Beat Jab offers reviews in prose poetry form from 2011 Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Emerging Author Award winner Micah Ling. Here, she lists her top indie records of the year.

Bon Iver

Bon Iver

Jagjaguwar

This album may redefine how you think about music and sound altogether. The concert in Indianapolis (reviewed on NUVO), became the experience that all other concerts have to live up to. The album was so highly anticipated that it almost became nerve wracking. But it delivered—and continues to. The sound is so stripped down and meditative—and somehow absolutely rocking. Justin Vernon is messing with genre and everything else that tends to classify music. This album won’t get old; it might just define each emotion you experience.

Beirut

The Rip Tide

Pompeii

Baroque, bold and beguiling, no album this year entered so unexpectedly. Last time around, bandleader Zach Condon was indulging his every musical whim. But on The Rip Tide all those here-and-gone melodies instead linger. Rather than traipse off to the musical wilderness of gypsy traditionals or French cabarets, Condon chooses to focus on home. It’s the sound of an orbit making a final turn — a pulling back and setting a definite course. It’s a postcard: succinct, but touched by remorse and regret. Every trip has its end. If only all endings were so sweet.

The Head and the Heart

The Head and the Heart

Sub Pop

The name of this band kind of explains how you come to know them. They are intelligent—they’re well trained musicians, doing something different from what they’ve been compared to. But then, that sound hits you—hard—right in the heart. That feeling can’t really be aptly described—it makes you both want to go faster, and stop entirely. It’s certainly not possible to capture on an album what they do in a packed room of people who have waited and waited to see them, but they come close, for sure.

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