I wanna be on the record with my favorite albums of 2011!
And if it doesn’t, well, then these are my favorite albums of 2011 so far.
1. Fleet Foxes, “Helplessness Blues”
A stunning sophomore effort by the Seattle-based masters of rustic harmonies that is, at once, among both the prettiest and most ambitious albums of the year. Add Robin Pecknold’s informal three-song solo EP (see below), and you’ve got a fast-growing case for him as arguably the best young songwriter going.
2. Adele, “21”
A powerhouse pop record by a woman blessed with incredible talent and excellent taste. It’s not often that the best music is also the most popular music, but that’s the case here.
3. Yuck, “Yuck”
Young, frail, floppy-haired and English, this quartet has all the charisma of a wet mop in a dark closet. But put instruments in their hands and distortion pedals at their feet, and they’re a fuzzy pop-rock Frankenstein of a band made up of the best bits of Pavement, Dinosaur Jr., Teenage Fanclub, Sonic Youth, Built to Spill and the Pixies.
4. The Decemberists, “The King Is Dead”
After the bloated, underwhelming excess of “The Hazards of Love,” Portland’s brainiest band went back to their roots, strumming out 10 solid tracks of modest, jangling Americana. It’s not as challenging as Colin Meloy’s most literate rock opuses, perhaps, but sometimes being endlessly listenable is enough.
5. The Psychic Paramount, “II”
Noisy, frenzied psych-rock freakouts that’ll leave you frazzled, paranoid and anxious. An acquaintance said “II” is “kinda like getting kicked around by a hit squad with the helicopter hovering ten feet above.” Yes, please!
6. Telekinesis, “12 Desperate Straight Lines”
Dude tosses out power-pop gems like it’s his job. Which it is. And he’s better at his job than just about anyone.
7. Moon Duo, “Mazes”
More repeato-drone from these space travelers, this time with a touch more psych-damaged sunshine melody mixed in.
8. Foo Fighters, “Wasting Light”
One of the best BIG rock bands returns with more arena-ready hooks for the masses. Sweaty, muscular, fist-pumpin’ shout-alongs, etc.
9. Frank Ocean, “nostalgia, Ultra.”
Say, have you heard of Odd Future? Tyler, the Creator? Yeah? This dude knows those dudes, and his mixtape’s better than anything they’ve done this year.
10. (tie) White Fence, “Is Growing Faith” … Explosions in the Sky, “Take Care, Take Care, Take Care” … Jonny, “Jonny” … Grails, “Deep Politics” … Hauschka, “Salon des Amateurs” … Mogwai, “Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will” … Big K.R.I.T., “Return of 4Eva” mixtape … Thee Oh Sees, “Castlemania” … Tim Hecker, “Ravedeath, 1972″ … Matthew Robert Cooper, “Some Days Are Better Than Others” soundtrack … The Dodos, “No Color” … AgesandAges, “Alright You Restless” … Robin Pecknold, “Three Songs” … Xray Eyeballs, “Not Nothing” … Apex Manor, “The Year of Magical Drinking” … Darlings, “Warma” … Beastie Boys, “Hot Sauce Committee Part Two” … The Very Best, “Super Mom” mixtape …
OK, I cheated. But at least I got everything in “print” so that when whoever, whenever opens up Earth’s vast online time capsule and makes a beeline for this blog to see what I was into in early 2011, they won’t be disappointed. And they’ll learn that the Beastie Boys actually made a good record. Talk about a sign of the apocalypse!