And here begins my soundtrack to 2011. What a musical journey it has been.
Honorable Mention: Halestorm- ReAnimate: The Covers EP
A rocking tour through the group’s favorite songs. I deemed this an honorable mention only because it is an EP and not a full-length album. If they had added a few more songs, it would have solved my only problem with the album: that it is too short.
Once again, Florence Welch has found her own musical magic niche. She manages to stand out with a sound all her own, yet delivers a freshness to set this sophomore effort apart from the first. To be transported into her world is like being part of her lucid dream; and anything might happen if you jump on in
#10. Kris Delmhorst- Cars
I believe an indicator of a true artist is the ability to take what has been done and make it their own, and that is exactly what Kris Delmhorst delivers on this album of cover songs of The Cars. I wasn’t sure such a thing really needed to be done, but it is clear I was wrong. Delmhorst manages to make every song sound brand new, but with an old soul- and that is not an easy feat with such well-known choices. Her remake of “Why Can’t I Have You” is nothing short of haunting, and will stick with you long after you stop listening.
If every garage-rock girl group put their souls in a jar, then gave that jar to one group to harness the fury and power within- it would create The Ettes. It may be more likely that these ladies sparred it out with all the rest and came out on top, leaving only carnage behind. In short, these ladies kick major butt, but manage to pull out the whole “we’re-wise-beyond-our-years/old-soul” persona to boot.
#8. The Civil Wars- Barton Hollow
With perfectly haunting harmonies, this duo was an early standout this year. They have a sound that is timeless, and they own every note of it. At times, they leave the listener unsure whether they should be crying for their heart break or happy for their sense of peace with it. There are also times during the album, that it feels as though one may be lost in the mountains, but it is sure that The Civil Wars will help us find our way back to flatter ground.
This New Zealand import has a larger than life voice that makes one wonder how it fits into the body of a petite blonde bombshell. The album is aptly named Gravel & Wine, which is the best way to describe her sound. This is an album that somehow manages to make one want to stay inside, light candles, and brood about past wrongs while drinking alone- while also making it impossoble not to dance around the room and let it all go. Gin Wigmore’s blunt songwriting and rough-around-the-edges vocals deliver a sound that will be put on constant rotation.
#6. Cowboy Junkies- Demons/ Sing in My Meadow: Nomad Series #2 & #3
Somehow, the Cowboy Junkies still manage to sound fresh and new, yet weathered and worn-in, with every new album. In parts 2 and 3 of their Nomad Series, I couldn’t decide which ranked higher, because they both stand on their own perfectly. Demons delivers an homage to their late friend Vic Chestnut, placing their spin on his intimate songwriting. Then comes Sing in My Meadow with a collection of deeply haunting songs that deliver some of the darkest stories of their career, while showcasing the talents of both the band and the vocals of Margo Timmons. The Nomad Series thus far has delivered three beautiful chapters, leaving one to wonder how the story will end.