Best of 2011: Albums: Haiku Edition

Okay, so I definitely fell behind this year when it came to album posts and reviews. But that's not going to stop me from subjecting you to yet another Best of 2011 list, which will be my favourite albums of 2011, in -- what else? -- haiku form. It's actually going to be less of a "best of" and more of a "personal favourite". I completely acknowledge that there may have been, technically, better albums this year; but some of those "better" ones I just couldn't get into for some reason *cough*Feist*cough*
So here it is. While the list is not numbered, it is in a vague order of "least-best" to "best", and I've included EPs as well as LPs because why not, that's why.

The King Is Dead by The Decemberists
Back down to basics
Strong songwriting from Meloy
As you would expect

Diaper Island by Chad VanGaalen
Refined and focused
Soaring vocals, instruments
On top of his game

Days Into Years by Elliott BROOD
Suitably toned down
War memorial inspired
Brilliant songwriting

Portage & Main by Portage & Main
A solid debut
Strong folk rock, heartfelt lyrics
Great blend of voices

Eureka by Mother Mother
Infectious and fun
But not without some darkness
Stellar shared vocals

Orchard by Jess Hill
Incredible voice
Beautiful and haunting songs
Mesmerizing folk

Michigan Left by Arkells
A bit more polished
But still more fun rock and roll
A strong follow-up

The Whole Love by Wilco
More adventurous
Bookended with two great songs
Their best in a while

Let's All March Back Into The Sea by The Liptonians
Cacophonous sound
A whole host of instruments
And clever lyrics

Summer of Lust by Library Voices
Energetic songs
Sharp, intelligent lyrics
Pop at its finest

No Bad Days by Wide Mouth Mason
Six years since their last
New bassist Gordie Johnson
Haven't missed a step

We're All Friends & Lovers Until It Falls Apart EP by Redbird
Strong, lovely voice
Coupled with great songwriting
Wonderful debut

Seeds by Hey Rosetta!
Heartbreaking lyrics
Symphonic and grandiose
Complex yet catchy

We're All Dying To Live by Rich Aucoin
Highly ambitious
Perfect, cinematic flow
Brilliantly unique

Apocalyptic Radio Cynic by Sidney York
Insanely catchy
Clever, sexy, sometimes dark
Power-pop with depth

Temporary Resident by Imaginary Cities
Take one stellar voice
One stupendeous musician
For near perfect pop

Kaputt by Destroyer
Rich, dense, and jazz-y
Lyrically ambiguous
Very beautiful

Oh Fortune by Dan Mangan
Darker and more dense
Rich music, poignant lyrics
Exponential growth

Take Care, Take Care, Take Care by Explosions in the Sky
Crashing crescendos
Breathtaking rises and falls
Far beyond "epic"

High School EP by We Are The City
More going on here
Than most have in a full length
Nearly perfection

Degeneration Street by The Dears
All-star Dears line-up
From the brink of destruction
Better than ever

Lights of Endangered Species by Matthew Good
Full of emotion
Amazingly orchestral
A career highlight

Shows of November

Beginning of the month means a quick look at some of the shows I am excited to see. I say "quick", but it's pretty stacked, so let's get to it. Here are the four I am looking forward to the most, and then a lot more below.

Imaginary Cities at the Biltmore on November 24th. 
I think I am most looking forward to. I saw them a couple times at the Folk Fest (see left, not my video), but one short set and a few workshops had me hungry for more. I am definitely looking forward to them headlining the Biltmore.

An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer at the Vogue on November 6th.
I have only recently gotten into Amanda Palmer's music, but Gaiman is one of my absolute favourite writers, so whatever they are going for their evening together should be amazing.

Feist at the Centre for Performing Arts on November 18th
It's been way too long since seeing Feist, and while I feel like I should be more excited about this, Feist has never failed to be anything less than stellarlive, so this is bound to be good.

Death From Above 1979 at the Commodore on November 20th and 21st
I never did get to see DFA1979 while they still existed, and I was very, very sad about that. This is a pricey one, but will it be worth it? Spoiler: probably yes.

As early as tonight, there is Little Red with Sex With Strangers at the Media Club on November 2nd,
and there is a great lineup this weekend for Adaline CD release party, as she's joined by In Medias Res & Rococode at the Biltmore on November 5th.

Then the insanity begins next week with a huge decision, Dan Mangan at the Orpheum or Elliott BROOD at the Commodore, both on November 9th. Following that, Yukon Blonde at the Biltmore on November 10th, Arkells are at the Commodore on November 11th and then Hey Rosetta! at the Commodore on November 12th. That is going to be some week.

We can't forget about the Peak Performance Project finale, featuring The Matinée, Current Swell & The Boom Booms at the Commodore on November 17th. I am definitely pulling for The Matinée, and while I am, admittedly, not a huge fan of the other two bands, it's sure to be one hell of a fun show.

The following weekend is pretty busy, too, with Maurice and Ciseaux at the Media Club on November 25th and all the Grey Cup festivities. I am most looking forward to November 26th which will feature The Belle Game, The Matinée, The Zolas, Hey Ocean! and Said the Whale. All in one night!

And wrapping up the month is an important show, the Movember Mo-Off. Featuring Redbird, Portage & Main and The Matinée (these guys again?) it's the end to the month long raising awareness and money to fight prostate cancer, by sporting 'staches. Which I am partaking in this year, and you can help by donating here.

Whew. All that, and I am positive I am missing some. This is going to be a busy month.

Preview: Vancouver Folk Music Festival. July 15 - 17

It's almost that time of year! The Vancouver Folk Music Festival is back for its 34th year this weekend, from the 15th through 17th at Jericho Beach.

Despite always wanting to go, I have somehow never made it to the festival, until now! And what a year to go for the first time. Here are a few of the artists I'm looking forward to most, and are just a fraction of the full lineup.

Joel Plaskett Emergency - Come on. It's Joel. Reason enough to hit the festival. Be it solo or with the Emergency, Plaskett is always incredible live, and I wouldn't miss a chance to see him. Sure to be a great ending to the Main Stage on Friday.

Buck 65 - I have been a fan of Rich Terfry for a while now, but have never taken the chance to see him live, which I am very glad to correct. I've heard he is quite the live performer. He'll be playing on Stage 3 Saturday night.

Imaginary Cities - Quite possibly the act I am most anticipating. I absolutely love their debut album, Temporary Resident, but have not yet seen them live. From what I've heard, they're live show is just as good, if not better, than the album.
They are playing during the day Saturday, as well as a "tweener" set Friday night. And they're doing a free Musical Nooner at CBC Vancouver on Friday.

Elliott BROOD - I am hoping the pans and wooden spoons will be out in full force, and for a preview of their upcoming album, Days Into Years, which is due out in September. A veritable force of nature live, they're right after Buck, closing out Saturday on Stage 3.

Kathryn Calder -Formerly of Immaculate Machine and currently of The New Pornographers, Calder's solo stuff is about as great as you would expect from that pedigree. I've had the chance to see her live a couple times in the last year, but I am always looking forwards to seeing her again. She'll be opening Stage 3 Sunday night.

Jim Bryson & The Weakerthans Band - Members of The Weakerthans joined Jim Bryson last year for The Falcon Lake Incident, and I am definitely looking forward to these two powerhouses coming together. They'll be hitting Stage 3 after Calder on Sunday.

Jess Hill - She won the Ukulele Competition, meaning she'll get to play this song Sunday evening on the main stage. Regular readers know how much I like Jess, so I am glad she won and am looking forward to seeing her, if only for a song.

And that doesn't even begin to cover the immense number of bands playing or workshops. You can check out the whole festival schedule with these two convenient links: Daytime Workshops Schedule and Evening Schedule.

Hope to see you there?