Below is a list of my favorite albums of 2011. I don’t have the convenience of brain-storming with other writers on the blog to compile a truly extensive list, but I’ve listened to plenty of music within the past year to throw together a top ten. So here we go…
10. Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming – M83
The sixth studio album from the electronic group M83 didn’t disappoint. In addition of this being M83’s highest Billboard rank to date, it’s definitely one of their strongest albums they’ve recorded. Listen to it straight through for the full experience.
Favorite Song: “Midnight City”
9. Major/Minor – Thrice
This album is their best since The Artist and the Ambulance, and might possibly be their last. I love these rockers from California, but haven’t been impressed with any of their albums for years. Major/Minor changed that for me and I’m glad that Thrice are leaving after such a good album.
Favorite Song: “Anthology”
8. The People’s Key – Bright Eyes
Conor Oberst is one of this generation’s greatest singer/songwriters. After going solo for a few years, he returned to Bright Eyes and released the eighth studio album, The People’s Key. While I will always prefer the aggressive and edgy sound of earlier Bright Eyes, the mature Oberst still delivers a very good album.
Favorite Song: “Jejune Stars”
7. Endgame – Rise Against
Surprisingly, I only started listening to Rise Against this year, so I had a lot of catching up to do. Endgame, their sixth album, continued their commercial success and political commentary, debuting at number 2 on the Billboard chart. These guys haven’t missed a beat throughout their career and now are enjoying the launch of a massive arena-tour in 2012.
Favorite Song: “Architects”
6. 21 – Adele
Adele is one of those rare artists that only comes once in a while, so we have to embrace her unique style and powerful voice while she’s in her prime. At only 23 years old, she has fortified her name and backed up all her supporters with a brilliant album, “21.” If you haven’t already, give this album a listen.
Favorite Song: “Set Fire to the Rain”
5. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
If you haven’t heard of Justin Vernon yet, just wait. Following up the album that he recorded in the woods, this sophomore album is one that is sure to turn plenty of ears onto the powerful, indie sound of Bon Iver.
Favorite Song: “Holocene”
4. Barton Hollow – The Civil Wars
The first full-length album from folk-country duo, The Civil Wars, is a beautiful and haunting collection of songs. The way Joy Williams and John White exchange lyrics and riffs with each other is straight from the heart, and you can feel it with every word and every note. I’m going to keep my eye on their future.
Favorite Song: “Barton Hollow”
3. Daybreak – Saves the Day
It’s been a while since Saves the Day released their last album (2007, Under the Boards), but Daybreak was definitely worth the wait. As the third album of a trilogy that began with Sound the Alarm, Daybreak is their strongest studio album in many years. Also, I never would’ve guessed that Saves the Day would write a 10+ minute song. Overall, a great album by these New Jersey punk-rockers.
Favorite Song: “Daybreak”
2. Father, Son, Holy Ghost – Girls
Girls are easily one of the best, new bands, only being around for the past few years. I love everything about these guys and Father, Son, Holy Ghost is a great follow-up album to the incredible debut album, “Album.” They have a sound that New York Times have said to be a combination of “Elvis Costello, Buddy Holly, and The Beach Boys.” If that doesn’t get you to listen to them, I don’t know what will.
Favorite Song: “Vomit”
1. Elsie – The Horrible Crowes
If you’re unfamiliar with the name Brian Fallon, well then you’ve heard it here first. Fallon is on the verge of breaking out into a rock icon of this generation. As the lead of The Gaslight Anthem, he’s already been compared to Bruce Springsteen and not only because he’s from New Jersey as well. Fallon is the frontman for The Horrible Crowes as well, and here he displays influences from the likes of Tom Waits. Its lyrics are personal and the music ranges from blues and folk to straight-up rock. I can’t recommend this record enough.
Favorite Song: “Sugar”