When NME, Rolling Stone etc released their top ten list of the best album of 2011, music fans had a buffet. And like an avid music blogger, I too felt the hunger to pick out my favorites.
These are the albums that I have greedily shared on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. If you’ve seen me in places with my headphones on, I was probably listening to the songs off of these albums. These are the LP’s that left an indelible taste in my mind that I have to spread it as a gratifying act. I had the long list chopped down to ten, with a few runners-up as guilty pleasures.
So much about food analogies, here’s the list.
10. The King Is Dead – The Decemberists
So this year I finally accepted the fact that I am gradually liking this so-called indie sounds. I like the romanticization of the storytelling, the hint of folk fluidly mixed with pop, country and acoustic that this album has. You hear a little bit of Dylan, a little bit of R.E.M. So it just means that they do excellent songwriting.
9. So Beautiful or So What – Paul Simon
This man is a wordsmith. And I personally like musicians who are good with words. Although this album may sound fast for his vocals, it still has that magic that pushes you into loving the songs in it. It maybe more folk but he could still deliver what your ears ask for and eventually gets you thinking. I probably love the snappy sound of it, or maybe the storytelling, but all the same, Paul Simon still has it.
8. Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 2 – Beastie Boys
It has been four years since these guys released an album. And we definitely missed partying with their hip and funky songs. This year they gave us a taste of their past albums and took us to the future. What I like about their new record is the loudness of these guys rapping some incomprehensible yet cool ramblings against the booming plethora of sounds. They probably are the only hip hop sort of group that I proudly say I listen to. Somehow their punk roots is an affirmation that I am not being sacrilegious. Anyhow, this is certainly one of the most enjoyable albums of 2011.
7. Yuck – Yuck
And now the dreamiest album of the year, in my own humble opinion that is. Though, it may have received a few un-original accusations, I say that might be the strongest point of this album. They took their influences and derived a sound that is uniquely their own and it all sounded just right. It is mostly garage indie rock/fuzz pop with the vocals on the back and the instruments taking the spotlight. The songs in this album are just jingly jangly good. And did I say this album is so dreamy?
Oh look Daniel Blumberg looks a lot like the young Bob Dylan.
6. Codes and Keys – Death Cab for Cutie
Please don’t tell anybody that this album is included in my list. I’m just not open with being on the bandwagon. This album just echoes with positivity, from Ben Gibbard’s grinning voice to the cheerful keyboards and synthesizers that seemed to have been amplified a little compared to the previous albums. Though it’s not the type of album that would strike you in first listen, this one grows irresistibly in you. Also, it somehow makes you want to listen to past Death Cab songs.
5. Kiss Each Other Clean – Iron & Wine
I love the intimate connection that Sam Beam creates just by listening to his songs. He easily became one of my favorite songwriters because of that. Though this album may be a little bit chunkier in terms of noise and instrumentation, the songs are still able to retain that sort of magnetic field that draws your ears and soul in. I just love playing this after the end of the day and letting it lull me to a dreamfull sleep.
4. Let England Shake – PJ Harvey
I rarely like girl musicians and I’m not being sexist I am just jealous of their talents. Well, I was. Also, I’m not English. What I’m saying is PJ Harvey is one of the artists that I would unlikely listen to, and listen to on repeat. But discovering great music is amazing. It’s just as amazing as this album. I fell in love with her thin voice on this album that is striking and compelling at the same time. This album is great in so many ways. It has thought-provoking social/political lyrics, catchy hooks and the imagery that the mood of her voice puts in your head. It all just sticks in you, and it is brilliant.
3. El Camino – The Black Keys
I am relatively new to The Black Keys, so it’s not a surprise that I immensely enjoyed this album. It has the enough ingredients to make my head dance. It has the warm bass that makes me tap my hands along to it. It has catchy drums that enliven the whole song. Basically, this album is a solid proof of how infectious the sound of blues rock and garage rock fused together. The theme is pretty conventional and easily relatable. With all these, I’m off digging more old treasures from this duo.
2. Slave Ambient – The War on Drugs
If you would let me pick a genre I love the most, it would be psychedelic rock. That is why I got addicted to this album. It has all the right dosage of instrumentation that stimulates that psychedelic sickness in you. Oddly, these guys even remind me of Bob Dylan and Neil Young. If you’re looking for a road-trip music, this one’s a spot on. A lot of musicians experimented with this genre but only a few got the right mix. With that being said, this album is doped.
First, I really don’t care what you say, Radiohead still rules this whole so-called indie rock phenomenon. I have one word for this album, trippy, with loops that loop to another loop making it sound hypnotizing. It has the fancy synthesizers that are plain entrancing. And on top of it Thom Yorke’s voice finds its way to your veins. This album is an experience, the one you could listen to in its full length. Since it is relatively shorter than their previous albums, it makes you listen to it on repeat. Arguably one of the best albums of 2011.
This list is purely of opinion. I might not have the amount of knowledge as other reviewers claim to have. We also have to consider the tolerance of my hearing to other genres and my ego that refuses to put Adele’s 21 on this list(frankly I only listened to Rolling in the Deep). Other greats have released albums too, like Metallica and Lou Reed, Def Leppard, Sebastian Bach etc but these are the artists that felt like they’ve been so legendary that eclipsing their previous works is quite impossible that you stop expecting them to produce materials that will blow your mind. If you’re looking for Mylo Xyloto, it might be on the Billboard’s list, not on this list.
I also have to mention If Not Now When? by my favorite band Incubus, it has some easy songs that hardcore fans hate but to me this album is like an old jacket, sewn with different style, dyed in lighter color but it still felt nice. My conscience just couldn’t bear putting it on the list because I just have to consider the overall sound and production, it pains me inside but there are better albums than this. The same could be said with I’m With You by Red Hot Chilli Pepper.
Your expert ears may find these albums mediocre or your neophyte ears may find them solid, it is perfectly fine because music, like other art, and food, is subjective.
PS: Do you have favorites of your own? Leave them in the comments, it’s not that late for a part two.
And all blogs are best closed with a photo of a cat.