But what about 2011?

Enough with the nostalgia, you say? All right then, here you go! These are the songs I’m digging so far this year. Come with me on a painstakingly cultured trip to

Best Music of 2011, 1st Quarter


Gatekeeper, the men behind the synths

I’m surprised by a lot of what I’m hearing. The new Decemberists album has some killer tracks, but I think it’s one of their weaker efforts overall. OTOH, R.E.M.’s Collapse Into Now is their best album since Automatic For the People. 1990s veterans pj harvey and Foo Fighters turned in some solid efforts too, though I think both have done better.

It seems foolish at this point to call it an “80s Revival” at this point. Given recent albums from Tennis, Austra, the Minks, Gatekeeper, and Soft Moon, perhaps the 1980s are just going to musically omnipresent from now on. But there’s also earnest folk music and shoegaze and math rock and–ah hell, just give it a listen.

Actors/Musicians 2: Gwyneth Paltrow

I kind of want to dislike Gwyneth Paltrow. She was born into a life of privilege and fame. Her career includes the Oscars, her love life includes Brad Pitt and Ben Affleck. She’s beautiful, sure, but part of that can be chalked up to a luxurious amount of time spent maintaining that skin, that body, that hair.

But for all of that, she’s really good at what she does. She’s a versatile actress, moving from light comedy like Shakespeare in Love and Austin Powers to character drama like Sliding Doors and Proof. And relevant to this post, she can really sing. Paltrow plays a country singer in her new film Country Strong, but I wanted to share a little of her work on Glee. She’s got a lot of soul for a blonde girl!

Best of 1987

1987. The year I graduated high school, the year I started at Scholars’ College, the year I met John and Jeannette and Maddie and Tom Samet and Grady Ballenger and so many other people who influenced my life. I was realizing that posed, overproduced hair metal held no attraction for me anymore. I learned about the Dead Milkmen and Julian Cope and Husker Du and Sisters of Mercy. It’s one of the biggest years in my life, and its soundtrack is right here.

Red Baraat, bhangra brass

I heard these guys sometime last year, then COMPLETELY forgot about them somehow. Red Baraat are a New York outfit that combines Indian bhangra and filmi music with the infectious grooves of a New Orleans brass band. It’s some of the most fun world music I’ve heard in a while, and npr.org has an entire streaming concert available here. For the more visually minded among you, I’m including a YouTube vid of them below.