2011 was full of debuts and followups from ladies that know a thing or two about making good music. So on this 4th Day of Good, please enjoy this small sample of what some very talented ladies brought to the table this year.
Eleanor Friedberger is one half of the brother-sister, indie-folk duo, The Fiery Furnaces. This year she dabbled in a solo career and released her debut, Last Summer. If you’re a fan of The Fiery Furnaces, don’t expect the same exact sound (which is a good thing in my opinion) but you’ll definitely still enjoy this record. NPR’s First Listen put it best, “Fans of her main project will surely consider it worth the wait, but there’s also plenty here for the unconverted. Last Summer sounds more intimate and accessible than any of her band’s nine albums; it’s a perfect soundtrack for an afternoon spent sifting through a box of old Polaroids.”
♪ Eleanor Friedberger – My Mistakes (from Last Summer)
EMA (aka Erika M. Anderson) is a singer/songwriter from South Dakota. She was originally in drone folk band Gowns, but went solo this year releasing her debut album Past Life Martyred Saints. The album debuted to critical praise from both music critics and music bloggers alike, for both its emotional depth and raw pain. It’s hard to pick just one track to highlight and I went back and forth between “The Grey Ship” and “Marked”, with the latter of the two coming out on top.
♪ EMA – Marked (from Past Life Martyred Saints)
When I think about who was the most buzzed about band or artist of 2011, American singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey always comes to mind. Her first single, “Video Games”, blew up all over the music charts and blogosphere this year and she deserves the success, the song is really good. Her debut album, Born to Die, is due it out early next year (Jan. 30) and i’m definitely looking forward to hearing more.
♪ Lana Del Rey – Video Games (from Video Games/Blue Jeans EP)
Lykke Li’s follow up to 2008’s Youth Novels was one of my favorite albums of 2011 and I have a feeling it’s gonna be showing up on a lot “best of” lists. There really isn’t a bad song on Wounded Rhymes, but the third single, “Sadness Is A Blessing”, is easily my favorite.
♪ Lykke Li – Sadness is a Blessing (from Wounded Rhymes)
St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark) released her third album this year and you don’t have to agree with me, but she keeps getting better. Strange Mercy is a really powerful and facsinating record and I really dig Clark’s vocals and lyrics. I expect to see St. Vincent all over “best of” lists this year as well.
♪ St. Vincent – Cruel (from Strange Mercy)
Zola Jesus (aka Nika Danilova) is one rad chick. Early on, she studied and performed opera off and on for 10 years, but struggled because of anxiety. In her teens, she started to experiment in a more rock-orientated format, and Zola Jesus was born. Danilova has now released three studio albums as Zola Jesus, Conatus being the most recent. I saw her perform with M83 last month and her stage presence and vocals were incredible.
♪ Zola Jesus – Avalanche (from Conatus)