Well, the year of 2011 is officially over, and it's that time of year again to make lists. I never understood the release of "Year-End Lists" before the end of the year, so hopefully the late December LPs were given a fair chance to make it on here. So, like every year, Three Colours has compiled its very favorites of the year and have presented them below. In our opinion, here's the best music of 2011.
Top 13 LPs of 2011
13 :: White Denim – D
White Denim's sound continues to evolve, especially this time with the addition of a extra guitarist. With D, the newly restructured four-piece has crafted their most mature album to date. Reminiscent of a throwback to Moody Blues at times, this musically genre-bending foray is lighter on the hard rock than its predecessors. On a technical side, this is White Denim's strongest release to date.
12 :: The Black Keys – El Camino
I'm still amazed how easily it seems for Dan Auerbach and Patrick Kerney to continually write the catchiest of jams. Surprising me with a follow-up to last year's incredible Brothers, El Camino is a bit more upbeat, and a lot more rock.
11 :: Foster the People – Torches
This was probably one of the most accessible albums of the year. Fans of all types of music will find Torches as infectious as MRSA. Strategic commercial play ensured that everyone would be humming these dance-pop songs all into the night.
10 :: Say Hi – Um Uh Oh
Eric Elbogen's Say Hi found its winning formula during the recording of 2009's The Oohs and Aahs, and he expanded upon that with his seventh LP Um Uh Oh. This time, though, it's darker and edgier than ever.
09 :: Radiohead – The King of Limbs
Radiohead continues to craft music outside their comfort genres, and The King of Limbs (the band's 8th studio album!) somehow manages to sound unlike any of the band's previous LPs. Short and sweet (coming in under 40 minutes), Radiohead is nowhere near out of steam.
Following up Hospice was an extremely tall order to fill, but somehow The Antlers managed to pull it off in breathtaking fashion with the release of Burst Apart. It truly is an incredible album, with a bit more electronic influence as compared to its predecessors.
07 :: Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
While Fleet Foxes was an incredible album with strong singles, Helplessness Blues is simply a solid album. Not as catchy, but equally epic as a whole. Fleet Foxes overcame the sophomore slump with this harmonious LP that plays like an ancient storybook.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. won two awards last year: Best Band Name and 2nd Best EP (Horse Power). Continuing their solid track record, DEJJ put together a fantastic debut LP with It's A Corporate World. I'm happy these two dudes are products of Michigan, and I look forward to seeing them locally in the near future.
It took four whole years for Miracle Fortress's Graham Van Pelt to mint his sophomore LP, but fortunately, the wait was well-worth it. Was I The Wave? is definitely in a different vein of music compared to Five Roses, substituting the softer dream-pop beats with heavier dance-driven grooves, but the results still transport the listener to some wonderful, magical place that I can only imagine is the inside of Van Pelts' head.
Constantly finding inspiration with exotic touring schedules, husband and wife duo Dan Boeckner and Alexie Perry have struck gold yet again with Sound Kapital. Lamenting on the unjust/inhumane practices of foreign government regimes which they experienced first-hand overseas, Handsome Furs inform us all through their amazing music and killer beats.
03 :: Bon Iver – Bon Iver
Not much to say about Bon Iver's second LP, other than it's probably the most beautifully crafted album of the year. Delicate yet grander in sound, the self-titled record pulls influences from Justin Vernon's side-projects like Volcano Choir, and also makes use of the full-band arrangement which was not present during the recording of For Emma, Forever Ago.
02 :: Cults – Cults
To me, Cults' self-titled debut was a real shocker. Rarely do albums click into memory after the first listen, but these modern pop jams have a vintage appeal that strikes a chord in my pleasure strings.
01 :: M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
In the past, I've always really enjoyed the music of M83, but I've never been as infatuated with it like I am with Hurry Up, We're Dreaming. And usually, double LPs contain a lot of fluff, and would do well with some trim-work; however, the interludes and outros only enhance the dream-like soundscapes that Anthony Gonzalez architectualized. This record refuses to wear out with multiple spins, and lands itself atop 2011's Best Albums list.
Danger Mouse and Daniel Luppi – Rome
Yuck – Yuck
Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes
Girls – Record 3 (Father, Son, Holy Ghost)
The Strokes – Angles
Feist – Metals
Top 3 EPs of 2011
03 :: The West – Don't Make a Sound
Anthony Darnell and Bob Husak had me at hello, so to speak. Their first single, "Underground", continues to be one of my favorite songs of last year, and their first EP expands upon their minimalist sound with the addition of a full band.
Much like the surprise release of The Last Day of Summer, Takes Place in Your Work Space is a soft collection of songs that didn't belong on the previous albums.
With both Wolf Parade on an indefinite hiatus and Sunset Rubdown on a more permanent break, Spencer Krug's latest vehicle continues to tinker with uncommon sounds. Last Moonface album delved into the magical world of the marimba. This time, with a fuller collection of songs, Krug tried his luck with the organ, though as aptly named, he had originally hoped it to have been the vibraphone (but found it to be little inspiring). Nevertheless, I see this experimentation leading to an amazing Moonface product some time in the future (once he's got it all figured out).
Top 13 Songs of 2011
12 :: "Minnesota, WI" - Bon Iver
11 :: "Sister Needs A Settle" - Say Hi
10 :: "Pumped Up Kicks" - Foster the People
09 :: "Run Right Back" - The Black Keys
08 :: "Abducted" - Cults
07 :: "Video Games" - Lana Del Rey
06 :: "Gone" - Vacationer
05 :: "French Exit" - The Antlers
04 :: "Nothing But Our Love" - Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
03 :: "Lotus Flowers" - Radiohead
02 :: "Miscalculations" - Miracle Fortress
01 :: "Midnight City" - M83
Most Underappreciated of 2010
In recent years, there's always been a few albums that I managed to miss. Whether I was purposely ignored the buzz surrounding these albums, or I just plainly failed to approach the record, they were later "discovered" and enjoyed. Strangely, there weren't any surprises this year that I mistakenly snubbed from last year’s “Best Albums of 2010” list. I will list three albums that I recognized as honorable mentions, but now enjoy probably more than I did after last year's Year-End List. Therefore, I acknowledge that the following were both great LPs and worthy of making the top of ’10.
03 :: LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
02 :: Vampire Weekend – Contra
01 :: Yeasayer – Odd Blood
Most Anticipated Music of 2012
Animal Collective – TBA
Atoms For Peace – TBA
Cat Power – TBA
Lana Del Rey – Born To Die (1/31, via Interscope)
Lord Huron – TBA
Dirty Projectors – TBA
First Aid Kit – The Lion's Roar (1/24 via Wichita)
Grizzly Bear – TBA
Islands – A Sleep & A Forgetting (2/14, via Anti-)
Nada Surf – The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy (1/24 via Barsuk)
Patrick Watson – TBA
Pink Floyd – The Wall "Experience" Reissue (2/28 via EMI)
Plants and Animals – The End of That (2/28 via Secret City)
The Shins – Port Of Morrow (March, via Columbia/Aural Apothecary)
Sleigh Bells – Reign Of Terror (2/14, via Mom + Pop)
Spoon – TBA
The Walkmen – TBA
White Rabbits – TBA
The Whitest Boy Alive – TBA
The xx – TBA
Yeasayer – TBA