like Camera Obscura.  I think they’re really hitting their stride with this fantastic album, all wrapped up in happiness, sadness, melancholy… all of my favorite feelings.

Favorite songs: “James,” “My Maudlin Career,” “French Navy,” “Honey in the Sun”
3.  The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Oh man, what a fun album.  Makes you want to not be thirty-two years old, that’s for sure.  It easily captures the essence and self-importance of youth.
Favorite songs: “Young Adult Friction,” “A Teenager in Love,” “This Love is Fucking Right,” “Contender”
2.  Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix – Phoenix
Phoenix
This is probably one of the most perfect pop albums ever made.  Nearly every song could be a single, and if there was any justice in this world, these songs would be blowing up the radio.
Favorite songs: “Countdown,” “Girlfriend,” “Lisztomania,” “Fences,” “Rome”
1.  Hospice – The Antlers
The Antlers
Who would have thought a concept album about terminal illness would be my number one album this year?  In fact, for half a year I thought nothing could knock Phoenix from my number one slot.  But this sad, strange little album, with its cancer, hospitals, death, and utter heartbreak slipped in almost effortlessly to the top of the list.  Clearly one of the most beautiful albums of the decade.
Favorite songs: “Two,” “Atrophy,” “Sylvia,” “Wake,” “Bear,” “Shiva”
On the cusp:
Get Guilty – AC Newman
God Help the Girl – God Help the Girl
Further Complications – Jarvis Cocker
Radio Singles:
1.  “Bad Romance” – Lady Gaga (this also wins best video, hands down)
2.  “You Belong With Me” – Taylor Swift
3.  “Paparazzi” – Lady Gaga
Plus these great songs:
“Wrong” – Depeche Mode (and probably the #2 video, too!)
“Fire Burning” – Sean Kingston
“Down” – Jay Sean
“Knock You Down” – Keri Hilson
“Already Gone” – Kelly Clarkson
Best trend:
Bands I love or have loved in the past putting out good albums again.  For example:
– U2 No Line on the Horizon (sucks way less than their previous two efforts)
– Super Furry Animals Dark Days/Light Years
– Depeche Mode sounds of the universe

And there you have it. What was your top music of 2009? Leave it in the comments. If you give me a link to your list, I’ll add it to this post. Thanks for playing!

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