Numbers 50-31 here.
|30. Lil Wayne
Tha Carter IV
While not quite up to the grand statements of II and III, Tha Carter IV still proves Lil Wayne hasn’t lost any of the swagger that took him to the top of the rap game.
Danish singer/actress Nabiha gives American R&B serious competition with a blend of retro, 60s-tinted soul and a dash of pop sensibility, producing one of the best soul debuts in recent memory.
|28. Miranda Lambert
Four the Record
For the first time, Miranda handed over the bulk of the songwriting duties, opting to focus on performing and delivering the music, and in the process, making one of the best contemporary country albums of the year.
|27. Teedra Moses
While the world continues to wait on a follow-up to her critically acclaimed debut, The Lioness keeps releasing mixtapes containing some of the best contemporary soul on the market.
|26. Smith Westerns
Dye It Blonde
Smith Westerns managed to take everything that made their debut awesome—great choruses, strong ballads, punchy fast numbers, and all the energy of kids straight out of high school—and produced it better. So now you can hear what’s going on.
|25. The Saturdays
On Your Radar
Picking up where Girls Aloud left off, The Saturdays turn in their least-vocal, most-club-friendly album yet, perfect for a girls (gays) night out…or in, with champagne and sass for everyone.
One of the most over-hyped bands of 2010 delivered a debut worthy of bands twice their age. Evenly split between energy and melancholy, Yuck paid homage to their shoegazing forefathers without being carbon copies.
|23. Atlas Sound
Deerhunter’s vocalist comes back with a third solid album in as many years, making minimalist, sparse arrangements big enough to fill an entire room, letting the music breathe and move the listener.
|22. The Dirtbombs
What happens when a garage rock band from Detroit pays homage to the 80s club and techno scene of its hometown? This masterpiece, complete with inventive covers and impeccable guitar work.
Canada’s answer to Robyn improves upon her debut, dropping another album of punchy pop songs with sweet, girlish vocals and singalong choruses.
|20. Toro Y Moi
Underneath the Pine
Toro Y Moi takes a step away from the chillwave aesthetic of his first album into more straightforward pop territory (to surprisingly effective result) with the perfect Manhattan loft cocktail party lounge album.
|19. Kelly Clarkson
Kelly finally managed to release a proper follow-up to Breakaway, with the right mixture of guitars, pop, power ballads, and a few country flourishes, making—fittingly enough—her strongest album yet.
|18. Drive-By Truckers
Taking the energy down just a notch from their previous five albums (in 10 years), DBT still succeeds at telling a story and making music that sounds like it was recorded in a trailer on a fishing trip. But in a good way.
|17. Ximena Sariñana
One of the few Mexican artists not shoved into a “latin music” box, Ximena is more Robyn than Ricky Martin, full of pop gems with unexpected flourishes and superbly creative songwriting.
|16. Emmylou Harris
Taking over more and more of the songwriting duties, Emmylou cowrote 11 of this album’s 13 tracks, proving that not only does she have a gift for delivering soothing, country gems—she can write them too.
Fire & Ice
While David Guetta may be the most in-demand DJ in music right now, Kaskade continues to be the most consistent, releasing a double-album of perfectly mastered club jams and smooth electro cuts with spot-on guest vocals.
|14. Lupe Fiasco
Lasers is equal parts socially conscious, confrontational, witty, and lyrical, while covering enough pop trends to be radio-relevant. Everything you could want from a rap album.
Here I Am
Overshadowed by Beyonce and plagued by underpromotion, Here I Am didn’t get the recognition it deserved, with Kelly sounding her most vocally assured on tracks ranging from danceclub to hip-hop to seductive slow jams.
|12. Fleet Foxes
Helplessness Blues has more vocal harmony than a broadway show and more “what is that instrument?” moments than any album I’ve ever encountered. None of that drowns out their gifted knack for writing dreamy folk music that makes you want to take a nap…but is too interesting to sleep on.
The former Xenomania drummer takes another pass at whetting our appetite for a complete album with another EP full of higlights and no low spots, displaying a way with both lyrics and melody unmatched in the current pop landscape.
5:03 pm • 11 January 2012 •
| best of 2011| end of the year| best albums of 2011| album reviews| music reviews| music| florrie| fleet foxes| kelly rowland| lupe fiasco| kaskade| emmylou harris| ximena sarinana| drive-by truckers| kelly clarkson| toro y moi| lights| the dirtbombs| atlas sound| yuck| the saturdays| smith westerns| teedra moses| miranda lambert| nabiha| lil wayne|