It's that time of year again. You know, the time when I tell you all my favorite music released over the year, and you don't really care, but I don't care that you don't care and keep doing it anyway because I'm annoying that way.
For some reason, there were albums put out by bands that I've liked for years that just didn't do it for me this time for some reason or other (e.g., They Might Be Giants, Stephen Malkmus, Radiohead, Iron & Wine, Gus Black, and Old 97's). It was still a good year for music though, and it was difficult to choose the list as really any of the lowest five could probably be switched out with any from my honorable mentions list, and the top three albums could be switched around as well. I'm not going to complain about that.
Without further ado, here are my top ten albums of 2011 in reverse order:
Honorable Mentions: Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Fountains of Wayne, Kurt Vile, Tapes N Tapes, and AA Bondy.
10. The War On Drugs - Slave Ambient
I admit it, I'm putting this over the honorable mentions simply for the song 'Brothers.' Love that song! It's very soothing and uplifting. It's been a year where I've needed that sort of thing. It's good when I find new music that will do that for me. This album does.
9. Titus Andronicus - The Monitor
It's not often that one stumbles across a concept album about the Civil War from a punk band, yet here we are. The first time I listened to this it was cranked in my office, which in hindsight, might not have been the smartest move considering people at this university are easily offended by profanity. Oh well. Now I just close the door so it doesn't carry out into the hallway. Lesson learned.
8. The Boxer Rebellion - The Cold Still
These guys have to be one of my favorite bands in recent years. There is something about Nathan Nicholson's voice that I find fascinating. This album does a great job of going back and forth from upbeat to haunting. While my favorite song of theirs is still 'Watermelon' (off of Exits), I'd say this is their most solid album to date. The band's continual improvement has me excited to see what they'll put out in the future.
7. Cake - Showroom Of Compassion
It took me a while to warm up to this album. Probably because I'm not a big fan of the first track. I'm glad I got past it though. I was lucky enough to see them play on this tour for the low, low price of $9.60. I took Togers with me. We both really enjoyed the show, and both of us came away with a much deeper appreciation for the band. Even if we didn't go home with the cherry tree.
6. Foster The People - Torches
This is by far the album on this list with the catchiest beats. I purchased the album mostly because of the buzz they were getting and the one song I'd heard (and liked). I usually need more than that, but this time the gamble paid off. The first five tracks are all legitimately good, and there's not much of a drop-off after that. I wish every album I bought turned out that way. (I can't say the same for MGMT.)
5. Deer Tick - Divine Providence
I blogged about seeing these guys a month or so ago. Fun concert. Even if I am too old to be out until two or three in the morning on a weeknight (or on any night for that matter). I just met a girl who was impressed that I was there though, so there's that. I'm glad they opted for this album cover rather than the 'unicorn farting a rainbow' design that they had on shirts at the merch booth. I'm definitely too old for that.
4. Dawes - Nothing Is Wrong
When you talk about albums that come at just the right time to match what's going on in my life, this is one of them. I got it right around the time GWWBMGF started dating someone else, and I can honestly say that the most depressing songs on this album got me through my own depression over that, although I still get teary-eyed every time I hear 'A Little Bit Of Everything' and 'Million Dollar Bill.' Listen to it.
3. Wilco - The Whole Love
Another stellar performance by my favorite band. You might be surprised that this isn't ranked at the top of my list, but I still didn't listen to this album as much as I did those. That's more a testament to those albums than a knock on this one though. I'd love to see Wilco play in Chicago someday. Until then, I'll have to see if they're coming to SLC anytime soon (fingers crossed).
2. Middle Brother - Middle Brother
I feel like the song Middle Brother should be my theme song, even though I'm not as big of a fuck up as the guy that song's about. At least I don't think so. This is a brilliant side project effort by the lead singers from three great "new" bands (Dawes, Deer Tick, and Delta Spirit). This album had several songs that got me through my "break-up" as well. Seriously, go get this album. You won't regret it.
1. Kasabian - Velociraptor!
This album made me feel like a teenager again. Seriously, I listened to it over and over and over. I even got on YouTube and watched videos with the band's commentary on each of the tracks. Not a bad exercise when those are available, but I usually don't take the time to do that. This is another one you should just go listen to. Amazing stuff. My favorite track is 'I Hear Voices' if you were wondering. I wish they'd quit touring in Europe and Australia and come to the U.S. I have a feeling they'd be fantastic to see live. Hopefully I'll find out for sure someday.