This is the time of year when we look back on the arts with the benefit of short-term hindsight. Over the last week, Marcus J. Moore, Ryan Little, Michael J. West, Ramon Ramirez, and I have listed what we think is the best D.C. music of 2011. To judge by our overlapping taste, some of the year's most worthwhile recordings came from Oddisee, The Caribbean, More Humans, yU, and Deleted Scenes. Hip-hop, indie rock, EDM, and jazz all had strong, if not revelatory, years. Local music fans have nothing to hang their heads over.
From week to week, though, our print arts section presented a less obvious narrative of local music. Earlier this week, I combed through every One Track Mind, local album review, and music feature we ran in 2011 to get a sense of our biases and oversights—what we got right, what we got wrong, and what we missed.
Our music coverage remains heavily titled toward indie rock, punk, garage rock, and post-hardcore. Hip-hop probably comes next, but while Oddisee, Black Indian, and Pro'Verb got squibs in print—and X.O. got a full review—plenty of the year's most notable mixtapes never got mentioned beyond Arts Desk. I'd like to see more full-fledged mixtape reviews in 2012, especially since the line separating mixtapes from albums keeps getting blurrier and blurrier.
Two of the biggest success stories in local EDM didn't nab print mentions (although they were all over Arts Desk): Volta Bureau and the Future Times label. Oops. We missed some notable experimental releases, too. Our go-go coverage was mostly pitiful. And not enough of West's and Mike Paarlberg's and Steve Kiviat's excellent online jazz and classical and world-music coverage (respectively) migrated to our weekly edition. (For the most part, we ignored the area's abundance of pop-folksy singer/songwriters, but, yeah, that won't change in 2012.)
On the plus side: We wrote about a shit-ton of local music this year, didn't we? And despite our obvious biases, we covered a pretty good amount of sonic ground. We had 10 (10!) cover stories or cover packages about music—almost a fifth of City Paper's cover stories this year.
Now comes the part where I ask a question I usually hate reading at the bottom of blog posts: But what do you think? (Give me a break. It's December.) Check out the overview of our coverage below, and tell us in the comments.
One Track Minds
Trumpet Grrrl, "Amaryllis"
Hays Holladay, "It's a Boy"
Phonic Riot, "Libertina"
Benoit & Sergio, "Walk & Talk"
The Jolly Bros., "Eyes on the Horizon"
The Ash Lovelies, "Vernon Street"
Kevin Pace Trio, "7524"
Bear Witnez, "Can't Hold Me Down"
Darkest Hour, "Savor the Kill"
Will Eastman and Micah Vellian, "No Sleep"
Maimouna Youssef, "Black Magic Woman"
The Sweater Set, "Downstream"
Richard Chartier, "Transparency (Performance)"
Tittsworth and Alvin Risk, "Pendejas"
Fell Types, "Where You've Been"
Cigarette, "100 Tears"
June G., "Supa Star"
Outputmessage, "N.Y.R. (Reverse)"
The Gift, "Corpse Reviver"
Rival Skies, "Destroyer"
Empresarios, "Happy Track (Thomas Blondet and Second Sky Remix)"
Mittenfields, "Goliath FTW"
The Chance, "Into the Night"
Herman Burney, "Portrait of a Rose"
Sad Bones, "Backyard Dream Killer"
Regents, "Cinder Machine"
Dot Dash, "I'm Going Home"
Darren "D Streets" Harper, "Game 2 U"
Paperhaus, "Diamond Days"
Mobius Strip, "Battery Cage"
Martyn, "We Are You in the Future"
The Caribbean, "The 65 Cent Dinner"
Awthentik, "Purified Madness"
Brian Settles and Central Union, "Gardenias"
The Jet Age, "Some Nights"
Noyeek, "Pulling Away"
Pree, "Lemon Tree"
Deathfix (next week!)
Laughing Man, The Lovings ('63-'69)
U.S. Royalty, Mirrors
Chain & the Gang, Music's Not for Everyone
The Caribbean, Discontinued Perfume
Carol Bui, Red Ship
Title Tracks, In Blank
Vandaveer, Dig Down Deep
Pygmy Lush, Old Friends
Joe Lally, Why Should I Get Used to It
Blow Your Head, Vol. 2: Dave Nada Presents Moombahton
Wale et al, Self Made, Vol. 1
Father's Children, Who's Gonna Save the World
Thievery Corporation, Culture of Fear
Ben Williams, State of Art
Blue Sausage Infant, Negative Space
Meredith Bragg, Nest
The Plums, The White LP
The Funk Ark, From the Rooftops
X.O., Told You So
Wild Flag, Wild Flag
Deleted Scenes, Young People's Church of the Air
Edie Sedgwick, Love Gets Lovelier Every Day
Faith, Subject to Change Plus First Demo
Void, Sessions 1981-1983
John Fahey, Your Past Comes Back to Haunt You
Office of Future Plans, Office of Future Plans
yU, The EARN
Screen Vinyl Image, Strange Behavior
Memory Machine: Was Dismemberment Plan the Internet’s First Buzz Band?
Ground to a Halt: Magrudergrind’s Scion Deal Alienated Its Peers, But Does It Matter?
Back in Hack: Journopalooza, Where the Boys on the Bus Become the Boys in the Band
Bruise Cruise: A Supposedly Punk Thing I'll Never Do Again
Best of D.C., including Best Instrument: Bass
Ballad of a Mixtape
A Tale of Two Warehouses: Life in Eckington Is Harder for a Go-Go Space Than a Punk Venue
For the Nobis, Home Is Where the Hemp Is
Summer Music Guide: Jonathan Slye's Positive Force
Summer Music Guide: Fancy Hearing You Here
Summer Music Guide: Lionize's Merchandise Savior
Summer Music Guide: Mount Pleasant, Unmuted
Summer Music Guide: The National Symphony Orchestra's Video-Game Summer
Remuneration Breakdown: Why Zep Fest Was Canceled
Sweetgreen's Sweet Spot
Patriarch Games: The Cornel West Theory’s High-Stakes New Album
State of the Reunion: It's the Golden Age of Hardcore Reunions. How Punk Is That?
[Your Band] Played Here: An Oral History of Fort Reno
Kicking and Streaming: Why Indies Tolerate Spotify’s Minuscule Royalties
Fillmore Silver Spring: The End of the World as We Know It?
D.C. Nein? DC9′s Nearly Smooth Return to Business as Usual
Where's DJ Rane?
Dave Mann's Very Own D.C. Rock Scene
Full Disclosure: Fugazi’s Live Series Is a Lot More Than Angry Banter