Previously: Best Music of 2011, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.
Please join me today in celebrating the Baseball Solstice, the mid-point between the last game of the World Series and the first game of Spring Training, a fantastic idea envisioned by Daniel Day of The Ball Caps Blog. Since I don't have much daylight to mark the occasion by taking a photo of an empty baseball park as he suggests—my only opportunity would be in the morning before heading to work, and my sleep is quite the commodity these days—I have my own idea which you can partake in if you wish.
I created a Spotify playlist of five songs that appear as bonus tracks on the re-issue of Whiskeytown's 1996 album, Faithless Street. These mostly somber songs are referred to as the "Baseball Park Sessions," which I've renamed the "Baseball Solstice Sessions" for the sake of this exercise. Enjoy, content in the knowledge that the baseball off-season is already half over.
Oh, and speaking of Whiskeytown...
5. Ryan Adams - Ashes & Fire
This is the 16th year I've produced at least a top ten list, and this is Ryan Adams's third top ten album. If you add in two Whiskeytown records, it would actually be his fifth, although in hindsight I'm not sure 2001's Gold was really deserving. But still, that's pretty impressive. However, what is really interesting—at least to me—is it's been ten years since he last showed up here. So, obviously in the late-'90s to early-'00s, I was quite the Adams fan.
4. Drive-By Truckers - Go-Go Boots
If there was a Hall of Fame honoring artists who've appeared on my year-end lists, these guys would be first-ballot inductees. Not only is this their record-breaking fifth top ten appearance, it's their fifth consecutive album to be honored as such. I keep expecting myself to grow a little tired of their sound, but it just never happens.
3. My Morning Jacket - Circuital
In recent years, I've heard the term "Dad Rock" used in reference to a few modern bands that have been around for a decade or so, and whose music now appeals mostly to the hipsters-turned-fathers set. Or, something like that. Wilco is the prime example, but there are moments this record reminds me of that sentiment, particularly on "Outta My System." Although not a former hipster, if you want to lump me in the modern dad-rock-listening category, that's perfectly OK with me.
2. The Decemberists - The King is Dead
The Decemberists came really close to being just the second band to earn my album of the year honor twice. And, just as the Pernice Brothers did in 2001 and 2003, it would have been on consecutive releases, and within a three year span. The King is Dead would certainly have been worthy, as it's probably a better album than 2009's The Hazards of Love. However, it fell short because my #1 album was one that was not only great musically, but also it kind of defined my year.
Next: Best Music of 2011: Part 6