These are mini-reviews of my favorite albums this year because I like sharing what music I’m currently digging. I feel like a lot of End of the Year lists are too concerned with what was fresh even if it wasn’t that good (The Weeknd) and too cool to admit when an album was good in spite of the “artist” it came from (that Britney album was some quality dance music).
So this is me, from cheesy pop to pretentious indie crap with some obvious picks and probably a few surprises. It’s heavier on country than most lists (country is the biggest selling genre in the US…the fact that so many “cool” people ignore it is beyond me) and includes a lot of lightweight radio pop (just because the artist is manufactured doesn’t mean the producers didn’t create enjoyable music), but they’re ranked in order of greatness.
|50. Foster the People
Anchored by the infectious “Pumped Up Kicks”, FTP expands upon that thread with a consistent batch of catchy pop-rock gems with an electro edge.
|49. Vince Gill
Country music’s resident Jack-of-All-Trades and most-underrated instrumentalist comes back with a set of tunes rooted in traditional country and Southern blues themes.
Sorry for the Party Rocking
Don’t be swayed by radio and clubs overplaying their singles. LMFAO put out one of the most infectious dance albums in recent memory, and the album has more range than “Sexy and I Know It” would lead you to believe.
|47. Panda Bear
Not quite the creative pinnacle of Person Pitch, this album is still full of deceptively simple, hypnotic tunes built to make you think about things you forgot you remembered.
When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes
Sounding both current and ten-years-ago at the same time, Yellowcard released a quality set of radio-ready pop-rock jams featuring their trademark violin work and lots of energy. I was just as surprised as you were.
Fresh off the heels of being dropped from Warner Brothers, family-outfit Eisley explores darker territory with wildly successful results, producing their finest album yet.
The Dreamer / The Believer
Rebounding from the over-produced synth of his last album, Common returns to an old-soul/R&B feel with more socially conscious rhymes and his best album since Be.
|43. Brad Paisley
This Is Country Music
The jokester of country music digs through the history of the genre, providing a reflection of every corner of country music from storytelling to westerns to traditional southern to contemporary in this varied set of tunes.
|42. Lykke Li
Showing that Youth Novels wasn’t a fluke, the Swedish chanteuse returns three years later with a more mature set of hooky songs with interestingly sparse arrangements.
|41. Panic! At the Disco
Reduced to a duo, Brendon and Spencer found their focus, reigned in the theatrics a bit, and pulled from the 80s for this energetic set.
Proving that dubstep doesn’t have to annoy “the uncool people” Aaron Jerome pulls from various influences to display the best of what the current UK garage scene has to offer.
|39. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
(Indie Pop/Indie Rock)
Taking the best notes from nineties college rock, adding in a little current pop sensibility, and dipping the whole thing in a bit of shoegaze, TPOBPAT capitalized on their debut by returning with slicker production and better arrangements.
Finally livng up to the flashes of greatness and promise of their earlier releases, Bayside put together their most cohesive album yet displaying equal parts high energy, hooky songwriting, and quality execution.
|37. Dolly Parton
In her mid-60s, Dolly is *still* doing it better than most, thanks in no small part to a knack for penning catchy lyrics and a friendly voice that seems to never age.
The nicest guys in rock music released another set of perfectly pleasant songs, made better this go round because they’ve finally stopped trying to be U2.
With one of those most creatively successful, wildly variable collection of songs on one album in recent memory, New Zealand’s Kimbra wows and impresses with cuts ranging from 60s doo-wop to sunnyday pop to jazz and beyond.
The husband and wife duo of Tennis met in college and afterwards spent 7 months sailing down the Atlantic coast. Cape Dory is the creative result, a lo-fi set of 50s-inspired indie pop anchored by Alaina’s timeless vocals and Patrick’s impeccable production.
|33.Florence + The Machine
Popular music’s resident wailer takes the promise of Lungs and makes good on it with this powerful album of densely-layered tunes where Adele and PJ Harvey collide.
|32. Joe Jonas
The least-serious third of the Jonas Brothers picks up where Justin Timberlake left off, crooning his way through a set of slick, sexy popR&B, providing a more adult alternative to the ubiquitous Justin Bieber.
The fathers of modern-day juvenille pop-punk returned after an 8 year breakup to show that grown-ups can still rock out and have fun with hooks galore and the old energy of their earlier releases.
8:00 pm • 10 January 2012 •
| 2011| album reviews| bayside| best of 2011| blink-182| brad paisley| coldplay| common| dolly parton| eisley| end of the year| florence + the machine| foster the people| joe jonas| kimbra| lmfao| lykke li| music| music reviews| panda bear| panic at the disco| sbtrkt| tennis| the pains of being pure at heart| vince gill| yellowcard| best albums of 2011|