I love Year End “Best of” lists. I look forward to lists from various publications about the best new recipes, television shows, books, movies and my favorite best albums of the year, which I use to discover new music and to get upset when some of my favorite bands don’t get a high enough score in certain lists or are completely left out. Usually, I get really upset at Pitchfork for leaving someone out or putting one band higher than another, but then again Pitchfork is a very frustrating online music magazine—I love and hate them.
So there really isn’t an order to the list. I just added them as I searched through my iTunes library to see what was released this year, so the number 1 spot is not really the number 1 album per se to me, it just happens to be the one I happened to list first. By the way, this is much harder than I thought it would be. I am always afraid of leaving something out or what to say in describing the albums. I eliminated getting heat for ranking an album higher than another by putting the disclaimer of it being ranked in no particular order. I know its a cop-out, but this is my blog and you will deal with it! I could have listed them in a bulleted list, but I started with numbered lists and I was too far ahead in making the list to change it.
- Wilco- The Whole Love: Okay, so I lied. I have to list this as the number one album on the list because they are my all time favorite band. I was anxiously awaiting this album, and it did not disappoint. To me the very first track of a Wilco album has really set the mood for the entire catalog of songs, and “Art of Almost” is this wonderful medley of noise, pops and wizzes which ends in a head-bopping Nels Cline shred.
- Fleet Foxes- Helplessness Blues: This was my second most anticipated album of the year. I loved the first Fleet Foxes album for its rich harmonies, beautiful melodies and deep lyrics and their sophomore album did not disappoint. To be quite honest, this is the true album of the year and the last track on the album, “Grown Ocean”, became a favorite of mine. I love that song so much that I have it as my opening track in a playlist entitled “To Get Yourself Pumped Up”.
- The Decemberists- The King is Dead: This is probably one of the most underrated albums of 2011 in my opinion. Usually a The Decemberists album is created around a theme, concept or story, but this one is not. Its a more Americana version of The Decemberists, that still retains their unique Decembersists sound. Its a solid album, and it perplexes me as to why it is not in a lot more Best of 2011 lists.
- Destroyer- Kaput: I discovered Destroyer when I was listening to my favorite podcast The Dinner Party Download. I decided to check them out and I loved the album so much. Its not an album I would expect to love, but its fantastic. Next time a band tries to emulate 80s soft-rock, sign me up to be a fan!
- Bon Iver- Bon Iver: This is the year that I learned how to pronounce Bon Iver correctly after being a fan for a while. By the way, in case you’re interested its not pronounced Bon Eyever but pronounced Boni Ver. A friend once told me that he always pronounced Bon Iver by imagining himself walking in a freshly snow covered forest in Norway. Sounds about right.
- Cults- Cults: This is such a catchy little band. Someone I follow on Tumblr posted “Going to see them tonight” and a link to their song “Go Outside”. Instant falling in love, guys. I fell for them hard.
- Real Estate- Days: I also randomly heard of them thanks to a random post on Tumblr. I “loved” the track and reblogged it and as the original poster blogged more and more of their tracks I went out and bought this album and their previous album. It was a very wise decision.
- Jay-Z & Kanye West- Watch the Throne: Was this the most anticipated album of the year or what? It did not disappoint at all. I had it on repeat several times since it came out.
- Childish Gambino- CAMP: While Watch the Throne was all about excess and how their huge megastardom has affected both Yeezy’s and Jay’s lives, CAMP is the complete opposite. Here Donald Glover does not talk about how fame has changed him, but in how he has struggled to not ever belonging into any worlds and how that has affected him. He just wants to be Donald.
- Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks- Mirror Traffic: I really liked how Beck put a stop sing on some of Stephen Malkmus jams. Not to say that I did not like his jams, but sometimes they felt a bit too long or that they did not fit in a song. It still sounds like a Malkmus release, but its more polished. Thanks Beck!
Others albums I enjoyed this year were:
- Mariachi El Bronx- Mariachi El Bronx II- Punk + mariachi music? How can you not love this. In the words of my mother “This is disgusting and vile”, but its so damn good.
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.- It’s A Corporate World: really fun album, even funner name.
- Of Monsters and Men- My Head is an Animal: I heard them on NPR and found out they’re from Iceland. Also, this is as good as time as any to say that I cannot stand Sigur Ros, but this band gets a pass because I can understand them.
- Feist-Metals: Just put on this album and enjoy the melancholy.
So there you go! My favorite albums of 2011. If you have Spotify there is this wonderful playlist that has all the best of 2011 albums in one convenient location. Its four days of wonderful music and its from your wonderful friends from Reddit! If you have Spotify just click on this link right here to open the list.