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Best of 2011

This year, I decided to submit my favorite albums of 2011 in blog form, as opposed to posting it on facebook. Time will tell if I actually update this blog again, but here goes.

Oh, and before I start, I liked to say that this list would not have been possible without http://theneedledrop.com/ and Spotify, both of which radically changed how I discover music.

Click the album art for links to songs on youtube and here is a Spotify playlist of my list, in reverse order, with the exception of a few albums that Spotify doesn’t have: Best Of 2011


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30. Asobi Seksu - Fluorescence

I don’t have much to say about this album. I liked it, but it wasn’t anything different from what I’ve come to expect from Asobi Seksu

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29. Childish Gambino - Camp

Once I got over my initial hype for this album, I started to like it less with each listen. There are some tracks on here that I love, but tracks like Backpackers and You See Me just fall flat.

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28. Bon Iver - Bon Iver

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27. The Roots - undun

This album might grow on me with more listens, but it seems to suffer from some really generic and, at times, borderline awful choruses (I’m looking at you Lighthouse and One Time.) That was my biggest complaint with Rising Down and on last year’s How I Got Over it seemed like bad choruses wasn’t as much of an issue, so I’d have to say that this album is a step back for The Roots.

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26. Milo - I Wish My Brother Rob Was Here

This mixtape is like the Community of hip hop. It is nerdy, but it doesn’t beat you over the head with its nerdiness, unlike some of its contemporaries.

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25. Little Dragon - Ritual Union

This album starts off with fun, dancey tracks like Ritual Union and Little Man, but as it goes on, songs become a bit more downbeat and relaxed. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not what I was expecting when I heard the title track as a single.

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24. Charles Bradley - No Time For Dreaming

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23. Kate Bush - 50 Words For Snow

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22. Rustie - Glass Swords

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21. WU LYF - Go Tell Fire To The Mountain

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20. Talib Kweli - Gutter Rainbows

Not the best album Kweli has released, but it definitely has me looking forward to Prisoner of Conscious this year.

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19. Tim Hecker - Ravedeath, 1972

I think this album would have been a lot higher on my list if I hadn’t discovered it so late in the year. It’s a very good ambient album that I’ll be listening to a lot in 2012.

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18. BADBADNOTGOOD - BBNG

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17. Le Butcherettes - Sin Sin Sin

I saw this band open for The Flaming Lips this year and they put on an awesome show. The energy from their show really comes through in this album.

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16. The Joy Formidable - The Big Roar

I saw these guys at Coachella this year, more or less by chance. They were performing early and I was trying to stay out of the heat. They put on an awesome show, complete with a freak out finale. The album lived up to their performance, combining shoegaze with some alternative and progressive rock.

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15. Civil Civic - Rules

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14. Oneohtrix Point Never - Replica

Stupid artist name, but an awesome electronic album.

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13. Youth Lagoon - The Year of Hiberation

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12. Guilty Ghosts - Veils

I found this album through Spotify while searching for another artist. Lots of great, mostly instrumental, ambient tracks on here that slowly build up as they add more and more instruments and effects.

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11. SBTRKT - SBTRKT

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10. Chelsea Wolfe - Ἀποκάλυψις

Chelsea Wolfe delivers a creepy, suspenseful goth/doom album with haunting vocals and dark instrumentation.

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9. Toro y Moi - Underneath The Pine

Chaz Bundick evolves his sound on this album, releasing a much more funky and soulful collection of songs. I was able to see Toro y Moi live twice this year and both shows were full of energy and people getting their dance on.

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8. Death Grips - Exmilitary

I’ve never heard anything like this album. Aggressive, heavy, grimy hip hop.

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7. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues

Fleet Foxes second album builds upon the style of folk rock they established with their first, painting portraits of country landscapes and conveying the overwhelming sense of how miniscule any particular person is in comparison to the universe.

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6. Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost

I hadn’t checked out Girls until I was recommended this album by a friend. This is just a great rock album, with some amazing guitar playing. Tracks like Vomit take the album in a more dark direction.

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5. Rubblebucket - Omega La La

This album was advertise to me on facebook as “The Budos Band meets The Dirty Projectors” and that was a pretty accurate description. Rubblebucket keeps things funky with horn section, while tracks like Triangular Daisy and Raining have male/female call and answer vocals that remind me of Bitte Orca.

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4. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy

This is my favorite album that I found via The Needle Drop. Strange Mercy is full of songs that are pleasant and dissonant at the same time with lots of weird but catchy riffs.

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3. Shabazz Palaces - Black Up

I had heard of Shabazz Palaces here and there, but it wasn’t until I found out that one of the members was Butterfly from Digable Planets that I checked out this album. This album features spacey, expansive beats paired with expert lyricism.

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2. Braids - Native Speaker

I saw Braids open for Toro y Moi at the beginning of the year and I was blown away. Watching the band build their tracks from loops of guitar and synth while the female lead vocalist sang with amazing range was even more impressive after I bought the album and realized how faithfully they recreated their songs live. If you are into experiment pop/art-rock and bands like Animal Collective, you need to check this out.

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1. Sea Oleena - Sleeplessness

This is such a beautiful, emotional album. Throughout the year, I found myself wanting to listen to this album more than any other. Charlotte Oleena’s hushed voice tiptoes over the 7 tracks of acoustic guitar and ambient electronic folk. The album starts out on a relatively cheery note, but the album’s tone becomes more sad and desolate, before resolving with the final track that lets you know everything is okay. You can (and should) pick this album up at her bandcamp: http://seaoleena.bandcamp.com/album/sleeplessness