My Top 10 Albums of 2011
Coldplay - Mylo Xyloto
Is there really a band that came after 2000 as popular as Coldplay? Maybe it’s their cool appeal, their non-obnoxious singles, or the fact that his year’s album Mylo Xyloto is ALMOST like Milo Spenser. Almost.
I knew plenty of the tracks from Mylo from watching the various live streams of concerts this year, but it was still fantastic to hear them the way they were meant to be heard. “Charlie Brown" and "Hurts Like Heaven”? Classics. Also, that piano during “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart”? Mmmm.
Bon Iver - Bon Iver
Once upon a time in the depths of the year 2008, I wrote a list just like this with Bon Iver and Coldplay hanging out together in it. Bon Iver has conquered everything that was put in front of it. Amazing albums, guest vocals with hip-hop artists, Grammy nominations, and even Rosie O’Donnell recognition. There’s not much more to say about this album that hasn’t already been said.
Transit - Listen & Forgive
I missed out on loving Transit last year with their release of Keep This to Yourself, an album that threw me back into the days of Northstar and Gratitude. Listen & Forgive abandons that strict 2004 nostalgic sound and advances Transit into 1999 where bands like American Football and The Get Up Kids are the law of the land. Don’t get me wrong, Transit kicks ass doing this. I love this album and the way it builds upon things that weren’t paid that much attention to back in their time. Listen & Forgive has that and more with songs like the title track and "You Can’t Miss It (It’s Everywhere)."
Los Campesinos! - Hello Sadness
Why isn’t Los Campesinos! bigger? Their indie-pop sound is what is missing on the dance floors of that terrible club people always go to! A song like “By Your Hand" should be remixed by some guy in Foster, The People and then people will dance to it, right? That’s how it works, right?
Hello Sadness has an interesting flow to it. It starts out upbeat but as the album closes, it gets more and more melancholy. Probably the saddest album on this list.
Taking Back Sunday - Taking Back Sunday
Taking Back Sunday has always gotten shit for being shit. 2006’s Louder Now was mediocre. 2009’s New Again was…yeah. But then ol’ TBS changed gears, took a right at exit 152, and reunited with the original members that made the band’s tremendous debut album Tell All Your Friends. Did they do it? Did they make an album worth listening to again? No, they didn’t.
I’m kidding, why would it be on here if I didn’t think it was good? That’s terrible of you to think that I’m that stupid!* Taking Back Sunday is really great. It feels so good to finally listen to a new album by TBS all the way through again. Songs like “Best Places To Be A Mom," "This Is All Now," and "You Got Me" are nice reminders on why I loved TBS in the first place and what got me into music initially. And John Nolan’s voice is nice to listen to.
The Great American Novel - You & I
I think I’ve jocked this album more than a few times this year, but it’s damn good. You & I is a fun little record that is reminiscent of Weezer’s Blue Album with basslines and rhythms that make me groove out and sing along in this chair as I type. The Great American Novel’s You & I is going to remain in rotation until my headphones break. This album also taught me how to pronounce Kurt Vonnegut’s last name.
Buy the album here for 500 dollars or for free, whichever is more convenient for you: http://thegreatamericannovel.bandcamp.com/
The Joy Formidable - The Big Roar
Mark Hoppus once posted a video from The Joy Formidable and since then I’ve been hooked. I’ve always been a fan of the shoe-gaze/dream pop/90’s Grunge But It’s Not the 90’s Anymore genre and The Joy Formidable is an extreme quench of this taste. Loud, melodic, catchy, and loud The Big Roar kicks ass. I hope to hear more about The Joy Formidable as they progress.
All Get Out - The Season
While everyone was drooling over Manchester Orchestra’s Simple Math this year for no real reason other than being predictable**, All Get Out made a better album on the same label that everyone has seemed to ignore. The Season is what Manchester Orchestra tried to accomplish with Mediocrity Everything to Nothing (Editor’s Note: Definitely not the actual title).
Okay, I’ll stop bashing Manchester Orchestra. The Season features songs for people who enjoy Manchester Orchestra, and those who don’t. I guess I’m just angry because nobody paid attention to this album this year. :(
Listen to All Get Out’s The Season. It has the southern energy, emotion, and melodies that have been missing from today’s music scene. The track “Lucky Bastard" encompasses this completely and the closer "Come and Gone" could make a grown man cry. I know I did.
Blink-182 - Neighborhoods
Back in 2009, Blink-182 announced that they were back and nearly three years later, we received their newest album Neighborhoods. First let me state that everyone who wanted this album to be All The Small Things Part 2 can go listen to Green Day. Blink-182 grew up and that was obvious from the start of 2003’s Untitled.
This album is so damn solid from start to finish. Even a weird song like “Fighting the Gravity" sticks with me while I’m lying drunk on the floor. Most people were scared that this album would sound too much like Angels and Airwaves, which is nothing I understood because at the end of the day not all the Angels and Airwaves songs sucked.
But with that being said, Tom Delonge gives his best on this album. He brings his A game with being the main vocalist this round and does it better than he has previously. Mark Hoppus does the general Mark Hoppus thing (being awesome) and Travis Barker beats the shit out of the drums. What a damn good record.
Bright Eyes - The People’s Key
Released on February 15th, I knew by April that this would be my favorite album of the year. Conor Oberst wrote an ode to all of Bright Eyes’s discography on The People’s Key by touching on the different sound periods the band went through in his career. Though many fans most likely disagree with me because they still want Oberst to sing about lovers he doesn’t have to love, or about how things are so simple in the moonlight, this is probably the best Bright Eyes album to date. All the songs are memorable and have their own mood and feel to them with excellent lyrics all around. A favorite of mine would be from “Jejune Stars”:
"So I go umbrella under my arm/Into the green of the radar/How’d it get so dark in the day?/It’s just so bizarre/Is it true what we’re made of?/Why do I hide from the rain?"
I couldn’t write about this album and not mention the Harry Caray-like shamanic breaks within the album. Denny Brewer talks about many things like Satan, time, alien creatures, fascists, Hitler, and people just flat flipping out. These breaks between songs give the album personality that wouldn’t exist if these monologues weren’t there. The themes that go along with the album are spoken from Brewer but aren’t spoon fed to the listener, which I dig a lot.
At the end of the album, Oberst closes with one of the best closers I’ve ever heard called “One for You, One for Me." With lyrics like "One for the bread lines, one for the billionaires/One for the missing, one for the barely there," it was hard for me to shake this song from haunting my mind throughout the year. I’ve never been so sure of a favorite album, and this is surely it.
There were many other albums this year that I really liked but for some reason either never had the time to listen to, or they were swept under the rug. These are those albums:
Foo Fighters - Wasting Light
Jack’s Mannequin - People and Things
Kevin Devine - Between the Concrete and Clouds
An Horse - Walls
The Horrible Crowes - Elsie
M83 - Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
*I am that stupid.
**One could argue that me having TBS, Blink, and Bright Eyes on here is predictable. So, yeah. I suck too.