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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Albums of the year 2011

Recently started back listening to entire albums. It's cause they can fit onto the new phone. Didn't listen to much. So it's a limited sample size. Even more limited cause I usually check Pitchfork, NME and Rolling Stone a lot. But how else am I gonna find bands like Yuck and The Weeknd? Not on local radio, for sure.

15. Fucked Up - David Comes to Life

why: A rock opera about a love story set in 1970's and 1980's England. Winning concept. But even if you forget the concept, the energy and excitement of the music is enough to make this album an excellent listen.

14.Yuck - Yuck

why: Easy to listen to, a total throwback to the early 90's guitar rock. All the fans of the shoegazing era will be impressed.Loud and quiet alternating guitar effects give the high tech mixed with melody vibe.

13. Jay-Z/ Kanye West - Watch The Throne

why: A very eclectic album, each track is something else altogether. Kanye's superior musical ability with Jay's exceptional lyrics and delivery, it seems like they were made to go together. It's witty and over-the-top arrogant and very funny.

12. Adele - 21

why: No points for album name originality. Probably the most popular album on the list. Adele was everywhere this year. Her songs were amazing with poignant lyrics but with a voice like that she could sing a menu and make it sound meaningful.

11. Tyler The Creator - Goblin

why: Most people think Wiz should have won the VMA. Listen to Goblin and then consider. Vicious, dark, graphic threats of murder and rape; it isn't an album for the easily offended. It is also the most original rap album I've heard in a long time.

10. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake

why: The album has an early 20th century feel, full of modernism and surrealism. So it's very beautiful but far less confusing and more direct and real portrait of the bloodshed of the last century and it's impact on her country.

9. James Blake - James Blake

why: I didn't even realize post-dubstep was a genre till this guy's album. The lyrics are brilliant and introspective. But the real star is the electronica and vocal manipulations. It's kind of like taking a folk album and unleashing all the tweaks possible.

8. M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

why: I've been a M83 fan ever since I heard Kim& Jessie. There's nothing like the synth-electronica sound they have. It is enthralling and intoxicating to listen to this album. It really is a dream-fantasy world.

7. Drake - Take Care

why: The album is a lot of contrast. Rapping and singing; boasts about fame vs. the problems that come with success; wondering about leading a pointless life & love of wealth and success. The album consists of brilliant lyrics embedded in minimalist, laidback beats.

6. The Weeknd - House of Ballons

why: First really heard about them through Drake (they're featured on Crew Love). It's an album of R&B mixed with electronica, a raw and somewhat sad, scary sound. Kind of goes perfectly with concept lyrics set in a world of hurt and too much drugs.

5. The Roots - Undun

why: I love the Roots. I think they're one of the best live hip-hop bands around, always a great message. Undun reaches a level of brilliance you don't find in too much hip-hop albums. It's bleak but cohesive and complex, embodying existentialism.

4.Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues

why: This band is criminally underrated. The follow up album manages to keep to the standard set by the debut, while also experimenting. It's deeper and darker and completely focused on grounded, real things instead of the usual indie-dreamworld escapist fantasies.

3. Florence and the Machine - Ceremonials

why: The harps, the booming drums, the gospel choirs and that voice. You know a Florence song when you hear it. Emotionally resonant and highly metaphoric (and imaginative), the album is cohesive to the point of fluidity, though sometimes the lyrics are a bit mystifying.

2. Frank Ocean - nostalgia, Ultra

why: Some dark and fun R&B. Melancholy, paranoid and dramatic with a background of original, sometimes distracting beats. There's enough in this to compare Ocean to legends like Marvin Gaye (Here, my Dear era) or Prince but with a surrealist feel.

1.Bon Iver - Bon Iver

why: Magically poetic lyrics that either mean lots or gibberish. It's got to be an art to have lyrics like that. Emotional sincerity carries on from the first album, with a widescale, encompassing sound that is wholly different from the stripped down feel of the debut. The album is an experience.

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