Every year I make a Best Of list, and every year it’s this late. That’s because I wait to see everyone else’s list, fill in any gaps in my collection, get to know the new music a bit, and then make my decisions.
The Civil Wars are the obvious choice, having made a smash entry on the music scene via Grey’s Anatomy and also receiving a resounding endorsement from Taylor Swift herself. Their two Grammy awards for Best Folk Album and Best Country Duo/Group Performance are certainly well-deserved. Just listen to their star track “Poison & Wine.” But honestly, the entire album is simply amazing. After I got it, I listened to it on repeat for weeks. If you don’t have their album yet, BUY IT NOW. And good news – You can download their live album free on their website.
Feather & Belle is another new duo, and another album that I set on repeat. These two lovely ladies have plenty of musical experience in other groups and have joined together to create a really lovely sound. My words really can’t do them justice, so please, just give them a listen. In cool recent news, I just read on their website that their live debut was at the Sundance Film Festival with none other than… The Civil Wars.
So here we go. The List. In no particular order. Enjoy!
Best of 2011
“Shake It Out,” Florence + the Machine
Grammy Nominee for Best New Artist.
“Hidden Staircase,” Feather & Belle
Can’t find a full video for this one, but this video is a snippet of “Hidden Staircase.” You can watch a couple videos of their other songs on their YouTube channel. You can also listen to a few select songs on their website. When you launch the site, a video of their song “Walk in Gutters” will start playing immediately, but after watching that, look for the player at the top right of the page and play “Hidden Staircase” and then “Tennessee Baby.” And then head on over to iTunes and buy their whole album. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
“Arms,” Christina Perri
“Wonderful (The Way I Feel),” My Morning Jacket
This album, Circuital, got a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album.
“Real Slow,” Megafaun
For my readers in the Chapel Hill area, Megafaun will be playing the Haw River Ballroom in April!
“Lucio,” Mary Johnson Rockers
Can’t find a video for this one, but you can preview and purchase her music on iTunes. Mary plays pretty small, local shows, but she’s definitely a well-known regular on the Chapel Hill/Carrboro music scene. It’s only a matter of time before she’s playing on a national stage. And just fyi, as Mary says, “It’s a last name, not a band.”
“Don’t Carry It All,” The Decemberists
It was difficult to pick one song off this album. The BF voted for this one, so here it is. I’m also partial to January Hymn, Down By The Water, June Hymn, and This Is Why We Fight. “Down By The Water” got Grammy nominations for Best Rock Performance and for Best Rock Song.
“Helplessness Blues,” Fleet Foxes
This album got a Grammy nomination for Best Folk Album.
“Poison & Wine,” The Civil Wars
Haunting, gorgeous, beautiful. Best song on this list. Their debut album earned them two Grammys: Best Folk Album and Best Country Duo/Group Performance.
I felt like I had to pick an Adele song. I mean, she swept up SIX GRAMMYS. “Rolling In The Deep” got Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Short Form Music Video; 21 got Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album; and “Someone Like You” got Best Pop Solo Performance. But honestly, I am getting a little tired of 21 after the amount of play she’s getting. But I liked her cover of Lovesong from the first time I heard it, and I’ve always loved the original from The Cure.
“The Bad In Each Other,” Feist
This song rocks. Go ahead – jam out.
“Holocene,” Bon Iver
Overall, I thought For Emma, Forever Ago was better, but Bon Iver is pretty awesome too. I do love Holocene. Pretty stoked they won two Grammys for this album – Best New Artist and Best Alternative Album. They also got nominations for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.
“What’ll I Do,” Lisa Hannigan
Lisa used to sing with Damien Rice – she’s the awesome female vocals in O. They had a somewhat messy split, but she’s gone on for a successful solo career. This song is really fun, and the rest of the album rocks too.
“Hard Times,” Gillian Welch
This song sounds like a cold winter day. I just got the album, and I can’t wait to play it on a drive in the mountains. This got Grammy nominations for Best Folk Album and Best Engineered Album (Non-Classical).
“Civilian,” Wye Oak
Wow, love her voice. For serious. Also, I can’t help mentioning that “Take It In” is my most favorite song of theirs ever, even though it’s off their 2009 album and therefore irrelevant to this list.
“Yoü and I,” Lady Gaga
Gaga didn’t get any Grammys this year, but she did get a few nominations. Born This Way was nominated for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album, and “Yoü And I” was nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance.
“I Wanna Go,” Britney Spears
Get it, girl! This my jam!
“Super Bass,” Nicki Minaj
Honestly I’m not super excited about Nicki’s rapping (or any rap, for that matter), but I really like the chorus. Also I love singing this super loud in my car. Super. Nicki didn’t go home with any Grammys, but she did get a nomination for Best New Artist, “Moment 4 Life” was nominated for Best Rap Performance, and Pink Friday was nominated for Best Rap Album.