And yes, I'll raise a glass to those three entries on Salon's list. Good calls, all around. But you know, while I feel like our 2011 critics' year-end poll covered a pretty fantastic and worthy spread, some stuff always gets overlooked. While I may be the captain of this here ship, that doesn't mean I could just force my opinions to the top of the list. Well ... I could. But, you know, diplomacy, democracy, discretion, D words, et cetera. But that doesn't mean I can't shed some light on the overlooked and underrated in this here blog post.
Now, plenty of local albums I really enjoyed this year received honorable mentions because of their proximity to the Top 10 — The Non-Commissioned Officers' Money Looking for Thieves, The Ettes' Wicked Will, Natural Child's 1971, PUJOL's X File on Main Street and Diarrhea Planet's Loose Jewels, for instance. But below you'll find some stuff that just didn't garner the votes necessary to receive honorable mentions — and I'd attribute that far more to obscurity and the vast plethora of great releases this year than I would to people not digging the sounds.
Fly Golden Eagle, Swagger
Jeez, you guys. Give me a break. I told you that this record is just languishing out there for free on Mediafire. And if you like smooth, R&B-ensconced synthpop, then there is absolutely no excuse for you not to own this album. Here, I'll post the primo cut "Psyche's Dagger" again for good measure.
Mom & Dad, Cave Art
Here's the sort of lo-fi, DIY pop record that will make your heart sing and your feet shuffle. Sure, there are loads and loads of fuzzy garage outfits around these parts nowadays, but this one has an undeniable sort of artful effervescence about it. In the rock 'n' roll realm, there are few dichotomies I enjoy more than mean, dirty tones paired with joyfully sweet vocal melodies. Listen to it all below and buy it via Mom & Dad's Bandcamp page. And while you're at it, check out their collection Pieces/Parts, too.
The Zut Alors, Boy Girl Party
Technically released in 2010 — Dec. 17, actually, which is a bit of a black hole as far as times of the year to release an album go — The Zut Alors' Boy Girl Party is a fun bit of dance pop that runs the gamut from Devo-esque synth bloops ("Lightswitch Love") to big, fat pop grooves ("The Killing Kind," "Your Time"). A good listen — light, playful and airy when it needs to be, but not without its darker moments. Hear it all below or download it via The Zut Alors' Bandcamp page.
The Goldroom, The Surrounding Hours
All right, so I had some difficulty concealing my massive boner for this record when I discovered it back in September. But it's heavy and dark, channeling the most post-rocky elements of '90s indie and college rock without sacrificing good melody and tunefulness. They quite certainly do not make them like this one anymore. Hear it below, get it via The Goldroom's Bandcamp page.
Casa Castile, Umbra
Andrew Nabuco — the helmsman of Casa Castile — knows how to craft intricate bedroom pop. In fact, to quote myself, Umbra consists of "introspective pop music at its finest: diverse in its influence, painstakingly assembled and sharply performed." Hear it below, get it via CC's Bandcamp page.
Also totally worthy of mentions are Nuggets-y youngsters The Paperhead and their self-titled release, and upbeat indie popsters King Arthur and their Ad Inexplorata. Tip of the hat goes to former Cream Captain Tracy Moore for sending that Salon link my way.