2011 has come and gone. This is fact. However, there is plenty of room to debate the best and worst, the most viral and the most vile of the past year. What is amazing about working at a station like KROQ and living in a place as vast and eclectic as Los Angeles is that while you are focused on providing the best rock music around to listeners, you’re exposed to much, much more of the fringes of music, art, food, etc. — good and bad.
Some of these lists will be long, some will be short. But all impacted my life for good in 2011. From concerts to songs to behind the scenes at KROQ, I’m giving you my best of the past 12 months.
So without further interruption, here are a few of my favorite things of 2011.
My Favorite Songs of 2011 (in no order, rhyme or reason)
[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Foo Fighters[/lastfm] – Rope
Album #7 turned out to be one of Dave Grohl and Co.’s best yet. “Rope” was by far the best way a world-famous, hard-rocking band can “reintroduce” themselves in an musical age full of electronics, samplers and synths.
[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]M83[/lastfm] - Midnight City
[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Death Cab for Cutie[/lastfm] - You Are A Tourist
[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Coldplay[/lastfm] - Charlie Brown
Hearing this song for the first time on our new live stage at KROQ was mind blowing. Producer/mastermind Brian Eno has gotten the best out of Coldplay for both Viva La Vida… and Mylo Xyloto.
[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]The Black Keys[/lastfm] - Little Black Submarines
I have this record closing my latest mixtape for one reason and one reason only — it is EPIC. El Camino came out late in the year and has been overlooked somehow (for now) by one of the biggest rock acts in America.
[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]TV Girl[/lastfm] - Baby You Were There
[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.[/lastfm] - Morning Thought
“Morning Thought” was an after thought — dumped into the “Please Take Me!” bin in the Phone Op room. The duo known as Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. (even they acknowledge the name is ridiculous) goes full throttle on the opening track of their debut, It’s A Corporate World. (Peep the Gil Scot-Heron joint “We Almost Lost Detroit” too.)
[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Cut Copy[/lastfm] - Hanging Onto Every Hearbeat
Aussie dance-rockers Cut Copy’s latest 1970’s-era slow jam has become my “airplane descent” record. Seriously, try it when you first see the lights of L.A off the wings of your 747. Its comforting.
[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Grouplove[/lastfm] – Tainted Love
The best party-rock jam of 2011.
[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Radiohead [/lastfm]- Lotus Flower
A beautiful, melodic song in the disjointed, chaotic world of Radiohead’s The King of Limbs.
[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]The Pains of Being Pure At Heart[/lastfm] - Belong
Piggybacking off of Grouplove and other back catalog-reaching bands, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart made the best rock album never released in 1998.
[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Mutemath[/lastfm] - Tell Your Heart Heads Up
Favorite song from my favorite album of the year. This New Orleans four-piece added some Louisiana soul and blues to their break-neck back-beats and crunchy guitars. Odd Soul is far and away the most creative, cohesive and most importantly, listenable rock album this year.
Favorite Places to Grub in 2011
fundamental LA – Tucked away on Westwood Blvd. just south of UCLA (blink and you’ll miss it on the south side of the street), this brand new sandwich shop has never disappointed post-KROQ shift. fundamental LA makes simple sandwiches with delicious, carefully selected ingredients.
The bread is top-notch and toasted to perfection. The potato chips are made in-house. The meats, cheeses and fixings are just melt-in-your-mouth other-worldly. I can go on-and-on, but seriously, go to this place.
With a new spin on the already over-stuffed hot dog market, North Hollywood’s Otis Jackson’s Soul Dog is the best place to cure the hangover or get a healthy, hearty meal. Their dogs are all-natural and nitrate free, and the fried chicken is free-range.
Soul food is the game here. Hot dogs are loaded with collard greens, bacon, sweet potatoes, black eyed peas, fried okra, etc. Or go for some chicken and waffles. You name your hunger pain, and Otis Jackson has a cure for it.
Most Overrated Disaster That Never Happened in 2011
Carmageddon – Remember that perfect weekend in July when we all didn’t get in our cars, stayed in our neighborhoods, hosted house parties, hung out in local bars and restaurants and watched the Dodgers play baseball? If July 15-17 was any indication, we need to have Carmageddons more often. It was a perfect Southern California summer weekend without the hassle of going anywhere, anytime soon.
The freeways were so empty for over two days, dudes were skateboarding on them:
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Favorite Behind the Scenes Moment at KROQ in 2011
Showing Nick Swardson Weird Picutes at Loveline (NSFW) – I jumped at the opportunity to screen calls for Loveline at the beginning of the summer. Not only is the whole crew — Psycho Mike, Dr. Drew, Anderson, Simone — very accepting of a fresh face in the studio, but when I started to get the hang of talking to people about extremely uncomfortable things, I saw the potential that Loveline has to help people.
And then, there are crazy, wild Loveline times. Nick Swardson was on and boy did he regret Mike having the power of a search engine (NSFW!)…
Favorite Indie & Dance Songs of 2011
[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Bon Iver[/lastfm] - Holocene
A Grammy-nominated Record of the Year for a reason.
[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Avicii [/lastfm]- Levels ([lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Skrillex [/lastfm]Remix)
Dubstep wizard Skrillex had a huge year. The 23 year-old L.A. native had sold-out shows across the nation, worked with Korn, and saved his best track for last, dropping this “Levels” remix in early December. Have a parachute handy for this drop.
[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Real Estate[/lastfm] - It’s Real
A fantastic, easy-breezy summer album released in the dead winter, Real Estate’s Days edged out [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Vetiver[/lastfm]’s The Errant Charm as my go-to Pacific Coast Highway cruising music.
[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Washed Out[/lastfm] - Amor Fati
You likely heard this shopping at Urban Outfitters with your significant other.
[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Destroyer [/lastfm]- Kaputt
If there was ever a perfect album to soundtrack a Brett Easton Ellis novel/movie adaptation, this purely stylistic 80’s lounger is it.
[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Neon Indian[/lastfm] - Polish Girl
[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]SBTRKT [/lastfm]- Pharaohs
Another album thrown into “Please Take Me!” bin, masked-man/dubstep producer SBTRKT (read: subtract) wasn’t as wobbly as Skrillex and way more seductive in his rhythms.
Top 6 Concerts Attended in 2011
2. Private [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]My Morning Jacket[/lastfm] show in Santa Monica
3. [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Incubus[/lastfm] at the Hollywood Bowl
4. [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Local Natives[/lastfm] at the Walt Disney Concert Hall
5. [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Foster the People[/lastfm] at the El Rey Theatre