Two thousand and eleven has been an odd year for me, and I think for music as well. Between acclimating to a completely different environment and being fully immersed in the music world, I foresaw a serious evolution and transformation of my music tastes prior to compiling my “Best of” lists. After the completion of said lists, it seems that not much has actually changed – not only in the last year, but the last five, when observing which names were included.
To be honest, it was quite difficult to decide on 10 full albums I really enjoyed listening to from start to finish. This could be the fault of BBC6 radio, and it’s persistent nature of turning an “OK” song into a real banger after playing it enough. It could also be the fault of so many let downs and gimmicks. Never in a single year have I looked forward to so many albums that panned out to be so disappointingly average. In a market so over saturated by bands trying to “out-cool” one another and being more conscious of what they wear than how well they play, it’s no wonder that some of names keep recurring year after year or that the best single tracks list was so much more enjoyable to assemble.
But this is it, I’ve done it. I’ve decided what 10 albums and 20 tracks have been the most enjoyable, the least pretentious and will hopefully be a memorable depiction of 2011 – five, ten and fifty years from now.
As for ranking, I must digress to the one brutal truth of end of year lists that my good friend Wes pointed out recently. Ranking is, in fact, arbitrary and simply a tool for building suspense in pinning down one’s judgement on any particular topic. So to avoid that (as you may not know who I am nor care about/for my taste in music), I’ve decided to post my lists chronologically. My hope is for you to have a listen to anything you’re not familiar with and ideally find something to enjoy. That’s why you’re here, right?
What a great, interesting year for music consumption. Spotify gave me the ability to discover tons of new music and keep up with the current scene, while iTunes Match allowed me to rediscover music that was collecting dust on my disconnected external hard drive.
My favorite albums of 2011 are filled with the usual suspects that I’ve come to love over the years (Wilco, The Decemberists), but this year, more than ever, are a bunch of bands that are completely new to me. Here’s a list, complete with MP3s, streams, videos, and whatever relevant links I could put together.
Bonus: Spotify playlist featuring all of the albums plus a few others that didn’t make the top 10 cut.
I guess this goes without saying, but if you like Kurt Vile you’ll probably like Philadelphia’s The War on Drugs, and I think this new album is the band’s best yet. And this video fits the album’s sepia-toned, dog-days-of-summer vibe perfectly. Dig it.