This is coming a little later than I fist had expected, I pretty much took the whole month of January off, which led to a few good things, but now we’re pretty much halfway through February. It helped me to get caught up on some bigger releases and led to two albums making it on to my list that weren’t there at the end of December, Sit Resist and James Blake. Some other honorable mentions I would like to showcase would be The Roots- Undun, Defeater- Empty Days and Sleepless Nights, Laura Marling- A Creature I Don’t know, Slow Runner- Damage Points, and Iron & Wine- Kiss Each Other Clean. There is also another list of 2011 albums that I still need to take some time to listen to namely Pianos Become the Teeth- The Lack Long After, WU LYF- Go Tell Fire To The Mountain, Swarms- Old Raves End, CunninLynguists- Oneirology, and Youth Lagoon- The Year of Hibernation. Finally hear is my top ten albums of 2011.
10. Radiohead- The King of Limbs
The King of Limbs I’ve already wrote a bit about, but that was quite some time ago. In fact I thing it was my first post on this little blog thing, and here we are almost a year later and this album shows it has some staying power when compared to the already impressive resume that Radiohead has put together. Like I mentioned earlier I feel that this is one of the most relate-able collections of songs this band has released. “Lotus Flower” lies at the heart of it all being one of the best songs they’ve written.
9. The Dodos- No Color
This album features The Dodos doing everything that they did that made us (me) fall in love with them. They’ve scaled back their operation a bit since their last release, ditching the vibraphone, and leaving us with just Logan and Meric playing their catchy, syncopated indie folk. No Color is a little more see’s this duo more matured, and gives me hope that they’ll be around for a while longer.
6. James Blake- James Blake
James Blake is the breakout artist of 2011. The Grammies might be all about Bon Iver as the Best New Artist, but since when can you trust the Grammies. Anyone that really pays attention to music would know that Bon Iver released an amazing debut album FOUR YEARS AGO. James Blake over the past year released his debut album and three E.P.’s, and did what is always incredibly difficult. James Blake made something fresh and new. He’s come out of the dubstep scene and that’s where his music mostly relates, but he’s mixed things up in a way that’s hard to explain. Hard to explain but easy to enjoy.
7. St. Vincent- Strange Mercy
Beautiful yet psychotic, this album is mesmerizing. It’s messy and fractured and maybe at times seems to go through an identity crisis, but I think that’s exactly what was intended. Strange Mercy takes time to revel in the mistakes and imperfections. Nothing on this album seems like it should work and yet it all does. Annie Clark fuses it all together in an unconventional mix and a midst all the weirdness I can’t help but be totally infatuated.
6. Laura Stevenson & The Cans- Sit Resist
Sit Resist is simply charming. It’s pleasantly simple and straightforward and pulls you in as soon as it begins and I don’t think anyone ever has objected to go where Laura Stevenson and the Cans want to take you. At some point in the middle of the album I’m always surprised by all the different instruments I’ve heard because the feel of the album makes me think all I’ve heard was a guitar and drums and Laura’s voice, but there’s trumpets, violins, banjos, and accordions adding variation all along this pleasant trip.
5. Bon Iver- Bon Iver
I was pretty underwhelmed when I first heard this album. I didn’t think it was anywhere near the quality if Bon Iver’s debut album For Emma, Forever Ago. My opinion has changed a bit as time went by and today I would have to take time to think about which album I enjoy more. I still think I would lean toward the debut, but to say the least, Bon Iver has grown on me quite a bit. The sadness of the debut has dissipated, but we are left with that same atmospheric, gorgeous indie folk, whatever you call it.
4. Thrice- Major/Minor
It’s weird to write about this album knowing now that this might very well be the last album written by this band rather than just their newest album. Over the past decade Thrice have managed to release six full length albums and one four E.P.’s/twenty four songs compilation, each time the managed to change their sound quite a bit, but they’ve managed to hold on to their identity. Major/Minor is no exception. With this release it might have seemed that the goal was to hone in on the basics of rock, because these tracks are infused with blues, and once again Thrice manage to sound fresh and at the top of their game.
3. Thursday- No Devolucion
Just a couple days after Thrice announced their hiatus, Thursday followed suite. I don’t know if you call it ironic or coincidental, but here you have two bands that at the turn of the millennium we’re helping to define post-hardcore bow out of the game in the same week after both releasing critically acclaimed records the same year. With Thursday though I think No Devolucion is the best album of their career. While they started out helping to define post-hardcore, here at the end they blur the edges a little bit and bring in post-rock and other influences. Now over a decade later they are still showing the way for their peers in a genre that has somewhat stagnated.
2. TV on the Radio- Nine Types of Light
TV on the Radio was a band that I had heard plenty about over the last few years, but it wasn’t until this album came out that I was able to really jump in and experience this great group. The video for “Will Do” totally captivated me and ever time I listen to the song it still puts me in an almost trance. This album is full of surprises and every song brings something different to the table. Whether it’s the easy-going-ness of “Second Song,” or the punchy-ness of “Caffeinated Consciousness” it’s all fantastic.
1. O’Brother- Garden Window
This was a debut I’d been excited about for a long time, and it did anything but disappoint me. It’s a very atmospheric and brooding album. It gives itself plenty of time for it’s ideas to develop and show themselves. It’s sludgy, heavy, deliberate and at time delicate and beautiful. It’s my favorite album from the year among another great year for music. O’Brother is a band that seems to have taken just about everything that I enjoy in music and combined it all together into awesomeness, and speaking of awesomeness, I’ve got to mention their live show again. They’ve blown me away every time I’ve seen them. Tanner Merritt’s voice has a power that just can’t quite be captured in the record. I’m pleased to say that at the end of the month I’ll get to see them again. So there it is. 2011. There was a lot of good things happening and there are some great looking things on the horizon of 2012 that I’ll try and keep you up to date on.