My Top 10 Albums of 2011

I’ve done my “top 10 albums of the year” every year since 1999 (Ever since we made it an official tradition at TVT Records).  It’s a great way to keep track of and remember the music that made a difference to me throughout my life.

Of course, a few problems arise whenever one is making lists, and I’d like to list some of those here:

  • Inevitably, as others release their lists, I will find myself panicked around December 15th when there are an additional 40-50 albums that I’ve never heard of that others say were their favorites that I have to listen to before finalizing my list.
  • No matter what I do, I will realize 5 minutes after I hit “send” that I forgot an album I loved in favor of one I really liked but haven’t gone back and listened to that much.
  • In February I will hear an album I completely missed out on but would have been on my list.

I keep all my lists here on the site (yes, RSS readers, you will have to actually click through), and I’ve helpfully created Spotify playlists for all the albums that are available for each year (because I love you!).

So without further ado, here’s the final Top 10 of 2011 list. (you can see the unedited version in the sidebar)

You can also Listen on Spotify.

In no particular order:

A.A. Bondy – Believers (Fat Possum) – Late contender, but totally glad I didn’t miss this one.  Moody indie/garagey rock and balladry from the former Verbena singer.
Marcin Wasilewski Trio – Faithful (ECM) – Delightful melancholic european jazz.
Frivolous – Meteorology (Cadenza) – Clever and playful tropical jazzy IDM-y house music
Dustin O’Halloran – Lumiere (FatCat) – Mournful, lovely, cinematic piano + string ensemble (featuring the ACME Ensemble, who guested on the latest Grizzly Bear and Owen Pallett records) from the composer of Marie Antoinette
Peter Bradley Adams – Between Us (Mishara) – My favorite guy-with-guitar album of the year.
Ezekiel Honig – Folding In On Itself (Type) – Organic, found sounds, intimate, rhythmic, pulsing, wood-y (not wooden). My favorite from the uniformly excellent Type label (sorry, Nils Frahm)
Noah and the Whale – Last Night on Earth (Mercury) – My favorite ecstatic pop/indie/rock album of the year (think random strings and brass). Wears its Tom Petty influence on its sleeve.
Tim Hecker – Ravedeath, 1972 (Kranky) – Just epic. The “biggest” record here.
Ellie Goulding – Lights (Polydor) – My favorite pure dance-pop album of the year.  Great synths (sorry chillwave).
Kate Bush – 50 Words For Snow (ANTI-) – The sexiest she’s ever been. The sexiest Stephen Fry has ever been. There’s a song about seducing and bedding a snowman.  Yeah.
Runners-up:
Mountains – Air Museum (Thrill Jockey) – The best electronic droney post-rock album of the year.
Ari Hest – Sunset over Hope Street – His best since “Someone to Tell”, but i didn’t end up going back to it much
Dela – Translation Lost (Drink Water Music) – My favorite hip-hop album of the year
Sarah Jarosz – Follow Me Down (Sugar Hill) – Who thought that a bluegrass album could make the list? Not I, but the songwriting is super strong.
Does It Offend You, Yeah – Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You (Cooking Vinyl) – Great stoopid party album. (Sorry, Justice)
Starfucker – Reptilians (Polyvinyl) – Another 80s-synth influenced pop album. Very fun but didn’t have the replay value to keep it on the list)
Arnaud Rebotini – Someone Gave Me Religion (Blackstrobe Records) – 1/2 of Black Strobe delivers one of the most interesting IDM-y house records of the year. Worth it for the 13 minute shiny

Disappointments:
M83 – Like a “Kim and Jessie” covers record that just won’t end.