With 2011 coming to an end and 2012 just around the corner, it is time for me to release my Top 10 Favorite albums list of 2011. Word of warning, this is not a best of list, because it is all-subjective in the end. Not only that, to actually determine whether an album is “truly a best of” I feel that you must allow sometime to pass, maybe a year or two, to properly determine the quality of the work. But that is another topic for another blog. Let us begin.
10. Los Campesinos! – Hello Sadness. If you are looking for a high octane, fast paced album, check out Hello Sadness. Los Campesinos! always deliver albums that sty true to the spirit of punk rock.
9. Tom Waits- Bad As Me. This is Tom Waits’ first album of new material in almost a decade. And it does not disappoint, it is a pretty standard Waits album. It just showcases how great of a songwriter Waits is. I highly recommend the first six songs.
8. Nirvana- Nevermind: The 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition. No it is not a new album, and I am usually not a fan of “remastered editions”, but this deluxe edition is well worth the money. In addition to the stand-alone album, you get a disc and a half of live tracks, b-sides, demos, and rarities. For me the real highlight is disc 2, which has an absolutely amazing live version of Something in the Way recorded at the BBC.
7. Moby- Destroyed. Over the past few years, I have really become a fan of Moby’s work. I find the music quite complex, but yet simplistic at the same time. Destroyed is no exception. It is a great album to listen to on headphones, in fact that is my preferred way of listening to it. It allows you to hear all of the sounds on the album.
6. The Weeknd- House of Balloons. Released as a free mix cd in the early part of the year, this was the first album I had heard from The Weeknd. And it blew me away. This album highlights the dark side of life such as sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. And they pair these topics up with some of the dopest beats I have ever heard.
5. The Black Keys- El Camino. The Black Keys continue to blow me away. This is their second album in about 18 months. And it is straight up blues-rock. Heavy guitars and pounding drums, it will get your feet tapping within seconds of hitting the play button.
4. Middle Brother- Middle Brother. Just like El Camino, this album is a guitar heavy album. Pure southern rock/alt country sounds hit the stereo speakers on every track. It really reminds me of the Sun Records sound from the 1950s. Blue Eyes might be my song of the year.
3. Frank Turner- England Keep My Bones. HOLY CRAP!!! Is this a great album. Turner covers a wide range of topics on this album, from friendship to religion, and the power of rock n’ roll. And though I do not agree with everything Turner says on this album, I have nothing but respect for him as an artist. This is a brave album, and will be like a fine wine. As it ages, it will only get better.
2. NewVillager- NewVillager. Boy this is a cool sounding album. I mean it really sounds cool. Produced by a group of artists, the visuals play just as an important role in the music, as the music itself. I highly recommend watching as many of their videos as you possible can.
1. William Elliott Whitmore- Field Songs. I love this album. 9 songs that capture the feeling and struggle of the middle class/ working poor of the United States. The album is breath taking. It is poetic, yet simplistic. A celebration of nature and the human spirit. Whitmore continues to grow and develop as an artist. The way he is developing, I see him becoming the voice of a generation, much like Johnny Cash or Tom Waits. If there is one album you were going to buy this year, you should buy this one.