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2011 In Review

Friday, December 30, 2011

The 10 Best Underground Rock Reissues of 2011

Posted By on Fri, Dec 30, 2011 at 4:30 AM

With the back catalogs of classic artists seeing rerelease with crucial bonus material, and boutique labels specializing in reissues of obscurities for niche consumers, 2011 was a superb year for reissues. There was such a wealth of substantive reissues that it was necessary to exclude some of the more prominent rereleases, such as The Rolling Stones' Some Girls and The Beach Boys' Smile Sessions, from this list. Instead, we've collected 10 pivotal rock reissues from 2011 that may not have elicited as much attention, but are equally important.

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Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Let Love In

[Mute]

The entire Bad Seeds catalog has been remastered and rereleased with bonus tracks and videos, but Let Love In benefits the most from the renewed attention. With Cave receiving attention lately for the primal skronk and dirge of Grinderman and Dig Lazarus, Dig, it's refreshing to hear the Bad Seeds perform so differently, and most effectively, on Let Love In. The delicate restraint and understatement of "Red Right Hand" and "I Let Love In" provides a musical foil for the demented musical somersaults of "Jangling Jack." On "Lay Me Low," an outsider's delusional sense of redemption in death is put to a ballad with grotesque realism and the haunting authenticity that only Cave could muster.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The 10 Best Dance Tracks Of 2011

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 4:30 AM

Julio Bashmore killed it in '11
  • Julio Bashmore killed it in '11

It's been a good year for dance music in the Bay Area. Last week, we took a look at the 10 best releases from local producers. This week, we've turned our attention towards the year's biggest dance tracks. These are the tunes that have kept San Francisco's most forward-thinking clubs hopping. Read on and see what's made the cut.

"Battle For Middle You," Julio Bashmore

2011 was the year when UK garage and dubstep producers decided to go back to their roots. It was an exciting time of cross pollination between scenes that saw fresh forms of music taking hold. At the fore of this contemporary British invasion is Julio Bashmore and this tune, "Battle For Middle You." Incorporating aspects of classic house with the clean and clinical production aesthetic of UK garage, the song features a monster chorus that was the highlight of some of our favorite DJ sets of the year.

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The Top Five Pop Songs of 2011

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 4:00 AM

2011 was the year Beyonce got knocked up, Lady Gaga arrived at the Grammys in an egg, and a soul singer from London took over the world. Tomorrow we'll be bitching about the worst pop moments of the year, but today, here are our favorite pop hits from 2011.

5. "Till The World Ends," Britney Spears

This year, Britney finally triumphed over all her demons, and came out fighting and foxy. (That woman has had two children and a lot of cheeseburgers -- how does her ass look so good?) Either way, "Till The World Ends" is an invigorating rush of pop bombast that makes you want to jump up and down on the spot like a three-year-old in the middle of a sugar rush. Aerobics instructors will be making use of this song for many, many years to come.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Absorb More Best of 2011 Picks (Including Ours) in Noise Pop's New Podcast

Posted By on Tue, Dec 27, 2011 at 5:30 AM

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Most people write out a year-end list; wisely, Noise Pop makes a podcast out of the project. The crew at S.F.'s best-known indie concert promotion outfit polled a host of artists, bloggers, DJs, and music writers about their favorite songs of 2011. The result is a recording that includes a wide variety of voices -- the favorites of artists like Purity Ring's Megan James and Real Estate's Martin Courtney, for example -- along with the actual songs, for a rich listening experience. It even includes your own SF Weekly music editor (that's me) babbling somewhat coherently about the funky joys of tUnE-yArDs' "Gangsta," my pick for the best track of 2011. So hit the jump -- there you'll find a stream of the Best Of podcast and the names of the commenters and their favorite songs, too.

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The 12 Worst Rock Album Covers of 2011

Posted By on Tue, Dec 27, 2011 at 4:30 AM

It's common to round up the worst album art at the end of every year, but the ridicule is usually directed at easy targets. Album covers from old, out-of-touch musicians, second-rate rock acts, and popular bands that are already despised by music critics absorb most of the venom, while indie-leaning rock bands are usually given protection from critics' wrath. But there are droves of underwhelming and uninspired album covers from decent and even good artists, and they shouldn't be exempt from examination. These aren't as overtly hysterical as William Shatner's Seeking Major Tom, or as simply disgusting as Limp Bizkit's Gold Cobra, but below, we've rounded up the 12 worst rock album covers of 2011 from actually relevant artists. Feel free to mention any other offenders in the comments below.

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I'm From Barcelona

Forever Today

[Mute]

For their final project in graphic design class, they affixed tiny people engaging in leisure activities to a blue background. The teacher decided to embellish the piece with a stylized grade, and I'm From Barcelona were given their album cover. Unfortunately, the music doesn't score much higher.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

The 10 Best Bay Area Music Videos of 2011

Posted By on Thu, Dec 22, 2011 at 5:00 AM

From Seventeen Evergreen's "Polarity Song" video.
  • From Seventeen Evergreen's "Polarity Song" video.

Ah, the music video: In three decades, these modest clips went from insider promo tool, to prime-time TV staple, to Internet meme-generator. And despite all the online noise and bustle of 2011, a good music video is still a fantastic way to grab eyeballs and turn people on to something they didn't know about. There were dozens of excellent music vids released this year, but here, we've narrowed it down to the 10 we remember best from Bay Area artists. In no particular order, our favorite local music videos of 2011:

tUnE-yArDs, "Bizness"

Any music video that matched half of the freewheeling creativity of this Oakland outfit's breakthrough sophomore album, w h o k i l l, was going to be a blast. And with singing schoolchildren, facepaint galore, and a lot of funky dancing, this Mimi Cave-directed clip made for a dazzling accompaniment to the album's lead-off single.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The 10 Best Bay Area Indie Rock Records of 2011

Posted By on Tue, Dec 20, 2011 at 9:22 AM

It was a banner year for San Francisco and Bay Area indie rock -- at least for those who didn't start ignoring it to go dancing instead. No, really: This year, the local scene grabbed feature-length attention from the New York Times and Pitchfork, and also put out some excellent records. Here are our 10 favorite local indie rock albums of the year, in no particular order:

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Mikal Cronin

Mikal Cronin

[Trouble in Mind]

Known until recently as a collaborator and sometime band member of Ty Segall's, Mikal Cronin launched to the forefront of the S.F. rock scene with this year's self-titled debut. Contributions from Segall (on drums) and Thee Oh Sees' John Dwyer (on the opening track's flute solo) helped familiarize him to new listeners, but Cronin's work really stands on its own: Lead single "Apathy" is one the catchiest guitar songs we heard all year, but there truly isn't a bad song on this album, from the breezy groove of "Get Along" to the sweet, Beatles-y chorus melody of "Situation." Cronin seems to naturally focus the grungey heft of his local peers into the kind of tuneful cuts that Segall (see below) has only recently begun to explore. So even if it wasn't the debut from an S.F. newcomer, this would be a hugely impressive record.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

The 10 Best Bay Area Hip-Hop Records of 2011

Posted By on Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 9:56 AM

After years of being overshadowed, Bay Area hip-hop finally began grabbing lots of national attention again in 2011. And for good reason: this year saw blistering releases from newer arrivals as well as hot records from local legends. Join us as we round up the 10 best hip-hop records from the Bay Area that came out during the last 12 months. Here they are, in no particular order:

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Trackademicks

State Of The Arts

[Door 442]

The breeziest in the Bay, Honor Roll producer and rapper Trackademicks' solo debut is a marvel of sophisticated, synth-laden production and astute, educated raps. The uptempo title track is utterly uplifting without ever becoming corny, "Stop It!" with Mistah F.A.B. is a lesson in low-end slap, and "Fool On The Hill" -- with a stand-out guest spot from Phonte -- pulses along with a highly hypnotic groove. Intelligent, positive and danceable, State Of The Arts testifies to Track's motto of creating the best notes from the fresh coast. -- Phillip Mlynar

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Year in Music Booze: Six Artist's Beverages That Made 2011 One Long Hangover

Posted By on Wed, Dec 14, 2011 at 12:49 PM

Rock 'n' roll culture died in 2011. It's got nothing to do with your opinion of Bon Iver, but everything to do with Rolling Stone. The former leading voice of modern music upheld its immaculate reputation this year... by starting an official wine club. It's filled with bottles branded with imagery from the likes of the Police and the Rolling Stones. It tastes like drowning your hopes for the artistry of music in grape juice (we assume).

Considering that, this feels like the right time to look back on a surprising year in the intersection of beverage and band. It's not a new trend (who hasn't had Warrant's 2007 Cherry Pie Red Napa Valley wine at this point?) but 2011 took it to, well, 11. With honorable mention apologies to Kiss and the Grateful Dead, here's our six-pack of 2011's most intoxicating (and regrettable) music beverage releases:

6. Train's Drops of Jupiter Petite Syrah

Drops of Jupiter - TRAINLINE

It's well documented -- Train sucks. The band makes empty pop songs that manage to be as annoying on first listen as they are on the 10,000th radio play. But if a modern band exists whose discography would clearly become better to listen to as one's blood-alcohol level rises, this is probably it. And, ultimately, if a band is going to launch a wine club in addition to its own wine, shouldn't it at least hail from Northern California?

Assumed aural taste equivalent: If this wine is at all worth a damn, the exact opposite of hearing "Hey Soul Sister."

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  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"