Above is every album I acquired (in order) in 2011. That's a total of 62
Number of Albums Acquired (by Year/Decade)
- 2011: 28
- 2010: 4
- 2000s: 10
- 1990s: 2
- 1980s: 2
- 1970s: 11
- 1960s: 4
- 1950s: 1
Number of Albums Acquired (by Genre)
- Indie Rock: 26
- Ambient: 13
- Krautrock: 10
- Electronic: 4
- Alternative: 2
- 60s Rock: 1
- 70s Rock: 1
- Brasilia: 1
- Calypso: 1
- Country: 1
- Folk: 1
- Psychedelic: 1
Artists for whom I bought at least two albums: Brian Eno, Disappears, Roedelius, Tim Hecker (all two each), and Low (four).
Interesting things to me: I seem to consume roughly the same number of new-to-me indie rock albums every year. I bought 25 indie albums in 2009 and 29 indie albums in 2008 (I lost track in 2010). Indie rock always takes up the largest slice of the pie, too—a little less than half of my overall purchases this year and in 09, and a third of purchases in 08 (when my overall acquisition rate was much higher).
The rest of my year was defined by the next three genres on the list—ambient, krautrock, and electronic. In terms of genre groupings, the only real lines that are being drawn here are in terms of release dates (all the krautrock is from the 70s, nearly all of the ambient is from the last few years) or in terms of beats—though even my tastes in "electronic" music run toward the minimal and subdued—Nicolas Jaar, Actress, etc. So, if you lumped all those genres together you'd have an über-genre that accounted for a higher number of acquisitions than the ever-present indie rock. That would be a fairer portrait of where my head was at, listening-wise. The majority of the indie albums on this list, aside from those I mentioned on my end of year list last week and maybe three or four others, were not that compelling. In general my listening time, as far as these new-to-me albums went, was dedicated to the instrumental/abstract end of the spectrum. (Around the new year I'll do another post, similar to this one, but taking into acount every album I listened to in full this year, as opposed to limiting it to albums I acquired—so we'll see if my impression of my own listening holds true.)
I've already written about my favorite new albums of the year, and I'll write up my favorite "blind spots" from this list soon. That leaves a handful of albums in the above group that are too old to be part of 2011 list but too recent to feel like they belong on my annual blind spots list, which is dedicated to new-to-me classics. Of those, there are a couple that I feel are worth highlighting.
Since last year I've been downloading random tracks from Loscil, aka Scott Morgan, whenever I've come across them on various blogs. It wasn't until mid-year that I finally got to picking up one of his albums. He had a new album this year, Coast/Range/Arc, but I was encouraged by a few friends to start with Submers, from 2002. The album apparently has an underwater theme—all the titles are references to submarines—but that seems incidental to the fact that this is a really terrific ambient record. It's easy to get lost in, and just as easy to stay congnizant of Morgan's nuances.
- Loscil: Argonaut 1
Third Eye Foundation's The Dark came out in 2010, but I didn't get around to hearing it until early 2011 so it missed my favorites list from that year. The Dark was Matt Elliot's first album under the Third Eye Foundation moniker in almost a decade, and it was a monstrous return to form. The first four tracks function more like movements within a larger work, by turns ominous and chaotic. I wrote at length about it back in January, but feel it's worth noting that I've continued to return to the album throughout the year. As the album's title implies, it's a dark record; it's all-enveloping and is worth the immersion.
- The Third Eye Foundation: If You Treat Us All Like Terrorists We Will Become Terrorists
Finally, a couple of quick nods to two bands who appeared on my favorites of 2011 list, Disappears and Low. I also got Disappears' debut album, Lux, this year. Since it's not from 2011 it doesn't count in my best-of-year rundown; that said, it's very similar to Guider, but just that much better.
- Disappears: Marigold
Also, as I've mentioned before on this blog, I returned to Low's discography after a long time away from it—despite them being arguably my favorite band of the 90s. So a good chunk of my year, espcially the spring, was spent listening to their more recent albums. I'd written them off for years but have realized the error of my ways. C'mon is still their best in at least a decade, but both The Great Destroyer and Drums and Guns are great too. (I've written a lot about Low over the years, so if you're interested, go here and just scroll through the posts.)
- Low: Violent Past