Archive for December, 2011

Top 20 Albums of 2011 by Lance Waste

Lance Waste is the singer/songwriter behind Darling Waste. They released an album in 2011. That album did not make his list. You can check them out at http://www.darlingwaste.com .
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Welcome to the last day of 2011. I was asked a couple of weeks ago to write a top 10 albums of 2011 list. I’ve never done one for a magazine before so I’ve spent the last week looking over all the albums I’ve dug this year plus researching albums I may have missed. After agonizing for a long time I realized that it’s just music, it’s fun and it’s entertaining. But more importantly, it’s SUBJECTIVE. You may hate half the bands on this list or you may love them all. You may think Radiohead’s “King of Limbs” should be number 1. Or The Foo Fighters album. I liked them both but neither made the list.  Also loved the new R.E.M. record and really loved the Panic! At The Disco Record, but…alas.. just being a “nice” record doesn’t cut it!  Here are my top 20 Albums of 2011. Enjoy!

20. Kendrick Lemar – Section .80

After his awesome mixtape O(verly) D(edicated),  being featured on the cover of XXL’s “freshmen” issue, and the news he was working with Dre, I was really excited for this album. It didnt dissapoint one bit. I love that it is an Itunes only release and Lemar chose not to work with a label.  This is Generation Y’s hip hop  album.

19. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy

St. Vincent is Annie Clark of The Polyfonic Spree. I really dug 2009’s “Actor”, her work with Bon Iver and the song she did with Cleveland’s own Kid Cudi. Then I saw her on the cover of Spin Magazine and I knew 2011 would be her year.

18. Wild Flag – Wild Flag

When I first heard about this Portland based indie rock supergroup, I wasn’t expecting anything good. The all female band is made up of ex members of Sleater Kinney , Helium and The Minders.  Naturally, I thought this would be a trashy little album that would appeal to fans of  the original groups. I initially checked it out because I loved me some Sleater-Kinney back in the day and Janet Weiss went from Sleater-Kinney into some Bright Eyes/Connor O’berst projects. I was  completely shocked with how much I enjoy this record and the contrast of the two singers.

17. James Blake – James Blake

So…I got James Blake and James Blunt confused this year and spent several months avoiding this album even after everyone said it was amazing. Then I got him mixed up with the tennis player of the same name and was really confused. Finally I figured out who the fuck this dupstep producer was , took one listen, and hopped on the band wagon.  I really love this record. Its quiet and slick moments are the perfect polar balance to the heavy drops and angst of Skrillex.

16. Thrice – Major/Minor

Ok this is a weird one for me. Over the last several years, Thrice have slowly become one of my favorite bands. I’ve liked them all the way back to Artist and the Ambulance. I LOVED their last to records and was ready for this album to be my favorite album this year. I’ve always kept from fully embracing them because Dustin Kensrue, their singer/guitaris, is a born again Christian and they have a lot of Christian overtones in their songs. I have managed to look past it for the most part and really warmed up to the band. Then I read an article about Dustin and his affiliation with The Mars Hill Church and it’s controversial pastor Mark Driscoll, who says things like yoga is demonic, masturbation is a form of homosexuality and says he hates churches who view Jesus as a “limp wristed sky fairy”.

So I did put this album on my list because it is a great album. It might have been my top pick this year, but I get so fucking annoyed thinking about the bands messed up politics everytime I listen to the record that it really ruins the music for me.

15. Adele – 21

I know Adele is really famous and doesn’t really need to be on this list, and I know that she will most like win a bazillion Grammy’s for this album, but I have to include it. I really like this album, the lyrics are great, the arrangements are imaginative and lush, and her voice is raw and emotional. It’s just a superior album and with the news that Amy Winehouse will never make that follow up album I’ve been waiting for, I’m getting behind Adele 100%.

14. PJ Harvey- Let England Shake

I have loved PJ Harvey since high school. She always such an awesome sense of urgency to her music. Let England Shake is just as good as her early work. Eerie arrangements with lyrics about war and despaire. A top notch artist doing what she does best.

13. Fucked Up -David Comes To Life

This album immediately reminds me of “The Shape Of Punk To Come” by Refused. Not so much musically as ambition. Fucked Up really pushed what a punk album can be on “David Comes to Life”. The album is a concept album driven by the  story  of a man named David and a woman he loves deciding to build a bomb and blow shit up. At certain points in the album, David actually takes over the story from the singer. It’s brilliant songwriting and a peak into what punk can be when it stops worrying about being cool and focuses on the art of making music.

12. Lykke Li – Wounder Rhymes

I”m a sucker for this Swedish pop songstress’ voice. I first fell in love with her on the Keerup song “Until We Bleed” (which is still in heavy rotation at my house). Her first album,2008’s “Youth Novels” felt a little reserved and safe. But “Wounded Rhymes” is much more forceful, with songs that kind of harken back to the 60s.

I liked certain songs on this album so much, in fact, that I had to make sure I had listened to the entire album before putting it at #12. The song “Sorrow is a Blessing” has to be one of my favorite songs of 2012.

11. Kanye West and Jay-Z – Watch The Throne

I know everyone hates them right now. I know Jay pissed everyone off with the Occupy All Streets shirt that didnt give any money to the movement. I know that Kanye is a dickhead. I know they have lost touch with reality. What is not true though is that this album is a celebration of their wealth. I keep hearing that and it is not true. Sure, there are the bragging rhymes that come along with mainstream hip hop. But there are a LOT of politics on this album. There are also some smart rhymes and some AMAZING beats. The album would be my #1 if it wasn’t so hyped and they didnt make me wait months to hear it. No album could have lived up to the expectations that “Watch The Throne” had. And I love how experimental the album is. It would have been very easy for these two to put out a safe album with some club beats and some street  beats and call it a day. But this album is bold. It doesn’t always ring perfect on every song, but I applaud a producer and an MC at the top of their game being bold enough to take the chances they did. I’m looking forward to the inevitable Part Two.

10. Bayside – Killing Time

I love Bayside. I love them as a band and I love them as people. In fact, Anthony’s tweets read almost exactly like my tweets if I liked Hockey a little more than Football.

But my personal love of these guys aside, this is the best Bayside album in years. Its so damn good. I was ready to listen to it once or twice and put it on the shelf, but it has held my attention for months now. Great catchy hooks, awesome vocals and some great song structure. A real rock record for 2011.

9. Katy B – On a Mission

I promised some friends I would NOT put Katy B on my top list. Then it snuck in at 18. Then it crept up to 15. Then after searching my feelings, I put it at #9. I know it’s not a cool choice but the truth is, I LOVE this record. I probably play it more than any of the other albums on the countdown. It’s a great modern dance record. Her voice is adorable. The songs are catchy. There are some great drops in it. And the song “Katy on a Mission” has to be my favorite single of 2011. Go get it, dance and thank me later.

8. M83- Hurry Up We’re Dreaming

French musician Anthony Gonzalez, who plays as M83’s, album “Saturdays= Youth” was  my Top Pick for best album of 2008. Then they spent a couple of years opening for bands like Kings of Leon and doing sountracks for rare french movies. They finally released the follow up to “Saturdays=Youth” with the amazing “Hurry Up We’re Dreaming.”

The new album is much more epic in size and scope than the 80’s synth gloom of “Saturdays”.  It’s a double album and much more musically ambitious.

7. The Kills – Blood Pressures

We’ve mentioned The Kills here in Breaking Music Magazine a couple of times this year so it’s no surprise we like this album.  This album just rocks. Go check it out and feel good about yourself.

6. Bright Eyes – The People’s Key

There is no denying my love for Bright Eyes. They are the only band I like enough to immortalize in a tattoo on my body. “Fevers and Mirrors” and “Lifted” are still played in heavy rotation in my house.

The People’s Key is the album Connor O’Burst should have put out after his duel disc of “I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning” and “Digital Ash in a Digital Urn”. Instead we got “Cassadega” , an all too safe and steril traditional country western meets folk record. The People’s Key is a true return to form, mixing Connor’s trademark folk roots, shaky voice and experimental song structures and instrumentation perfectly. Those who loves old “Fevers and Mirrors” era Bright Eyes can rejoice once again!

5. Bon Iver- Bon Iver

My friend told me he couldn’t understand why I love Bon Iver. He compared it to background music. And in that sense, it  is hard to argue. There is just something about Justin Vernon’s voice that just puts me in a different place. Its beautiful music to calm the soul. And it’s nice to hear him back doing his solo stuff after singing along with him so much on Kany West’s last album in 2010.

4. EMA- Past Life Martyred Saints

I started out not liking this album but it grew on me over the year. EMA really reminds me of what I loved about women rockers like Courtney Love and Patty Smith. Abrasive and challenging grungy pop music.

3. The Decemberists – The King Is Dead

I read that The Decemberists are basically breaking up after this album. I have always loved this band and this album is no exception. It’s a little more Springstein and mainstream than previous albums. But it’s beautiful and a must listen.

2. Josh T Pearson – Last of the Country Gentlemen

A friend introduced me to this wonderful album by the amazingly bearded Texan. Prior to this album I had only heard Pearson on a couple songs by Bat for Lashes. This is his first studio album after soft releasing a lot of material via bootlegs and live recordings at shows.
This album got a grip on my from the very first listen. I think the average song length is in the 8 minute range. Ghostly folk music with an awesomely awful voice. Great honest songwriting and some of the best picking/fingerpicking/scratching patterns I’ve ever heard.

1. The Wonder Years- Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing

To be honest, I’m not too into the whole “new warped tour” generation of bands, so I had kind of been avoiding The Wonder Years”. They had been on Warped Tour and were touring with bands like Yellowcard, Newfound Glory and Good Charlotte. I felt it was safe to skip this band over. But then AP Magazine started their year long love fest with the band in 2010, Claiming “Suburbia” to be one of the most anticipated albums of 2011.Then I heard the album was based on the poem “America” by Allen Ginsberg and I figured I should take a look.

When I fist popped this album into my car stereo I texted my friend to tell her I found my favorite album of the year and maybe favorite new band. Then during the third song, I texted back and said “Never mind, the first song is great but the album really levels off after.” What had actually happened was the first track is one of the best slices of pop punk music I’ve heard since early Brand New.  The rest of the album is equally great. Mixing energetic music with introspective lyrics about life and culture. Just a great album all the way through.