Friday, January 5, 2001

McQ's Best Of 2011 Recommended Mixes


And here, one non-government holiday ahead of schedule, is this year's Recommended Mix Collection.

2011 saw a number of new trends emerge...the absolute dominance of indie by female artists, a head first dive by into the cheesiest sounds of the 80s, a resurgence of 90s guitar rock, and everywhere one turned, garage garage garage...but by most critical measures, 2011 was a slight down year compared to the last four, and while maybe not as weak as the last genuinely weak year (2006), less interesting.

At the heart of the issue wasn't a lack of quality albums...dozens of artists produced very engaging, solid  releases...but a dearth of marquee songs!  Outside of efforts from PJ Harvey, Tune-Yards, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, and maybe F---ed Up, ambition seemed scaled back in 2011, and as a result, there just weren't that many tracks this year of the bona fide A+ variety.

Still, in this age of a million options and hundreds of intriguing artists, a wealth of quality rock, pop, hip hop, electronica, alt-country and folk was produced all the same, and much of it is gathered here in these ten mixes.

As always, each mix is designed to fit on a single 70mb CD if burned at a 128kbit sample rate.

Additionally, links to the full mixes on Spotify and I-Tunes are also now provided.

So without further ado, here is McQ's Best Of 2011 Recommended Mix Collection. Just click on the mix title, and the link will take you to the individual mix page.


Volume 1 - Best Of The Best:
Over the years since I began doing these collections, fans of the expanded set have grown.  But a vocal percentage has always existed who would prefer a more concise representation of the year. Well here you go. Composed entirely of my favorite tracks or representative selects from my favorite albums, it presents much of what I liked best in 2011, unless already claimed by Nancy for Volume 2. Intended as Part 1 of a two part abbreviated collection with Nancy's Volume 2, this mix includes works from PJ Harvey, Tune-Yards, Wild Flag, Elbow, TV On The Radio, Girls, F---ed Up, The Antlers, Wild Beasts, Destroyer, Cut/Copy, Youth Lagoon, The Kills, Kurt Vile, Wilco and The Strokes.

Volume 2 - Nancy's Favorites:
Nancy's annual contribution to the collection is fantastic as always.  This year's offering includes selects from Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, The Black Keys, Lykke Li, Foster The People, Yuck, Adele, Florence & The Machine, Gillian Welch, Bon Iver, The Decemberists, Alabama Shakes, Fistful Of Mercy, Scala & Kolacny Brothers, City And Colour, Good Old War, Paul Simon, and The Love Language.

And for those who still prefer the expanded, in depth, thematic mixes, we continue with...

Volume 3 - Women On Top!:
There's no getting around it...female indie artists dominated 2011, delivering just about every one of the year's very top records, including PJ Harvey's Let England Shake, an easy call for album of the year. Multiple selects from Tune-Yards, Wild Flag, St. Vincent, Florence & The Machine, The Kills, Adele, The Joy Formidable, and Warpaint are also spotlighted.

Volume 4 - Grammy Sap Nostalgiathon:
2011 saw a number of artists dive headfirst into the kitsch-iest AM sounds of the late 70s/early 80s, some, most notably Bon Iver, Iron & Wine, The Weeknd, and Dan Bejar's Destroyer, to at times stunning results. Full of auto-tuned vocals and slow, sultry grooves, this is one of the mellowest mixes in this year's collection, and also, I think, the most specifically representative of where artist's heads were at in 2011.

Volume 5 - Right On Cue (Here Comes The 90s):
As predictable as a sunrise, 2011 saw a number of bands adhere to the twenty year rule and suddenly latch on to the atonal, aggressive guitar pop that defined much of the best rock of the 90s.  Led by master mimics Yuck, more idiosyncratic acts like Cymbals Eat Guitars and WU LYF, Sebadoh-ish acts like The War On Drugs and Kurt Vile, and a few old originals like Pavement's Stephen Malkmus, Wire, and The Beastie Boys...this is one of the liveliest, hardest rocking mixes in this year's collection.

Volume 6 - Coachella Starters:
The second edition of what I hope to make a annual mix highlighting my favorite undercard performers from each year's Coachella festival.  A huge range of styles represented on this one, but overall, probably the poppiest mix of this year's set.

Volume 7 - Moody Judys & Arty Loonies:
A dumping ground for the year's darkest, artiest fare...a mix of brooding rock and electronic numbers...I think it may actually be the best electronica-angled mix I've produced yet, due in large part not to any great insight on my part, but the fabulous sonic work represented on so many of these songs.  Includes efforts by Radiohead, Gang Gang Dance, EMA, art-rappers Shabazz Palaces, Kate Bush, Panda Bear, The Field, ambient master Tim Hecker, Julliana Barwick and others.

Volume 8 - Garage-o-Punk-o-Funk-o-Rama:
It felt like everything recorded in 2011 had a retro-raw feel, and this mix collects the best of three retro-niches into one very lively bundle.  Definitely one of my favorites of this year's set. Along with Volumes 3 and 5, the hardest rocking of this year's offerings.

Volume 9 - Hopeless Synth-Washed Romantics:
Though one senses the indie-world's decade long obsession with 80s new wave has finally begun to wane, there were still a few dedicated stalwarts continuing to push the revivalist agenda one last time.  Some of the best of those efforts are presented here, including efforts from The Antlers, Wild Beasts, M83, Cut//Copy, Washed Out, The Horrors, Future Islands, Youth Lagoon, Metronomy and Antony & The Johnsons.

Volume 10 - From My Warm Heart To Yours:
The most heartfelt and classic-rock leaning assemblage of this set, this straightforward, earnest mix feels least representative of the year just past, but through some lucky sequencing synergy, has emerged as my unquestioned  favorite in this year's collection.  Includes 2011 numbers from Elbow, TV On The Radio, Paul Simon, Robbie Robertson, The Mountain Goats, Jens Lekman, Wilco, Real Estate, Fleet Foxes, Akron/Family, Ry Cooder, The Decemberists, My Morning Jacket and Low.

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