Best Albums of 2011

So here goes. I’ve been listening and pondering, and listening and pondering, and the list you see below is the result. I put some of these on my best-of list months ago, and some of them went on as recently as a few weeks ago.

I’ve placed the albums in order of most played; however, that may not mean much.

Explosions in the Sky – Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
For some reason this album didn’t get much attention. Post-rock may be passe, but I enjoyed it. It carries on where “All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone” left off.

Solkyri – No House
I’ve never heard of this group before getting a hold of this LP, nor have I read much in terms of reviews. However, they play a steady, guitar-driven version of post rock that uses ambiance and secondary instrumentation effectively.

The Antlers – Burst Apart
I guess I have to mention “Hospice” in relation to their new LP. They’re different. “Burst Apart” isn’t a concept album, nor is it rapped up in nostalgia and deep pathos like “Hospice.” Instead, the new album is forward moving, and lyrically it shows a more mature view. “Burst Apart” shows much growth from the previous album, and that works fine. After all, isn’t that what musicians are supposed to do?

Destroyer – Kaputt
I never thought I’d be listening or reviewing an album such as this, but I must say, it’s good, albeit in a weird way. Daniel Bejar creates a weird and throwback world without the pastiche and retread. I know, that doesn’t sound possible, but he does it. The music video below is what got me hooked on them. I just can’t explain it.

Grails – Deep Politics
They’ve stepped it up yet another notch by creating an entire film soundtrack, but it’s so good that they don’t even need the film to accompany it.

Long Distance Calling – S/T
I like post-rock bands that can create a sound distinct all to themselves, and Long Distance Calling do that quite easily. The (orgasmic) stand out on this album is “The Figrin D’an Boogie,” which starts at mid tempo speed, slows down with a sparse and almost ethereal bridge, uses a slow meandering guitar lead, then throws in more and more instrumentation until the song bursts. It’s amazing.

Russian Circles – Empros
It’s different than their previous offerings, almost a more black metal guitar sound at times, but it’s good, a classic even.

Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears – Scandalous
Does rhythm & blues exist. Yes it does, and it’s better than ever thanks to these guys., Check out “Booty City” loud.

The Deep Dark Woods – The Place I Left Behind
I’d never heard of this band, and I was apprehensive after hearing the first few notes that they’d be another copy/paste bearded indie wannabee nostalgia band, but as I got more into the album my apprehension changed to wonder. They write deep and affecting songs full of interesting music. “I Just Can’t Lose” is a standout track.

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
Yeah, they’re good.

Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire
I wasn’t impressed with his last few released, but this one takes me back to the “Heartbreaker” and “Gold” days.

Gang Gang Dance – Eye Contact
That the music is as good as, but completely dissimilar to, the artwork intrigues me more about this album, which is full of world-ish dance rhythms and fitting vocals.

And So I Watch You From Afar – Gangs
These guys have released yet another blistering post-rock album jam packed with insane fretwork.

Bon Iver – S/T
Trendy as fuck, yes, but at least the guys have changed their sound a bit more to match up with the orgasmic Gayngs.

Amon Amarth – Surtur Rising
Oh, epic death metal, how I have never appreciated thee, yet Amon Amarth continue to impress and excite my musical ears.

Charles Bradley – No Time for Dreaming
Old school soul song by an old schooler. This is legit.

Tom Waits – Bad as Me
And…he’s released another gem.

Elder – Dead Roots Stirring
This sophomore effort by these stoner-doomers has gone best the homage to sleep provides a more polished example of the progression of the genre.

TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light
More affective than effecting, they’ve traded their more rock moments for ominous lyrics.

Altar of Plagues – Mammal
This is no White Tomb, but it is surreal, bleak, unrelenting, and primitive.

Handsome Firs – Sound Kapital
Fun and steady is the best way to describe this album.

Nicolas Jaar – Space is Only Noise
This is one of those electronic albums that only comes around once every 10-odd yeras, and I don’t know if Mr. Jaar can do it again with the follow-up. Enjoy.

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats – Blood Lust
Retro fashionability at its best, yet the deadbeats have some definite chops as they start in the 60s and travel toward the 21st century.

Krallice – Diotima
New school black metal with some atomic fretwork going on.

Rocket Miner – Songs for an October Sky
Here’s a solid post-rock album.

Wye Oak – Civilian
Deep and moody, Wye Oak voices a painful world that ends up beautiful.

Earth – Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light 1
Their press releases indicate that they improvised this album in the studio in just a few takes. Regardless, it’s got some serious staying power.

Gary Clark Jr. – The Bright Lights [ep]
THis guys sounds much like the black keys on three of the four songs, and that fourth song is a slow cryer.

This entry was posted in Alt Rock/Indie, Black Metal, Doom Metal, Folk, Indie.

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