2011 was the year of sophomore albums that didn’t disappoint and New Jersey Indie Rock band Real Estate is certainly no exception. I could not think of a more chill way to start off this countdown than with the album Days. It was this year’s reminder that everyone just needs to chillax once in a while.
The album offers a serene, beachy sound without coming off as too boring. “BeachFossils’esque” guitar strumming found in songs like “Green Aisles“ make it clear that this album is meant to accompany a summertime poolside icy cold beer. However, the vocals and lyrics of Days provide a more meaningful experience than just some nice weather ambient tunes. Just try and go on the Zoombezi Bay lazy river next summer with the “Local Native’esque” ballads of “It’s Real” playing and tell me you can physically feel stress. Fast-forward to freezing cold December and this album still remains as one of the most “chill as fuck” albums of the year.
First, I want to wish everyone a Happy Hannukkah. Before I get the countdown started I want to show tribute some of 2011′s albums that were cool, but just not cool enough. These didn’t make my top 10, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have a special contribution to my 2011 musical identity. Today’s musical journey may be a tad long, so you may want to go grab a 5 hour energy.
Death Cab for Cutie- Codes and Keys
Codes and Keys was the return of the Death Cab I knew and loved. After Transatlanaticism, the band signed with Atlantic Records. Maybe they felt a need to grow up a little bit because of this, but I felt the maturation of the band seen on Plans was a tad forced. This could easily be the fact that I was just still watching the O.C. or Ben Gibbard’s weight loss program, however even the sound of Narrow Stairs just wasn’t the goods I knew the band could bring. Fast forward to 2011, the band drops Codes and Keys. Not sure about all of you, but Death Cab has always been that summertime nostalgia band for me. And Codes and Keys did just that. “You are a Tourist” is classic deathcab 101, and “Monday Morning” and “Underneath the Sycamore” are the catchy deathcab ballads we have all grown to love. Even the band’s reminders they are not in their 20s anymore like “St. Peter’s Cathedral” and “Unobstructed Views” lack the depressing vibe seen in some of the bands past albums. All this plus the fact that they played on my 25th birthday in the summer, makes Codes and Keys an experience to remember and the perfect bridge to saying goodbye to my adolescence.
Must Listen: “You Are a Tourist”
Los Campesinos!-Hello Sadness
The last time I felt like I saw something grow up this closely is when I had a pet turtle in college. I ended up selling him to a 9 year old for $20, but the point still stands. When Los Campesinos! debuted in 2008 with 2 albums in the same year, this seven piece band from Wales made it clear they liked dance parties. Seeing them perform at the Wexner Center Black Box, defined what indie stage presence is to me. 2 albums later the band has shown serious linear maturity and improved song writing. What do you get when one of the most cheery indie pop bands shows their dark side? Simply Hello Sadness. The album’s song arrangements are unlike anything the band wrote in ’08, and even though you can’t really dance to it, it’s sound progression makes sense and is very well polished. I also don’t think indie darkness get’s any better than the music video for “Hello Sadness” where lead singer Gareth Campesinos is being dragged to his own forced wedding while all his friends are getting tortured around him making it clear that If I’m going to be sad I want it to be with Los Campesinos! They are playing Jan 25th at Skullys so prep your dancing shoes appropriately.
Must Listen: “Hello Sadness”
If we ever make it to the moon, this is what hipsters will be having zero gravity dance parties to. Starfucker brings a fresh electro sound that you don’t stop tapping your feet to. Their show at Skullys was one of the weirdest I have ever seen, but also one of the most fun.
Must Listen- “Julius”
Icelandic Post-Rock band Sigur Ros’s live video documentary of their final shows in London is as much as a goodbye as it is a hello. At the time the band was getting ready to take an indefinite hiatus for Jonsi to do, well Jonsi. It’s amazing how much a band can gain attention when they go away, but it is no question that Sigur Ros is now bigger than ever and gearing up to do another album. The documentary highlights some of the bands origins and is filmed in a style that only Sigur Ros’s imaginations can bring to life. If by the end of it you are not internally weeping, well then you have no soul.
Must Listen/Watch: “Glosoli”
Maritime- Human Hearts
If any of you are lucky to go on vacay someplace warm over this break, don’t forget to bring Maritime with you. Not only will this album put you in a great mood, it is the perfect compliment to your icy cold Corona. If your stuck in Ohio like me then we can all pretend.
Must Listen: “Paraphernalia”
The Joy Formidable- The Big Roar
I don’t think an album title can be anymore appropriate than The Joy Formidable’s The Big Roar. This album is loud as hell and just as epic.
Must Listen: “Austere”
Explosions in the Sky-Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
Drake’s not the only person who offered good wishes to us in 2011. Post-rock band Explosions in the Sky offers an experience unlike any band I have ever heard. There is no lyrics, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be captivated by their explosive loud to soft to loud arrangements. The video to “Last Known Surroundings” is also some of the coolest animation and the most logical “how the earth began” origin stories I’ve ever seen.
Must Listen: “Last Known Surroundings”
Catalyzed by the near death experience via plane crash of Travis Barker, Neighborhoods marks the bands reformation and first album in 8 years. The album is named after the various sounds each member of the band has embraced during their long hiatus, and dedicated to the various people that shaped the band’s life (as seen hidden throughout the album cover) . It was also challenging for the band as the album was self-produced since their longtime Producer Jerry Finn passed away. Despite how far the members had to travel back to the sound of Blink-182, they pull it off. The album for long-time fans like myself provides the nostalgia that I made out to the first time with, but also a reminder that they are not kids anymore. Needless to say it’s good to have these guys back. Now all we need is another American Pie movie…oh wait there is one coming out next year???
Must Listen: “Ghost on the Dance Floor”
Hope everyone enjoyed this year’s honorable mentions…see you back tomorrow for #10 of the album countdown.
Hello everyone, welcome to RadCulture.com 2.0! (The “I’m in dental school now” edition). It’s good to be back, I hope you all missed us that past 7 months as much as we missed you.
Things here are a little different from where we last left off. First off, RadCulture will be solely focused on music now. I will highlight my top weekly favorite tunes and local must see shows around the Columbus area. Posts will be less frequent, but that doesn’t mean they will be any less special. In summary, think of this as RadCulture Express or one of those Chili’s Too they have in airports. I promise every time you visit it will be like one of those upright Asian back and neck massages they have in the terminals.
To kick off our return, starting tomorrow I will be counting down my top 10 albums of 2011 every day til new years. Some of my picks will really excite you, some will really piss you off, but either way amazing tunes will be shared over the internet. See you all back here tomorrow, hugs and kisses.