As publicists, we spend all year sending you music and asking you to listen. For a change, we thought it might be nice to share wih you what we we had on constant rotation this year. First and foremost, all of us at Riot Act are massive music nerds and that's truly the reason we're in this business. Should there be any other reason? We also included a few other fun lists of neat, rad and / or goofy stuff that has helped to keep us sane throughout the year that was 2011. As always, thanks for listening!!!
MY TOP TEN RECORDS OF 2011:
1. Fleet Foxes -- Helplessness Blues
2. Wye Oak -- Civilian
3. TuNeYaRdS -- whokill
4. Wild Flag -- Wild Flag
5. St. Vincent -- Strange Mercy
6. James Blake -- James Blake
7. Kate Bush -- 50 Words For Snow
8. Destroyer -- Kaputt
9. Washed Out -- Within and Without
10. Mountain Goats -- All Eternals Deck
TOP EIGHT QUOTES RE: THINGS TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT MOVING FORWARD IN 2012:
1. "Do it!" --Henry Rollins
2. "As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do." --Dale Carnegie
3. "The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them."--Maya Angelou
4. "I hold this to be the highest task between two people: that each protects the solitude of the other."--Rainer Maria Rilke
5. "Forgotten is forgiven."--F.Scott Fitzgerald
6. "Do not weep, do not wax indignant. Understand."--Baruch Spinoza
7. "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."--Bill Cosby
8. "No bullshit this year."--Me.
TOP FIVE THINGS OF 2011 I SAW ON A STAGE:
1. Playing shows with Dave Depper's Ram Project band (and hearing my voice on vinyl for the first time, which did not happen on a stage).
2. Being two feet away from Yoko Ono during her INSANELY AMAZING show (band: Sean Lennon, Charlotte Kemp-Muhl, Nels Cline, Yuka Honda, Yuko Araki, Hirotaka Shimizu, Merrill Garbus) at SXSW 2011.
3. Decemberists at Edgefield w/Rachel Blumberg guest-drumming alongside John Moen
4. Neko Case at Edgefield, killing it.
5. Brittain Ashford, Kurt Braunohler & Kristen Schaal at Hot Tub, Littlefield NYC.
Ten Records I Jammed Hard (that weren't my clients equally amazing albums):
1. Timber Timbre "Creep On Creepin' On"
Imagine Screamin' Jay Hawkins for the 21st Century... it's at once spooky and soulful and was on repeat at my house since the first time I listened.
2. Austra "Feel It Break"
A heartbreakingly beautiful voice set against music that even makes my stone legs dance.
3. Peaking Lights "936"
The sound of sun warming your limbs while you lay in the grass. It'll warm you on the darkest of days.
4. Dirtbombs "Party Store"
Mick Collins asked the universe "What would Nathan Walker's perfect party record be?" The answer came back and it was "Party Store".
5. Jacuzzi Boys "Glazin"
F.U.N. - pure and simple
6. Pure X "Pleasure"
Even though I don't do drugs anymore, I still like to listen to music that sounds like I do.
7. Noveller "Glacial Glow"
A calming, gentle record that when listened to with your eyes closed takes you airborne and allows you to travel through sparse, lush landscapes.
8. The Men "Leave Home"
Perfect for the times you need to hear pure anger from your speakers.
9. Little Wings "Black Grass"
Kyle Field is a national treasure and I doubt he'll ever make a record that won't make my top ten.
10. EMA "Past Life Martyred Saints"
Remember Hole before all the drama and lawsuits? Remember how good it felt to hear her sneers shivering through your stereo? Check out EMA.
Ten best things about my job in the past year:
1. For the first time in my life, I've earned enough miles to get a free flight.
2. Finally looking stubborn or old enough that when I say I'm supposed to on the list, door folks believe me.
3. My incredible intern, Anne Ostrowski, who's made my life far, far less stressful.
4. Getting introduced to the music of Sibylle Baier by the Lightman twins from Tasseomancy.
5. Hosting a CMJ party that was packed out to maximum capacity
6. Booking flights to SXSW the day before our sxsw party and making it into Austin with a spare two hours to sleep before the party kicked off.
7. Meeting our newest staff member, Kelly McClure, and promptly devouring pounds of bbq, pints of local ales and shots of nice bourbon.
8. Hanging out with some of my idols, the staff of NPR music in SXSW at 11 am on the final day of the festival. Nothing like pure exhaustion to take everyone's guards down a notch.
9. Jet Blue
10. Getting paid to work in music. AKA having my dream job.
Ten best things about 2011:
1. My wife.
2. 2011 was the year of BBQ brisket (and, unfortunately, gaining five pounds).
3. Fake twitter accounts make my tedious day of working alone from the home office that much better. Nothing helps you maintain your sanity like interacting with fake celebrities via the internet.
4. Brooklyn. In year's past I'd openly despised NYC but 2011 was the year that the city revealed its charms to me.
5. Eating sandwiches! Though, that's in close running for the best thing in the history of man.
6. Becoming friends with the members of Brass Bed and learning the meaning of "muh baw."
7. Purging boxes and boxes of things I'd hoarded through out the years. #freedom
9. Getting accustomed to crying because of a song, a sentence, a movie, a tv show... just letting it fly when the emotion hits.
10. Embracing old age with an arsenal of eye cream and serums.
TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2011 THAT MADE ME WANT TO BACKFLIP ONTO THE BACK OF A UNICORN
1) AUSTRA - FEEL IT BREAK
They say that if you've ever been goth, even for just a little bit, that it stays with you forever. Well this first release from Canadian based, Austra is so beautiful, and so perfect in every way, that not only will it for sure stay with me forever, but it makes me want to wear cloaks and capes again, and hang out in churches just because of the good lighting. I don't know. It's intense.
2) DAVID LYNCH - CRAZY CLOWN TIME
David Lynch scares the crap out of me, while also bringing me insane amounts of mental pleasure, all at the same time. On his first full-length album he sings about, well, who knows what he's singing about really ... but I stand behind it completely.
3) REIGNS - THE WIDOW BLADES
This album is an eerie and beautiful musical exploration into the disappearance of a woman named Millicent Blades. It was recorded at all of the last known locations visited by Millicent on what is assumed to be her last day on earth. DARK! AND GOOD!
4) WILD FLAG - S/T
I was excited about this album for about six months prior to it even coming out. Now that I've had it in my sweaty hands for awhile, it's safe to say that I still love it and play it in full about every other day. Carrie Brownstein can really do no wrong in my eyes.
5) CHRISTMAS - "Namiot" 7"
You know how sometimes you listen to a band and get that "they're gonna be huge" feeling? Well when I listen to Christmas, a punk band formerly from Olympia, Washington, and now from all sorts of different places, the feeling of hugeness is so intense that it would not be deemed healthy to listen to them with headphones on. These sounds need lots of space to rip shit up.
6) DUM DUM GIRLS - ONLY IN DREAMS
If you could take a spaceship back in time and make The Pretenders into a band consisting of a bunch of hot women, that's what the Dum Dum Girls would be. This was my go-to album I'd put on while showering and getting ready in the morning for months.
7) WILD BEASTS - SMOTHER
People have told me that Wild Beasts are an acquired taste. I personally think that anyone who doesn't like this band is just a poop head, although I'm sure taste does factor in there somewhere.
8) LYKKE LI - WOUNDED RHYMES
Lykke Li is a wolverine of vocals and emotional lyrics. I've listened to this album nothing short of 100 times and I pick up something new each time I listen to it. Complex and gorgeous. This is also a surprisingly good "romance album" if you can pick up what I'm putting down there.
9) OKKERVIL RIVER - I AM VERY FAR
I'm loyal to Okkervil River like I'm loyal to the brands of condiments and house cleaning supplies I fill my home with. Why give up on a good thing? And they're consistently good. Will Sheff just "gets me."
10) SANDRA BERNHARD - I LOVE BEING ME, DON'T YOU?
I don't know which is funnier, this comedy album by one of my favorite people on the planet, or the sounds of me listening to it with headphones on and filling an empty apartment with the sounds of insane laughter. The last time I listened to it I laughed so loud that I scared my cat.
TOP TEN BEST THINGS ABOUT LIFE IN 2011
1) Began the year by ending a cross-country drive from New York to Olympia, Washington in a snowstorm, and lived!
2) Moved back to New York
3) Learned about the Slow Loris
4) Joined the Riot Act team and get to work from home!!
5) Best co-workers ever at both Riot Act and Vice Magazine (duality is my thing).
7) Gays being officially allowed to marry in New York slash lesbians in general
8) Met some super attractive people
9) Flew on a plane with my cat for the first time, and neither of us had a nervous breakdown or hurt anyone!
10) Discovered Pies N Thighs (namely the chicken biscuit).
Favorites of 2011
1. Chad Van Gaalen - Diaper Island. Chad Van Gaalen has been self-recording his albums and animating his own videos for years, his latest is a subdued mixture of indie pop with subtle, electronic flourishes. The first single from the album, "Peace On The Rise" was probably the single most played track in my car all year.
2. Russian Circles - Empros. Oh man, this trio out of Chicago is absolutely incredible live. Their dynamic, instrumental rock is best represented on their debut full-length Enter, but this album is great too, and worth picking up.
3. Papercuts - Fading Parade. The project of multi-instrumentalist Jason Quever of San Francisco, Papercuts elicits the best kind of sleepy and nostalgic feelings with an abundance of vintage keyboards and reverb laden pop.
4. Pygmy Lush - Old Friends. You might be a little confused if you've ever listened to Pygmy Lush's early releases, since they split time between recording delicate folk and full-fledged hardcore, but the songs on this full-length are all slow building folk and somber acoustics.
5. Timber Timbre - Creep On Creepin' On. I first really gave this album the attention it deserved when I had to write about Timber TImbre for a writing assignment, and I'm glad I did. This entire album sounds so effortless and natural, and in my opinion, they are one of the few bands that featured saxophone on their album this year and didn't overdo it on the cheese factor (hello Beth/Rest).
6. Mannequin Men - Self-Titled. It was pretty much their song "Hobby Girl" that did it for me, if you can play that song and not have it stuck in your head all day, I will be incredibly surprised, and probably not believe a word you say.
7. Dirty Beaches - Badlands. Retro dream pop from the one man band Dirty Beaches, complete with heavy handed reverb and an unmistakable Roy Orbison influence.
8. Red Fang - Murder The Mountains. Ah, local Portland garage metal at it's finest. Yeah, sometimes it's pretty cheesy and reminiscent of old school metal from decades past, but that doesn't make it any less fun to blast at full volume.
9. Blouse - Self-Titled. '80s era synth pop from local Portlander's Blouse, because sometimes you need some laid back beats to dance to, and these guys provide them in spades.
10. Woods - Sun and Shade. I've always had a soft spot for Woods since first hearing their "Make Time For Kitty" track, because really, there is a disproportionate number of bands singing about cats considering how many cat videos we are all watching on youtube.
Top reasons it rules to be a Riot Act intern.
1) Your work consists of promoting music, really enough said right there.
2) Nathan, Joan, and Kelly are all hilarious.
3) You never have to make coffee or do other boring things typically associated with being an intern. In fact, coffee has actually been bought for me on several occasions.
4) Access to great albums.
5) When you accidentally misspell names in blog posts you are very kindly made aware of it.
6) You get to learn the pr ropes first hand by doing mini campaigns for local bands and events.
7) You like your job so much you decide to stop bragging about being an intern here so no one gets any smart ideas about usurping your position.