Despite being a member of the Baseball Blogger's Alliance (BBA), this blog is far from entirely about baseball. Yet, when he does his weekly links post for the BBA's General Chapter, my pal The Flagrant Fan continues to highlight my non-baseball work. Since the blog's output has been dwindling of late, his posts are probably my main generator of traffic these days, so I'm quite appreciative.
So, in an attempt to be clever, and because I don't really have time to write extensively about my top albums of the year—but I still wish to count them down—I thought I'd try something a little different. That is, I'm going to emphasize baseball in my brief write-ups of the music that made my year. Or, at least I'm going to try to highlight each artist's connection with baseball as much as possible.
Anyway, we'll see how that goes.
If you're new here and care to read a little more about the history of my obsession with this particular exercise, please read what I wrote about it last year. In fact, I might add that the genesis of this blog was to count down my top ten albums of 2003. The writing wasn't as good then—well, at least I hope I've improved in the past eight years—but I still give myself an "E" for effort.
And now on the list of my favorite 33 albums that were released in 2011:
33. Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring for My Halo
I'm not sure to whom Kurt pledges his baseball loyalties (if anyone), but it seems this Angels blog is trying to claim them. However, I do know that this record's producer—John Agnello—is a die-hard Mets fan, the poor guy.
32. Lucinda Williams - Blessed
I don't know for certain if Lucinda is a baseball fan, but "Soldier's Song" provides some evidence. Written from the perspective of a man fighting for his country overseas while his wife is home with their child, she sings "I don't know my enemy's name. Baby takes the little one to a baseball game." That settles it, as far as I'm concerned, although I suspect she's not a fan of WAR.
31. R.E.M. - Collapse Into Now
I know at least two of the Athens, Georgia college rock pioneers are into baseball. Peter Buck plays bass in The Baseball Project (we'll hear from them later) and claims to be a Washington Senators fan, for what it's worth. Mike Mills is also known to be a pretty big Atlanta Braves supporter.
30. Steve Earle - I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive
There's a photo kicking around the interwebs somewhere of my pal Anders Parker and Steve Earle, in which the Texas native (Earle) is wearing a Yankees jersey. An interview he did a few years ago for ESPN's Page2 provides some insight into why that is.
29. M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
M83 is Frenchman Anthony Gonzalez's creative outlet, and just one of two European acts in this year's rankings. I'm not saying Europeans don't like baseball, but it's certainly easier to find American artists who do.
28. J Mascis - Several Shades of Why
The Dinosaur Jr. leader played the same stage as new Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein recently, as both men joined Buffalo Tom in celebrating the band's 25th anniversary at Boston's Brighton Music Hall.
27. Centro-Matic - Candidate Waltz
Although the band hails from Denton, Texas, Centro-Matic front-man Will Johnson is from Missouri, and is a big-time Cardinals fan. On his web site's about page, after rambling on primarily about the type of work he's done, he ends by saying, "I love baseball. I have always loved baseball." Taking this love, and his art, to another level, however, one of his hobbies is painting portraits of mostly legendary baseball players.
26. Elbow - Build a Rocket Boys!
This English band is the highest ranking European artist on this year's list. Last year, I honored five European and six Canadian artists, in addition to 22 Americans. This year's distribution: two Europeans, three Canadians (still to come), 28 Americans. As far as baseball is concerned, the only connection I can draw is that Elbow's lead singer is named Guy Garvey.
Next: Best Music of 2011: Part 2
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