Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Best of 2011 - Music

After skipping this particular top 10 last year, I promised I'd bring it back this one.  I probably didn't listen to as much "indie" music as usual, so if the popular music/artist feel of this bugs you, so be it.

10.  Seether - Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray
After their last solid album got a lot of play, this one seemed to slip in under the radar.  I admit to buying it and mostly ignoring it until I was listening to albums again for this list.  It's "typical" Seether but that's still good, hard rock at a time when there aren't many bands that stand out in the genre.
Top Tracks:  "Fur Cue," "Country Song"

9.   Lady Gaga - Born This Way
Admittedly a little "disappointing" following her brilliant debut The Fame (and even better extension The Fame Monster), Gaga is still a force in pop to be reckoned with.  She has a voice that could become once in a generation with time.  I plan to keep buying her albums, I know that.
Top Tracks:  "Marry the Night," "Judas," "Hair," "You and I"

8.   Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More
Technically a 2009 album but did anybody really know about these guys before this year and their appearance on the Grammys?  I'm not sure if you can call them folk-rock, but there's definite charm to this collection of sometimes quiet/sometimes desperate tunes.
Top Tracks:  "The Cave," "Little Lion Man"

7.   The Airborne Toxic Event - All At Once
For their second album, ATE improved on their anthem-esque sound, occasionally diving into Green Day circa American Idiot territory.  It's hard not to get songs stuck in your head after a couple listens.
Top Tracks:  "Changing," "Welcome to Your Wedding Day," "All I Ever Wanted"

6.   The Decemberists - The King is Dead
Like Seether, another album I didn't give enough love to the first time I heard it.  I've been in love with this band for a couple years but didn't fall in love with this album until I listened to it loud and without distraction. Another brilliant collection of folksy story-songs that truly do belong together in one album experience.
Top Tracks:  "Don't Carry It All," "Rox in the Box," "This is Why We Fight"

5.  Manchester Orchestra - Simple Math
I was sold on this one the first time I watched the amazing video for the title track.  The rest of the album is pretty slick, too.

Top Tracks:  "Deer," "Pensacola," "Virgin," "Simple Math"

4.  Adele - 21
Cliche?  Not really because even if you think she's overplayed, you can't deny that she's good.  Stunningly good...a soulful voice that modern pop divas can only dream of truly accomplishing.  One wonders if an album not filled by Adele's heartbreak will be as good, but she certainly knows how to tap into the wounded ache we've all felt at some point in our lives.
Top Tracks:  "Rolling in the Deep," "Rumour Has It," "Turning Tables," "Someone Like You"

3.   The Black Keys - El Camino
Seems like we were just listening to and marveling at Brothers...because we were...and the duo tosses out another album filled with bluesy, stripped down rock.  It's one you'll find yourself spinning several times before you even think about switching out for something new.
Top Tracks:  "Lonely Boy," "Gold on the Ceiling," "Little Black Submarines"

2.   Foo Fighters - Wasting Light
Foo Fighters have always made good albums, but I think fans have waited a while for something on par with their early work and this might actually be their most solid, mature album from start to finish.  Only a couple tracks are skippable, but most are "turn-it-up-and-rock-out" worthy.
Top Tracks:  "Bridge Burning," "Rope," "Arlandria," "These Days," "Walk"

1.   Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
If you know anything about me and my unabashed love for Oasis and Noel in particular, this shouldn't be a surprise.  Ever since Noel sang "Don't Look Back in Anger" on Oasis' breakthrough second album and I learned he was the real musical force behind the band, I've been waiting for this record.  He did not's enough like Oasis to be comfortable while striking out in a new direction.  Filled with smart songwriting, clever arrangements and catchy hooks and choruses.  Don't make me wait 15 years for your solo brilliance again, Noel.
Top Tracks:  "Everybody's On the Run," "Dream On," "If I Had a Gun..." "The Death of You and Me"