December is the month for holiday prepping, settling in for a long winter, and - if you're me - pouring over the "best of" lists that abound in print media and on the Internet. I want to make sure that nothing has slipped by, especially when it comes to music and books. Here are a few of my favorite lists:
- largehearted boy Year-End Online Lists for music + books (mind boggling)
- metacritic Music Critic Top Ten Lists
- FACT magazine 50 best (UK)
- PMA's Best Songs of 2011 (Spotify)
- American Songwriter Top 50 Albums of 2011
- Gorilla vs. Bear's Albums of 2011 - this one is neat because they also asked each featured artist to share their own favorite track of the year.
- This isn't music/book related but it is fantastic - think of it as an advent calendar where each day you get to listen to the best TED talks of the past year.
As a totally random aside, I don't know about where you live but here in Los Angeles, Starbucks has started displaying calories on their drink menu and it is downright depressing to read the number next to my favorite coffee drink of the season, the Eggnog Latte (460! Without whipped cream?!). However, after exploring what goes into eggnog (this is an especially delicious recipe) I see why.
I suppose our GunBun Music Monday playlist is my own "best of" list when it comes to music. Here are my picks for this week's playlist which you can listen to via Spotify here: GunBun Music Monday 2011
"Chair" - Big Deal
I love the website Insound and the weekly emails that they send with free recommended tracks. That's how this one came onto my radar screen. It's from Big Deal's recently released (in the UK) debut album Lights Out which the band describes as "a collection of 12 deeply personal songs with universal appeal, innately tapping into the innocence, insecurity, wonder and (sometimes unrequited) love and lust of relationships."
"Serpents" - Sharon Van Etten
I really enjoyed Brooklyn singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten's second album Epic so I have high hopes for her new one that is due out early next year. This track is a pre-release from that album and it features members of the National, the Walkmen and Wye Oak.
"Friends Like Those" - Robert Ellis
Ellis is a singer-songwriter who credits his country + modern folk sound to a childhood of listening to lots of bluegrass in Lake Jackson, Texas. While I usually don't like country music, I am a huge fan of strong songwriting and Ellis has that nailed down pat. Ellis is hitting the road this month - tour dates here - including two nights with my favorite band Dawes although those shows are, not surprisingly, already sold out.
"Crew Love" - Drake, The Weeknd
Drake has received huge hype for his recenly released album Take Care - the NY Times recently dubbed him "hip-hop's current center of gravity." He collaborated with another big act of 2011, The Weeknd, on a few of the tracks, including this one.
"Just A Habit" - Low Roar
The latest NME magazine has Low Roar on its list of music that is "breaking forth from the underground" this week." They write, "Ever wondered what Thom York's solo album 'The Eraser' might've sounded like stripped of the electronics?" I did so I checked it out - and now you can too: Low Roar.
Holiday Bonus Song: "Baby It's Cold Outside" - She & Him
Indie darlings Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward make up the she and him of this band. My kids and I were listening to this album last night as we decorated gingerbread houses and the girls said, "Hey, isn't she from the movie Elf?" And it turns out that is where Ward first heard Deschanel sing as well. After discovering their shared love of music, the pair started collaborating over email and in 2008 they released their first album together. I highly recommend A Very She & Him Christmas. It's a fun, fresh take on old holiday favorites.
With Lots of Holiday Cheer, Lisa