This week we are going to take a look at all of our reviewers Top album picks of the year. Please pipe up down in the comments with any that we may have missed or if you don’t agree with any of our picks.
Today we have our site owner, dscanland, take a look at his favorite albums of 2011.
Damn, I feel like I’m getting old. I had absolutely no desire to check out new music this year, let alone review. But old habits die hard and I still like to experiment with my music. Sadly, it’s on other peoples recommendation instead of just trying something new. I’m not dead yet! And truthfully, year end lists are one of my favourite times of the year to get caught up on good music. I’m still listening to some albums I found out about with last years lists. Here are some 2011 albums that you definitely should not miss out on. In no particular order.
Tune-yards – whokill
Our sporadic reviewer, digitalbath, AKA John Berry turned me onto the Tune-Yards with his glowing 5 star review. Whenever one of my reviewers gives anything a 5 star review, I download and check it out. I kept turning to the unique vocal stylings of whokill this year when I needed to be reminded that there is something special in music.
PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
Polly Jean let me down hard on her last album, White Chalk, but if you get let down only to decrease expectations then it might be worthwhile of a longtime music love of mine. Let England Shake did not only restore my faith in PJ Harvey but it brought up my level of respect for her music as well.
Bon Iver – Bon Iver
This was one of a couple albums that I didn’t care for at first listen. Bon Iver’s debut album had me listening to it over and over. This one came out and I really enjoyed about 2 songs but didn’t return to the album for a while. When I did, I fell hard for Bon Iver again. Once you realize that the songs aren’t quite as catchy or as immediate as For Emma, Forever Ago, you start to find out the more intricate arrangements and complexities. Needs to be heard on headphones too.
Wilco – The Whole Love
This one came out of left field. I don’t even think I was aware that Wilco was coming out with a new album this year. I didn’t even care. I don’t know what possessed me to download The Whole Love but I did and I don’t regret it one bit. It has brought back my faith for Tweedy and company. I haven’t enjoyed a Wilco album this much since Being There.
Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
Helplessness Blues was another album that I didn’t like upon first listen. I returned to it after I read a glowing review on it and I found some merits in the album I hadn’t seen before. Fleet Foxes have never been a favourite of mine but this album has made me look at the band in a different light. A really nice throwback to some older era music while still reinventing the sound.
Noah and the Whale – Last Night On Earth
I had a UK friend send me Noah and the Whale’s Peaceful, The World Lays Me for Christmas one year and I couldn’t get into it. Just out of curiosity I downloaded Last Night On Earth and my whole family got into it. Catchy songs that remind us what pop is all about.
Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto
I had to think twice about putting Mylo Xyloto on my year end list, not because Coldplay is “not cool” but because the album is a little hit and miss. There are some of Coldplay’s best songs on the album but there are some of Coldplay’s worst. Regardless, I do keep turning to this album to listen to whenever I can’t pick something. That’s a merit on its own.
G. Love – Fixin’ To Die
I haven’t listened to a G. Love and Special Sauce album in years! I was on Youtube watching some video when the title track of Fixin’ To Die (yes, the old blues track that Bob Dylan kicked many moons ago) popped up on the right hand side. I was bored so I clicked the link. I would recommend you check it out as well. Amazing video of G. Love recording in a church. Anyway, this album turned out to be fantastic and one of the highlights is the cover of Paul Simon’s 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover.
Thursday – No Devolution
This was a complete surprise for me. If you had asked me what albums I was looking forward to in 2011 Thursday’s would have never even come close. Again, for some reason I checked out No Devolution and was blown away. Beautiful hard album but so dynamic. Gone are the heavy/light vocals though. They stick with something and go through it.
Braids – Native Speaker
It would be wrong of me not to include a Calgary album. There were a few good ones this year, including former reviewer Brooker Buckingham but Braids’ Native Speaker gets the shout out this year. It’s an amazing aural feast. Its not really a loud album but it serves to be turned up loud. That’s the only way you can hear the subtle complexities.