The Color Awesome Highlights 2011

We’ve tried them, and have to admit it – year end lists kind of suck. But then, we have a blog and we feel like we should at least try to recap the year, hopefully with a nod to the future. It’s easy to gush about our favorite things, but hard to have to rank them. And maybe our favorites of the year aren’t just an album or song. For our fourth year end list, we’re trying something new – and who knows, maybe it’ll stick.  Later this week we’ll highlight some of our other favorite moments of 2011, and our preview of what we’re looking forward to in 2012.

Music Releases.  We enjoyed many albums this year, but our agreed favorite goes to M83 for their release of Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.  Ambition is a theme which runs through a handful of our favorites this year, but this one grabbed us immediately.  Its themes had us exploring our inner child, and musically, our teens.  Anthony Gonzalez has grown succinctly through his relatively few releases.  His debut, M83 was sparse IDM, and the follow up, Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts was equally as esoteric – and gorgeous.  By the time Saturdays=Youth was released in 2008, Gonzalez was also released from his  reputation as just an Electronica mainstay.  It was an album John Hughes would have been proud of, a love story filled with broken promises, diary entries, first loves, and less shoegazey, more crafted pop.  Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming continues his exploration of childhood, but through the eyes of a curious alien visitor.  His vocals are less melody and more like yelps of a being trying to make sense of it all. Epic, layered swells of breathtaking scope lift the listener into a euphoric, slightly melancholic state and feels like a warm hug.  Fans of Cocteau Twins and Slowdive will hear the resemblance.  One listen to Hurry Up, and you’d think the legendary producer Trevor Horn had at least consulted during its creation, especially notable on “Claudia Lewis.”  The standout track, “Raconte-Moi Une Histoire” is a spoken word piece which really is from the mouth of babes.  A young child tells the story of how a rare, tiny frog can change your life – forever.  It sounds cheesy and manipulative, but like any other form of over the top entertainment, you have to let go and immerse yourself.  I mean, A planet where millions of tiny frogs forge the largest alliance of best friends the world has ever seen?  This message is essentially what Hurry Up, Were Dreaming is about, exploring and remembering the good parts of growing up; a time where the slate is clean and untarnished.  M83 threw the rule book away with our choice for album of the year.  Our other 2011 favorites, Kaputt by Destroyer and Black Up by Shabazz Palaces torched their manuals as well.  These records tell a story, but not in an over-the-head  “concept album” way.  We’d like to see more artists rescue what seems like the dying art that is the long form LP.  It’d be great, right?  Check out our other music favorites of 2011 after the jump.

Our favorite albums + EPs of the year (in no particular order):

  • Shabazz Palaces – Black Up (Sub Pop)
  • Destroyer – Kaputt (Merge)
  • John Maus – We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves (Ribbon)
  • The Go! Team – Rolling Blackouts (Memphis Industries)
  • Erik Blood – Center of Gravity (Soundtrack/Self Released)
  • Atlas Sound – Parallax (4AD)
  • Rustie – Glass Swords (WARP)
  • Amy Winehouse – Lioness (Universal Island)
  • The Horrors – Skying (XL)
  • Cat’s Eyes – Self Titled (Kooyp/V2)
  • Zomby – Dedication (4AD)
  • M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (Mute)
  • Toro Y Moi – Underneath The Pine (Carpark)
  • Symmetry – Themes For An Imaginary Film ( Italians Do It Better)
  • Hunx & His Punx – Too Young To Be In Love (Hardly Art)
  • Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop)
  • Jens Lekman – An Argument With Myself EP ( Secretly Canadian)
  • Weekend – Red EP (Slumberland)
  • Glass Candy – Warm In The Winter EP (Italians Do It Better)
  • Craft Spells – Idle Labor (Captured Tracks)

Our favorite songs of the year (in no particular order):  Souncloud players, links and youtube vids below!

  • Weekend – “Hazel” – okay, so the rest aren’t in any particular order, but Paige and I agree – this is the track of the year!
  • Chad Valley – “Shell Suite” (Self Actualized Remix)
  • John Maus – “Streetlight” + “Believer”
  • Amy Winehouse – “Tears Dry”
  • Stephanie – “Cell 44” + “Undercovers”
  • Atlas Sound – “Mona Lisa”
  • Ford & Lopain (w/Shannon Funchess) – “Snakes”
  • Rustie – “Surph” + “Flashback”
  • Walls – “Sunporch”
  • Glass Candy – “Beautiful Object” + “Warm In The Winter”
  • The Horrors – “Wild Eyed” (Andrew Weatherall Remix)
  • Air France – “It Feels Good To Be Around You”
  • Cat’s Eyes – “Face In The Crowd” + “Not A Friend”
  • Chromatics – “Kill For Love”
  • Jamie xx – “Far Nearer”
  • Neon Indian – “Hex Girlfriend”
  • Washed Out – “Echoes”
  • Tame Impala – “Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind” (Erol Alkan Remix)
  • Star Slinger – “Elizabeth Fraser”
  • Grimes – “Oblivion”
  • Dum Dum Girls – “Coming Down”
  • Givers -“Up Up Up” (CSS Remix)
  • Real Estate – “It’s Real” + “Barely Legal” (Strokes cover)
  • Mr. Little Jeans – “The Suburbs” (Arcade Fire cover)
  • Holy Ghost – “Wait And See”

Weekend – “Hazel” Weekend – Hazel by Slumberland Records

Chad Valley – “Shell Suite” (Self Actualized Remix) Chad Valley – Shell Suite (Self Actualized Remix) by Blessing Force

John Maus – “Streetlight” + “Believer” John Maus – Streetlight by Morcilla Firefox John Maus – Believer by RibbonMusic

Ford & Lopain (w/Shannon Funchess) – “Snakes” Shannon Funchess / Ford & Lopatin – Snakes by Mexican Summer

Rustie – “Surph” + “Flashback” rustie – surph by jcrackinov
Rustie – Flash Back (taken from Glass Swords) by Rustie

Walls – “Sunporch” Sunporch by walls_band

Glass Candy – “Beautiful Object” + “Warm In The Winter” GLASS CANDY / BEAUTIFUL OBJECT by JOHNNY JEWEL

Air France – “It Feels Good To Be Around You” Air France, “It Feels Good To Be Around You” by The FADER

Cat’s Eyes – “Face In The Crowd” Not A Friend by Cat’s Eyes Music


Jamie xx – “Far Nearer” Jamie xx – Far Nearer (limited vinyl and download out now – by Numbers

Neon Indian – “Hex Girlfriend” Hex Girlfriend by MGMTNeonIndian

Tame Impala – “Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind” (Erol Alkan Remix) Tame Impala – Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind (Erol Alkan Rework) by modularpeople

Star Slinger – “Elizabeth Fraser” Star Slinger – Elizabeth Fraser (Cocteau Twins Rework) by Star Slinger ir

Grimes – “Oblivion” Grimes – Oblivion by Arbutus Records

Givers – “Up Up Up” (CSS Remix) Givers – ‘Up Up Up’ (CSS remix) by Stayloose

Real Estate – “It’s Real” + “Barely Legal (Strokes Cover) Real Estate – It’s Real by DominoRecordCo Real Estate – Barely Legal (The Strokes Cover) by pillowjungle

Mister Little Jeans – “The Suburbs” (Arcade Fire Cover) Suburbs by Mr Little Jeans

Holy Ghost – Wait And See Holy Ghost! – “Wait and See” by TheWebbyAwards

Stephanie – “Cell 44” + “Undercovers”

Cat’s Eyes – “Face In The Crowd”

Amy Winehouse – “Tears Dry”

Atlas Sound – “Mona Lisa”

Washed Out – “Echoes” Listen Here

The Horrors – “Wild Eyed” (Andrew Weatherall Remix) – Sorry, couldn’t find this one ANYWHERE. Worth the price of the album though. Trust.

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