This is always the hardest thing to do. As much as I love making ‘Best of’ lists, ordering them, culling discs that ultimately don’t make the cut, and organizing everything sure takes its toll. No matter though – 2011 was a great year for music, so it’s all worth it in the end. Without further ado, here are #50-26 of my favorite albums of 2k11:
50. James Blake – James Blake
Most likely the biggest crossover of the year besides SBTRKT. Responsible for socializing the term ‘Dubstep’ outside of the club…for better or worse.[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/4576242″ params=”show_comments=true&auto_play=false&color=ff7700″ width=”100%” height=”81″ ]
49. Doomtree – No Kings
This midwestern MC collective proves they’ve got enough diversity to keep your ear, but enough cohesion to make it sound seemless.
48. Defeater – Empty Days & Sleepless Nights
Raw hardcore that relies less on breakdowns than it does on subtle imagery, story, context and tone. Super atmospheric.
47. Library Voices – Summer of Lust
It’s strange how an album can be so charmingly simple and subtly intelligent at the same time. Just pardon the extra long song titles.
46. The Black Keys – El Camino
The famous rock duo haven’t reinvented the wheel with their latest release, but no one was looking for anything different. Great straight up blues-rock.
45. Youth Lagoon – The Year of Hibernation
It might be standard-issue droned-out bedroom pop, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be an arresting and compelling listen. Superior arrangements throughout.
44. Braids – Native Speaker
This isn’t an immediate kind of album by any means – but rather one that becomes more enthralling with repeat spins.
43. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
The Moses of indie finally came down from the mountains to bless all of his apostles with this lovely collection of tracks.
42. SASKATCHEWAN – Nice Daze 7′ (And Other Singles)
Easily the best dream-pop around. Every new track of their’s just blows my mind. Doesn’t hurt that they are reppin’ the home province either 😉
41. La Dispute – Wildlife
Emotionally exhausting…but in a good way. Varied, genre-bending, and creative post-hardcore.
40. Yuck – Yuck
Take one part Pavement, mix with two parts grunge, and a heaping dose of noisy guitars. Blend well, and this is the outcome. It tastes pretty dang good.
39. Surfer Blood – Tarot Classics
It may only be 4 tracks (and some random remixes), but these young gents are sharpening their craft even more post ‘Astro Coast’. Can’t wait for what’s next.
38. Toro Y Moi – Freaking Out EP
While I admit that ‘Still Sound’ was one of the standouts of 2k11, I found myself going back to this much funkier EP than I ever did ‘Underneath The Pine’.
37. von Wolfe – Life’s A Beach
Splitting at the seams with energy, aggression, and ambition. Fast & loud hardcore, unapologetic and not overly produced – just how I like it.
36. Generationals – Actor-Caster
Endless indie rock hooks. The moment I heard the opening bouncy chords of ‘Ten-Twenty-Ten’ I knew I was going to be hooked.
35. Bombay Bicycle Club – A Different Kind of Fix
As Mojo magazine put it: “The results are melodic, gently atmospheric indie rock that often fits the neo-shoegaze paradigm” Count me in.
34. Slow Down, Molasses – Walk Into The Sea
Anything I say about this record will sound bias since they are local, so instead I will just say this: these folks are talented, make incredible music, and you should be listening to them. NOW.
33. Northcote – Gather No Dust
Mr. Goud shows no signs of slowing down with another superb release only a year after his last. More alt-country but no less soulful; it’s the soundtrack to every prairie kid’s youth.
32. Suuns – Zeroes QC
Smashes together bits of genres together until the hair on the back of your neck stands on end (in a good way). Haunting and electrifying post-rock soundscapes.
31. Purity Ring – Purity Ring 7′
Throughout all the blog buzz surrounding these two tracks, more reviews went back to the same brilliant phrase to classify this bewildering sound: Future Pop
30. Foxwarren – Has Been Defeated
There is just no denying the talent of Andy Shauf. This full-band experience serves as a terrific showcase for his musical talents, in addition to just being a damn good folk-punk(?) record.
29. Holy Ghost – Holy Ghost
Disco hits 2k11. This record plucks all the right chords, or would that be “hit the right keys”, of their particular electro-pop niche. DFA-approved so the hip kids will keep dancing.
28. The Field – Looping State of Mind
My favorite chill-out album of the year. There is nothing like putting on your headphones and disappearing down the rabbit hole with this one.
27. Neon Indian – Era Extrana
One of the chillwave kings of ’09 is back & shaking things up with this brooding, eclectic ode to 8-bit nostalgia. Also, I’m quite certain ‘Polish Girl’ is my favorite track this year.
26. Alex Winston – Sister Wife
From NME: “The latest brave heart to venture onto the high-wire that is adult alternative pop, Alex Winston’s thrills are in the poise with which she smuggles hints of indie strangeness into radio pop.”
Stay tuned for part two chronicling the top 25 of 2011!