My 12 Favorite New-To-Me Records Of 2011

Okay, as promised, I’m finally getting around to writing about my favorite new-to-me records of 2011, just like I did last year. Of course, I’m not counting new old record by my favorite bands of the year, because that would just be redundant. As it happened there were a clean dozen records that really sparked my imagination and pleased my ears in various ways this year. I’m going to try and keep these short and sweet, but you never know when it comes to me. As you probably know, I can get a bit wordy. If you want to see all those words, hit the jump. Continue reading My 12 Favorite New-To-Me Records Of 2011

Record Review: Matt and Kim’s Sidewalks

A lot can be said about enthusiasm. That’s what attracted me to Matt and Kim in the first place…thanks to a commercial. Even though I’m old (28 is old right?), I still watch more MTV than I should. A few months back, MTV was doing a huge ad campaign leading up to an indie music awards ceremony called The Woodies. To get people psyched (or something) they interviewed different musicians briefly about road trips and driver safety. One such ad featured Matt and Kim, a band I had heard of, but not knowingly heard up to that point (they’re probably in commercials and whatnot). A brief search on YouTube didn’t find me the video, but basically they were talking about road trips. Matt absolutely oozed an enthusiasm and sense of fun that you don’t see a lot in music anymore. Kim fit right along with him, wondering why her hypothetical future children weren’t taking their cool mom on their musical road trip. I was kind of smitten with these two. Then I saw the actual Wooodie Awards which made me feel ancient because I hadn’t heard of half these kids, but it also made me even more curious about this dynamic duo.

Fast forward a few weeks and I find myself in a Borders on its last day of existence. It was kind of a sad affair, but with everything marked down to $0.50, I didn’t feel too bad. As it turned out, in addition to a copy of Craig Thompson’s Blankets which I haven’t had the chance to dive into yet, they had Matt and Kim’s most recent record Sidewalks for sale. There aren’t many records I wouldn’t buy for half a buck, so I jumped at the chance to actually listen to this group I had been kinda sorta interested in from afar. I was not disappointed.

Note, the following video is surprisingly violent and bloody. But MAN is the song rad.

I haven’t had this much fun with a record in I don’t know how long. I’m not sure how their other records sound, but Sidewalks is filled some very well put together beats and electronic elements that rival some of the bigger hip hop and pop tracks I hear on the pop stations, especially “AM/FM Sound” and “Cameras.” As if that weren’t enough, the songs themselves are filled with the kind of optimistic lyrics that can only be written by kids in their 20s. But, I don’t want to give the impression that they’re just a couple of impressionable kids singing about rainbows and flowers, the general theme of the record seems to be grabbing life by the horns and taking full advantage of it. “So many books that i didn’t read/but there’s so much air i chose to breathe./How about the colors that I’ve seen?/So i’ll leave these pages in the trees.” I like that sense of wonder with the world but also the knowledge that it might come at what others might see as a cost. That combination of hot beats and sunny optimism might seem contradictory, but the results are infections, foot tapping (sometimes stomping) anthems that make me want to follow my dreams and kick life in the junk (whatever that means).

There’s some NSFW talking at the end of the following video, just FYI.

I dig all 10 tracks on the record, though “Northeast” is a bit of a bummer. But, hey, it’s also the shortest track on the record, so I can’t be too miffed. If you’re like me and have an unnecessary predisposition to dislike anything that comes out of Hipster Brooklyn, I encourage you to still give Matt and Kim a try. If they’re being ironic, they’re either really bad at it or incredibly good actors because I think that kind of enthusiasm is difficult, if not impossible to, fake.