It’s well-documented that I’m a huge, hopeless music geek, and I love lists. So even though I spent three pages in The Bulletin’s GO! Magazine pontificating about my favorite records of 2011, I still can’t resist the urge to (A) rank them, and (B) get them all in one place online. So here we are.
Below, find my best effort at a list of my 50 favorite records of the past year, with a few words about several of them. For some, you’ll see no words where it looks like there should be words, and maybe I’ll fill those in sometime, but for now, I’m all typed out.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading. And truly: I could talk about this kind of stuff all day, and would love to hear from you in the comments!
50. Holcombe Waller, “Into the Dark Unknown” (Napoleon)
49. White Fence, “Is Growing Faith” (Woodsist)
48. Wilco, “The Whole Love” (dBpm)
47. Telekinesis, “12 Desperate Straight Lines” (Merge)
46. Chris Thile & Michael Daves, “Sleep With One Eye Open” (Nonesuch)
45. The Very Best, “Super Mom” (self-released)
44. Mogwai, “Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will” (Subpop)
43. Jonny, “Jonny” (Merge)
42. Gui Boratto, “III” (Kompakt)
41. Ryan Adams, “Ashes & Fire” (Pax Am)
40. Grails, “Deep Politics” (Temporary Residence)
39. Beyonce, “4” (Columbia)
38. The Felice Brothers, “Celebration, Florida” (Fat Possum)
37. Das Racist, “Relax” (Greedhead)
36. Jovontaes, “Things Are Different Here” (Hello Sunshine)
35. Big K.R.I.T., “Return of 4Eva” (self-released)
34. Veronica Falls, “Veronica Falls” (Slumberland)
33. Real Estate, “Days” (Domino)
32. Wooden Shjips, “West” (Thrill Jockey)
31. Givers, “In Light” (Glassnote)
30. Clams Casino, “Instrumentals” (self-released)
As underground hip-hop’s current “it” producer, Mike Volpe is the man behind the syrupy sound of Lil B, A$AP Rocky and other rappers du jour. But on this free mixtape (and his “Rainforest” EP), those guys are nowhere to be found, giving Volpe’s ambling beats and blurry samples space to unfold in slow motion and mushroom into the staticky sky.
29. Com Truise, “Galactic Melt” (Ghostly International)
28. Tim Hecker, “Ravedeath 1972″ (Kranky)
Canadian ambient adventurer Tim Hecker’s 2011 album is a sonic monument to the quickening battle between warm, organic lifeblood — music — and the cold, digital sheen that envelops it more completely every day. At first listen, “Ravedeath” is a rippling wash of synthesized noise, sometimes sublime, sometimes harsh. But beneath the studio effects lives an Icelandic church organ that swells and sighs proudly and beautifully, as if trapped under ice and fighting to breathe.
27. Apex Manor, “The Year of Magical Drinking” (Merge)
26. Serengeti, “Family & Friends” (anticon.)
Buzzy and a bit bent, Serengeti’s introspective, observational rap style and warm, poppy beats fly in the face of hip-hop conventions: They feel like a welcoming hug and a long, deep conversation.