Mary Leary

Mary Leary is a Reader contributor. See staff page for published articles.

Everyone's a Critic Top Ten List

Better late than never - my 2011 Top 10 - by Mary Leary Kathryn Calder: Bright and Vivid (File Under Music) - Also involved with New Pornographers, and supported by players including Superchunk’s Jon Wurster, Calder’s addictive sophomore solo effort soars beyond both the inevitable “Indie pop” tag and her own “synth-pop” description. The Do: Both Ways Open Jaws (Six Degrees Records) – On harpsichord, sax, piano, and trumpet (for starters), Dan Levy helps Olivia Merilahti realize her hypersensitive perceptions. BWOJ sparkles and holds with hooks and ingenuity recalling the Raincoats and early Bowie. Fleet Foxes: Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop) – To sound so much like CS&N (without Y) and still end up on this list? You’d have to be amazing. Fleet Foxes occasionally attains/conveys alpha levels of consciousness while feeling sincere to avoid any sense of pretense. Sam Humans: Live Free/The Heligoats: Let Loose (Greyday Records) –The Heligoats’ Chris Otepka’s songwriting so juicily merges Walt Whitman’s transcendentalism (life is full of possibilities) with CCR’s kick-up-your-heels joy, it’s almost unbearable – in the best way. Mercies: Three Thousand Days (Self-Released) – A passionate tone-poem of a (10-track) debut; recorded in a Connecticut barn. The Raincoats: Odyshape (Reissue - We Three Records): An invigoratingly idiosyncratic mash of yin with yang that broke all sorts of ground. Three British girls happened to be manning the shovels. Robbers on High Street: Hey There Golden Hair (Rocco Grecco) – It’s not easy to recapture the verve and kick of the mid-‘60s, while infusing it with joyful naivete. For the leap forward that is HTGH, the Brooklyn, New York-based Robbers have composed hits for A.M. stations that no longer exist. Trentemoller: Reworked/Remixed (In My Room) – With artists including Andrew Weatherall Prinz and Efterklang remolding Trentemoller’s tracks, and Trentemoller putting his hands all over music by Franz Ferdinand, The Do, and Lars and the Hands of Light, it seems (from the way this thing’s been glued to my ears) impossible to go wrong with this cool, trippy, and cherry-on-top (of the Pop) tones ‘n’ beats. The Velvet Monkeys: Everything Is Right (Reissue – Instant Mayhem/Thick Syrup) - Don Fleming has played a significant role in seminal new wave, punk, and post-punk (Sonic Youth, Teenage Fanclub, Dinosaur Jr). Anyone interested in any of those might want to overlook his participation in the Backbeat Band and grab this reissue of his first band’s debut, which for 29 years could only be found on cassette. Gary Wilson: Feel the Beat (Tip Records) – Based in San Diego, GW continues to weave ingratiatingly odd tales of unrequited passion that seem to emanate from the psyche of an underdeveloped 16-year-old -- to music brilliantly melding lounge, jazz, funk, and pop. (I also thought Cass McCombs' album was good; it just didn't quite make it onto this list)
— December 29, 2011 1:24 p.m.

Win a $25 Gift Card to
The Broken Yolk Cafe

Join our newsletter list

Each newsletter subscription means another chance to win!