I feel like I experienced music differently in 2011. When music journalism is your 9-to-5 job, there has to be balance: What is for work and what is for myself? I still haven’t quite figured that distinction out, yet (and it’s been 13 years since I started writing about music), but what the following 25 albums, songs, bands, exhibits and more abstract music experiences (movie scenes, light installations) have in common is that they all meant something to me. And that’s the undefinable thing about music, yeah? This isn’t a profound realization, especially since the primary qualifiable thing about music (meaning) is completely intangible. But on some level and, I suppose, with some age, the parts of music that give meaning to me are starting to come together.
Some of the blurbs after the jump have previously appeared at NPR Music for my best metal and best outer sound year-end lists, and some of the text has been snatched from other write-ups, but more than half of it is new and completely unedited.