This is the first time I’ve done a music wrap-up, but since music is so much a part of my literary experience and daily life, I thought I would write a few short things about some of the great music I heard/discovered this year. Not necessarily placed in order of like, just my discovery and download within the past year – 2011.
1. Matt Pond PA – Infectious, pop mastery. Discovered this year and downloaded many songs from his whole output, which is quite a lot over the past several years.
2. Frightened Rabbit – Absolutely chilling music in some places, which reflected so much how I was feeling when I discovered “The Winter of Mixed Drinks,” that, at some times it was very painful to listen to. “Not Miserable” is a stand out song – Sample lyric: “I remember the night I almost drowned all alone in a house.”
3. Bill Evans – “Peace Piece” Allowed me the perfect coda for my newest novel.
4. William Fitzsimmons – Take a listen to the song “Bird of Winter Prey” or “Fade and Then Return,” or, and especially, “Just Not Each Other,” and try not to be moved. I also saw him live on the eve of my 50th birthday with dear friends, Perry and Karen, and was a blubbering fool all night.
5. The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang and iTunes Sessions – Heir apparents to the Springsteen mantle and they are proud of it. Anthemic rock, with a great lead singer and full of life and energy. When I wanted to dance or sing out loud this year, I whipped out their version of The Who’s, “Baba O’Riley.” In a word, stunning.
6. Bon Iver – “Holocene” is a beautiful song. Period. But then it’s followed by an even more beautiful song called “Wash.” Concert of the year goes to Bon Iver who came with a 9 piece band where each member played 2-4 completely different instruments depending on the song. The concert was presented almost like a song-cycle and was extraordinary.
7. Peter Gabriel – New Blood – Orchestral reinterpretations of some of Gabriel’s greatest songs. “San Jacinto”, a song I’ve always loved, has more grandeur, passion and emotion than it ever had, and “In Your Eyes,” verging now almost on the cliche, beckons once again. Gorgeous music from a master and a masterful symphony of players.
8. Jonsi – Live at the Wiltern – You can practically hear Iceland in this music. You can practically hear ice breaking and falling in the song, “Sinking Friendships.” His voice gets a bit twee after awhile, but you can dip into the blue, cold world of this music and feel positively warm.
9. Man in the Mirror – Glee Cast – I’d forgotten how great this song by Michael Jackson was until I heard/watched the Gleeks sing it on the show. Cried like a baby. Made me want to go out and volunteer on the spot instead of sitting on my couch eating ice cream and polishing my gay card.
10. Adele – iTunes Concert – Unfortunately not available to see on iTunes anymore in its entirety, but damn, she can sing. And there are some simply amazing notes coming out of her mouth with a terrific, minimalist band behind her letting her voice do the work. She’ll be around for a long time if her voice lets her. It was my first time listening to her and I was smitten.