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Saturday, December 31, 2011

The year in music: my favorite albums the Reader has favored

Posted By on 12.31.11 at 12:00 PM

Parts & Labor: Constant Future
  • Parts & Labor: Constant Future
I'm not sure you've noticed, but most weeks the Reader previews 14 artists in Soundboard, not counting the exhaustive festival coverage we do in the summer months for Pitchfork, Lollapalooza, the World Music Festival, the Chicago Jazz Festival, and others. Altogether, that's roughly 728 different artists annually (though of course Thee Oh Sees, who release 11 albums a year, mess up the count by touring so relentlessly that they warrant something like four previews all by themselves). I'm pretty sure you've noticed that we live in Chicago, the third most populous city in the U.S., home to a thriving scene of monster ballrooms and theaters, divey neighborhood holes in the wall, and DIY basement dumps. So when a band drops a new album and starts packing up the van for a cross-country haul, chances are it's heading this way.

I'm lucky enough to get to write about some of the killer acts that roll through town, as well as some of the locals who welcome them. And like you, I can benefit from the brains and tastes of other Reader staff writers and contributors. Keeping that all in mind, below are my favorite albums of the year that found their way into the paper, the majority from myself and a good number courtesy of Peter Margasak and Miles Raymer. I even did you the favor of linking each band to its preview. They're in no particular order:

Battles: Gloss Drop
St. Vincent: Strange Mercy
Psychic Paramount: II
Liturgy: Aesthethica
Wooden Shjips: West
Total Control: Henge Beat
Cave: Neverendless
Parts & Labor: Constant Future
Kurt Vile & the Violators: Smoke Ring for My Halo
Six Organs of Admittance: Asleep on the Floodplain
400 Blows: Sickness and Health
Thee Oh Sees: Castlemania and Carrion Crawler/The Dream
KEN Mode: Venerable
Wye Oak: Civilian
Fucked Up: David Comes to Life
Wolves in the Throne Room: Celestial Lineage
Mannequin Men: Mannequin Men
Young Widows: In and Out of Youth and Lightness
Pygmy Shrews: You People Can All Go Straight to Hell
WU LYF: Go Tell Fire to the Mountain
War on Drugs: Slave Ambient
Heavy Times: Jacker
Russian Circles: Empros
Ettes: Wicked Will
Victims: A Dissident

And here are just a couple others that deserve call-outs but that I can't link to: either the band was written up as part of a mega festival package or it got covered on, say, a pre-album EP instead of the full-length. Or maybe I just couldn't find the coverage in the Reader's archives. It happens.

Fleet Foxes: Helplessness Blues
Trap Them: Darker Handcraft
Disappears: Guider
Cults: Cults

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