Best (?) of 2011: 224 Opinions On Buzz Bands

This year, for the first time, I decided to try to keep a running log of everything I listened to, if only so I could ctrl+f to remember if I hated some new band I was being emailed about for the third time. (Yup.) I listen to maybe 5% of what I get sent and there are plenty of bands I listened to who didn’t make it into these notes, which means there are too many bands. I thought it might be worthwhile, or at least amusing, to share the list of bands that didn’t make it onto Rawkblog this year for one reason or another. Most of these totally unedited notes/opinions are based on hearing 30 seconds or less of one song, so, uh, if it turns out any of these bands are good, I apologize. (In fact, some of them are!) Also, I apologize in advance to the letter “Z” and the phrase “Bland of Boreses.”

Sweet Lights – Belligerent MGMT

White Fence –Too classic rock

Cigarette Bums – Too Cold War Kids

Esben and the Witch –Psyched-out post-XX, snooze

Jamie Woon – Junior Bores

Mona –Emo U2. Ouch.

Peter Bjorn and John –Peter Bjored and John

Wye Oak – Sort of like a guitar version of Beach House, weirdly? Also, boring.

Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi – Really? This is it? After that press release?

Guineafowl – Aussie MGMT. Zzzzz.

Yoofs – Jangly. Stupid vocals.

J.D. McPherson – Well-done ’50s style Chubby Checker shit

Gross Magic – Sounds like the Smith Westerns but not as good

Filligar – Bland of Horses / Rolling zzzztones

The Wednesday Club – Whimsical but muscular indie-rock, pretty good!

Youth Lagoon – Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. Jr.

Craig Wedren – Weird mix of math-y ’90s emo and mature power-pop sincerity.

Veronica Falls – Likable enough gritty, post-Velvets jangle-pop. But I don’t really like it.

Stepdad –Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr.

Oh Minnows – Snoozy reverb-indie.

Matthieu Lavigne – Pretty nicely arranged folk, just not into his voice/the songs.

Escalator Hill – Poplar Avenue – Energetic alt-country, sort of annoying

Big Spider’s Back – More like Big Zzzzzpiderzzzzzzzzzz Zzzzz.

The Heart Strings – Pretty charming twee

Two Dark Birds – One Boring Wilco/Summer Hymns


Konnichiwa – Average synth-pop, not as good as Robyn

Mt. Broom – Nice enough bedroom folk, no confidence

Stuyvesant – Killer guitars, blah vocals

To Disappear – Killer guitars, irritating vocals

Sea Things – Hear nothing

Glowbug – Meaningless bedroom electro

Solkyri – Aussie post-rock. Don’t like post-rock.

Big Black Delta – Big stupid ‘80s revivalism

Papa – Fool’s Gold meets MGMT meets nothing special, unfortunately

HTRK – Generic minimalist synth-pop.


Brown Shoes – Bland of Bourses

Noah Wall – Synth-pop/folktronica, not bad, not great.

Acollective – Nice enough MOR guitar-rock.

AM & Shawn Lee – Retro Dangermouse steez. Not bad.

Shimmering Stars – Jesus Christ, leave the ‘50s alone already

Phone Tag – Whiny nu-Balearic

Beni – Jittery house from Modular. Meh.

Pandit – Sub-Memoryhouse dream-blobs

Walter Meego – Competent late ‘90s alt-rock, belligerent vox

Alice Gold – PJ Harvey by way of the Ting Tings by way of the Spice Girls

Brother – Never thought I’d hear “It is what it is” outside of a hip-hop song

Morning Parade – Post-Cut Copy psych-rock-beat-making. Also, dissed by the Guardian. Promising!

White Sea – White Sux

ANR – single – Rhymes with Shmarcade Byre.

Lady Lazarus – single – Ambient Joanna Newsom/Grouper w/ songs, not as good as either

Jenny O – Snoozy faux-bluesy faux-earnest post Colbie Caillat girl-folk

Word Tour – “Sparks” – Unmemorable nu-twee-synth-drift. Like drinking office coffee.

Hang Glider – EP – Synthesizers, hazy but masculine vox, zzzz

Bikini – Shameless, bad PRR&B.

Callers – Shameless sub-Black Keys minimal bl00z

The Great American Canyon Band – Bland of Boreses

Red Wanting Blue: Silly alt-country songs, despite solid work from Ryan Adams’ producer

Seefeel – Static-y ambient buzzing over lockstep drums. Not for me.

Expo ‘70 – Dusty, cinematic post rock. Nice.

Culture Voyage – Chillwave meets bloghouse meets zzzzzzzzzzz

Dag for Dag – Beach House meets over-emoting. Pass.

The Bell – Promising electro-punk, will probably bore me in 3 listens.

TOG – Tame Impala lite. Not awful.

Ladybug Transistor – Not for me, bafflingly. Nothing wrong with them, very Beulah-y.

Mad Ones – Lo-fi Bon Jovi. Oy.

Lorena B – Glitchy pop ambient. B- grade Bjork.

Heypenny – hyper-caffinated, garage-y indie-pop. Not bad.

Dirty Gold – White boy island grooves. Borderline Jason Mraz.

Gomez – Dudes remain also-rans to the Super Furry Animals, Beta Band, etc. This song jacks a Dr. Seuss line and has a dumb guitar riff.

Loud Valley – Nicely lo-fi Walkmen-lite.

Girls Names – Dirty Beaches-core, which is to say, The Shitty Cramps.

The Shivers – Un-stylized synth-driven indie/post-punk, which is to say, boring

Natural Child – Iggy and the Stoogezzzzzzzzzzz

Painted Palms – Sounds like Panda Bear fronting Studio, which is to say, fuck Panda Bear. Nice beats, though.

Flashlights – Chillwave, really bro-y vocals, pass

Snowmine – Actual post-Harlem Shakes indie rock, more overtly/panderingly tropical. Would probably like it if I listened to it more than once.

Emily Lacy – nice voice, competent country-folk from L.A.

Sleeper Agent – Awkward Warped Tour attempt at hipster garage rock despite Mom + Pop label cred, sigh

The Soft Moon – Guys, at some point you have to actually write songs and not just play notes with reverb on them.

Justice of the Unicorns – Terrific album art, merely O.K. boozy porch-folk.

Casey Brooks – Awesome twee-dude bedroom pop

TV Ghost – Competent lo-fi punk sprawl, not for me

Kids on a Crime Spree – Retro pop Fender Strat shit, sounds like Generationals (so: kind of boring)

The Milk Carton Kids – perfectly likable Simon & Garfunkel steez

The New Familiars – Starbucks rock, blah

Cameron McGill – Americana/indie rock, not bad

Town Mountain – Bluegrass, ughhhhhh

The Farewell Drifters – Moar country folk, lackluster bro vox

Jason White – Oh man! Throwback costello/bacharach swag, really nice vocals

Balthazar B and the Beatitudes: Fake Elliott Smith-ish, competent, unpretty vox

Wizards of Time – Messy, hi-fi weirdo indie rock – reminds me of Modest Mouse, Paper Airplanes

Other Lives – really impressive chamber-folk, uncharismatic vocals

Alina Simone – Theatrical post PJ Harvey alt-rock, nice, not for me

unouomedude – garage rock, too bro-y

Arrange – pleasant enough pre-Altered Zones CD-R drone/post-rock with the occasional tortured Bright Eyes-style

Peaking Lights – Gorillavsbearcore in the worst way. (No offense, bro.)

Psychic Dancehall – Chillwave Joy Division. Zzzzzzz.

Matheiu Santos – Nicely rubbery synth-pop; Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. Jr.

Writer – Surfer Blood Jr. Jr. Pass.

Chains of Love – More useless ‘50s garage-pop fetishizing.

The Hairs – Likable enough lo-fi garage-pop

Humans – Boring minimal electro.

Matters – Boring minimal guitar rock.

Cuckoo Chaos – Post Vampy Weekend island pop from the island of Zzzzzwaii.

Plateaus – Snoozy, Cramps-y ironic ‘50s rock.

Umpire – Possibly the first Maritime tribute band. Not bad.

Agnes Obel – Nice enough chamber-folk arrangements. Clearly an Elliott Smith fan.

Major Sun Pancho – Garage rock that puts the rock first. Nice.

Spider – She’s been sending me emails for years, but this is the first song that really struck me. Extremely pretty, emotive bedroom folk.

Put Out – Goth-y, awful garage trolling

The Antlers – More like burst afart, amirite

Save the Clocktower – Windily produced, shyly performed electro-pop from Chicago. Nice stuff.

Wes Swing – Very pretty occasionally orchestral folk.

Jason White – Sub-Jon Brion unpopular pop. Charming enough.

Holiday Shores – Sub-of Montreal eBay keyboard indie-pop. Yes, obviously more like Holiday Snores, amirite?

Goldroom – Competent bedroom neo-disco beats, snoozeville vox/songs

The Shimmies – Pearl Jam covers Bright Eyes. Not awful.

Elle King – “Quirky” folk-pop. Whatever.

Life in Film – Terrific Bloc Party-meets-Britpop music, stupid TVOTR vocals

Black Books – Band of Horses redux, not bad.

Inc. – formerly Teen Inc. – No-talent PBR&B bullshit.

Strange Talk – The bastard child of Pheonix and Cut Copy. Not as good as either, not bad on its own.

Sleeping Bag – beige-colored ‘90s indebted indie rawk

AIVA – New Age-y, ughhhh

Jim McCray – Collective Soul meets Owl City

Spectres – Uninventive Sonic Youth-isms

Leisure – Cheesy sorta-disco/Britpop that people would’ve made fun of in the ‘90s

Lydia Loveless – Hey, this is rad! Crunchy Neko Case.

Diarrhea Planet – Hilariously aggro power-pop. About as good/awful as the name implies.

Zee Avi – Decent cutesy folk.

Rustie – Chipmunk vox’d electronic dance. High on the treble, which is a good thing.

Raleigh Moncrief – “Experimental” pop. Grandaddy/AnCo-y, not bad, I just don’t have the taste for it

Rifle Men – Rad, weird folk-pop.

Drew Smith – likable orch-folk

Bella Novela – Parabore. Just kidding, this is OK.

Dax – Too craggy and alt-rock

Whiskey Saints – Basically sounds like what you expect it to

Folie Adieu – Post-Cocteau Twins, kinda bland

Katie Herzig – Average coffee shop quirk-pop

Wheat – Folk-rock lifers return with charming enough new singles.

The Jigsaw Seen – Weirdly ’90s-seeming fey-pop earnestness. Just O.K.

PacificUV – Casiotone for the Painful Smiths Cover

Carter Tanton – Ughhh, dude, record in a studio please

Pyyramids – Female fronted rehash of In Rainbows, not bad

Slow Club – Three-Star Indie Rock Club. Sorta like a boring New Pornographers.

Low Roar – Early Radiohead meets IDM. Not bad.

Brice Woodall – Atmospheric bedroom indie.

Cookies – Female-fronted MGMT

Chairlift – Competent synth-pop revival

Keaton Henson – Promising gloom folk

Rachael Yamagata – A more straight-faced second-tier Leona Naess, so, still pretty good!

Dibiase – Blahck Sabbath

New Ruins – prod. Brian Deck, promising western gloom-rock

From Afar – Gritty, sincere-seeming alt-rock. Very ’90s in a good way!

The Wanderer – Competent alt-country

Coasting – charming gorillavsbearcore girl group

Dan Webb and the Spiders – Amusing name, very gritty power-pop. Sounds like Social Distortion?

Concrete Houses – Punk with a sense of humor

No Shoes – Bland, yelpy sorta-garage indie

Blonde Valhalla – Super melodramatic bedroom indie

Tunabunny – Cool in the same way Grass Widow is, slightly too punky/dissonant for me

Bleached – Sorta obvious ’60s doofus-rock. Sounds like every future failed L.A. band.

Caveman – Don’t understand the buzz. The single sounds like John Vanderslice yawning.

Davila 666 – More competent retro-garage, nice try

Eternal Summers – Lady Beach Fossils? A lot of potential here, need to hear more songs

Forest Fire – Gram Parzzzzzonzzzzzzzz

Givers – Belligerent electro-twee, my least favorite genre of the last decade

Grimes – Congratulations on your laptop ownership and pretty hair

Psychic Ills – I think I have that guitar effect on the Crate amp I bought in high school.

Pujol – More yowly garage.

Radiation City – Hey, this is nice! Elegant Broadcast-y psych-pop.

Robert Ellis – Pretty nice bedroom cowboy folk

Tropical Popsicle – Lo-fi to a fault post-punk revival. Moderate potential, sorta snoozy vocals.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Don’t understand the appeal of this band at all. Funk for people who think Danger Mouse is funky.

Wax Idols – Boooorrrriiinnnng

Weekend – “Hazel” – Still not in love with this a bunch of listens later — too fake Joy Division/New Order-y — but another man’s jam.

Yellow Ostrich – Average/Family x Brodos Tour 2007.

Fort Lean – Why does every band sound like the Walkmen, they’re not even that great, Jesus Christ. Might be good if the singer would come out from behind his filters.

Active Child – This is like Chillwave Owen Pallett or a second-rate, more song-y James Blake? Neither’s a good look.

Class Actress – Basically hate bands that sound like the Knife (I hate the Knife) but this is kind of a jam.

French Horn Rebellion – Pretty nice Cut Copy/Toro Y Moi update

Gotye – Peter Gabriel, too

Secret Music – MZZZMT. Prefab modern rock masquerading as indie.

Wise Blood – Ugh get an instrument that’s not a laptop and also write a melody that’s not a Smash Mouth rap verse

BELLS≥ – Pretty nice, sharply recorded fusion of post-hardcore and post-rock. Needs some vocals!

Sophie Madeleine – Uke folk with some real depth. Clever arrangements. Not in love w/ her voice but you might be.

Savoir Adore – This band rules

Birthday Girls – Aggro post-punk revival that a lot of people will probably like but not me

Neil Cousin – Pretty nice Serious Dude chamber-folk, a little generic

Forest Mountain Hymnal – Serious People murder ballads. Also a little generic.

The Kickliner – What was that term? Landfill indie? Not bad.

Spirit Vine – Every L.A. band wants to be Warpaint, huh

A Band of Bees – A Bland of Beezzzz is the obvious joke here, right? This is cute in a soggy DevBan way, though.

Mike and Cody – I blogged about this band a ways back — this is like if a couple of college dudes tried to get a Justin Bieber cover on Pitchfork. It’s pretty good!

Lauderdale – Serious Feelings Good genre material.

Armsup – Reel Big Fzzzzzzzzsh

Sam Pace – Blooze-folk that literally sounds like it was recorded in a full bathtub

Little Red – Kisses-lite. Total boy band, too.

Kirby – Not in love with his voice, but some of these songs could be Taylor Swift hits.

The Fling – “Hey, can you put some more reverb on the guitar? Hold on, I have to hang up this Vampire Weekend tour poster, I just got it framed.”

Gracie – which hauzzzzzzzz

Gospel Music – cutesy folk-twee, not super into it

Fall Fox – LOL Animal Collective that becomes LOL Drink Some Tea for That Throat, Bro

Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun – LOL Metric

Standing Shadows – LOL the Killers

Spacecamp – Are you serious with this indie rock Sublime shit

Christine Leakey – It bums me out that she’s been sitting on these songs for 14 years because they’re kind of boring

The Ambassadors – Oh God, I think this is what dubstep Vampire Weekend sounds like

Hundred Waters – Wait is this secretly a Twin Sister side project why does every singer sound like this now is that the drummer from Vampire Weekend aghhhhhhhh

Zakee – “Dope Girl” – Whoa, chillwave PBR&B. Kinda snoozy, obviously.

Hargo – Pete Yorn with a really intense beard. Too obviously alt-rock for me in 2k11.

Woodsman – Generic post-rock.

Slowdim – Pretty nice early ’90s power-pop revival, not super in love with it for whatever reason

Slothbear – Reasonably charming jangle redux

Iowa – Crusty ’90s alt-rock. Vaguely shoegazy? Not bad.

The Mad Pride – Morose, minimal take on chamber-rock. Not enough melodies.

We Can’t Enjoy Ourselves – Crap Your Pants Say Yeah

The Violet Lights – “Ohmigod, I used to love this Rooney CD!”

Sunbears! – The Flaming Extra-Sensitive Lips

Alabama Shakes – Super legit southern-fried Walkmen

Gary Clark Jr. – Super legit 50s pop, makes Girls look like Muppet Babies

Brian Hoffer – Adorkable bedroom pop

Mesita – Quite lovely falsetto-folk. Worth your time, Bon Iver fans.