Two decades from now, how do you think 2011 will be remembered? As the year we lost Amy Winehouse? How about the year three of music’s most iconic outfits — The White Stripes, R.E.M., and LCD Soundsystem — all decided to call it quits? Maybe Lana Del Rey will prove a sustainable force and then we can all tell our children about the great collagen debate of 2011. Or try to explain to them how two rock and roll hall of famers came together to create the worst piece of music imaginable.
Yeah, 2011 was a fucking weird year. Like, a total mindfuck. We lost some great ones, both literally and figuratively, and we wrote or read about them in between stories about Wayne Coyne’s gummy fetus and Nick Oliveri’s standoff with a S.W.A.T. team. Along the way, we were presented with a legal way to listen to a jazilion songs for free, watched that dude from Nine Inch Nails win an Oscar, and witnessed the return of not just Kate Bush and Tom Waits, but Jeff Mangum as well. Yet, at the end of the day, Lana Del Rey’s collagen lips and Odd Future’s misogynistic tendencies won the award for stories with the longest shelf life on my Twitter feed.
Then again, four weeks from now it’ll be 2012’s turn and who knows what that year has in store. Maybe some scientist will be able to revive Jim Morrison’s frozen head so that we can have a true collaboration between The Doors and Skrillex. Whatever the case may be, Consequence of Sound will be here, 24/7/365, ready to bring you all the major headlines. Until then, though, we remember the last 12 months, categorized by themes, in the pages that follow. And, as always, thanks for reading.
— Alex Young
R.I.P.: The Ones We Lost in 2011
Amy Winehouse (1983-2011): The soulful, sultry songstress was the first British female to win five Grammy awards. Unfortunately, she also became a member of the infamous “27 Club” when police found her dead in her London home on July 23rd. An autopsy later confirmed her death as the result of accidental alcohol poisoning.
Clarence Clemons (1942-2011): Founding member and saxophonist of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, Clemons was a larger-than-life figure, and he’ll forever be remembered for his solos on “Jungleland” and “Born to Run”. Clemons died on June 18th from complications caused by a stroke. He was 69.
Bert Jansch (1943-2011): Acclaimed Scottish folk singer who was both a celebrated solo musician and member of the band Pentangle. Jansch died on October 5th following a lengthy battle with lung cancer. He was 67.
Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011): A celebrated musician, poet, and author who was largely credited as one of the leading influences of hip-hop and neo soul. Scott-Heron died on May 27th. He was 62.
Heavy D (1967-2011): The founding member and leader of Heavy D & the Boyz helped bridge the worlds of hip-hop and R&B in the ’90s before transitioning to a career in film. Heavy D (born Dwight Arrington Myers) died on November 8th reportedly from complications of pneumonia. He was 44.
Nate Dogg (1969-2011): West coast crooner collaborated with Dr. Dre, Eminem, and Snoop Dogg. Nate Dogg (born Nathaniel Hale) died from complications of multiple strokes on March 15th. He was 41.
Poly Styrene (1957-2011): The former singer of X-Ray Spek was described as the “archetype for the modern-day feminist punk.” Styrene died on April 25th following a battle with breast cancer. She was 53.
Trish Keenan (1968-2011): Founding member and singer of British electronic band Broadcast. Keenan died from complications with pneumonia on January 14th. She was 42.
Hubert Sumlin (1931-2011): Legendary guitarist and longtime collaborator of blues icon Howlin’ Wolf is ranked at number forty-three in the Rolling Stone list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Sumlin died on December 4th. He was 80.
Cory Smoot: (1977-2011): Guitarist for the shock rock band GWAR was the longest-serving member to play the character Flattus Maximus. Smoot was found dead on the band’s tour bus on November 3rd; as of December 5th, his cause of death is still unknown. He was 34.
DJ Mehdi (1977-2011): French hip-hop and electro producer was a member of Ed Banger Records and collaborated with Chromeo, Cassius, and Carte Blanche. DJ Mehdi (born Mehdi Favéris-Essadi) died on September 13th when the roof of his Paris home collapsed during a friend’s birthday party. He was 34.
Michael “WÃ¼rzel” Burston (1949-2011): The former Army corporal served as guitarist for MotÃ¶rhead from 1984-1995. WÃ¼rzel died from complications of heart disease on July 9th. He was 61.
Mike Starr (1966-2011): The founding member and bassist of Alice in Chains contributed to two studio albums — including the 1992 classic Dirt — before departing in 1993. Starr was found dead on March 8th, with an autopsy later finding traces of drugs in his system. He was 44.
Suze Rotolo (1943-2011): The former girlfriend of Bob Dylan inspired many of the songwriter’s early love songs and appeared on the iconic cover of his 1963 classic, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Rotolo died of lung cancer on February 25th. She was 67.
Gerard Smith (1974-2011): The TV on the Radio bassist appeared on the band’s celebrated albums Return to Cookie Mountain, Dear Science, and Nine Types of Light. Smith died from lung cancer on April 20th. He was 36.
John Barry (1933-2011): The Academy Award-winning composer soundtracked 12 James Bond films between 1962 and 1987 in addition to Born Free, The Lion in Winter, and Out of Africa. Barry died of a heart attack on January 30th. He was 77.
Mikey Welsh (1971-2011): The former Weezer bassist appeared on the band’s 2001 The Green Album. Welsh was found dead on October 8th. He was 40.
Welcome Back: 2011’s Reunions
Photo by Colin Athens
While 2011 was a particularly harsh year for band breakups (see the next slide), at least Pulp came back. Long a dream on festival message boards, the legendary UK outfit finally reunited in the summer of 2011 for their first live performances in nine years. Our own Frank Mojica was at the band’s comeback show at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound and declared it “an explosive set that cemented Pulp’s status as the essential festival band of 2011 and will be remembered as fondly and regarded as definitive as their Glastonbury 1995 performance.”
However, Pulp wasn’t the only celebrated outfit to return in 2011. Buffalo Springfield — the folk rock supergroup comprised of Richie Furay, Stephen Stills, and Neil Young — reunited after 43 years for a brief West coast tour and headlining performance at Bonnaroo. Wrote our own Carson O’Shoney of their Bonnaroo appearance: “Even those who weren’t familiar with the band’s work were surely impressed. Seeing Neil Young wail on guitar is simply one of the better things in all of music. But the final three knockout punches of ‘Broken Arrow’, ‘For What It’s Worth’, and ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ were what really solidified it as one of the best sets of the weekend.”
Other 2011 reunions:
After inciting a riot during their first live performance in five years at South by Southwest, hard-hitting Canadian outfit Death From Above 1979 played any and every summer festival, including Coachella, Sasquatch!, Quebec City Summer Fest, Lollapalooza, FYF Fest, ACL, and Treasure Island.
Post-punk icons New Order reunited after five years with a pair of benefit shows in Europe.
Mazzy Star unleashed a two-song single, their first pieces of new music in 15 years.
Ben Folds reunited Ben Folds Five for their first new material in a decade.
UK glam rock outfit The Darkness reunited for their first live performance since 2006 at UK’s Download Festival.
In celebration of their 45th anniversary, The Monkees hit the road for their first live performances since 1997. Unfortunately, the final eight dates of their trek were canceled “due to internal group issues and conflicts.”
Chicago’s own Hum delivered their first performance in a decade.
San Diego-based post-hardcore outfit Hot Snakes reunited at ATP’s Nightmare Before Christmas in December.
Austin, TX, noise rock pioneers Scratch Acid toured extensively for the first time in over two decades.
NYC punk band D-Generation hit the road in the fall for their first performances since 1999. A new album is also in the works.
Mexico City rock band Caifanes reunited after 15 years for a performance at Coachella.
The End of An Era: 2011’s Breakups
Bands, like trends, come and go. Some last for decades with deep catalogs, and others only survive a couple years with an album or two. Their presence has a lasting impact on our lives and ears, and thus their disbandment has the same. To the greats we lost this year: Thanks for the tunes. –Ben Kaye
R.E.M. (1981-2011): Seminal, legendary, and unequaled, Georgia’s alternative rock icons ended their career after three decades. From their 1983 debut, Murmur, to their 2011 finale, Collapse Into Now, to the world’s first GIF album cover, the band exemplified how to be successful, innovative, and cool while remaining uncompromising. Their legacy will be felt for decades more to come.
The White Stripes (1997-2011): One of the greatest bands of the era, this garage blues-rock duo left an indelible mark on music with six albums. Jack White will continue on in his myriad of forms, but The White Stripes will be remembered as the band that started it all and his most widely celebrated triumph.
LCD Soundsystem (2001-2011): These modern dance-punk virtuosos left us with three full-lengths and a year-long swan song, culminating in a finale at Madison Square Garden. And we still wish we were getting more.
Rilo Kiley (1998-2011): Fourteen years of indie rock ended rather unceremoniously. Regardless, their sophomore full-length, The Execution of All Things, will go down as one of the best albums of the last decade.
The Stills (2000-2011): These Canadian indie rockers released three albums over 10 years. They will likely be best remembered for 2008’s Juno Award-winning Oceans Will Rise.
The Academy Is… (2003-2011): These Warped Tour regulars dispersed while in the process of recording album #4. At least they got to tour with KISS before it ended.
Dear and the Headlights (2005-2011): Two full-lengths and extensive touring proved too much for this Arizona indie pop rock band. Scared by all the lights.
The Felix Culpa (2003-2011): Unsung heroes of the Midwest post-hardcore scene. Despite the success of last year’s self-released sophomore effort, Sever Your Roots, there will be no more happy mistakes.
Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon (1984-2011): Founding members of Sonic Youth and godparents of indie rock. What the power couple’s separation means for their iconic band is yet to be seen, though side projects abound.
Ben Gibbard and Zooey Deschanel (2009-2011): This pair of indie darlings split after only two years of marriage amidst heavy work schedules for each. While separations are always sad, we can’t help but swoon over the idea that Deschanel is technically available…