As 2011 draws to a close, it’s time to look back at the year in music. Below is my list of Top Ten albums for the year; following that is some commentary about good albums that didn’t quite make it, and bands I’m going to be looking at closely in 2012!
As always, remember that this list is about complete albums and not individual songs. Yes, there may be songs out there from 2011 that I liked better than anything on this list… but, as a whole, the following ten albums are my favorite of the year!
#10: M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.
M83 is a band I always wanted to like. Why not? They’re all French and sophisticated, doing their own special brand of electronic shoegaze. But I’ve never met an album of theirs I liked all the way through… until now. Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. is a delight from start to finish. And I’m happy for them! The music of M83 (named after spiral galaxy Messier 83) has been featured in dozens of films, TV shows and video games; I’m glad to see them put out an excellent product.
#9: Julianna Barwick – The Magic Place
Julianna Barwick is an American musician who was born in Louisiana and grew up singing in church choirs before moving to (where else?) Brooklyn. It’s kind of hard to pin down her exact sound. To me, she certainly sounds a bit like Elizabeth Frazer of the Cocteau Twins singing over the late 70s\early 80s ambient work of Brian Eno or Harold Budd. But it’s not that simple. There’s certainly some Björk, Enya and maybe even some Danielle Dax thrown in for good measure. In spite of all the comparisons, I think she has a totally unique sound that’s both ethereal and otherwordly. It sounds like something 4AD would have put out in 1984… and I mean that as the highest possible compliment! On the negative side, Elizabeth Frazer\Enya singing over very mellow Eno\Budd isn’t something you can throw on at a party or on a whim. But that’s cool. Different is good sometimes.
#8: Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
Swedish musician Lykke Li (real name: Li Lykke Timotej Zachrisson) has been an indie favorite ever since her tune “Little Bit” hit the scene in 2007. But her second album, Wounded Rhymes, just hit it out of the damn park. Like Björk, Li has a tendency to kind of go all over the place with her music, a trait that was held in check better by this disc. And I don’t know why, but I just love this woman’s lyrics: cold, dark, and sometimes just plain clever. “Like a shotgun needs an outcome” is my favorite line for all of 2011.
Continue reading “My Top Albums of 2011”