Infinite Shuffle

January 1, 2012

Best of 2011 – My list

Filed under: Best of — assman41 @ 12:01 am

Despite a lot of excellent live music experiences this year, I kept finding myself bemoaning the lack of standout albums released in 2011. There were only a few that I knew deserved recognition.

But rather than just write some rant about the poor quality of music this year, I went back and re-listened to everything I’d heard from the past 12 months — as well as some other stuff that I knew was worthy of consideration.

The end result? It really wasn’t as bad a year as I kept making it out to be. By the time I was done, I’d found 20 albums and 10 bonus songs that deserved to be honored.

Normally, I just list everything in alphabetical order. But, as I was compiling my list, I was forced to rank everything and make some tough decisions. And, since I’m a sportswriter by trade, I figured it’d be fitting if I broke things into a first and second team.

And, just like last year, I put together a playlist of all the best songs I could find (which turned out to be barely half of the 30 I searched for).

Anyway, without further ado, I give you the Best of 2011.

FIRST TEAM

  • The Decemberists – The King Is Dead … As far as I’m concerned, these guys can do no wrong. After several highly praised concept albums, the Portland crew stripped things down and put out an album full of great songs and no filler. … Favorite song: “Down By the Water”
  • Yuck – Yuck … At first I was apprehensive about this album. But after my first listen, I knew this was a disc I was gonna love all year long. This was a close second to The Decemberists. … Favorite song: “Georgia”
  • Cults – Cults … I can’t help but smile every time I listen to this album. These guys latched on to the lo-fi, old-school girl group sound that has become popular and took it to another level. … Favorite song: “Go Outside”
  • The Rural Alberta Advantage – Departing … I never got into Neutral Milk Hotel during their heyday, but this group is a nice consolation. I saw them live and met them afterwards, and it just added to my love for them and this album. … Favorite song: “Two Lovers”
  • Wye Oak – Civilian … I’d known of this band for a while, but after seeing them live at SXSW, I was totally sold. This album is great to just sit back and relax to. … Favorite song: “Holy Holy”
  • The Head and the Heart – The Head and the Heart … Another band that I’ve seen live (in 2010) and missed seeing a couple of times this year, this Seattle crew is just the latest in a wave of great solid indie folk acts. … Favorite song: “Lost In My Mind”
  • Young the Giant – Young the Giant … This album is full of catchy tunes, and I’d love to get the chance to see them live someday. … Favorite song: “My Body”
  • Grouplove – Never Trust a Happy Song … I was worried this would be one of those groups with one or two great singles and nothing else. But this album has plenty of solid indie-pop tracks. … Favorite song: “Tongue Tied”
  • The War On Drugs – Slave Ambient … Yet another band I saw live this year, this third disc (second LP) by the group adds to a strong catalog of catchy, groovy indie folk with a tinge of psychedelia. … Favorite song: “Baby Missiles”
  • Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues … While their debut album was great, I worried that this follow-up would be too similar. Thankfully, it’s not. No longer sounding like a band that lives in a cabin in the woods, the group channels its inner Simon & Garfunkel en route to some amazing folk-rock. Favorite song: “Helplessness Blues”

SECOND TEAM

  • The Cave Singers – No Witch … Favorite song: “Gifts and the Raft”
  • Rival Schools – Pedals … Favorite song: “A Parts For B Actors”
  • Death Cab For Cutie – Codes and Keys … Favorite song: “You Are a Tourist”
  • Tammar – Visits … Favorite song: “Deep Witness”
  • The Black Keys – El Camino … Favorite song: “Lonely Boy”
  • The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong … Favorite song: “Heart in Your Heartbreak”
  • Wilco – The Whole Love … Favorite song: “I Might”
  • Real Estate – Days … Favorite song: “It’s Real”
  • Apex Manor – The Year of Magical Drinking … Favorite song: “Southern Decline”
  • Big Scary – Vacation … Favorite song: “Mix Tape”

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Since writing this post earlier in the week, I have listened to a handful of albums that received solid reviews during the past year. For one reason or another, I had just kinda overlooked them until now. And, as it turned out, I was quite keen on all of them. If I’d given them more listens earlier in the year, there’s a decent chance they would’ve made the above lists.

  • Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost … Favorite song: “Alex”
  • Lonely Forest – Arrows … Favorite song: “Turn Off This Song and Go Outside”
  • Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes … Favorite song: “Get Some”
  • Youth Lagoon – Year of Hibernation … Favorite song: “Daydream”

I look forward to giving all of these albums repeated listens soon and sharing my thoughts in the near future.

TOP SINGLES (That weren’t on an aforementioned album)

Check back tomorrow for my annual compilation of end-of-the-year lists from around the internet.

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2 Comments »

  1. […] Just as I did last year and the year before that, I have compiled as many end-of-the-year lists as I could find. And, in case you missed it, here’s my list. […]

    Pingback by Best of 2011 – Everyone else « Infinite Shuffle — January 2, 2012 @ 12:06 am

  2. Definitely not a down year in music. I could pick your list apart for what you missed, but to each his own.

    P.S. — Thank you for turning me on to Yuck.

    Comment by The Sonic Medium — January 2, 2012 @ 1:00 am


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