2011: My Musical Year, Part Three

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2 jan 2012, 16:45

Best albums of 2011:
Originally this section was titled Best album, but I ran into troubles. How can I pick between a band that has influenced my musical taste more than any other, my all-time favourite female vocalists, and a new rising star with three kick-ass albums to her name? And of course, I'm talking about Eppu Normaali's acoustic, two-disc Mutala, Kate Bush's 50 Words for Snow, and Chisu's excellent Kun valaistun. I really can't, so the best album this year is a shared prize. Sorry for being boring...

50 Words for Snow:
One of the albums I bought in physical form in this year. After the first time I listened through this, I was regretting the decision to buy it. Luckily, it took just a few more times and the album started opening up to me. It really is a wonderful journey through snow. The only problem is the length: at one hour and five minutes, it requires some time to listen through. Call me old school, but in the past few years, I've really learned to appreciate shorter albums. 36 minutes is enough. Also, I can't imagine listening to this much during the Summer, this is probably as close to a Christmas album you can get without doing a Christmas album.

Mutala:
Spanning two discs and two hours, this acoustic album really changes some of the band's earlier songs. Songs from the late 80s, early 90s aren't that inspiring, but I really like the sound both the earlier stuff and pieces from the last two albums. Hiljaa Huomiseen and Sadan Vuoden Päästäkin sound crisp and like they should've been played as acoustic from the start, while Kuuvartalo Yöllä and Mopolla Tähtiin are completely different from their original versions. Of course, it's not all smooth sailing. Some of the biggest hits are just plain boring, with the new version bringing really nothing new to the mix, namely Njet njet, Kitara, taivas ja tähdet and so on.

Kun valaistun:
The third album by Chisu is even tighter pack than the previous ones. I was really afraid to listen to this, as Vapaa ja yksin has become one my all-time favourite albums, so I thought there's no way to top that. But I think she might have done it. There isn't a single bad or weak song on this ten track disc. Utter perfection.

Honorable mentions:
- The Pierces - You & I. I really liked their previous album, and this one might even be better. I just have to listen to it some more to make up my mind.
- Tarot - The Spell Of Iron MMXI. Seems like every band is re-releasing their music nowadays. Was this album really necessary? No. Does it sound good? Yes.

Rediscovered albums:
(Albums not necessarily released this year, but one's I've listened this year again more than before)
To some people, Black Sabbath means the original line-up with Ozzy Osbourne. To me, Black Sabbath always meant Ozzy and the two albums with Dio. But this year I finally realized that the albums released after Dio's departure are worth listening to. Born Again is still a weird LP, no doubt about that, but it's definitely not a bad one. Seventh Star and The Eternal Idol really opened up after getting the Deluxe editions released in 2010. Dehumanizer also got quite a boost with the Deluxe edition, released this year.

Iron Maiden's two box sets: The First Ten Years and Eddie's Archive go to this category as well. Especially Beast over Hammersmith from the Archive is absolutely superb. As a live album, it even triumphs Live After Dead.

I borrowed a couple of Robert Ludlum's novels from the library, and what better background music to them than John Powell's The Bourney Supremacy Original Soundtrack. It works like jazz or classical music: you can listen to it actively or in the background while doing something else. Supremacy is the best soundtrack from the Bourne trilogy, as the first one lacks some proper cues after the first half and the third one is unfortunately not in chronological order.

A Piano: The Collection. I had this massive 5-disc set by Tori Amos for a few years, but it was only this fall that I properly listened to it repeatedly. And discovered some wonderful tracks. Definitely worth having.

New or rediscovered artists:
I think I watched some documentary about 80s music on TV, and got the urge to listen to some Nena. Perfect way to re-introduce myself to her music was to get the first five albums (as part of Sony's Original Album Classic series). P!nk was - I think - recommended to me by Last.fm, so thanks for that. James Marsters came from Buffy, and his two solo studio albums are pretty good. As my listening stats show, Dixie Chicks was frequently on my playlists this year. Sia and Kate Havnevik were more Last.fm recommendations that turned out to be pretty good ones.

New(ish) genres this year:
This is a short one: , , and . Jazz and blues bug hit me after watching Treme. Classical is almost entirely due to Jean Sibelius. Country (or it's derivates, like ) were represented by artists like Dixie Chicks and Brad Paisley.

And that's enough of looking back, now it's time to focus on 2012.

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