The Best of 2011: 100-Odd Helpless, Shivering Souls Sing the Hollow Cashmere Blues

2011 was truly an exceptional year for music. It just took me the better part of the year to realize it. Most years, I’m lucky to stumble across at least four albums deserving of the five-star rating that I seem to award more and more rarely these days. But this year, in addition to the four or five that I knew I had to give instant A’s, there were several more albums that persuaded me to bump them up from a carefully considered B at the last minute as I reviewed them and realized how well thought-out even some of their lesser songs were. Now almost my entire Top 10 is comprised of A-grade material. I’m stoked about that. What has been a year full of personal turmoil, possible the most emotionally difficult of my life so far, will at least contain a lot of beauty and grace when I look back upon it years from now, and a lot of that will be due to the music I fondly remember for helping me to make my way through it all.

 

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Blindside – With Shivering Hearts We Wait: Come on in… the water’s nice and chilly.

2011_Blindside_WithShiveringHeartsWeWaitArtist: Blindside
Album: With Shivering Hearts We Wait
Year: 2011
Grade: A-

In Brief: Rife with volatile energy, and yet surprisingly mature. This may puzzle longtime fans, but I think Blindside has done their best work yet.

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Divad’s Soundtrack #70: September-October 2007

Christine and I were just insatiable when it came to traveling in 2007. Perhaps it was the sense that we figured at the time we might start a family soon, and that we should get the exploring out of our systems while we still could. As it turned out, that goal was a lot further off than either of us could have anticipated at the time. We needed the time, not just to explore the grand sights and backroads of California together, but to more fully explore and understand each other, too.

In with the New:
The Polyphonic Spree

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Divad’s Soundtrack #61: March-April 2006

Spring 2006. Lots of rain that winter made for good hiking in those months. Life was relatively free from turmoil as far as I can remember, so a lot of the songs I chose for this mix, particularly on Disc One, instead identified with the difficulties others around me were going through. Disc Two has a more drawn-out set of mellow songs to wind it down than my mixes usually do, which may reflect my more peaceful state of mind at the time, though it’s in sharp contrast with the heavier material at the beginning of that disc. Figuring out how to transition between the various moods on these soundtracks is a puzzle that I will never completely solve.

In with the New:
Jack Johnson
The Listening
Justis Kao
Matisyahu
Dean Gray

Out with the Old:
Superchic[k]
Mark Schultz
Fernando Ortega

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Divad’s Soundtrack #54: January-February 2005

This soundtrack for the winter of 2005 is filled with songs of anticipation, but many of them also express a desire for change. I was preparing for my life to becomeradically different as Christine and I planned our wedding. I had to ask myself who I was now, what I wanted to be, and what things were standing in the way of that transformation. I wanted to start married life knowing that the process would make me a better man.

In with the New:
Olivia the Band
Eisley
The Fiery Furnaces

Out with the Old:
Macrosick
Something Like Silas
Day of Fire
Supertones

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Divad’s Soundtrack #53: November-December 2004

Listening to these songs brings to mind a lot of urban imagery. With Christine working a lot of nights at the AMC movie theater near her apartment in Montebello and a lot of time spent planning our upcoming wedding, we didn’t get out as much, so when we had free time, it was often spent with ridiculously sized buckets of popcorn and soda that she scored us for free, planted in front of a huge screen, watching a movie that she also scored us for free, which we were glad we didn’t have to pay to rent.

In with the New:
Alter Bridge
Macrosick
Day of Fire

Out with the Old:
Plus One
Bebo Norman

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Divad’s Soundtrack #52: September-October 2004

Here is where the dream that got deferred finally started to come true. This was the season when I made the transition from introducing Christine as “my girlfriend” to introducing her as “my fiancé”. It’s hard to enumerate all of the thoughts that went through my head as I prepared to take this great leap forward… but hesitance was no longer one of them.

In with the New:
Mute Math
Bethany Dillon
Iron & Wine
Starfield

Out with the Old:
dc Talk
Abra Moore
Eastmountainsouth

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