2011 :: Most Revered

{Hey fuckers! FYI: Fuckers is a term of endearment. Another FYI for you: I forgot I had a blog. But the accidental blogging interim did provide me with much time to not sit on the internet all day. It gave me time to process a break up. I mean, I think it was a break up. I officially gave up on getting married (I NEED SOME CATS!) and living on a farm. That was tough on my brain. But I’m fine now, all. Music is again my boyfriend. The break also gave me time to hang with my child, buy tickets to Wakarusa, and pine for summer’s return. But looking back, this here miniscule blog was such a joy that I’m picking it back up. I missed you, internet. I missed you.

Woah. WOAH! Wait a second, there. I just re-read this thing down here I wrote like, weeks ago and seriously, it is morose and depressive. Jesus. Sorry, folks. Expect more curses, references to cheap American beer, and crude humor in 2012.

PS – Shit, ya’ll, I almost forgot. There were some really nice people, two or three of you, that sent me very kind emails about the absence. I won’t brag about it here but just know, the fact that some stranger somewhere out there on this big blue ball (oh God, yes, as if I needed a reason to type that sentence) missed a folk blog sort of makes my life. Cheers to you people. I owe you beers.}


2011.  A year that started with cold ends the same way here in the Midwest and yet, our little world has grown bigger this past year. Through the blog and the glory of simple words, I’ve made friends.  I’ve felt holes in my heart, burned in there by the lack of those around who seem all too much like me, filled and taped over with the edges of that stickiness bulging because there are now more connections than breaches.  The dam has been overwrought with inspiration and emails from souls far from me.  In certain instances, my family has met these people, face to face, and now knowing these faces and voices, has seen  me in a different life.  For all these things, I am beyond astonished and grateful.  For all these things, now that they’ve been added up and found to be the total of an equation that started with a simple music blog, I am indebted.

There is a quote by Jack Kerouac, pointed out to me once by a poet I now call a friend, having only met him once and in passing even then, that goes like this:

I like too many things and get all confused and hung up running from one falling star to another ’til I drop.

It explains too well the off days here and, for that, I am sorry.  But it is my nature and will likely remain so.  For those that have stuck around despite the absence, this is a love letter to you too.


Above my desk, there are many things.  There is a painting of a tree, executed by my grandfather, to my left (for if I am not a tree-hugger, then what am I?).  There is the drawing by Jude, this one just a facsimile as the original was given last year to Andrea of Breathe Owl Breathe, and it hangs to my right.  Top right, to be exact.  To the lower left is a measuring tape (a throwback to my days as a seamstress), and quite a few old illustrations of mine.  To the lower right is an odd sized letterpress poster, in nothing but pure stark white, depicting the logo of the band, Megafaun.  Directly on the desk to the right, book-ended by giant speakers, is a stack of vinyl, both purchased with my hard-earned cash and given gratis.  There is a copy of the first Analog Edition zine.  All of these things, presiding over me as I sit here, have made my year.  Without this music I don’t know what I’d say about this past year.

Without further ado, Folk Hive favorite albums of 2011.  As with the list given last year (that one topping out at only 9 and this one having to have been significantly narrowed), these are not albums we claim to be best necessarily, just the ones that have moved us most.  And that counts for something…


[Number TEN :: Middle Brother, Middle Brother]

Partisan Records

Any band/record that brings together members of Dawes, Delta Spirit, and Deer Tick, deserves a Top Ten spot for the mere awesomeness of the whole merging. And on top of that, this is a damn fine collection of jams, so, you know, that helps. The boys have concocted my most favorite collaboration since the era of the Traveling Wilbury’s (which occurred prior to my being a music loving teenager) and I ain’t the only one trumpeting that belief. I have no doubt that when summer decides to return, this album will be in the player, harkening its arrival, just as it helped us here at Folk Hive say goodbye to the warmth in 2011.

Further, any album that features the lyrics “I got a dick so hard a cat could scratch” is clearly going to get included here. I mean, really.

Middle Brother :: Middle Brother [mp3]

BUY Middle Brother :: WEBSITE


{Number NINE :: The Middle East, I Want That You Are Always Happy]

Spunk Records

This damn record. It broke my spirit upon the first listen and upon the next few hundred, slowly rebuilt it with banjos, emotion, and stories of ships in harbors. And then the band came along and broke my heart all over again when they split shortly after its release. Fuckers. At any rate, in times of both sadness and incredible happiness this past year, these tunes have been my companion and they’ve taken on incredible personal meanings in the Folk Hive abode.

The Middle East :: Land Of The Bloody Unknown [mp3]

BUY I Want That You Are Always Happy :: WEBSITE


[Number EIGHT :: Bon Iver, Bon Iver]


I get that this will be the ‘Fucking Duh’ album on our list. I get that in the year 2011 it’s the cool kid thing to like Bon Iver, to jump on that bandwagon and ride that shit all the way to Hipster Town, but fuck all that noise. I was on this train when it was just one car, long before the depot was officially sponsored by Pitchfork. Long before Kanye became the conductor. While, as a folk lover, it should be obvious to most that I will always prefer For Emma… to whatever-the-fuck Justin Vernon gets himself into in the future, this was a serious effort on his part and a serious step forward. While it can be long-winded at times which has turned off more than one blogger here and there, as someone with that proclivity themselves, I can respect that. And if this record was necessary just to give us jams like ‘Holocene’ and ‘Beth/Rest’, then I’m okay with all that…

Bon Iver :: Holocene [mp3]



[Number SEVEN :: Blitzen Trapper, American Goldwing]

Sub Pop Records

TRUST: Every Folk Hive end-of-year list will always feature at least one 70’s classic rock tinged album. Last year that honor went to The Sheepdogs Learn and Burn but this year, this spot is occupied by American Goldwing. A sad fact is that I, for some reason most likely born out of stubbornness, had neglected to listen to this band until the release of this album. It’s one of those situations were a retrospective ass-whipping of large proportions is in order — I was denied the joy of songs like ‘Furr’ upon their intial gifting to the musical world, and considering my love for a good harmony and guitar lick combined, what a shame that is. But American Goldwing entered my sphere and from then on its songs earned places in nearly every gifted mixtape and the jams became the soundtrack to the closing of fall around here. Stunningly, the harmonica and reverb-laden jams made such a mark that this happy music has endured the winter and the album made me so goddamn happy that I’m keeping it on the back burner for some rad fucking summer jams this coming year. Folk Hive officially suggests picking this one up on vinyl.

Blitzen Trapper :: Love The Way You Walk Away [mp3]

Blitzen Trapper :: American Goldwing [mp3]

BUY American Goldwing :: WEBSITE


[Number SIX :: Balto, October’s Road]


Our love for Balto and every one of its parts has been declared over and over. I owe the band a debt of gratitude for venturing here and for opening the eyes of my family and friends in regards to what I do here and why I love this music so much. The men of the Balto touring band in our backyard literally changed some lives. I’ve spoke about this album before, many a time, so I won’t do it again here on this list but this bad will forever rest in my heart.

Even now, watching the video of that day in the backyard, hearing the cicadas fight for attention while guitars, banjos, bass, and box drums play, I’m astonished. It’s hard to put into words: I was a seventeen year old once that dreamed of these things. I am a grown up now, writing and pining over songs, and here they are, being played on my territory. It was surreal and it was perfect. I watched my father drink and stumble across the street home (first time I’ve witnessed that fine mess in 28 years), I watched the jaws of friends and family drop as the boys began to play, and I ruined nearly every video I took for my too loud singing in the background (I blame the banjo player for getting me too drunk there; always blame the banjo player). For those reasons alone, this album could have made the list. But I’m proud to say that without that concert, it would be here, too.

Balto :: Self-Portrait [mp3]

Balto :: The Railyard [mp3]

BUY October’s Road :: WEBSITE


[Number FIVE :: Little John, Put Your Hands On Me]


One of the most consistently played albums here this year was that which belongs to an outfit referring to themselves as Little John. The initial revelation that Australians could do folk just as good (if not better) than Americans was tough for me to grasp but really, why be exclusionary about shit? This is amazingly calming music that has the ability to totally obliterate your folk-loving face, all while making you think you’re its best friend. Lead singer John Dickson’s voice is the first thing to notice here, what with the intensity that blends so well with the longing, but overall the muscianship here is something I admire. It amazes be how much this album was overlooked (at the very least, on folk blogs this year) but we’re righting that wrong…

Little John :: Put Your Hands On Me [mp3]

Little John :: Ain’t Ever Gonna Leave You [mp3]

BUY Put Your Hands On Me :: FACEBOOK


[Number FOUR :: Tyler Lyle, The Golden Age And The Silver Girl]


Much has been said about Mr Lyle and much has been said by bloggers I trust with my musical well-being. I remember reading here lately that this glorious freshmen effort cost a mere $250. I mean shit, bands with managers and publicists and studio engineers and top-shelf musicians, with million dollar budgets cannot pull off albums this heartfelt and so damn awesome. It was recorded in one day. Think about that for a second while you listen. ONE DAY, dudes. Instrumentation was apparently provided by friends of Lyle’s…which basically means I want to be in this guy’s talented circle.

I will admit that when I first stumbled up The Golden Age… I centered on the lead off track and stayed there for weeks. It was probably accidental that I forgot to hit repeat one day in the car, while the summer sun blazed in my eyes, but what a blessing that was. The discovery of all the songs and emotions here was a delightful part of my year, falling in love with every note. The acorn will be a forest in a thousand years, indeed.

Tyler Lyle :: Golden Age & The Silver Girl [mp3]

BUY The Golden Age & The Silver Girl


[ Number FOUR :: James Vincent McMorrow, Early In The Morning]

Vagrant Records

This fucking album, for those fellow lovers of folk and sad bastard shit that makes your sad bastard life look less sad, is a gem. I’ve not counted it up for I’m bad at the maths but I’d say that a good 3 or 4 of the songs from this album sit atop my 20 most listened to jams this year. ‘We Don’t Eat’ is a go to for shit days and ‘Hear That Noise…’ is a salve. Plus, dude covered Steve Winwood this year, and did it brilliantly might I add. He clearly deserves a Top Ten spot.

James Vincent McMorrow :: Hear That Noise So Soft And Low [mp3]

James Vincent McMorrow :: We Don’t Eat [mp3]

BUY Early In The Morning :: WEBSITE


[Number TWO :: Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, Here We Rest]

Lightning Rod Records

Late in the year the 400 Unit showed up at my door and from whence they came, I’ve not a clue. But at a time when music was not on my radar they burst through that threshold and grabbed hold of me, shaking me out of my apathetic bullshit mood and encouraging me, with tales of codeine and lost love and cheap beer in cheap hotel rooms, out of that sad, sad, shell. In ‘Alabama Pines’ I found a jam that I could share with my siblings, whose tastes are firmly planted in the country genre, a song perfect for sunny day road cruises. The rest of the album is just as solid and part of the reason I’m astonished by this album is that if I’d have judged it solely on the looks of these dudes, then I’d have tossed it by the wayside. That’s not to say we don’t have a crop of fine looking fellows writing and playing but honestly, my preconceived notions of what a band that sounds like this should look like has been turned around. A solid album from a band I’ve bought tickets to see this year, based on a 2 month long love affair.

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit :: Alabama Pines [mp3]

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit :: Codeine [mp3]

BUY Here We Rest :: WEBSITE


[Number ONE :: Shakey Graves, Roll The Bones]


It makes sense that our favorite record of the year is one that was self-released. It makes sense that 365 days ago, plus or minus a few, this was a wholly undiscovered piece of originality hiding within the internet’s corners and now, it’s garnered attention and love from some of the biggest and best music blogs. It speaks to the originality here and the perfection, tucked down in the dirty and unkempt melodies. It’s not polished by today’s slick standards but it works and it works so goddamn well. With a fan supported new album coming in 2012 and, one can only hope, Mr Shakey Graves in Folk Hive’s backyard at some point in this new year, Roll The Bones is our favorite album of the fucking year, ya’ll.

Shakey Graves :: Unlucky Skin [mp3]

Shakey Graves :: Once In A While [mp3]

BUY Roll The Bones