Brent & Kent’s Best Songs of 2011

The Annual Combo List of our favorite songs, ranked and averaged.

Top 20:


1. Sadness Is a Blessing – Lykke Li
2. Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out – The Antlers
3. Rolling In The Deep – Adele
4. Hanging From a Hit – Okkervil River
5. The Words That Maketh Murder – PJ Harvey
6. California – EMA
6. Two Cousins – Slow Club
8. Carrying the Torch – Generationals
9. Shangri-La – YACHT
10. Walking Far From Home – Iron & Wine
11. Go Outside – Cults
12. My Mistakes – Eleanor Friedberger
13. Runner Ups – Kurt Vile
14. Wicked Games – The Weeknd
14. Dust Bowl III – Other Lives
16. The Last Goodbye – The Kills
16. Hate Me Soon – Yellow Ostrich
18. Sleep – The Dodos
19. Lovers Lane – Hunx & His Punx
20. Serve the People – Handsome Furs
20. Meantime – Givers
22. Would You Say Stop? – Acid House Kings
22. Deep Oblivion – David Lowery
24. I Miss My Friend – Madeline
24. Civilian – Wye Oak
26. I Was There – The War on Drugs
27. Spitting Blood – Wu Lyf
28. Drover – Bill Callahan
29. Tina Said – Those Darlins
29. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea – Byé Lai Mar – This one isn’t in the playlist above, because it is cooler than you.
31. Mr. Know It All – Kelly Clarkson
31. The Hunt – Youth Lagoon

Best Music of 2011

Kent’s Best of:

Legitimately Good Albums

  • Okkervil River – I Am Very Far – After two less-than-memorable releases, Okkervil River pulls it together.  They’ve finally got the “rock n roll” sound they were trying for on The Stage Names down, yet there is plenty of rambling woe is me Okkervil River songs as well.  Pity that the best song, Mermaid, was only released as a single.
  • Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring for My Halo – Brent thought it was odd that I would like this album so much, due to its lyrics of woe, and I thought it was odd that he would like it so much, due to its guitar virtuosity.  Kurt Vile does both things really well.  I like that the guy has such a terrible voice (All my favorite singers couldn’t sing).  I like the too lazy to be punk aesthetic.  I like that just about every episode of my new favorite terrible TV show, Revenge, has a song off this album in it.
  • Tom Waits – Bad as Me – Like Okkervil River, Tom Waits has been putting out some crummy albums of late.  I suppose I shouldn’t say crummy, because Tom Waits and Okkervil River’s crap is way better than most other bands best efforts.  Anyway, this is Tom Waits’ best work since Mule Variations.  I like the way each song goes in it’s own direction, rather than the unified sound of Real Gone.

Good Albums That Aren’t As Good As The Legitimately Good Albums, But Are Still Pretty Good.

  • Generationals – Actor-Caster – Generationals make a strange kind of music.  It’s nostalgic pop, but with a synthesizer twinge.  It’s like they have taken samples of old music and stitched them together.  The guitar sounds like it is straight out of the 60s.  The production is great, and they have a great ear for adding odd instruments to the mix without overdoing it. I had 3 chances to go see them this year, and did not make a single one, and I regret that.  I think their biggest accomplishment is being a New Orleans band that doesn’t sound like a New Orleans band.
  • The Antlers – Burst Apart – Once you make a great concept album, I feel like you have to keep on making concept albums.  It just seems weird to not over-analyze an Antlers album as a whole.
  • Other Lives – Tamer Animals – Apparently they have another album that sounds just like this one.  I must have had it at some point, because Brent has it.  Apparently it didn’t survive the yearly purge of crappy music.  The three song stretch of Tamer Animals, Bust Bowl III, and Weather is just fantastic reverb-y goodness.
  • Yellow Ostrich – The Mistress – I love a lo-fi sound.  I love recorded loops.  I love harmonies.  Naturally, I really enjoy Yellow Ostrich’s weirdo album.  All the songs are pretty much the same, but the sound is fantastic.

Albums that have one or two really good songs on them, and a bunch of filler.

  • Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean
  • Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
  • EMA – Past Life of Martyred Saints
  • The War on Drugs – Slave Ambient

Albums with a great sound that don’t have any great songs on them

  • Wu Lyf – Go Tell Fire to the Mountain
  • The Dodos – No Color

Album that would have been on this list had Kurt Vile not come around
and said “This is how you do it”

  • Thurston Moore – Demolished Thoughts
Brent’s best of:
10) Slow Club:Paradise– I had a bunch of albums tied for 10th, at the end, it was either this, or Those Darlin’s.  Slow Club won because the first song, Two Cousins, is so good.  It gets me excited for the whole album.  It never tops the opener.  But especially as a sophomore effort, I really think they did a bang-up job.9) Allo Darlin’: Allo Darlin’– This came out in 2010, and has the worst name I can think of for a band.  So that was two strikes right there.  But it’s sweet and clever in the way that Belle and Sebastian or Camera Obscura can be.  Horrible name.  It bears repeating.8) Adele:21– There are some lousy songs on this thing, but it also includes two songs that could be the song of the year for me.  And several others that might be in that category if they were in the shadow of the Rolling in the Deep and Someone Like You. And I love the concept of Adele being a popstar who outsold like everyone else this year.7)  The Weeknd:House of Balloons– I am the last person that should be liking this album, and I’m sure I don’t get all its references, but it won me over.  It sounds like 1990’s R&B to me, but I’m sure I have that wrong.  Much more than the sum of its parts.6) Hunx & His Punx:Too Young to Be in Love – Phil Spector girl-group songs sung by a gay!  Where do I sign up?  I loved this album.  Pure joy.  And then they whip out this raspy-voiced lady singer!  Even better.

5) The Anlers:Burst Apart – Their last album, Hospice, was great, but sounded lousy.  This album is good but it sounds great.  The Antlers make great songs.  Every Nigh My Teeth Are Falling Out.  Come on.

4) Lykki Li:Wounded Rhymes – Any of these next three could be my number one album.  Lykki Li is like 20 or something.  It’s crazy how good these songs are when you consider how young she is.  There seems to be a real trend of retreading Phil Spector.  But her Sadness is a Blessing is the only take on it that expanded on it in any way.  Love Out of Lust is going to be one of my favorite songs as long as I am in love.  Rich Kid Blues and Get Some should be on the radio.

3)  Cults:Cults – Okay, I take that back.  I think the Cults reference the Spector sound and they do some good stuff with it indirectly.  Go Outside is one of my favorite songs of the year, which is unfortunate because it was released last year.  The album is 2011 however, and songs like You Know What I Mean and Bumper grew on me all year.  Kent hit the head on the nail.  This is next what seems to be a constant line of noise guy/girl singer bands (Sleigh Bells, Crystal Castles).

2) Generationals:Actor-Castor/Trust – I’m lopping together the EP and the album because both were excellent.  I wanted like the dickens to put as my number one entry.  But the only problem with this band – it’s fundamental to them and I don’t think they should change it –  their lyrics don’t mean anything to me.  So you have these unbelievably songs and pretty good production, but the words don’t take me anywhere.  Which is a shame.  It was by far the best tunes of the year in my opinion.  Yes, I just said tunes.

1) Okkervil River:I Am Very Far/Mermaid –   I love this band, and this is their best work since Black Sheep Boy.  Also, as Kent pointed out to me last month, the Mermaid Single is a real piece of work too.  Will Scheff is kind of a jerk, as I learned this year.  But I will take his lyrics over almost anyone at this point.  And they take enough left turns musically to make it an interesting album in that regard as well.

Find this same information here, at Brent’s blog:

Still to come: The Best Songs of 2011 List

K&B Best Music of 2010

Time for the annual tradition. The best music you’ve never heard rated by Kent and Brent, who have deemed themselves some kind of critics worthy of being listened to.

Brent first:

11) Sufjan Stevens – All Delighted People EP
Sufjan Stevens put out this EP, and then he put out an electronic LP. Everyone loves the electronic one. I don’t get it. This EP is the best thing Sufjan Stevens has ever done. Maybe I should now offer up that I don’t really care for Sufjan Stevens. But this is a collection of needlessly long songs that still somehow won me over. How did he do it? I don’t know. The title track is particularly good. Anyone who wonders what Simon and Grafunkel’s “Sound of Silence” would be like if it was spread out over a start-and-stop over-orchestrated eleven minute song. Wonder no more.

Best Song: All Delighted People (Original Version)

10) Phosphorescent – Here’s to Taking It Easy.

This is a band that I have always listened to once, and put down. I never really gave them a shot. But this album is a) perfectly named, and b) really beautiful. It’s just standard alt-country fare, and the lead singer sounds like a wiener. But they do what they do very well. And I like to listen to them while I do my dishes. And look out the window. And dream about what I’m going to do when Chelsey gets out of jail.

Best Song: The Mermaid Parade

9) Vampire Weekend – Contra

This should probably be higher, but it’s no longer summer, and I am only able to appreciate Vampire Weekend in the sun. This was my favorite car album. Driving around, listening to “Run”, or “I Think Ur a Contra” were some of the best moments of my summer. My one regret is that I never got to listen to them on a beach this year. Actually I have two regrets. I wish “Holiday” had not been co-opted by Tommy Hilfigger, or whoever the fuck that is with the car and the table and the driving dog. I hate the people in those ads. I hate the people in all ads that have to do with name bands that one could find in a department store. What fantasy are you selling? There’s a polo ad on right now that is just so dumb. There’s a recession, and it’s about this douchebag who plays polo, and yachts and all this rich shit. Fuck you, polo guy, there’s double digit unemployment. We would all like to burn your boat to the ground and eat you. Well, maybe not all of us.

Best Song: Taxi Cab

8 ) Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM

More remarkable than the fact that I like this album is the fact that Beck produced it, and I like this album. I haven’t like anything Beck has done in like 8 years. I just assumed he was lousy now. But this album is a) terrific, and b) sounds like Beck produced it. He’s all over it. And CG is very smouldery on it. This album is really sexy, and it sounds like it was carefully made. What more can you ask for?

Best Song: Heaven Can Wait (featuring Beck!!) Continue reading K&B Best Music of 2010

Best Music of 2009

Perhaps the most eagerly awaited post on is the annual Best Of music list.  We pretend to be music critics, you pretend to be interested, the site gets a bunch of spam from auto-link generators that I have to delete.  It’s a great time to be alive.

As always, feel free to post your own lists in the comments.  We’re also looking for Top 50 Songs of 2009 lists for our Scientific Best of 2009 list.

So without further ado, here is the Best of Music 2009 List:

Continue reading Best Music of 2009

UPDATED: Brent & Kent & Greg & Chelsey’s Annual Best Music of 2008 Post

We know we’re the only ones interested. We accept that. Tough. This is our lists of our favorite albums of 2008.  You can find our list of favorite songs from 2008 here: K&B’s Best Songs of 2008, but first, lets get to our best albums of 2008:

UPDATE: Other folks (Greg, Chelsey) are chiming in, and I’m adding their picks to the post.  Stay tuned!

Continue reading UPDATED: Brent & Kent & Greg & Chelsey’s Annual Best Music of 2008 Post’s Best Albums of 2007

That’s right, it’s what you’ve all been waiting for. Kent and Brent’s Best Albums of 2007 List! Don’t everyone get up at once. Look, we both know that we are the only ones who care. Indulge us.

We agree on the best album of the year, which I believe is a first. Kent fought the desire to move his number one down after reading Brent’s so that this horrible agreement wouldn’t happen.

Continue reading’s Best Albums of 2007

Music: Best of the First Half

A recurring feature on elbuzzard that no one appreciates are Brent and Kent’s biannual music reviews. It’s time for the best of the first half of 2007! This year, we made a concerted effort in the month of June to listen to every album that we had released this year. There was a lot of crap. Tons, in fact. We suffered through it, all for you.

Stuff we agree on.

Back to BlackAmy Winehouse – Back to Black

Kent: It was hard for me to decide which album between Amy Winehouse and Menomena as my favorite so far of 2007. I listened to Menomena so much more, but Winehouse is way more accessible, and fits into more situations. The production values on this record are what makes it so worthwhile, it’s beautifully recorded for a modern pop R&B album. Winehouse can really belt it out, too, and isn’t exactly what you would call shy with her lyrics either.

Brent: I have my darling wife to thank for getting this CD. I would encourage anyone I know to buy it. I would not encourage everyone to get the Menomena CD.

Neon BibleArcade Fire – Neon Bible

Brent: Arcade Fire is great. I think bombastic is their strength. They seem to feel they have to balance it out with slower stuff. I do not agree.

Kent: I wasn’t blown away at first by this one, it seemed somehow less than Funeral. Eventually, I came to terms that they weren’t going to do the “Big Finish” thing that I loved on their first album and started to enjoy it more. Plus, they put on one of the best live shows I’ve seen.

We Were Dead…Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

Brent: 2007 has been a sorry year for music so far. Lots of CD’s that have like 6 good songs, and nothing that is quality through and through. That said, this one, Arcade Fire, and Amy Winehouse come pretty darn close. Here’s my issue with James Mercer being on the album: It’s not bad…but I’d much rather have Isaac Brock singing those lines. If I were him, I wouldn’t let anyone sing with me except maybe Joanna Newsome or Tom Waits. So you cut out the songs that the Shins guy ruins, and you have a very solid album.

Kent: BK likes this album up until the guy from the Shins makes an appearance. I think the album is ok until the guy from the Shins makes an appearance and then it gets really good.

Continue reading Music: Best of the First Half