Staff Faves of 2011

National Top 10--(Nick Rallo)

10. Centro-matic, Candidate Waltz

The best album made in Texas this year. Will Johnson's songwriting is nearing Hattori Hanzo sword-sharp.


Year-end list

9. Deep Dark Woods, The Place I Left Behind

If you once gave a shit about Jay Farrar, still give a shit about Centro-matic, Wilco, or the future of alt-country, you need to buy this immediately and listen to "The Banks of Leopold Canal."

8. Kurt Vile, Smoke Ring For My Halo

This is the album that should show up next to "haunting" in the dictionary.

7. Portugal. The Man, In the Mountain In the Cloud

Most fun album of the year. That's all I got.

6. White Denim, D

Forty thousand years from now, if you found this album in a heap of rubble, you'd have NO idea what decade it came from.

5. Wilco, Whole Love

Whole Love solidified two things for me: I'll be listening to Wilco for the rest of my life, and they're the best rock band in America.

4. Wye Oak, Civilian

A multilayered, gorgeous album from the Baltimore duo. See tracks "Holy Holy" and "We Were Wealth" for evidence of their future fame.

3. Tune-yards, Whokill

"Weird" is the operative word, but not the right one. Whokill is one of the most skillfully made albums of the year.

2. Bon Iver, Bon Iver

Does anyone else in the Milky Way capture the sound of winter better? It's the most unpretentious pretentious album of the year.

1. Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues

This is a perfect album. Through and through, an artistic endeavor in explosive, sharp songwriting.

Local Top 10--(Daniel Hopkins)

10. The Strange Boys, Live Music

The Strange Boys have put their pop sensibility at the forefront, trading in the gritty sound of their previous efforts for a more listenable record.

9. Sundress, Sundress

This EP represents a fresh start for a Denton band that spent the last few years searching for its musical identity. Tight drum grooves, sunburned guitars and overwhelming psychedelia point to a bright future.

8. Seryn, This Is Where We Are

Seryn's passionate performances translate nearly perfectly to tape on their full-length debut. The album surges with four-part harmonies and interesting poly-rhythms, making it a sort of prog-folk gem.

7. The O's, Between the Two

On The O's second full-length, the country/folk duo made up of John Pedigo and Taylor Young took a different approach to songwriting than in the past. The resulting record is the band's best yet.

6. The Burning Hotels, The Burning Hotels

On their self-titled release, Burning Hotels were smart not to traipse back through the post-punk territory of their previous records. Instead, they've matured with a slower sound and added more electronic elements.

5. Old Snack, Everything Is Happening So Fast

The best song titles to come from a North Texas act are on Old Snack's debut: "The Man With the Golden Snack," "Burt Reynolds IV" and "Sally Field's Butt" are choice cuts on this energetic punk record.

4. Sailors With Wax Wings, Sailors With Wax Wings

This shouldn't be on my list, seeing as it came out in 2010, but I don't really care. It reminds me of Slowdive's Just For A Day, only much darker. Makes sense: Slowdive's Simon Scott collaborated on this album.

3. St. Vincent, Strange Mercy

It's hard to deny Annie Clark's brilliance. With each album, she outdoes the previous one, and on her third record, Strange Mercy, the guitar performance and pop sensibility have never been better.

2. The Blurries, Paper Cuts

Out of nowhere, The Blurries went from being an OK band called Slider Pines to releasing this piece of gritty rock. The album is full of incredible hooks (the chorus of "Little Marie" is impossible to shake), beautiful melodies and energetic musicianship.

1. Centro-matic, Candidate Waltz

If someone asked me to choose the best band North Texas has to offer, I would choose Centro-matic in a second. From the prolific mind of singer Will Johnson comes yet another brilliant work. Everything you could want in an album is here: top musicianship, great melody and energy, and Johnson narrates each song like a miniature novel. Not to mention that "Only In My Double Mind" is the band's best single since 2004's "Flashes And Cables."


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