Music in 2011 Rocked, What About 2012?

If you're reminiscing over all of the great albums released in 2011, keep in mind, there's plenty to look forward to next year. Guest host Allison Keyes finds out what to keep an ear out for. She talks with two of the biggest music fans on the Tell Me More team: freelance producer, Veronica Miller, and Sarah Ventre, a freelance music journalist.

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ALLISON KEYS, HOST:

Now, we're going to talk about what to listen for next year. Right here in our Washington studios we have two of the biggest music fans of the TELL ME MORE team, this sort who've always got there appears to the ground. Veronica Miller is a freelance producer on the program, as is Sarah Ventre, who also works as a freelance music journalist.

Welcome, ladies.

VERONICA MILLER, BYLINE: Hey, Allison.

SARAH VENTRE, BYLINE: Hi, Allison.

KEYS: So you both heard Danyel's, Jasmine's and Frannie's picks for 2011. Before we talk about next year, I want to hear about your favorite recordings by women this year. Sarah, you first.

VENTRE: OK. So one of my absolute favorite records this year was by an all-female super group called Wild Flag. And I know you also...

KEYS: I love them.

VENTRE: Yes. I know you also really like this band.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

VENTRE: They, like I said, are a super group, so even though the band is new, most of the women are really establish - they're all really established musicians. Two of the members in this band used to be in a band called Sleater-Kinney, which is a really iconic, punky riot girl band. And they - if you, you know, grew up like me, really listening to a lot of rock, you really admire female artists, like Carrie Brownstein, amazing guitarist, Mary Timony, super talented. They are incredible.

KEYS: All right. Let's hear them.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROMANCE")

WILD FLAG: (Singing) That's who we like. We like what we like. That's what we like. We love which is you. We've got an ear, an ear for what's romance. We've got our ears, our ears straight on you. You watch us sing.

KEYS: All right, Veronica, we hear you are cheating with your pick a little bit.

MILLER: I am cheating a little bit because I don't have a pick for best female artist. But one of my favorite records this by is by an artist, an R&B artist name Eric Roberson. And I picked him because his music is very romantic and woman-friendly and it's different from most of the mainstream R&B that's out right now. His record is called "Mister Nice Guy." And what of my favorite songs off the album is a track called "Picture Perfect." It's an ode to the woman of his life.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PICTURE PERFECT")

ERIC ROBERSON: (Singing) Girl you are picture perfect. Perfect picture. Yes you are. Yeah. I couldn't draw you better, baby. Just holding your hand gives me satisfaction similar to when true lovers date. Soothing...

KEYS: He's got sort of the updated old-school R&B thing happening.

MILLER: Absolutely.

KEYS: Remember Norman Connors, the "You Are My Starship," that kind of vibe.

MILLER: Absolutely. Like one of the lines in the song is, I couldn't draw you better, baby. You are so divine. I guess God took his time when he came up with your design.

KEYS: OK.

MILLER: You know, so I think it's great.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

KEYS: All right. Were going to look ahead now. What should we be excited about for next year?

VENTRE: Yeah. So there are two albums I'm really psyched about for you next year. First, is a band called Sleigh Bells. They are a boy girl duo. They came out with an album called "Treats" in 2010 and I really enjoyed. And they're a dropped a track called "Born to Lose" off of the record. It dropped a week ago. And I really appreciate how in-your-face their music is because they do it while they still had these really feminine vocals. I think that's amazing.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BORN TO LOSE")

SLEIGH BELLS: (Singing) (Unintelligible). To lose.

KEYS: Wow, there's a lot going on in that track.

VENTRE: There is.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

VENTRE: All songs considered instead, they're a band that has teeth. And the other thing I'm really excited about is DJ Low Down Loretta Brown, which is Erykah Badu's new project. She's going to be dropping a mix tape next year, possibly produced by a really well-known producer called Flying Lotus. And AllHipHop.com quoted her as saying this project will, quote, "melt any DJ's face off." So Erykah, I'm ready to have my face melted.

KEYS: Face melting. Veronica, who are you looking for? And will they melt your face?

MILLER: Well, they won't melt my face but they will make me very happy because they are what I call my hair twin. Allison, come look at me. I have very big hair.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

MILLER: And my hair twin is Esperanza Spalding, the jazz bassist...

KEYS: That is true.

MILLER: ...who had a great year last year. She won Best New Artist at the Grammys, beating Justin Bieber, inciting the rage of all Bieber Fever fans out there. But I mean hearing that she's coming out with something new next year, and I'm excited about that, so...

KEYS: She battles a lot of genres, which is really interesting to listen to.

MILLER: Oh, absolutely. Mm-hmm.

KEYS: All right. Also, really briefly, the way we consume music has changed a bit in the last two years. And Veronica, you're a Spotify girl. That's that thing on Facebook where I have to listen to what everybody else is listening to, right?

MILLER: Yeah, it's on Facebook if you wanted to be on Facebook.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

MILLER: But Spotify is a new online music service that launched this year. I was one of the early users. And basically what it is is a free streaming music service, where you can just go on there and search an album, search and artist, search a track and listen to it on demand when you want it

They do have premium service where you can listen to it on your mobile phone or you can listen to it while you are not connected online. But the only thing about it is that not every song is available yet. Like earlier this year Adele's "21," which was one of the hugest albums of the year, was not available on Spotify until very recently.

KEYS: Gasp. Sarah, you like me are a vinyl girl.

VENTRE: I am a vinyl girl. And what I think is really interesting is that this vinyl resurgence is happening at the same time as things like Spotify are super, super popular. I think...

KEYS: Is it texture - the actual touching of something? Feeling the grooves under your fingers?

VENTRE: You know what? It is. I love – yes, I love being able to hold it. And I don't want to sound all hipstery, but I like the way it sounds. And I think that people are trying to figure out new ways to make vinyl interesting. People are pressing them in different colors. So, yeah, I like vinyl records and I'm still down with getting my vinyls and playing on them on a record player at home.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

KEYS: I'm so glad that colored records are back. That's so great.

VENTRE: Yeah. It's great.

KEYS: Brothers Johnson's, "Strawberry Letter 23." I'm just saying.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

KEYS: That was Sarah Ventre and Veronica Miller. They're both freelance producers and resident music buffs here at TELL ME MORE. Let's go out on a song that I really loved this year. It's called "Business" by Tune Yards.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG CALLED, "BUSINESS")

TUNE YARDS: (Singing) (Unintelligible) Everything they tell you.

KEYS: And that's our program for today. This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Tune in for more talk tomorrow.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BUSINESS")

YARDS: (Singing) Get up. Get up. Get up. Get on it let's go along this (unintelligible). The end around the mountain and I climb to lose you. I say (unintelligible) that the business that we plan to work through. After all my wisdom...

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