Music Features

A Question Of Sound #6: 2011 First Quarter Playlist

I’ve been keen to reprise this somewhat irregular column for a little while now, and a first quarter playlist seems like an appropriately gentle way to start.

When I introduced No Ripcord’s Top 50 Albums of 2010 piece three months ago, I made no secret of my disappointment with the year's music. In retrospect, this said more about my own frustrations than it did about 2010. I guess I was feeling a little out of touch.

It’s not uncommon for people to jump off the cultural Merry-Go-Round as life starts to become more complicated. I imagine this is why my dad’s record collection stops rather abruptly in the mid-70s. Faced with more pressing concerns than keeping up with musical trends, he chose to stick it out with Bad Company et al for the rest of time. I’m sure this wasn’t a conscious decision for him; it probably just happened. I suspected a similar thing might be happening to me last December and I didn’t like it at all.

I decided that 2011 would be different. It had to be. As well as setting aside more dedicated time for No Ripcord, I began to embrace my 45 minute commute as an opportunity to digest at least one new album every day. This has already paid off: after three months I’ve already got more albums on my provisional End of Year list than I managed for the whole of 2010. I feel like I’m finally emerging from my funk and new music is starting to sound thrilling again (with the possible exception of the Vaccines, but you get my point).

This playlist is a essentially a celebration of my renewed passion for discovering new music. I’ve tried to focus on the 2011 albums I’ve enjoyed, but there are a few exceptions (I didn't rate the new R.E.M. record, but I do love Discoverer).

The first 17 tracks are available as a Spotify playlist, which you can access here.

For those of you who don't have Spotify, I've tried to embed audio from Soundcloud or video from YouTube wherever possible.

. . .

1. Yuck - “Get Away” (from the album Yuck)

2. Cloud Nothings - “Not Important” (from the album Cloud Nothings)

3. Lykke Li - “Youth Knows No Pain” (from the album Wounded Rhymes)

4. The Rural Alberta Advantage - “The Breakup” (from the album Departing)

5. Akron/Family - “So It Goes” (from the album S/T II: The Cosmic Birth...)

6. Fleet Foxes - “Helplessness Blues” (from the upcoming album Helplessness Blues)

7. Iron & Wine - “Me and Lazarus” (from the album Kiss Each Other Clean)

8. R.E.M. - “Discoverer” (from the album Collapse Into Now)

9. Wire - “Adapt” (from the album Red Barked Tree)

10. Parts & Labor - “Echo Chamber” (from the album Constant Future)

11. British Sea Power - “Mongk II” (from the album Valhalla Dancehall)

12. Kurt Vile - “Jesus Fever” (from the album Smoke Ring For My Halo)

13. The Decemberists - “Down By The Water” (from the album The King Is Dead)

14. PJ Harvey - “The Words That Maketh Murder” (from the album Let England Shake)

15. The Phoenix Foundation - “Buffalo” (from the album Buffalo)

16. James Blake - “Unluck” (from the album James Blake)

17. Josh T. Pearson - “Woman, When I’ve Raised Hell” (from the album Last Of The Country Gentlemen)

18. Mazes - “Most Days” (from the album A Thousands Heys)

19. Dum Dum Girls - “Take Care of My Baby” (from the EP He Gets Me High)

. . .