As promised, here is the second part of my top 50 albums of 2011 post. This second post chronicles the top 25 albums, and contains everything from dance to hardcore, indie rock to ambient. Hope you enjoy!
25. The Weeknd – House of Ballons
What more can be said about The Weeknd that hasn’t already been mentioned? The allure of mystery, free music, and avantgarde sensibility made for one of the major success stories of 2012.
24. Two Bicycles – The Ocean
Do more with less. This seems to be the direction behind this lovely Teen Daze side-project. The simplest chords and the smallest of sounds make for some of the most memorable music this year.
23. Bare Bones – 2011 Demos
The Canadian hardcore scene needs new blood, and this easily fits the bill. Exploding out of nowhere, this Toronto four piece crush with the best of them.
22. Jamie Woon – Mirrorwriting
Similarities aside, I’d take Jamie Woon over James Blake any day. His soulful neo-jazz / dub hybrid was one of the more interesting things to come out this year.
20. Childish Gambino – Camp
Via DJ Booth: “Gambino’s strength is also his weakness. As a TV writer and a comedian he’s naturally focused on punchlines and creating moments, which at his best is enormously entertaining and at the worst forced”
19. Battles – Gloss Drop
Ultimately proving that the sum of their parts is stronger than any indivdual member (post Tyondai Braxton), ‘Gloss Drop’ enlists some A-list vocal talent to make every track an unexpected treat.
18. Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch The Throne
Grandiose, boisterous, and larger-than-life. Three adjectives could readily describe either collaborator on Watch The Throne, but it also serves as an apt description of this year’s most anticipated hip-hop record.
17. Cut Copy – Zonoscope
While it feels like this album has been out for years (we heard our first taste of it two summers ago), the staying power of this electro-clash gem is unsurpassed.
16. Tycho – Dive
Dive is a postcard from a pantone Miami, and a perfect fragment of the summer you repeat whenever you close your eyes and put this on your headphones.
15. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Unknown Mortal Orchestra
A debut to remember, this off-kilter indie record is a head scratcher at first, but by the second listen you are humming right along. Also, bonus points for having the best twitter account in the universe: @UMO
14. Oh no! Yoko – PAU PAU
This is a pretty neat sonic achievement for anyone, but for three kids directly out of high school it feels all the more accomplished. Strange, random, and wonderful.
13. Arkells – Michigan Left
When I first heard rumors that this band was through earlier this year I thought what a shame it would be to never hear the followup to ‘Jackson Square’. That makes this triumphant sophomore effort all the more amazing – a terrific rock record through and through.
12. Dodos – No Color
Finding their stride on album number 4, Dodos created an album that doesn’t have a dud on it. There is lots of color in the music, but either end of the spectrum are represented as well — hence the record title.
11. Teams vs. Start Slinger – Teams vs. Star Slinger
If there was ever a perfect makeout album, this would be it. Chilled-out vibes and sexy beats abound on this standout collaboration. Also, it’s worth noting that Star Slinger’s remixes were one of the best things about 2k11.
10. Snowmine – Laminate Pet Animal
Rounding out the top ten is this gem from Brooklyn-based psychedelic-indie rockers (don’t let this description bum you out) Snowmine. If you are looking for a funky, spacey album be sure to peep this or their single ‘Curfews’.
9. Starfucker – Reptilians
A wall of blinking synthesizers and a penchant for upbeat tempos will keep this record on repeat for days. Once one of the many woozy hooks gets stuck in your head, it will be ear worm for weeks (case in point: the closing of ‘Mystery Cloud’).
8. Caveman – CoCo Beware
Via CMJ:”The songs feel like the first days of fall, where you’re clinging to that last bit of summer warmth while eagerly anticipating the slower pace of a city being cooled.” In other words, a near perfectly paced record.
7. Born Gold – Body Songs
Seriously the funnest record you could hope to listen to all year. This mash up of all things extraordinary is beyond classification, but I guess you could be tempted to call it ‘dance music’ (even though that term is too limiting). In all seriousness, hop over to BornGold.us and listen for yourself.
6. Real Estate – Days
Effortlessly appealing and inspiring in its musical simplicity, this gem drifts along feeling both new and classic at the same time. There is no better soundtrack for a Sunday afternoon drive in the country.
5. The Story So Far – Under Soil And Dirt
I can’t say I’ve felt like this about a pop-punk record since Alkaline Trio’s ‘Good Mourning’ or NFG’s ‘Sticks And Stones’. Oozing honesty and determination with every note, I feel ten years younger whenever I put this on.
4. SBTRKT – SBTRKT
As I said at #50 (James Blake) there was no bigger crossover success this year than the man behind the mask. This album is paced like a perfect DJ set–it reads the listener with incredible insight, combining the immediate and familiar with intense passages of warm-up, breaking to allow for moments of blank space and reflection.
3. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
It’s an album that makes you sad that it’s not longer; sad that it can’t just go on forever. This sentiment alone should indicate the caliber of album Fleet Foxes have created in Helplessness Blues. The moment ‘Grown Ocean’ ends, I find myself starting right back at the top.
2. Touche Amore – Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me
This is a staggering album, one that leaves you bruised, bloody and breathless. But all for the better. The most honest record of 2011, even if it was one of the shortest.
1. Destroyer – Kaputt
You know an album is good when you can’t wait until the day is over so you can hop in your car, plug in your iPod, grab a coffee and drive around aimlessly listening to it. As NOW magazine put it: “While Bejar’s arrangement decisions challenge popular notions of what delineates good and bad music, shaking off preconceptions in order to immerse yourself in Kaputt’s nighttime world is worth the effort.” Diverse. Spectacular. Engaging. Plus, the moment you hear the sax solo on ‘Downtown’ you will instantly know why it was the “it sound” for 2011 — leveraged by M83, Katy Perry, etc.
Phew! Welp, that’s it. Bring on 2012. What were your favorite records this year?