Thursday, December 15, 2011

2011: Album(s) of the Year

What happened to your new year's resolution?

Honorable Mention 
The Book of Mormon: Original Broadway Cast Recording
what the hell, it's fun to sing along. i know i know, how mature Chris, this is so vulgar, but i'm a big fan of mixing tradition with "WTF"ness. the songs here are standard Broadway musical music, but none of the characters know the songs they are singing is ridiculous. it's not quite a parody. so the showmanship is so fascinating to me. plus, the story is pretty funny.
Favorite Songs: Hello, Hasa Diga Eebowai, Joseph Smith American Moses

25. Diego Garcia - Laura
Do you feel that Spanish flavor? i guess it's great that i never heard of his band because i would have had some sort of expectation. this album is just meant for lonely people and i just found it to be really pretty at times. nothing more, nothing less. the length of it is pretty short, so i never get to bored.
Favorite Songs: Inside My Heart, You Were Never There, Roses and Wine

24. Fucked Up - David Comes To Life
Why does this album have to be so long?
Favorite Songs: Queen of Hearts, Turn The Season, Serve Me Right

23. Laura Stevenson & the Cans
what the heck, why is she so adorable? she puts a smile on my face, that should be enough of a reason.
Favorite Songs: Master of Art, The Healthy One, I See Dark

22. Tycho - Dive
I don't know why i gave this album a listen. the reviews weren't that great and instrumental music is past my phase, but still, i was sort of sucked into this world. i'm a fan of melodies more than anything and this album is strickly free floating melodies. and it's fun to get lost in this world. Most instrumental music gets grouped with incidental music, but i tried to study with this album and it's hard. i tend to imagine i'm somewhere else.
Favorite Songs: House, Dive

21. Tune-Yards - W H O K I L L
Weird as fuck.
Favorite Songs: My Country, Powa, Bizness


20. Okkervil River - I Am Very Far
One of my favorite bands. This record seems overlooked and i admit, i was letdown too. with Black Sheep Boy and The Stage Names, those were loose concept album, but this album is just the band trying to piss everybody off with how forward they can go. I love how they can rock and be lovely on the next track, but this album sort of sits in the middle for me. nothing would be on my "favorite" list nor anything would make my "least favorite." But because i'm bias, i like every song here. but i admit, it's not close to the greatness of the Black Sheep Boy.
Favorite Songs: Piratess, Mermaid, Your Past Life As A Blast

19. Miranda Lambert - Four The Record
what a surprise. I like Taylor Swift because she's young and relatable, but Miranda Lambert just looks and feels like your commerilized country singers. Since i was a fan of blake shelton on The voice, i gave this album a listen soley because she was his wife. and yeah, there's a lot to love here. nothing that would shift music taste, but song after song, it's very expected, but i liked it. it hits all those sweet country spots.
Favorite Songs: Fine Tune, Dear Diamond, Over You

18. Dawes - Nothing is Wrong
My Morning Jacket-lite
Favorite Songs: Time Spent in Los Angeles, My Way Back Home, A Little Bit of Everything

17. Beyonce - 4
"Best Thing I Never Had" was very easy on my ears, but everything else was typical beyonce..but since i had nothing to listen to, i ended up just letting the whole album play and over time, her melodies started to creep up on and and you know what, Beyonce is actually an amazing vocalist.
Favorite Songs: 1+1, Best Thing I Never Had, Countdown

16. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy
O how i thought she was a weirdo back in 2007. i warmed up to her in 2009, but on her 2011 album, i finally got her. maybe because i'm familiar or maybe she tone down, but the way she sings is so interesting. by the 3rd track, i just trusted her that the rest of the album would be great and she didn't let me down.
Favorite Songs: Cruel, Strange Mercy, Neutered Fruit


15. Moving Mountains - Waves
It makes me happy that these guys are able to continue as a band. This is their first album on a label and it does feel less abstract, but it fits well with my current taste because my attention span isn't as exploratory as it once was. there are some weak spots on the album, but as a whole, it makes waves.
Favorite Songs: My Life Is Like a Chase Dream (And I'm Still Having Chase Dreams), Tired Tiger, The Cascade

14. Jay-Z & Kanye West - Watch The Throne
Prince William aint do it right if you ask me.
Favorite Songs: No Church in The Wild, Niggas in Paris, New Day

13. Lady Gaga - Born This Way
My original new year's resolution was to not listen to any 2011 albums until November just to see if my mind would explode during listmas, but the hype for Born this Way was so high. Did it live up to expectations? in some ways yes, but there's a few misses. "bad kids" ruin the entire album for me. but it's still a fine pop album.
Favorite Songs: Marry The Night, Heavy Metal Lover, The Edge of Glory

12. Meg & Dia - Cocoon
It's funny how i didn't like this at first because the pop felt tone down, but when i found out that Dia would be on The Voice, i kept coming back to this album trying to figure out what the band was trying to accomplish. It wasn't that they lacked that pop edge, it just what happens when a band is left alone. a big reason i kept coming back to it is because i recognized that the album is far from perfect. sometimes i wish the songs would punch more. It's that imperfection that makes me want to come back.
Favorite Songs: Love Is, Breakdown, Separate

11. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
This album grow on me.  i didn't hate it the first time, it just that, when it comes with bands with that folky sound, it's hard to impress me on the second album.  i really liked their melodies and harmonies on the first album so with Helplessness Blues, i guess it's not as perfect.   but because of that, i find myself finding more things i've actually liked the more i gave it a listen.  it's Fleet Foxes doing what they do best.
Favorite Songs: Montezuma, Helplessness Blues, The Shrine


10. M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
I gave up on this band after their 2003 album so when i heard this album was going to be 2 disc, i honestly didn't care. But then i heard "Midnight City" which i thought was zappy and then i heard "Intro" which made me want to run. Does this album have to be 1 hour and 13 minutes long? probably not, but damn, this guy really pushed himself to the limits here.
Favorite Songs: Intro, Midnight City, Raconte-Moi Une Histoire

9. Bill Callahan - Apocalypse
So this guy is pretty boring. He sings the same way the whole time. I don't really connect to his lyrics either, but sometimes i enjoy music to not be so engaging, but just something that makes me feel less alone. of course, i'm glad he isn't singing about himself or failed relationship, but i feel that he can sing whatever he wants and i'll enjoy the mood and melodies because i'll just let it enter my mind. Even thought the vocals are what draws me in, the music just creeps up and gives it that extra pulse.
Favorite Songs: Baby's Breath, Riding For The Feeling, One Fine Morning

8. Destroyer - Kaputt
More SAXophone. I tried his solo stuff outside of The New Pornographers and none of them really felt solid enough, but on this album, he changed his entire sound to be more smooth and jazzy. Am i a fan of Jazz? not quite, but i feel so deep and lost in his music. sometimes the melodies are buried and sometimes the melodies are in the forefront. I guess the titled-track is the centerpiece, but it's really hard for me to pick an absolute favorite because i really feel like the tracks work together.
Favorite Songs: Chinatown, Suicide Demo For Kara Walker, Kaputt

7. Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes
I guess she's like my Joanna Newsom this year since her voice does take time to warm up on. She sounds like a adorable kid, but she doesn't sing about teenage bullshit. she's good at singing about love and pain. i can't really think of anyone else who sounds like her musically.
Favorite Songs: Unrequited Love, Get Some, Sadness is a Blessing

6. Givers - In Light
If i'm being honest, this album has to be this high because it's not really an album that pushes forward, but it contains all the elements from indie pop that i love. boy/girl dual singing, epic songs, and tons of Dirty Projector influence. except i have no idea if that's there's intention. all i know is that this band is having a blast with this album and i realized that I've been lazy this year with discovering new music, but this album knows how to entertain me. side note, "up Up up" is a horrible song.
Favorite Songs: Meantime, Noche Nada, Ceiling of Plankton


5. La Dispute - Wildlife
when i was distancing myself from radio friendly alternative rock, i got more comfortable with bands that use screams and one of those bands was La Dispute. but I'm 25 now, i feel like i mature and i'm not angry at anybody, but this album was ridiculous. It really blows my mind how the spoken style of singing feels like my own conscious. it doesn't matter what he said, i feel my own energy leaking through the song. the music complements the vocals so hard.
Favorite Songs: Safer in the Forest/Love Song for Poor Michigan, The Most Beautiful Bitter Fruit, King Park

4. Adele - 21
She's unstoppable. I didn't give her a listen until March solely because she didn't seem that "new" back in 2008, but i gave it a casual listen and the first few listens, she's fits the commercialize British singers. but the more i listen, the more i realized that she's not just a typical singer who knows how to sing loud. As much as i love creative people, I have a weak spot for singers who believe in every word they song. Adele sings the hell out of this album and i can't say she made a personal connection with me, but as an record, it's the defining albums of 2011.
Favorite Songs: Turning Tables, Set Fire To The Rain, Someone Like You

3. Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Their from San Fransisco, but that's not important. I love their song, "Lust For Life" but nothing really else. For some reason, i wanted this album to fail because i hate being wrong on music, but fuck, this album blew me away because they have a very smokey sound quality to them and the vocals is not very traditional. but still, they combine a lot of 60s/70s sound and sometimes they get cheesy like on "Saying I Love You" that makes me ask, "are they serious?" but i learned early on to trust them and it warms my heart.
Favorite Songs: Alex, Vomit, Jamie Marie

2. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
Never gave a shit about her mostly because she has so much releases in the past, it's hard to get started. but because i'm very "current," once the reviews came in, i had to see what the hype was about. And it's hard to describe her because i knew she was in her 40s, but she sounds very young. or maybe it's because her voice is very high pitch. but what i love is how uniform the songs seem to be. is this a concept album? no sure, but with England as its backdrop really made me feel like she's telling a story or has a message. thankfully the music is great and the hooks are memorable.
Favorite Songs: The Glorious Land, The Words That Maketh Murder, On Battleship Hill

1. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
Thank you Kanye. i wish i could say that i was a fan from his debut, but really, only 2-3 songs really grabbed me. Then after his guest spot on Kanye's album, i had more faith in him and his band. I wasn't sure if he could really push his sound forward because the beauty of the first album was how remote it sounded. and still, it's not a copy. what i love best about it is how it actually feels like a complete album. Sure, "Holocene" and "Calgary" are the highlights, but the songs in-between really help create the universe of Bon Iver.
Favorite Songs: Holocene, Calgary, Beth/Rest

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