Best New Music of 2011 – Jose Gonzales, Tuneyards, Little Dragon

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I didn’t realize until I took a few minutes to look back that 2011 has actually been a pretty awful year for music. Scans of various music blogs’ Top 10 (or 25, or 100) lists to remind me what came out haven’t left me with many “Oh right! That one!” moments, zero, in fact. This means that a) all the music this year sucked, or b) I am grumpy. Maybe it’s both.
Anyway, I did come across a few tracks that rose above this year, and these are them. Alert readers may notice that not all of these were technically released in 2011, but so what?
tuneyards – “gangsta gangsta”, from Whokill

I blogged about tuneyards earlier this year, and I’m even more impressed months later. What she’s doing still seems fresh to me, and I dig it. Also, I’ve been experimenting with loops in live performance myself, and noticed that it ain’t easy to get them to do what you want them to as casually as she does.
Little Dragon – “Shuffle a Dream”, from Ritual Union

Little Dragon has been my most surprising discovery of 2011, in that I’ve probably listened to their new record “Ritual Union” more than any other new release this year. In a way, these guys give off sort of an updated Eurythmics vibe: strange, icy music + soul and heart in the vocals (though Yukimi Nagano is considerably more low key than Annie Lennox). Again, previously blogged here.
Jose Gonzalez – “Heartbeats”

As mentioned previously, I found out about Jose Gonzalez in the best way – through another actual person rather than at a digital remove. I recently heard him described as “pale-voiced”, which fits his thin, hushed delivery perfectly. His spare, haunting music is an excellent fit for the view out the window this time of year. Light a fire and build yourself a postprandial cocktail before listening.
Okay, that’s all I got. Would LOVE to hear about anything cool from 2011 that I missed…please. Especially if it involves loud guitars!
Wait! Late breaking update! I forgot about The Civil Wars.

The record this came from isn’t all good, but when it’s good, it’s fantastic. I probably could actually listen to these two particular voices singing the proverbial phonebook, but thankfully they’ve written some decent songs instead. I hear that these guys are Taylor Swift’s favorite band these days, but I’m going to pretend no one ever told me.


4 thoughts on “Best New Music of 2011 – Jose Gonzales, Tuneyards, Little Dragon

  • I can’t agree with you anymore about the 2011 musical landscape- barren.
    i’m gonna stick my head into “Little Dragon – Ritual Union” thank you.
    And, in return my i suggest the CD that i’ve spun almost non-stop (if it was vinyl the needle would have worn through) “The Arkells – Michigan Left (2011)”.

  • Hey Rowe – glad you liked the Little Dragon! Hope the rest of the album appeals to you as well.
    Thanks for the tip on Arkells – headed to check them out now…

  • dipping into Jose Gonzalez now, Little Dragon was refreshing and thanx gawd for that!
    I still like the Arkells and that might be my CD of the year.  What do you think?
    Also consider “Fred Eaglesmith – 6 volts (2011)” which I believe is Fred’s best work.
    Rowe Waterchuk
    Music Archaeologist 

    • Rowe, thanks for the tip on the Arkells – really like their YT page, and I’m digging Where U Goin. Fred Eaglesmith next…

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