Introducing the 2011 edition of the Musical Bacon Calendar. Every year, December 1 seems to come out of nowhere, leaving me scrambling to put together my list for the year. And every year, as I look over the year’s albums that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, I’m surprised by the wealth of albums to choose from. The answers to questions that you may have of me (such as “How do you have so much time to discover 31 albums, let alone listen extensively to with enjoyment, over the span of the past year?”) elude me every bit as much as they do you. But enjoy, I have, and now I must share.
2011 has been a great year for music. Happily, the definition of what good music can be continues to evolve, and while I don’t pretend to listen to every new album that came out in 2011 — far, far from it — I do listen to quite a bit. There may be a number of albums out there that you see mentioned on other Top XX albums of the year lists, but I am only one person, and the Musical Bacon Calendar is purely my own opinion. I do listen to and tolerate a number of musical genres, but you’ll not find many — if any — country, pop, or hip hop albums in this list, so it may feel incomplete at times. But I hold firm of the belief that every album on this list is great in its own way, and I do recommend every single one of them.
So, without further adieu:
#31 on the 2011 Musical Bacon Calendar
I Am Very Far by Okkervil River
It would take a lot for Okkervil River to match their former glory. The indie rock band’s 2005 and 2007 albums (Black Sheep Boy and The Stage Names respectively) were fantastic albums from start to finish. Story-based song structures, with a repeated chorus somewhat difficult to come by, make the Okkervil River of old a wonder to listen to but difficult to sing along to.
I Am Very Far, which came out in May of this year, takes the band in a new direction. Unlike their previous works, this album does not tell multiple sides of one 45 minute story. This is a collection of great songs, each with just a touch of ground previously covered. I don’t find “Wake and Be Fine,” above, to be the best representation of this album, but the video is damn fine. Download the album to hear what’s even better than this.
If you’re new to Okkervil River, this album may be your best entry into the band. And if you’re an old fan, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the direction the band is moving in (especially if The Stand Ins, their album from 2009, didn’t do it for you). Either way, it’s a great album, and a good start to this year’s list. More tomorrow!