After buying over 100 albums this year (mostly in CD format), I’m ready to reveal my top listens from 2011. To qualify, the entire album must be good, not just a few songs. I still love to listen to an album from beginning to end, instead of just grazing on singles via a playlist. It’s hard to find albums that shine from cut 1 to cut 10 or beyond – and that’s why these 6 are so special:
1. Yuck (self-titled debut) – If you liked early Smashing Pumpkins or Dinosaur Jr., you’ll love this group of youngsters from the UK. Their songwriting is matched by a very special guitarist with one-of-a-kind tones.
2. The Givers: In Light – The Lafayette Louisiana guy/girl group has a fresh new hippie meets indie sound. For fans of Vampire Weekend or Peter, Paul and Bjourn.
3. Decemberists: The King Is Dead – This album sparkles, mainly because of the addition of REM’s Peter Buck on guitars. Each song has a country-rock influence, which combined with the Decemberist sound makes for a truly remarkable album that you’ll still enjoy five years from now.
4. Black Keys: El Camino – They pick up right where they left off with Brothers, except this time they’ve got some friends playing and singing with them. Just got this one in, but in less than a week, it’s on heavy rotation in my car.
5. Foster The People: Torches – This is the breakout album of the year, containing three singles and several big deals for TV shows, commercials and movies. Foster really captures the gestalt of the times with this record and Pumped Up Kicks is the song of the year – bringing back song-construction wonders I’ve been missing since MGMT’s first album.
6. Fruit Bats: Tripper – Much like Decemberists, Fruit Bats are really figuring out how to integrate a country-rock feel into indie and make it shine (brighter than Wilco). There’s also a timeless quality to these songs, like merging Supertramp with the Allman Brothers.
Here are some discoveries from 2011 worth checking out:
1. Planningtorock – combines NIN with Florence and the Machines for eerie but awesome songs.
2. Peaking Lights – Dub, meets guy-girl vocal for dancy yet chilled out grooves.
3. Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – These guys funk it up, Touch The Sky will make you get up and dance.
Chime in here in the comments – what are your favorite albums or discoveries from 2011?