I managed to get my hands on four more 2011 releases, so here they are:
Stephin Merrit, Obscurities – A collection of B-sides and unreleased songs from Stephin Merritt’s various musical projects, including the Magnetic Fields, the 6ths, and the Gothic Archies. As a fan of his work, this was a must-have for me, and there are some gems on it. My favorite might be “Rats in the Garbage of the Western World,” originally the B-side of the “All the Umbrellas in London” single; but it’s also nice to have “When I’m Not Looking You’re Not There,” a song full of weird electronic noises that I’d heard before, but didn’t know where it came from. Turns out it was the B-side for the “I Don’t Believe You” single, although I think it was actually recorded some time prior to that.
A Very She & Him Christmas – This seems to have been a pretty busy year for Zooey Deschanel, what with her getting divorced from the guy from Death Cab for Cutie (I guess someone made her pay her fare) and starring in a TV show. Mind you, from the little bit of New Girl I saw, it didn’t look particularly good. I mean, they were making jokes about how women like to share their feelings and men don’t. Really? What century is this again? Anyway, getting to the actual album, it’s a collection of Christmas standards, most performed in a pretty traditional fashion. Nothing wrong with that, but I prefer it when they get a little more creative with the arrangements, as on a version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (which you may remember Zooey singing in the movie Elf) with the genders switched, and a ukulele-based cover of the Beach Boys’ “Little Saint Nick.”
Decemberists, Long Live the King – An appropriately-titled EP of outtakes from their most recent album, The King Is Dead. The songs are in much the same style, which I consider sort of a return to the band’s classic sound. My favorite of these six songs is “Foregone.”
Puppini Sisters, Hollywood – A collection of covers of songs from movies, plus an original title track. It’s a bit disappointing that there aren’t any old-style covers of songs from the eighties or thereabouts, since those were largely what drew me to this group in the first place, but it’s still quite enjoyable. The girls put their own spins on these classics, my favorite being a very energetic take on the Gershwins’ “I Got Rhythm.”