When I’m not getting bitched out by complete morons, I like to spend my time immersed in music. Listening, playing, analyzing, and enjoying good tunes helps me keep what small amount of sanity I still have left.
Just like any fan of good tunes, I look forward to the end of the year for top music lists. Of course all the shit you hear on the radio is pure garbage, but there is still a ton of great music out there as long as you know where to look. Here is what I deem to be the best albums of 2011. Hopefully this list can lead to the discovery of some great new tunes. Don’t worry, I’ll be back to making fun of idiots next week.
TOP 11 OF 2011
11. St. Vincent “Strange Mercy”
Experimental enough to satisfy the skinny jean wearing Hipster, but accessible enough to satisfy the casual listener. This album reads like a book of poetry, with the choice instrumentation acting like perfectly placed punctuation.
Key Track: “Chloe In The Afternoon”
10. Fleet Foxes “Helplessness Blues”
An exceptional followup to their self-titled debut. We’re introduced to more sides of the band, both lyrically and musically. They still have their own brand of Folk, but this time attack more daring ground.
Key Track: “Montezuma”
9. Tom Waits “Bad As Me”
I can’t think of a Tom Waits that wasn’t awesome. From early lounge singing albums like “The Heart of Saturday Night,” to the timeless “Rain Dogs,” everything Tom Waits touches is gold. Bat shit crazy gold.
Key Track: “Bad As Me”
8. The Black Keys “El Camino”
I didn’t have high expectations for this one, mainly because I missed the down-home dirty Blues absent from their recent releases. Finally, the Keys have found the perfect mix of smart, contemporary production and loud as shit Blues Rock.
Key Track: “Lonely Boy”
7. Tune-Yards “w h o k i l l”
Merrill Garbus creates a collage of pure insanity. Listening to this album is exhausting, like running a 10k hungover. One of the wilder, more original albums I’ve heard in awhile.
Key Track: “Gangsta”
6. The Cave Singers “No Witch”
I haven’t seen this album on any top ten lists, and I find that to be some bullshit. An Indie Folk album with a dark tinge, phenomenal production, a touch of Rock, and a diverse timbre of instrumentation.
Key Track: “Black Leaf”
5. M83 “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming”
The album flows as a conceptual piece with standout songs emerging from fiercely different genres. Anthony Gonzalez throws everything, I mean everything, into the pot. This isn’t an Electronic album, it’s a journey.
Key Track: “Wait”
4. EMA “Past Life Martyred Saints”
Sure I see a clear resemblance to Patti Smith, but another artist to compare EMA to would be Kurt Cobain. Each song is a deeply emotional trip into a troubled mind. Few albums have presented the artist in such a raw way.
Key Track: “The Grey Ship”
3. Bon Iver “Bon Iver”
How could Justin Vernon follow his legendary 2007 debut? Instead of focusing on solitude, he chose to create a textured masterpiece. I don’t feel like I’m listening to an album, instead I’m seeing a landscape unfold on a blank canvas at the hands of a master artist.
Key Track: “Holocene”
2. The Antlers “Burst Apart”
This album simply floored me from start to finish. A beautiful collection of melancholy and soft-spoken songs that have the ability to sneak within your subconscious. Be careful, these lonely songs will suddenly grow on you, making each listen a new experience.
Key Track: “Hounds”
1. Kurt Vile “Smoke Ring For My Halo”
Perfectly crafted songs, wonderful production, and delicious hooks will have you singing along with every track. Part lonely acoustic, part personal expression. The prolific artist never fails to disappoint, but this is his masterpiece.
Key Track: “On Tour”
Yuck “Yuck” (Ass-kicking Alternative, making one wonder if they were just displaced to early 90’s Seattle. Where’s my plaid shirt?)
The Ravonettes “Raven In The Grave” (Dark music hidden within smart and sweet melodies. Sweet like choco tacos. Remember those?)
My Morning Jacket “Circuital” (MMJ. Enough said right there.)
Cults “Cults” (Lays bet you couldn’t eat just one. I bet you’ll have every catchy, Bubblegum-Pop tune in your head.)
Black Joe Lewis “Scandalous” (As funky, loud, groovy, and crazy as it gets. Best enjoyed after a few beers.)
Stupid people like Country. And Justen Bieber.