2011 Favorite Listening

Here, in no particular order, are my choices for the 2011 releases that I keep coming back to.


Merril Garbus weaves her African influence, her loop boxes,  and her DIY spirit into something totally new and compelling. A big, bold voice with something to say.

Gillian Welch – The Harrow & The Harvest

I didn’t see a lot of live music in 2011, but Gillian Welch and David Rawlings in Chicago was a real highlight. This album is full of great songs that sound as if they could have been written any time in the last 75 years.

Deep Blue Organ Trio – Wonderful!

Soulful groovin’ organ trio from Chicago, playing Stevie Wonder tunes with fresh new interpretations. Jazz comfort food!

Fountains of Wayne – Sky Full of Holes

I’m a sucker for intelligent, literate pop music, and this filled the bill this year. Raymond Carver meets the Ray-Beats.  Recommended for fans of Squeeze.

James Farm

A terrific new quartet with rising stars Joshua Redman on sax and Seattle native Aaron Parks on piano. Great compositions and thoughtful improvisation. Take a listen even if you think you don’t like jazz.

Larry Goldings – In My Room

A lovely, contemplative, (mostly) solo piano set from Larry Goldings.

Miles Davis Quintet – Live in Europe 1967

Miles’ great quintet captured at the height of their power – 3 CDs and a DVD. One of the high water marks in all of jazz.

Bernstein Goldings Stewart – Live At Small’s

Another fine example of the modern organ trio. This long-standing grouping plays empathically together.

Ry Cooder – Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down

Who better than Ryland P. Cooder to take on the role of Woody Guthrie for the 99%?

Sunna Gunnlaugs – Long Pair Bond

Two years in a row for Icelandic pianist Sunna Gunnlaugs on my list. This record rewards repeated listening!

Raphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin’

The best of new soul, where Raphael transcends the retro act to produce a new and joyous sound.

The Decembrists – The King Is Dead

In which Colin Malloy and company leave the pretension behind and make great rock tunes.


Just getting into:

Youth Lagoon – The Year of Hibernation

Van Hunt – What Were You Hoping For?


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