The Best Albums of 2011

BestAlbums2011The Black Keys – El Camino 

Hands down the album of the year, El Camino is the most creative and the most foot-stomping record we’ve seen in a while.

The Ohio natives have picked up right where their 2010 release, Brothers left off – plus a bit more of their sexy flavour.

‘Gold on the Ceiling’ will stick with you all the way into 2013.

 

Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo

Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon has cited Vile as her guilty pleasure (“Guilty because I listen to it too much,” she told Women’s Wear Daily in April). Vile even opened for Gordon’s soon-to-be ex-husband, Thurston Moore’s 2011 Demolished Thoughts tour earlier this year in Somerville and D.C.

And for good reason: as a singer/songwriter, Vile is reminiscent of early Tom Petty but adds a double shot of grit and soul that makes your hear break with every listen.

From the intimate ballad, ‘Baby’s Arms’, to the upbeat ‘Jesus Fever’, Vile is nothing short of refreshing.

Arctic Monkeys – Suck It and See

Suck It and See is the fourth album by the British quartet – the third with producer James Ford – and they’re still kicking ass

‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’ is an obvious single – 3,000 vinyl copies of the song were released on Record Store Day (April 16), though each of the album’s track can stand on there own.

 

Dum Dum Girls – Only in Dreams

Written in the wake of lead singer Dee-Dee’s (real name: Kristen Gundred) mother’s death earlier this year, this album is nothing but heartache and longing for someone that is gone. Her pain is conveyed with such genuine torture that the album can be loved for it’s sincerity alone.

On ‘Coming Down’, we hear her deal with the aftermath, the dust settling, the realization that someone is really truly gone. Her haunting voice wraps you in a thick blanket of true empathy.

 

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Unknown Mortal Orchestra (self-titled)

When the opening guitar riff of ‘Ffunny Ffriends’ starts up, all you’ll be thinking is. . . .

“Who the hell is this? I’m hooked!”

Well, it’s Portland, Oregon’s Unknown Mortal Orchestra, of course.

They’re catchy, they’re creative, and they’re fresh – reminding us of everything we love about indie rock in the first place.

 

Black Lips – Arabia Mountain

The sixth instalment by the Lips – produced by the talented Mark Ronson – reeks of originality.

Generally known as a flower punk band, as a hybrid-punk-style drumming-and-guitar-thrashing drenched in a heavy glow of psychedelia, the Black Lips have received nothing but rave reviews by basically every music media outlet that counts; their music video for ‘Raw Meat’ even made it into Pitchfork’s top ten videos of 2011.

Satisfy your curiosity and take a listen to Arabia Mountain – that is, if you aren’t lapping it up already.

 

Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost

After leaving the prolific Children of God cult and running head-strong into the flamboyant San Francisco scene, you would expect Christopher Owen’s music to be far more out there, but it fits right in with the warm washing of Spiritualized’s later gospel albums.

Calming and transcendent, Father, Son, Holy Ghost spreads over you like a cozy haze, allowing your body to melt and your soul be moved.

 

The Vaccines – What Did You Expect from the Vaccines?

In June 2011, NME slapped The Vaccines on their cover, hailing them with “The Return of the Great British Guitar Band”

We can then assume that the band’s album title, What Did You Expect from the Vaccines?, is a poke at themselves, just in case they didn’t live up to the hype for their debut record.

They are a perfect mash-up of the Ramones, the Strokes, and – dare I say – the Beatles. Each and every song is set to high energy drumming, catchy guitar riffs and a sprinkle of surf.

tUnE-yArDs – w h o k i l l

Thirty-two-year-old Merrill Garbus is the most original thing to happen to music in a very long time. The single ‘Gansta’ off his solo effort, tUnE-yArDs is like nothing you have ever heard – this is Afro-beat, hip hop, doo wop, and pure soul with a gritty bottom belly voice to keep up.

We’re looking forward to anything else this women does in music.

The Horrors – Skying 

These UK-based boys have been tagged as “record collector’s rock”.

And now, I am changing that to “hipster record collector’s rock”.

Influenced by many tried-and-true brit rockers, like the Jesus and Mary Chain, the Cramps, My Bloody Valentine, Spacemen 3 , The Stone Roses, Lush, Chapterhouse, and Ride.

But here’s the punch: all those bands kick some serious ass, so any band lapping that up and spewing it out while giving mad props to where it came from is top ten material to me.

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