(Some) People's Choice: Local players pick their favorite music of the year

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Marcus Rubio's intimidating new look for 2012.

We asked some local key players (and that includes a couple of Current contributors) to send us their favorite albums of the year (local, national, international, full-lengths, EPs, or a mix of 'em all). Some sent one, some chose five, some chose 10, a few went national, while others kept it strictly local. The following is the first batch of favorite music embraced by local favorites in 2011. Marcus Rubio (The Gospel Choir of Pillows)
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1 - Destroyer Kaputt Kaputt’s masterful synthesis of musical styles finds frontman Dan Bejar’s cryptic lyrics about globalization placed against the backdrop of smooth yet highly experimental pop. This record managed to combine elements of soft rock, ambient music, and glam rock into something that felt familiar yet entirely alien. Musically and lyrically brilliant. 2 - Julia Holter Tragedy One of the best mixes of musique concrète and pop that’s been released maybe EVER. Holter’s work creates a magical world where found sound noise can’t exist without songs and vice versa. Her album is a masterful blending of genre and sound that makes Bjork’s latest work sound dated in comparison. Maybe the most criminally underrated record of the year. 3 - Judges-Colin Stetson New History Warfare Vol.2 I feel like what Colin Stetson is doing has the potential to be completely revolutionary. This man is an absolute beast on the saxophone and his use of extended technique and clever amplification to transform himself into a one-man wall of sound is in itself impressive, but it’s what he does with it that’s truly remarkable. Stetson has made a record that turns conservatory grade technique and free jazz skronk into consonant accessible songs. The bizarre sound world created by his saxophone playing offers a world where the experimental is completely tangible and even occasionally danceable! Guest appearances from Laurie Anderson and Shara Worden are also major pluses. 4 - Tim Hecker Ravedeath 1972 Unquestionably one of Hecker’s most powerful and well produced records. Hecker blends his ambient electronics with piano and organ in a seamless manner that beautifully uses space and timbre. 5 - Ty Segall Goodbye Bread Ty Segall is just really a great songwriter that knows his way around a 4-track. Goodbye Bread is absolutely infectious, full of the stickiest melodies and the skuzziest riffs. A true heir to the throne of lo-fi heroes such as the Silver Jews and the Royal Trux. 6 - Oren Ambarchi and Jim O’Rourke Indeed It’s too bad that this album was released in such a limited vinyl run, because it’s great. This is the collaboration that I’ve wanted these two to make for years. The album is essentially two long form pieces that both hold many interesting textures. Side A is my personal favorite, where a classic Ambarchi drone gives way to a gorgeously playful dialogue between subtle banjo and vibraphone. Side B finds the duo shoegazing into oblivion, but in the most satisfying way. The world needs more ambient/drone music like this. 7 - The High Llamas Talahomi Way Very much a straight-up chamber pop homage, but I firmly believe that, when it comes to lush baroque pop, these guys are the arrangers and songwriters of the year. The harmonic movement in these songs is classic yet radical, which, when combined with the idiomatic string parts and restrained use of electronics, results in an album of contemporary pop bliss. 8 - Boris Attention Please Boris goes pop and everyone wins. The doom metal band filters their once-punishing drone into an album of concise My Bloody Valentine-influenced rock that arguably outdoes all the indie rock bands working in the same field. M83, eat your hearts out. 9 - John Wiese Seven Wand This record just came out and it really may be this “noise” artist’s finest work yet. This album is not a typical Wiese album in that it doesn’t immediately pummel the listener with the composer’s typical use of grating frequency. Instead, Wiese has created a masterful slow-burning record that features some of the most gestural sounds on any album I’ve heard this year. Closer “Don’t Stop Now, You’re Killing Me” is one of the most powerful works in Wiese’s catalog. It joyously builds tension without ever providing a conclusive release. I immediately wanted to re-experience this record after my first hearing. 10 - They Might Be Giants Join Us In 100 percent seriousness, this could be the greatest TMBG record since 1994’s Flood. This band has crafted an album of incredible pop music that features some of the most embittered cynical lyrics that the group has ever written, paired with the most experimental production that the band’s utilized in probably a decade or more. Join Us is a wonderfully mature surprise from a band that seemed on the verge of floundering. Another terribly overlooked album. Melissa Ludwig (Melissa Ludwig Band) "Well duh! The Melissa Ludwig Band and Nicolette Good! :)" Michael Arreaga (guitarist for Imminent Descent) "Unfortunately, the only album that I know [was] released in 2011 from a local band is ours!"   Erica Monzón (singer for Ledaswan)
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Ledaswan Num83r5 ;-) Education Age Cage Pop Pistol Disappearing Edges Girl in a Coma, Exits & All The Rest Blowing Trees Wolf Waltz and the Big Nothing Now   Hyperbubble
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1 - Something Fiction Botany 2 - Pazes The Southpaw 3 - Seveo Electric Gems 4 - Trip The Light Fantastic 5 - Exponential Records Various Artists: A Compilation of Electronic Music Homegrown in Texas 6 - Sachsen Apocalypse Sachsen Apocalypse 7 - Mexicans With Guns Ceremony 8 - Sooko The Wonder 9 - Hickoids Kicking It with the Twits 10 - The Phantomatics She Left Her Brain at the Drive In   Bryan Foster (The Offbeats, offered "in no particular order")
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Girl In A Coma, Exits & All The Rest Education Age Cage Ledaswan Num83r5 The Rosedale Highs Tonight   Veronica Salinas (Current copy editor) 1 - Girl in a Coma Exits & All the Rest 2 - Education Age Cage 3 - Little Brave Wound & Will 4 - Pillow Talk Faux Fur EP 5 - Trip the Light Fantastic EP 6 - Mega Man Mega Man The Album 7 - The Great '85 Believe It 8 - Le Doom Doombah EP 9 - Deer Vibes Ventura EP 10 - Sohns To Ward It Off & Drown It Out David Phantomatic (The Phantomatics) Th' Wild Blood Trash and Roll EP Silence the Messenger Buried Say Revenge Rough Night, Sugar? The Sandworms Terror at Sunshine Park Mariachis del Infierno Zombie Querida JD Swerzenski (KRTU, Current contributor)
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1. Blowing Trees - Wolf Waltz and the Big Nothing Now 2. Girl in a Coma - Exits and All the Rest 3. Aaron Prado & the King William Jazz Collective The San Antonio Jazz Suite 4. Bad Breaks KRTU Plugged In Session 5. Pop Pistol Disappearing Edges 6. Education Age Cage 7. Mexicans with Guns Ceremony 8. Katchie & La Monde Cache Tales & Tongues 9. Yes, Inferno Yes, Inferno 10. Jazz Protagonists Sixies Night   The lists keep on comin', but this is it for today. More tomorrow, including lists by Chris Maddin (Blowing Trees) and James Woodard (The Grasshopper Lies Heavy).

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