Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 33, Ed. 1 Friday, December 30, 2011 Page: 22 of 44
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THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING
ERNEST | Chillwave specialist
Ernest Greene of Washed Out
turned 'Within and Without' into
2011 's best album — no matter
what Adele thinks.
year in review
RICH LOPEZ I Staff Writer
You could say 2011 was the year ot tne superstar.
Already-superstars Gaga, Beyonce and Britney
dropped new albums confirming their status, while
Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry became ones following
the continued successes of 2010 discs. Kanye and Jay-
Z teamed up to watch the throne and beardos Fleet
Foxes and Bon Iver followed up their debuts With
dreamy, though sometimes confusing releases.
Ultimately it was Adele who ruled, leaving all
others in the dust with an exercise in modern torch
songs and declarative hits — so much SO, she and
2011 are now practically synonymous.
But not exclusively, A few others made an impres-
sion on smaller fronts — and big ones, too. Each of
the following resonated either through a chill groove
or a strong beat, and ultimately made 2011 easy on
1. Washed Out, Within and Without—What
Ernest Greene does with this chillwave release is
somewhere between a dream and astral projection.
Each track floats in your ears as wonderful bubbles
of music that are airy and delicate, but their impres-
sion is far more lasting. This isn't just an album, but a
luxury bath for the ears and soul, which made for
practically infinite repeat plays. Key tracks: "Amor
Fati," "Eyes Be Closed."
2. Caveman, CoCo Beware — In just two years,
these Brooklyn indie rockers debuted their album
with confidence to spare. Giving alt-rock sensibilities
to Simon and Garfunkel folkisms, Caveman fits in
the Grizzly Bear-Band of Horses vein and yet they
still create a sound that will grow into their own.
Those drums are to die for as is singer Matthew
Iwanusa smooth tenor. Caveman's release is more
like a gift. Key tracks: "Decide," "December 28th."
3. Death Cab for Cutie, Keys and Codes Remix EP
— By nature, most remixes are agony resulting in a
soulless version of the original. That didn't happen
here in DCFC's redux on their already- impressive
Codes and Keys from earlier in the year. At times, the
EP is even better than the original, with charged up
versions of seven songs. Yeasayer, The 2 Bears and
Cut Copy are among the remixers who don't take
away from DCFC's spirit, but spike it huge with
major beats. Key tracks: "Underneath the Sycamore,"
4. Adele, 21 — This is very likely the album of the:
year for the entire World — and deservedly so. Adele
channeled all the emotion of being done wrong by
her man into a solid display of music. At times,she
gets a little too sappy, but the strength of 22 isn't just
in Adele's soulful voice, it's also in her heart that is
both pained and strengthened here. Plus, 21 pretty
much just says "fuck you" to the ex the way we all
wish we could. Key tracks: "Rolling in the Deep,"
"Don't You Remember."
5. Adam Tyler, Shattered Ice — In his debut, Tyler
broke through pop/dance music apathy to create a
refreshing album of solid tunes. He recalls glorious
pop of two and three decades ago but updates it
with h'xv lyrics and dynamic hooks. Tyler wrote all
11 songs and more than half of those are ready for
the radio. Hopefully, someone will take notice, be-
cause Ipris too spectacular to be overlooked. Key
tracks: "Pull the Trigger," "I Won't Let You Go."
6. Real Estate, Days — Less is more with this com-
plete package by the indie folk rockers from New
Jersey They smoothed out from their 2009 debut and
bring a minimalist, but hardly simple approach to
Days that shows off the band's talents modestly, but
considerably effectively with lush cascades of music.
Days a facile listen that may sound like back-
ground music, but you won't forget it. Key tracks:
''It's Real," "Younger than Yesterday."
7. Beyonce, 4 — The diva missed out on big radio
hits with this album, but she channeled her inner
'80s-and-'90s adult contemporaries and created a
helluva fascinating album. Sidestepping the obvious,
B dabbled in sophistication over aggression and
came up with retro vibes without losing her style.
She totally didn't give up her skills trying for a big
hit with "Rule the World (Girls)" but missed. That's
forgivable considering the brilliance of the rest. Key
tracks: "Rather Die Young," "I Care."
8. CSS, La Liberacion — These Brazilian party
rockers matured beautifully in their third album. For
having a reputation of delivering queer-Centric dance
rock, earlier releases were a tad unfocused. CSS kept
the same amped-up energy, but their songwriting
and musicianship has grown into smart and sub-
lime. From irreverence to slightly political, CSS looks
like they have finally found their place. Key tracks:
"City Grrrl," "I Love You."
9. Me'Shell Ndegeocello, Weather—Ndegeo-
cello continues to bring the cool, and does so with
the ultra-slick Weather. Her neo-soul chops have not
been lost over the course of her almost two-decade
career. Instead, she adds a lavorol maturity with
each new album and this year practically cultivated
it into hip, soulful perfection. And that bass playing
is so sexy, it's borderline (but gloriously) obscene.
Key tracks: "Chance," "Dirty World."
10. Emmeline, Someone to Be — Coming in under
the wire, Dallas singer Emmeline recently dropped
off her disc personally to the Dallas Voice asking for
a listen. Good thing she did, as she lies somewhere
between Sarah MacLachlan and Regina Spektor.
With earnest keyboards and charming vocals, she
churned out one of the more delightful packages of
tunes with a sugary edge that sticks just right and is.
wonderfully addictive. Keif tracks: "Someone to Be,"
"Dallas." * ■
2011's top LGBT releases
Queer music was in full bloom over
the last 12 months, with a wide range
of LGBT artists — from veterans to
newbies — strongly delivering great
music. Here are some of the high-
lights that stuck out for us.
R.E.M, Collapse Into Now. Soon
after this March release, the band an-
nounced they were breaking up after
30 years — with the appropriate
greatest hits release in November.
Deborah Vial, Stages and
Stones. The former Dallas gal
showed off her chops from Hawaii in
her soulful new album.
K.D. Lang and the Siss Boom
Bang, Sing it Loud. Lang crooned,
but also rocked gently with her new
Ariel Aparicio, Aerials. OutMusic
Award winner Aparicio hit a strong
note with his alt-rock album from Au-
gust, fusing it with Latin flair.
Garrin Benfield, The Wave
Organ Song. This scruffy folk-country
artist relaxed into his fifth disc with a
languid and poetic song cycle.
Girl in a Coma, Exits and All the
Rest (pictured). The San Antonio
rock trio made waves in 2011, landing
on several year-end lists.
Brandon Hilton, Nocturnal. Hilton
worked the web to his advantage to
get his album on people's radar and it
worked both ways.
The Sounds, Something to Die
For. The relentless alt-pop from these
Swedes was one of the best music
addictions of the year. And bi singer
Maja Ivarsson sold it perfectly.
The ladies ran the world this
year — or at least the concert
stage, whether dives or arenas.
1. Bruno Mars and Janelle
Monae (Verizon Theatre). These two crashed the
venue with the year's most amazing live per-
formances. Monae, in all her spastic glory, ran
across the stage and into the audience, proving
why she is the next Prince. And with her futuris-
tic-themed album Arcliandroid, her band was
loud and live minus any apparent electronic
help. Mars did the same but recalled old-school
showmanship, channeling Marvin Gaye James
Brown and Smokey Robinson as he and his own
band filled the place with raucous horns, slam-
ming percussion and Mars' charisma.
2. Nicki Minaj (American Airlines, pictured).
Britney sputtered before her concert hit its stride
halfway through, but Minaj brought it from the
get-go. With military precision, she and her troupe
marched and danced while the audience roared,
spanking the American Airlines Center as if she
Were the headliner, making everyone in the crowd
her bitch. And all were on board. Her ovation with
Spears was proof that Minaj's star has arrived.
3. Jackie Hall (Lakewood Bar & Grill). Asur-
prise at the May edition of Twist LGBT, stepped in
with local band One Night Stand to end the night
with a bang. Even as the crowd dwindled, Hall
went full bore, working up those left into a frenzy
with powerful covers. This lady sings the blues and
rock and pop, but turns them out like no other.
4. Scissor Sisters (American Airlines Center).
There is no way to steal a show from Lady Gaga,
but the Sisters didn't need to, giving a workout of
a show. Ridiculously pumped Jake Shears burned
a million calories with his high-energy antics (and
that ass-reveal, a great bonus), Ana Matronic held
her own as Shears' equal with funk and sass. True
fans were breathless.
5. Brandi Cai le (Granada Theatre). Without
much fanfare, Carlile and her legions of fans in the
mid-sized Granada were like one entity fused to-
gether. Her fans gave her space to sing softly, to go
unplugged and to simply love her. She gave it
right back with both grit and tenderness that were
triggering all the ladies' pheromones.
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Nash, Tammye. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 33, Ed. 1 Friday, December 30, 2011, newspaper, December 30, 2011; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth239200/m1/22/: accessed July 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.