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2011 Year End Best Of

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I lost probably 6 months of my musical life in 2011 to listening to, writing about, and editing things on either Archers of Loaf or Superchunk.  Not necessarily a bad way to spend some time, but enough of a deep dive to take me out of the loop musically for a while.  Mentally, when I think about the year that's past, I seem to have two periods:  time up to and containing SxSw and time after Superchunk played their live show in September 2011.  And then suddenly I look up and the year has ended and our overlord Brendan wants my thoughts.

So here's a few things I recall about 2011:

  1. The two nights we saw Archers of Loaf reunion show in Atlanta reminded me of how very good Archers are.  Back in the mid-90s, all of us at the Sponge were more Superchunk-centric when it came to our North Carolina Indie Rock, so Archers perhaps weren't as far on the radar as they should have been.  But with the absence of over 10 years (and without any random acts of Jim O'Rourke to disturb their legacy), it's clear that Archers music has aged well (even if certain recording perhaps haven't).  It's been many moon since I've gone to two full concerts by the same band of subsequent night, and on both evenings they more than lived up to expectation.

  2. If we do things in our own idiosyncratic way, I really do enjoy going to SxSW.  I know, I know, it's fashionable these years to talk about how commercial and over-crowded the festival has become.  But, as long as I go live my own alternative schedule (not too many day shows, plan to miss the buzz acts, eat regularly), 2011 didn't seem practically more crowded or difficult than years past.  Of course, much of these ease may be that we always go see unusual and off the beaten path acts, which allowed us to discover/hear bands like Gold Motel, Rah Rah, Dry the River, and Map & Atlases. Not a bad way to spend a vacation.

  3. The local Atlanta "indie"' scene seems to be going through its scheduled shift in bands and sounds.  Old acts whose presence we couldn't escape have slowly fallen by the wayside while a bunch of newcomers (either in band make up or actual musicians) have begun to make their presence know.  It's a cyclical thing and I feel like I missed a lot of live shows in 2011 because I didn't recognize the pattern.  Still,  I think I'm gradually starting to recognize some names, which means that I should be able to start pinpointing new acts that interest me.

  4. While certain Atlanta musicians are shuffling the musical chairs, other still continue to change and reinvent themselves.  First and foremost amongst these acts (for me) is Jupiter Watts.  In listening to their 2011 release, Take Time, I can still hear some of the guitar work that characterized this bands' earliest music.  But in general they've moved towards a droney, spacey, drawn out sound that’s quite lovely and different.  Honorable mention in this bucket goes to Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun, who proved on their new release and most recent live shows that they've just edgier with time.

  5. EvilSponge branched out into reviewing books.  This may not seem like a big deal, but writing about the narrative form (as opposed to a musical one) requires a different vocabulary and feel.  I haven't quite gotten up the nerve to write a book review yet, but the addition has made its mark. 
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