Best Music of 2011

While the wonder of iTunes has allowed me to amass 7100+ tunes for instant access, I haven’t figured out an effective way to meet up with new tunes/artists/etc.  So, in order to come up with a “Best of 2011” music list, I decided to get “a little help from my friends.”

My strategy: I sent an email to 25 friends who are big music fans and primed the pump with three 2011 albums I like a lot.  I was hoping to get some of them to offer up some of their own personal favorites.

Here are my three choices with a brief explanation in support of each:

Dawes – “Nothing is Wrong” (2011)
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – “The Hard Way” (2010)
Rolling Stones – “Some Girls” (2011).

I was initially drawn to Dawes because of the name (Many of you know my/our good friend and longtime Hyde faculty member Mike Dawes who passed away last year.) and the fact that the critics say they sound like The Band. They do. (The vocals on “Moon In The Water” could pass for the ghost of Rick Danko.) They also have a touch of Jackson Browne who guests on the album. I would never have thought that 70’s-retro “Laurel Canyon” would sound good, but this does. It’s easy on the ear without being Easy-Listening. Great to just let it filter through the house… like it’s been doing at ours all this week!

Speaking of retro, The Dap-Kings offer the best of Detroit/Motown and Memphis/Stax soul while leaning decidedly to the latter, grittier R&B sound. (I understand they even record their stuff on old retro equipment to get that 60s/70s sound.)  I discovered them only because I happened to be exploring the racks at Bullmoose Music in Brunswick — a must stop if you’re ever in Bath and looking to spend some quality downtime — when this album came thru the store sound system. It stopped me in my tracks.  I bought it immediately. It’s a great mix of strings, horns, and drums. And that Sharon Jones can saaahng!

Contrary to some of the critics, I like the “Some Girls” re-mix. The “new” songs could pass for a stand-alone album. You’d probably have to be a Baby-Boomer to “get” the hilarious “Claudine” (remember the Claudine Longet/Spider Sabich/Andy Williams love/murder triangle?) but anyone will enjoy their covers of “Tallahassee Lassie” and Hank Williams’ “You Win Again.” Nobody does covers like The Rolling Stones.

So, I showed them mine (so to speak).  Stay tuned for the responses I received.  (And don’t be shy about offering some of your own.

Onward,  Malcolm Gauld