Here at Hidden Track, compiling our end of the year list of the 25 best albums has been eerily similar to the process of devising another top 25 list – the college football top 25. When we started four years ago, we attempted to devise a quantitative methodology that systematized the rankings and took the individual biases out of the equation, while still incorporating the collective views of everyone involved at HT. Well, that was sort of our BCS. This year we’re going back to the old school and running it AP Top 25 style. In other words, every writer on staff submitted their own personal top 25, and then we compiled the final list based on a simple tally of votes.
Who knows, there may still be a few kinks to work through in future editions, but you can rest assured of one thing that will always make our list a cut above the rest: we consider everything. Our submissions include all styles of music from bluegrass to jazz, jam to indie, electronica to rap, as well as everything in between (but sorry Nefertiti’s Fjord it just wasn’t the year for lesbian-Afro-Norwegian-funk music). At the end of the day, we’re a music blog. Everyone is encouraged to write about what they like with no motives, no editorial biases and no strings attached. We hope that comes across in our picks.
So, let’s kick off our fourth annual week long celebration of the HT staff’s favorite albums of 2011 with numbers 25 through 21…
Key Tracks: Blue Eyes, Thanks For Nothing, Me, Me, Me
Sounds Like: Dusty, barroom heartbreak from the leaders of the New Americana revival.
The Skinny: March 2011 welcomed a studio debut from Middle Brother, a super-collective featuring one part Deer Tick (John McCauley), one part Dawes (Taylor Goldsmith) and one part Delta Spirit (Matt Vasquez). The three banded together in 2009 after several onstage collaborations between their respective bands. Undeniable sparks between McCauley, Goldsmith and Vasquez led them to the studio with producers Adam Landry and Justin Collins (both of whom produced Deer Tick’s 2011 release Divine Providence). Each track rotates singer/songwriter duties to create a shared experience of raw emotions, love and loss; depending on who is at the mic, dashes of Deer Tick, Dawes and Delta Spirit are present in the grooves. Middle Brother combined the hearts and souls of three prolific songwriters with a blend of alternative, folk, rock and ’60s pop. The results are perfect for days that you don’t want to get out of bed, but rather lie around and listen to a solid album.
- Allison Taich