A collection of musically themed musings by Brendan Bush in Burlington, VT

Favorite new (to me) albums of 2011

Filed Under: Album Reviews, Wicked Good Music
Written by Brendan
Tuesday January 10, 2012

My (mostly-inherited) vinyl collection got a lot of play this year – I’ve been trying to expand my musical knowledge & interest outside of the material that’s come out in the past 10 or so years.  I really never listened to much classic rock, jazz, folk, etc – I spent most of my childhood listening to hip-hop and (I’m not afraid to admit it) stuff like Dave Matthews Band.  So I missed out on many of the bands who influenced a lot of the music being created today.

I’ve worked my way steadily through 100 or so albums, and while some have been real duds (looking at you, Seals and Crofts), I’ve really taken to more than a few of them.  I’m not accustomed to writing about music from previous generations, but in the interest of sharing what I’ve been doing during the pretty sustained silence on this blog in the past 6 months, here’s a look back at some new (to me) favorites:

Steely DanCountdown to Ecstasy

I’m now ashamed to admit how little I knew about and how little I’d heard of Steely Dan.  I’ve listened to Countdown to Ecstasy, Katy Lied, Can’t Buy A Thrill and Aja a few times each, and while the others have highlights, I really think Countdown to Ecstasy is the most impressive, cover to cover.  Speaking of, the photo on the back cover of this album has inspired more than one “who would you be in you were in Steely Dan” conversation, and is likely to inspire more as it’s definitely one of the most played LPs I have.

Countdown To Ecstasy on Amazon mp3

Elton John - Tumbleweed Connection

Packaged in a glossy, heavy duty cover and accompanied by a full-sized lyric booklet, this 1970 release, Elton John’s third, has also become a favorite.  With vague echoes of some of his better known tunes, this album has a really different sound than anything I’d heard of Elton John’s (which was admittedly mostly pop hits from later in his career).  A “concept album” about the American West, this album didn’t have any released singles, though I have a few favorites (“Son of Your Father” among them).  If you can get past some of the clunkier thematic elements and accept this as a concept album, it’s a great listen.

Tumbleweed Connection on Amazon mp3

Roberta FlackFirst Take 

Part soul, part jazz, Roberta Flack’s 1969 debut album was recorded when she was still playing intimate shows in tiny venues like D.C.’s Bohemian Caverns, a spot I frequented for a spell when I lived down there.  It is absolutely magical to put this album on, crank up the volume and close your eyes.  First Take has started me on yet another exploration, delving into the Jazz bins at Burlington Records.  If you’re in the mood for something a little different, you should definitely give this a spin.

First Take on Amazon mp3

If you’re unfamiliar with these albums, I highly recommend giving them all a listen.  If this post is old news to you, maybe it’ll at least serve as a reminder of how awesome these albums are, and encourage you to listen to them again.

Comments Off

Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.