Well, here we are. Another year, another list. This year was especially difficult to compile – I’ve listened to A LOT of albums this year through very different settings, countries and airports.
Of course, a lot of this music was often listened to within the standard context of just getting to work and listening to music on headphones.
Hey, we all have our stories.
In the end, here are the albums I kept coming back to and really stood out for me – in alphabetical order!
Am I missing one? Have suggestions? There’s a comments box below, let’s get the ball rolling!!!
PS: You’ll notice that each album title is underlined – just click on it and it’ll get you to what I think is a key track from that album on youtube.
Super-authentic garage rock hailing from Athens, Greece. This was one of the albums I had a harder time putting down.
It’s all over the place, and some songs work better than others, but it still has some of the best material the band’s recorded to date. And that’s worthy of a top 30 spot.
Amazing Tuareg guitarist from Niger – this is music that completely transports you elsewhere and feels like a hot summer night somewhere far from home.
Brilliant garage rock from Puerto Rico equally inspired by the early 60’s girl groups and 70’s punk. Lotsa heart, lotsa love, lotsa beer. I love this to death.
This is so good, and damn hard to describe. I guess you can grab some Pixies, some Japanese-pop, some Sneaker Pimps, and some Chuck Berry, and maybe that would be a good description. Listen, do me a favor, and if you’ve never heard this band, just click on the link and give it a listen.
Sometimes a really brutal metal album comes along and just makes you want to break a couple windows. This would be the perfect soundtrack.
The latest Foo’s album is probably also their best. Huge songs played to perfection that just makes you rock out. Why make things more complicated than that?
Took a few listens, but this new one from Mr. Turner reminds us why he’s one of the UK’s most honest and inspiring songwriters.
Missing some 1970’s-ish hard rock in your life? Look no further than this band from Sweden who have it down to a science (including the moustaches)
It’s just total pop-rock perfection – a band that takes their queues from the British invasion and 60’s California Pop, all the way to Memphis Tennessee in 1972 with it’s undeniable Big Star influence.
Brian Fallon (from Gaslight Anthem) made this album as a side project, taking in all his Tom Waits influences. An album about the loss of a relationship and the gain of a new one. It’s as bleak as it is pretty, and incredibly honest.
Somewhere between grunge, riot grrrl and a very indie-rock modern sound, this just works so well. It’s refreshing to hear a band like this – not trying to reinvent the wheel, but sticking to music they love listening to and doing it justice.
Essentially an album about the overcome of drug addiction and the wasted days/years it caused, this is actually Kasabian’s best album, and really blew me away upon first listen. From The Kinks to Electro, you get a bit of everything stylistically, but the overall theme of the album mixed with impeccable songwriting makes it work.
Released last year in their native hometown of Venezuela, this Latin Grammy-nominated band fuses dance-rock, indie-rock, salsa, 80’s pop, and straight up rock and roll, and delivers something that sounds like no other. Released this year in North America so don’t blame me for not putting it on last year’s list 😛
Making a double-album is something quite rare these days. But with a sound and songs this huge, M83 made his best album and it never overstays its welcome.
I didn’t know how this band would deal with following up an album as good as 2009’s Crack The Skye. It seems they pretty much decided to keep rocking their souls away. It’s the best metal album of the year.
The idea of doing a Songbook is so damn cheesy usually. But by mixing modern-jazz influences onto Puerto Rican standards and maintaing classic, romantic jazz sounds at the same time, this is yet another album that brings you away from wherever you live, and puts you on the beach with a nice drink, somewhere in San Juan.
Having previously recorded with Ty Segall and making a very impressive debut together (with 2009’s Reverse Shark Attack album), my expectations were very high for this album. I was far from let down with this awesome debut album that, just like Ty Segall, takes as much from T. Rex as it does from garage rock. It, surprisingly, is a vastly superior album to me than Segall’s ‘Goodbye Bread’ LP, also released this year.
Mark Ryan from The Marked Men decided to make a psych-rock/camp side project, and I think I even prefer it to The Marked Men.
I first heard of this band early this year through the Austin Psych Fest 3 DVD. Their album wasn’t even out yet and I was already sure it would make this list. 13Th Floor Elevators by way of The Sonics.
It has to be said that I hadn’t listened to any new PJ Harvey material (probably) since ‘To Bring You My Love’, but after reading about this album, I decided to give it a shot. It’s beautiful, taught and lyrical, and impeccably-crafted.
Yet another amazing (if more laid-back) psych-rock band. Very accessible and very authentic. Had I not known any better, I would have sworn this was from the 60’s. A very coherent album with an amazing flow.
So it took them over 10 years to make the follow up to United By Fate, and they made an album that’s barely a half hour long. It still is a near-perfect record, and it’d be good not to wait till 2021 for the next one, please. And perhaps reform Quicksand, if possible.
Ryan Adams’ first album in 3 years is a mostly acoustic affair with haunting piano and vocal harmonies featuring Norah Jones. The kid hasn’t lost his touch. It’s one of his slower albums and one that deserves just listening to with the lights out. Probably best indulged with your lover in your arms and a drink in your hand.
This band completely took me by surprise. I hadn’t heard about them before, and what I heard was a mix of garage, psych, 80’s goth and I guess a whole lot of whiskey. I love this album.
More psych rock! I guess this was a really good year for the genre, because this album also barely left my record player this year. Road trip music.
Imagine Patti Smith and Blondie having a fist fight, and then throw in PJ Harvey as the referee with The Stooges hopping along. Something like that.
First album in 8 years, so of course, you can’t help but overcriticize it. But it’s typical Social D., and it’s just really good. Mike Ness hasn’t lost his touch, and this music is so refreshing that you wonder how this only happens once every 8 years. Gimme more, Mr. Ness.
I had trouble getting into previous albums of theirs for some reason, but this one totally sucked me in. It’s really sexy, dark, gritty and addictive. Good news for me: This band is playing here in Montreal on my birthday, Feb 5 2012. Sounds like a plan.
For their first album recorded in a real studio, Wooden Shjips pretty much kept with the exact same sounds as before. Only, the songwriting’s improved and the band is more effective than ever – it’s like the band finally had no restraints on what they’ve always wanted to do and sound like.
********************TOP 5 EP’S OF 2011**************************
Leftovers of the 2010 album Phosphene Dream? Hell yes, bring it on. I’ll relisten to Entrance Song in any shape, form, or remix.
An EP that was released after their 2011 LP In Love With Oblivion, but actualy recorded prior to it. Even though it’s shorter, in my opinion this is superior to the already-impressive LP.
One of the best modern rock bands from the US revisit their musical roots, including covers of Tom Petty’s Refugee, The Who’s Baby O’Riley. But it’s their take on ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ that alone makes it worth it.
When I heard that Christian Bland from The Black Angels formed this side project with Lee Blackwell of Night Beats, I wept with joy.
Life Sux is just so much fun. There’s nothing really more to say. Punk rock meets Weezer, somewhere in California while surfing.
*********************BEST COMEDY ALBUM OF 2011**************************
I really wish they would take this one on the road and have a karaoke machine.
Stay tuned for some signed Crystal Stilts/Ganglians/Friends vinyl giveaway!!!!