Welcome to Check Your Mode

The all-inclusive, ever-changing, and uncomfortably flexible guide to all things music in the 2010's.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

We Begin at the End (Again)


What a year. Not to just say that in an obligatory manner, but this year truly was an elevation from last. I rated almost twice as many albums, changed formats to something more palatable and finally got to do a year-end list my way, albeit with significant setbacks (Eh, nobody’s perfect).

I can’t help that my ambitions can exceed my ability, (read: tolerance to sit at a computer and write about music for hours and hours and hours at a time) but rest assured that 2012’s going to be just as incredible with perhaps even MORE music accounted for. And to think I might actually write about them this time! Wouldn’t that be something? Starting today, I’m going to be keeping abreast of the music of 2012 with reviews and such of the like. By my estimation, I already have about nineteen albums in the cannon to listen to over the next three months. So, needless to say, I’ll be keeping myself busy. Look forward to it.

But, besides a promise for the future, there is something I must mention that unfortunately may become a requisite of the yearly Modicums. You see, in order to prepare for them, I have to stop any submissions to my lists at the beginning of November, so the lists that I post don’t represent the recommended records and songs that come out in that glorious month and the one that follows. So, here I’ve posted my updated list of Greatest Albums and Songs of 2011. (The singles list actually wasn’t changed by year’s end, but I’ll include it for posterity.) Also, I’ve listed the recommended albums of November and December. And, because I’m self-depreciating, I’ve also enclosed a list of the records that I had intended to listen to but never got around to. Hope you enjoy the new submissions (and slight order changes), and have a great New Year. The weather’s been so nice lately, it would be pretty hard not to.

Oh, also, in case you were wondering, the live album of the year was Shining’s Live Blackjazz and the worst album of the year was the new Nickelback record. (My apologies Lulu anti-fans.)


CYM’s 50 Greatest Albums of 2011:


3.   La Dispute – Wildlife
4.   Kate Bush – 50 Words for Snow
8.   Tom Waits – Bad As Me
9.   Matana Roberts – Coin Coin Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres
13. Danny Brown – XXX
17. Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost
18. G-Side - iSLAND
23. Cymbals Eat Guitars – Lenses Alien
24.  A$AP Rocky – LiveLoveA$AP
29. Balam Acab – Wander/ Wonder
30. The Dear Hunter – The Color Spectrum: The Complete Collection
31.  Shabazz Palaces – Black Up
33. Miranda Lambert – Four the Record
35. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
39. When Saints Go Machine – Konkylie
43. Vektor – Outer Isolation



CYM’s 50 Greatest Songs of 2011:

1.     Tyler, the Creator – “Yonkers”
2.     Frank Turner – “Glory Hallelujah”
3.     Lil Wayne – “6’7’ (feat. Corey Gunz)”
4.     Cunninlynguists – “Enemies with Benefits (feat. Tonedeff)”
5.     Lana del Rey – “Video Games”
6.     James Blake – “Limit to Your Love”
7.     Gang Gang Dance – “MindKilla”
8.     James Blake – “I Never Learnt to Share”
9.     The Joy Formidable – “Whirring”
10. Girls – “Vomit”
11. La Dispute – “King Park”
12. Thomas Giles – “Medic”
13. Fleet Foxes – “Helplessness Blues”
15. M83 – “Midnight City”
16. Gang Gang Dance – “Glass Jar”
17. Destroyer – “Bay of Pigs (Detail)”
18. Over the Rhine – “Infamous Love Song”
19. Egyptrixx – “Recital (A Version)”
20. Lady Gaga – “Judas”
21. Bon Iver – “Perth”
22. Das Racist – “Michael Jackson”
23. Girls – “Honey Bunny”
24. Beastie Boys – “Make Some Noise”
26. Hayes Carll – “Grateful for Christmas”
27. Gucci Mane – “Brrrr (Supa Cold)”
28. Tom Waits – “Hell Broke Luce”
29. Jay-Z & Kanye West – “Niggas in Paris”
30. Gang Gang Dance – “Adult Goth”
31. Paul Simon – “Love and Hard Times”
32. St. Vincent – “Cruel”
33. Little Dragon – “Ritual Union”
34. Cymbals Eat Guitars – “Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name)”
36. The Go! Team – “Buy Nothing Day”
37. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – “Belong”
38. St. Vincent – “Surgeon”
39. Thrice – “Anthology”
40. WU LYF – “Heavy Pop”
42. Cunninlynguists – “Murder (feat. Big K.R.I.T.)”
43. Patrick Wolf – “The City”
44. Pistol Annies – “Hell on Heels”
47. Wild Flag – “Romance”
48. When Saints Go Machine – “Kelly”
49. Ill Blu – “Meltdown”
50. Florence + The Machine – “Only if for a Night”


November / December Recommendations:

Action Bronson & Statik Selektah - Well Done



A$AP Rocky – LiveLoveA$AP

Kate Bush – 50 Words for Snow

The Dear Hunter – The Color Spectrum: The Complete Collection

G-Side – iSLAND

Steve Hauschildt – Tragedy & Geometry

Miranda Lambert – Four the Record

Los Campesinos! – Hello, Sadness

Thee Oh Sees – Carrion Crawler / The Dream

Vektor – Outer Isolation


Albums Missed:

Big Dee – Regifted Light
Circle of Ouroborus – Eleven Fingers
Country Mice – Festival
Curren$y – Muscle Car Chronicles
Endless Boogie – The Skinless Ogress Revolution, Which Feeds on Human Sacrifice
Escort – Escort
The Fall – Ersatz G.B.
Hammers of Misfortune – 17th Street
Lil B – BasedGod Velli
Lil B – Black Flame
Lil B – Blue Eyes
Lil B – Gold House
Lil B – I Forgive You
Lil B – Keep Your Eyes Open 2
Lil B – The Silent President
Mouse on tha Track – Swagga Fresh Freddy
Sandro Perri – Impossible Spaces
Bruno Pronsato – Lovers Do
Rome - Die Æsthetik der Herrschaftsfreiheit
The Skull Defekts – 2013-3012
Sloan – Is That All I Get? Sloan: Live 20.09.1993
Sun Araw – Ancient Romans
Sun City Girls – Gum Arabic
Cliffie Swan – Memories Come True
Trucebaldazzi – Odio la Scuola

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The Modicums 2011

Best Album:

Frank Turner – England Keep My Bones

Honorable Mentions:
Kate Bush  - 50 Words for Snow
Cunninlynguists – Oneirology
La Dispute – Wildlife
Gang Gang Dance – Eye Contact
PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
Moonsorrow – Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa
Over the Rhine – The Long Surrender
Matana Roberts – Coin Coin Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres
Tom Waits – Bad As Me


Best Song:

Tyler, the Creator – “Yonkers”

Honorable Mentions:
James Blake – “I Never Learnt to Share”
James Blake – “Limit to Your Love”
Cunninlynguists– “Enemies with Benefits (feat. Tonedeff)”
Lana Del Rey – “Video Games”
Gang Gang Dance – “MindKilla”
Girls – “Vomit”
The Joy Formidable – “Whirring”
Lil Wayne – “6’7’ (feat. Corey Gunz)”
Frank Turner – “Glory Hallelujah”


Best Vocal Performance on an Album (Male):

Jordan Dreyer – Wildlife (La Dispute)

Honorable Mentions:
Danny Brown – XXX
Kno, Deacon the Villain & Natti – Oneirology (Cunninlynguists)
E-40 – Revenue Retrievin’: Overtime Shift
Frank Turner – England Keep My Bones
Tom Waits – Bad As Me


Best Vocal Performance on an Album (Female)

PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

Honorable Mentions:
Erika Anderson – Past Life Martyred Saints (EMA)
Karin Bergquist – The Long Surrender (Over the Rhine)
Annie Clark – Strange Mercy (St. Vincent)
Merrill Garbus – w h o k i l l (tUnE-yArDs)
Matana Roberts – Coin Coin Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres


 Best Vocal Performance in a Song (Male)

Tyler, the Creator – “Yonkers”

Honorable Mentions:
Kno, Deacon the Villain, Natti & Tonedeff – “Enemies with Benefits” (Cunninlynguists)
Jordan Dryer – “King Park” (La Dispute)
Lil Wayne – “6’7’”
Natti – “Get Ignorant” (Cunninlynguists)
Tom Waits – “Hell Broke Luce”


Best Vocal Performance in a Song (Female)

Matana Roberts – “Pov Piti”

Honorable Mentions:
Erika Anderson – “Marked” (EMA)
Karin Bergquist – “Infamous Love Song” (Over the Rhine)
Merrill Garbus – “Killa” (tUnE-yArDs)
Ashley Monroe – “Hell on Heels” (Pistol Annies)


Best Guitar Performance on an Album

Steve Marion – Wondervisions (Delicate Steve)

Honorable Mentions:
Heri Joensen & Terji Skibenæs – The Lay of Thrym (Týr)
Erik Nelson – Outer Isolation (Vektor)
Sidi Tourè – Sahel Folk
Markus Valhala – New World Shadows (Omnium Gatherum)
Dustin Wong – Do Whatever You Want All the Time! (Ponytail)


Best Guitar Performance in a Song

Henri “Trollhorn” Urponpoika Sorvali – “Kuolleiden maa” (Moonsorrow)

Honorable Mentions:
Nels Cline – “Art of Almost” (Wilco)
Ruban Nielson – “Nerve Damage!” (Unknown Mortal Orchestra)
Robin Pecknold – “Sim Sala Bim” (Fleet Foxes)
Sidi Tourè – “Taray Kongo”
Markus Valhala – “Nova Flame” (Omnium Gatherum)


Best Bass Performance on an Album

Steve Terebecki – D (White Denim)

Honorable Mentions:
Frank Chin – Outer Isolation (Vektor)
Michael Benjamin Lerner – 12 Desperate Straight Lines (Telekinesis)
Cameron Omori – Dye It Blonde (Smith Westerns)
Tim Payne – No Devoluciòn (Thursday)
John Stirrat – The Whole Love (Wilco)


 Best Bass Performance in a Song

Stephen Bruner – “Is It Love?” (Thundercat)

Honorable Mentions:
Flea – “Goodbye Hurray” (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
Mick Harvey – “The Glorious Land” (PJ Harvey)
Michael Benjamin Lerner – “I Cannot Love You” (Telekinesis)
Toni Mäki – “An Infinite Mind” (Omnium Gatherum)
Toro Y Moi – “Still Sound”


Best Percussion Performance on an Album

Joshua Block – D (White Denim)

Honorable Mentions:
Nick Augustino – In Waves (Trivium)
Jeff Conaway – II (The Psychic Paramount)
Jeremy Hyman – Do Whatever You Want All the Time! (Ponytail)
John Stanier – Gloss Drop (Battles)
Matt Thomas – The Big Roar (The Joy Formidable)


Best Percussion Performance in a Song

Matt Thomas – “Whirring” (The Joy Formidable)

Honorable Mentions:
Nick Augustino – “Capsizing the Sea / In Waves” (Trivium)
Joshua Block – “At the Farm” (White Denim)
Charles Hayward – “You’re No Good” (About Group)
Joe Manning – “Dirt” (WU LYF)
John Stanier – “Ice Cream” (Battles)


Best Other Instrument Performance on an Album

Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges [Bass Saxophone]

Honorable Mentions:
Dave Guy – No Time for Dreaming [Trumpet] (Charles Bradley)
Emmanuel Kunnuki & Olugbabe Okunade – From Africa with Fury: Rise [Trumpet] (Seun Kuti and Egypt 80)
The Prague Philharmonic – The Great Mass [Orchestra] (Septic Flesh)
Matana Roberts – Coin Coin Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres [Saxophone]
Ian Williams – Gloss Drop [Keyboard] (Battles)


Best Other Instrument Performance in a Song

John Parish – “Let England Shake” (PJ Harvey)

Honorable Mentions:
Dave Guy – “How Long” [Trumpet] (Charles Bradley)
Matana Roberts – “Rise” [Saxophone]
Colin Stetson – “Judges” [Bass Saxophone]
Ian Williams – “Ice Cream” [Keyboard] (Battles)
Flutist in “River to Consider” [Flute] (White Denim)





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Greatest Albums of 2011: #1: Frank Turner - England Keep My Bones


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Greatest Songs of 2011: #1: Tyler, the Creator - "Yonkers"


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Friday, December 30, 2011

Greatest Albums of 2011: #2: Cunninlynguists - Oneirology


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Greatest Songs of 2011: #2: Frank Turner - "Glory Hallelujah"


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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Greatest Albums of 2011: #3: La Dispute - Wildlife


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Greatest Songs of 2011: #3: Lil Wayne - "6'7' (feat. Corey Gunz)"


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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Greatest Albums of 2011: #4: Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact


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Greatest Songs of 2011: #4: Cunninlynguists - "Enemies with Benefits (feat. Tonedeff)"


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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Greatest Albums of 2011: #5: Over the Rhine - The Long Surrender


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Greatest Songs of 2011: #5: Lana Del Rey - "Video Games"


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Monday, December 26, 2011

Greatest Albums of 2011: #6: PJ Harvey - Let England Shake


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Greatest Songs of 2011: #6: James Blake - "Limit To Your Love"


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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Greatest Albums of 2011: #7: Tom Waits - Bad As Me


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Greatest Songs of 2011: #7: Gang Gang Dance - "MindKilla"


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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Greatest Albums of 2011: #8: Matana Roberts - Coin Coin Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres



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Greatest Songs of 2011: #8: James Blake - "I Never Learnt to Share"


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Friday, December 23, 2011

Greatest Albums of 2011:#9: Moonsorrow - Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa


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Greatest Songs of 2011: #9: The Joy Formidable - "Whirring"


Indie Rock + Double Bass Drum = Ringtone of the Year. Hands down.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Greatest Albums of 2011: #10: E-40 - Revenue Retrievin': Overtime Shift

Original Review Here

E-40 is a 44-year-old African American man from northern California who raps about dealing drugs, struggling to survive, having sex with women and killing people who cross him. I am an upper middle class white kid not even in my 20’s from the suburbs of the Northeast. I have never smoked a cigarette and the most blood I have ever spilled was when cutting my thumb on a broken vase. It would seem that Mr. 40 and I would be exact opposites, and yet, for the entirety of summer 2011, his Revenue Retrievin’: Overtime Shift album positively refused to leave my dashboard. I bumped that album when I did errands and felt like a badass rolling up to TD Bank blasting “Mr. Flamboyant 2K11” with a coffee can full of change under my arm. I played “Beastin’” for a friend while driving on the way to a sushi restaurant, and sang the hook to “Me and My Bitch” while playing Halo: Reach. I recommended the album to a friend of a friend at a bar that NYU undergrads frequent, who was also neither white nor remotely underprivileged. In fact, in the seven months that I have been enjoying Revenue Retrievin’: Overtime Shift, I cannot remember discussing its greatness a single time with a person of African descent.

I don’t really have anything to say about that. I just thought it was interesting.

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Greatest Songs of 2011: #10: Girls - "Vomit"


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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tune In December 22nd for Albums/Songs 10 - 1!!!!!!!!!

Whew, that was a pretty intense couple days. Hope those following along are having fun. Just wanted to remind people that the Modicums will be stopped for now and started back up on the 22nd so we can count down the greatest songs and albums of 2011 one. by. one. up to the new year. In the meantime, I will be working tirelessly to fill in all the written descriptions of these entries, so you can pop in over the next two weeks to see the progress on that. But, other than that, I am extremely appreciative of your readership and hope that everyone has a great winter break. See you all in fourteen days!
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Greatest Albums of 2011: #11: The Twilight Singers - Dynamite Steps


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Greatest Albums of 2011: #12: Danny Brown - XXX


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Greatest Albums of 2011: #13: Julianna Barwick - The Magic Place


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Greatest Albums of 2011: #14: The Joy Formidable - The Big Roar


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Greatest Albums of 2011: #15: Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues


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Greatest Songs of 2011: #11: La Dispute - "King Park"


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Greatest Songs of 2011: #12: Thomas Giles - "Medic"


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Greatest Songs of 2011: #13: Fleet Foxes - "Helplessness Blues"


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Greatest Songs of 2011: #14: The Weeknd - "House of Balloons / Glass Table Girls"


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Greatest Songs of 2011: #15: M83 - "Midnight City"


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