2011 was an odd sort of year in music. My own impression – and an impression shared by a few folks I’ve talked to – was that it was a disappointing year. But then I take a look around the music blogosphere and see critics hailing 2011 as a banner year, complete with enough great releases to fill a lengthy list of the year’s best. Thanks in large part to Spotify and a careful following of Amazon’s mp3 daily deals, I probably listened to more music this year than any other and to some extent, I can completely understand both of these perspectives.
You see, in trying to listen to as many things as possible, I certainly didn’t have the opportunity to keep many albums in heavy rotation for long. That said, there weren’t really any really top-ten-of-the-millenium great albums that came out this year that might have forced my hand otherwise… (almost) nothing that I felt compelled to listen to over and over and over again. At the top, this wasn’t the strongest class of albums. But to a critic who might only have time to give an album 5 or 10 listens? Sure, there was a lot of neat sounding stuff and albums with a few great tracks, but not much depth.
To me, 2011 was also notable for what it was missing. You see, many of my favorite artists put out new albums in 2010… LCD Soundsystem, Belle & Sebastian, Gogol Bordello… As a result, most of my top 30 list is comprised of artists who have been around for awhile but, for one reason or another, hadn’t captured my attention previously.
Anyway, a major point of this blog is sharing music, so let’s kick off the new digs with my top 30 albums of 2011. Today, we have #21-30 and over the next two days, we’ll check out #11-20 and the top ten, respectively. Note that I’ve included links to tracks and albums on Spotify. In case you aren’t familiar, Spotify (and its competitor, Rdio) are a little like Netflix for music: instantly stream almost anything you’d like… only it’s for free! So do take this opportunity to go check out some recommended new stuff. After all, the point of these year-end lists isn’t to argue about what is/is not the best, but mostly to turn other folks on to stuff they haven’t heard before.
As far as the list goes… I’m ENTIRELY uncertain about most of these picks. 21-30 was really hard to pick out because the albums start to get more and more similar in terms of quality. So apologies to M83, Beats Antique, Paul Simon, Feist, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra, all of whom just missed the cut. Albums that either came out late in the year or that I only came across recently on other folks’ year-end lists were also tough to evaluate. Some of the early favorites from that bunch will show up in the top 30 (mostly in the 11-20 range), but a few of the others would inevitably have ended up higher on the list six months from now. Several of the top ten grew on me pretty slowly and many early favorites (hello, Head and the Heart!) fell pretty far down the list as time went by.
Anyway, enough talk… more list! Come back tomorrow for the next ten on the countdown!
|30. The Naked and Famous – Passive Me, Aggressive You|
|Punching in a Dream | Young Blood|
|29. Oddisee – Rock Creek Park|
|Scenic Route to You | Uptown Cabaret|
|28. Dengue Fever – Cannibal Courtship|
|Cement Slippers | Family Business|
|27. Florence + the Machine – Ceremonials|
|Shake It Out | Lover to Lover|
|26. tUnE-yArDs – W H O K I L L|
|Bizness | You Yes You|
|25. Explosions in the Sky – Take Care, Take Care, Take Care|
|Last Known Surroundings | Postcard from 1952|
|24. Bill Callahan – Apocalypse|
|America! | Riding for the Feeling|
|23. The Head and the Heart – The Head and the Heart|
|Ghosts | Rivers and Roads|
|22. DJ Shadow – The Less You Know, The Better|
|Warning Call | I Gotta Rokk|
|21. Peter, Bjorn and John – Gimme Some|
|Second Chance | Lies|