This list has been a long time in the making. I’ve probably been thinking about it since the moment I finished my top 5 albums of 2010 list. 2011 has been an absolutely spectacular year, bringing new releases from an unprecedented amount of my favorite acts, and plenty of great albums that turned me on to new things. There were so many stellar releases this year that I ended up expanding this from a top 5 to a top 10, and I can confidently say I love all of these albums quite a bit. So without further adieu, here’s my top 10 albums of 2011, in countdown format:
10 - James Blake - James Blake
James Blake’s self-titled debut album was a sparse and spacious, and his soulful singing combined with his beautifully melancholy ever-growing synth and piano arrangements made for a poignant and mellow experience.
9 - Our Evil Inside Joke - Nelsonvillains
A local band from New Paltz, NY, Nelsonvillains had captivated me and my friend Mike with a 7 song demo that we had picked up for free the first time we saw them. Earlier this year, their Sounds Of Summer Single had a lot of the local underground talking, and when the album dropped, it didn’t disappoint. Nelsonvillains has a cathartic mix of vivid stream of consciousness lyrics and impassioned playing and singing.
8 - Aesthethica - Liturgy
Aesthethica was a dynamic and mathy black metal effort (two words you wouldn’t normally hear in the context of that genre) from Liturgy, who have extraordinary technical ability and communication, pulling off some lengthy indecipherable rhythmic patterns.
7 - Glass Swords - Rustie
Rustie’s debut album is jam packed with heavy hitting rhythms, retro synths, and 16-bit video game sounds. It takes you on a fantasy adventure that sounds pretty much how the art, title, and track names suggest it would.
6 - Giles Corey - Giles Corey
Dan Barret’s Giles Corey project combines down-tempo depressing indie-folk and ambient and field recording elements into one of the most atmospheric experiences of the year. Coupled with the 150 page book that the CD comes with, it’s a truly immersive album.
5 - Gloss Drop - Battles
Battles’ second album flourished even in the absence of their freshly departed front man, delivering stiff pulsing grooves by their hyper-creative drummer John Stanier, and featuring some notable vocal guests.
4 - Black Up - Shabazz Palaces
Shabazz Palaces’ Black Up was a trippy progressive hip-hop album with thoughtful lyrics and woozy beats. This, along with the next album on the list represents an interesting direction for underground hip-hop.
3 - Exmilitary - Death Grips
Exmilitary is one of the absolute most exciting albums of this year, truly sounding like nothing else. MC Ride’s vicious vocal delivery, and the barrage of glitchy thick beats on this album will not soon be forgotten.
2 - R O M A N C E - Tubelord
Tubelord’s sophomore album is the logical progression their music was destined to make, with catchy spastic math pop riffs, memorable hooks, and progressive structures, and their new electronic elements. It also features some conceptual lyricism in the form of extensive reference to female poets.
1 - The Golden Age of Apocalypse - Thundercat
FlyLo associate Thundercat’s debut album is a luscious, dreamy, and funky trip through abstract hip-hop and jazz-fusion. Stephen Bruners bass playing is absolutely virtuosic and his composition is to die for.
Happy new year everyone.