All this week, Biff Bam Pop’s various writers will drop by with their thoughts on the best of the year when it comes to tv, music, movies, comics and more. Monday, we looked at what topped our tv list. Today, here’s a list of what topped our list of favourite musical moments. As you’ll see, all of our contributing writers have some diverse taste
This was a year that featured a whole mess of big box sets from the likes of Pink Floyd, The Beach Boys, U2 and many more. Out of all of those, I’d have to say that Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here Immersion Box Set was the real revelation to these Floydian loving ears. Imagine putting on an album you’ve heard hundreds of times and then feeling like you’re experiencing it for the first time. That’s what it was like for me listening to the Surround Sound mix of WYWH. From the wind blowing to the sound of machines working to the actual music itself – I was placed right inside that album. You’d expect an experience like that from Dark Side of the Moon, of course, but Wish You Were Here in surround sound is a revelation that every Floyd fan should check out.
As for new studio albums, I’m keeping with the art/progressive rock vibe and singling out Fly From Here, the first album from Yes in a decade and also the first to feature new vocalist Benoit David. Produced by former Yes singer Trevor Horn (also the man who twisted the dials on the classic 90125) and featuring the return of onetime keyboardist Geoff Downes, the album kicks of with the title track, a 20 minute plus suite of music that ranks with the bands best long-form compositions. From their, we have five more, shorter tracks that let band members Chris Squire, Steve Howe and Alan White demonstrate why they form the nucleus of the band. Some fans may complain that original singer Jon Anderson is nowhere to be found, but as a longtime fan I can safely say that there was no way Yes could have made an album this good or polished if Anderson was still in the fold. This album was released back in July, and I still listen to it all the time, which is a good enough reason for it to be my favourite of 2011.
Best – The Handsome Furs Sound Kapitol on Sub Pop. Montreal-based husband and wife duo, Handsome Furs’ front man Dan Boeckner is generally better known for his role with indie rock darlings, Wolf Parade. However, if the general population could look past the gratuitously shocking front cover image of Sound Kapitol, they’d discover a really solid post-punk revival album for the masses. The tracks on this album force you to dance and sing along.
With Kiss Each Other Clean, the fourth studio offering from Sam Beam’s Iron & Wine, the musician was finally able to hit that genre-crossing sweet spot that invigorated more pop-rock, prog-rock and blues music lovers, opening their ears to Iron & Wine’s musical class for the first time. Yes, there was backlash as some older fans felt left behind but the truth is that Beam was pushing himself into new and creative musical directions but never straying too, too far from his southern U.S. sense of Americana. He is a product of South Carolina, after all.
At just under three hours in length, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo soundtrack is simply the best thing I’ve heard all year, and it’s been out for less than a week. When I first downloaded the six-track sampler available through nin.com, I felt it was just a darker extension of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s earlier foray into soundtracks, their Oscar-winning effort, The Social Network. After a full listen, however, I was blown away, and that was even before I heard the additional 33 tracks.
Best – Steel Panther – Balls Out – To say this loving tribute to the excesses of 80s hair metal is just a joke is a compliment, but it’s only half right. Michael Starr, Satchel, Lexxi Foxxx and Stix Zadinia unleashed their second album in two years, packed with solid riffery and the most ridiculous lyrics you’ll find anywhere. Highlights include the Judas Priest-channelling “In The Future/Supersonic Sex Machine,” “Just Like Tiger Woods,” the future rock anthem “Gold Digging Whore” and the most hilariously sexist guilty pleasure of the year, “That’s What Girls Are For.”
If you don’t own it, get it – but only if you have a sense of humour.
Worst – Metallica & Lou Reed – Lulu – Every successful group of musicians eventually decide to release a vanity project. Sting had 2006’s Songs from the Labyrinth, packed with 16th century lute music. Paul McCartney had his ballet Ocean’s Kingdom. Metallica chose a less classical route when joining forces with folkster Lou Reed, producing an album based on plays by German writer Frank Wedekind that became their least listenable collection since 2003’s St. Anger.
Singles like “The View” and “Cheat on Me” sound more like a high school garage band with artistic pretensions than the combined forces of thrash metal’s #1 sons and the man behind the Velvet Underground. Just. Bloody. Awful.
As much as I could go on, I think our old friend Meme Hitler sums it up best here.