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 Wallace Wylie

Wallace Wylie’s Best of 2011

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Austra

By Wallace Wylie

2011 was a great year for music. I say this as somebody who is prone to moodiness and cynicism about the quality of music in more recent years, and not as someone who insists upon looking on the bright side. Pre-2011 I had settled into a holding pattern of hoping for, at best, four or five albums that I could enjoy from each year. When I began writing for Collapse Board I realised that enjoying four or five albums a year was not going to cut it. Obviously, I could always get by on angry denouncements, but I recoiled in horror at the idea of being one of those grumpy old men of music criticism, cynically taking pot shots at every new trend. I decided not only to engage more, but also to rely less on my ‘angry’ persona (this part may have been less successful). What do you know, I ended up enjoying a whole lot more music as a result. Yes, consider this my little piece of self-help advice. On a side note, wherever you go there you are. Anyway, here is my top 10 albums of the year:

Austra – Feel It Break
Austra manage to meld doom laden synth darkness with Hélène Cixous’s The Book Of Promethea, exploring stark sexual frankness and the depths of romantic obsession.

Destroyer – Kaputt
Another album rooted in 80s sounds, it gave Dan Bejar another little moment in the sun. I expect everybody to hate his next release. You’ll love the album he puts out in 2015.

James Blake – James Blake
Bleak, disorienting, brilliant. Blake also released some great EP’s this year as well. Busy man.

Barbara Panther – Barbara Panther
I really thought this would take off more. Still sounds amazing regardless.

Richard Youngs – Amplifying Host
Autumnal, meditative sadness. You can’t own it on CD. Bastard.

(continues overleaf)

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6 Responses to Wallace Wylie’s Best of 2011

  1. Daniel December 17, 2011 at 1:58 am

    Alex Ross is just phenomenal. I thought the Bjork chapter was pretty intriguing, particularly her insights into Callas’ influential voice and the components of what was her worst album (at that time). Have you read Bernstein’s THE INFINITE VARIETY OF MUSIC? It made for an nice companion piece and Ross references it frequently.

  2. Wallace Wylie December 18, 2011 at 10:27 am

    I found that book Bernstein book at my store. Thanks for the tip Daniel.

    I just re-read this and discovered that I wrote ” It’s never pleasant to find out you’ve been acting unreasonably, but this piece managed to do just that “. Do just what? My god, I wrote a completely nonsensical sentence. I think “It’s never pleasant when someone or something shines a light on your unreasonableness but this article managed to do just that” would have been a lot better. It could always be left as-is as punishment for not self-editing correctly.

  3. sleevienicks December 18, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    that mountain goats record is so good. i had a pen tip rip so ready for it, but then when i got it with each listen i couldn’t tear it apart, and i had some good ones.

  4. Wallace Wylie December 18, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    I practically wrote my Mountain Goats review in my head, thinking that I would be ambivalent about it as I had their last few albums. Then I listened to it. Let that be a lesson to us all. Listening to an album can really alter the tone and content of a review.

  5. Tom R December 18, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    You’re spot on about Barbara Panther. I only just got around to checking out that video.

    Spot on.

  6. sleevienicks December 18, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    panthers don’t have spots, you might be thinking cheetahs.

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