In today's brand-new December issue of Reverb Monthly, you can read all about SW's wrap-up of the best Seattle records of 2011--not just our favorites, but the ones we think have staying power for the future.
Read on to find out my top 3 picks, and to read about more of the year's local best, including Chris Kornelis on Fleet Foxes, Eric Grandy on Shabazz Palaces, Todd Hamm on Sandrider and Metal Chocolates, and Gwendolyn Elliott on Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter, pick up your copy of Reverb Monthly today!
Craft Spells, Idle Labor: In a musical landscape dominated by a fiddly folk revival, Idle Labor, the full-length debut from Seattle newcomers Craft Spells, stood apart with its ringing guitars, sleek synths, taut pop melodies, and dark dance hooks. Standouts like "Party Talk" and "After the Moment" tell of young sensitivity and heartbreak, but there's nothing dour about about these songs; they're exuberant in their youthfulness. Idle Labor is best listened to driving on a new spring day with the windows down; it's the perfect scenario for an album that will be remembered for injecting fresh air into the Seattle scene.
Beat Connection, Surf Noir: In April, the electro duo Beat Connection released a shinier, fuller version of their Surf Noir EP, eight glittering dance tracks as dazzling as an Ibiza sunset. The majority of the songs are instrumental, but it doesn't stop them from conveying a range of feeling, from softly poignant ("Wildheart") to wholly majestic ("Theme From Yours Truly"). The two tracks that do have vocals--"In The Water" and "Silver Screen"--compete with each other for being the best pop song to come out of this city in the last couple of years. There wasn't a better record than Surf Noir to soundtrack this summer, and we might be saying the same thing next summer.
Witch Gardens, Alice, Agatha, Branch & Christ: 2011 is the year that the city fell spellbound for Witch Gardens' sweet, adorable--still heavily rocking--lo-fi brand of pop, simply but masterfully crafted with purring girly vocals and buzzy guitars and autoharp, and freewheeling tempo changes. AAB&C contains songs about haircuts ("Baby Got a Haircut"), your dad's lame girlfriend ("Shelly"), awkward parties ("So Many Parties"), and being super-fly ("Softball Chick"). And while we've all heard about how cute Witch Gardens songs are, they're also acutely perceptive and touching. The charming AAB&C was a first good taste of Witch Gardens, and it's as enduring as it is endearing.