Top Albums of 2011 (They went to 11)

Great movie, even better scene… if you haven’t seen Spinal Tap then put that one at the top of your New Years Resolution’s list. But as far as music goes I’d like to take a bit of time and let you guys know exactly what bands I feel “went to eleven” this year. These are in no particular order, because my head could explode with trying to pick only the top few… much less with trying to rank them against each other!

Mayer Hawthorne – How Do You Do
I had the great fortune of seeing Andrew Mayer Cohen and his band open for Chromeo a few months back… it BLEW. MY. MIND. These Detroit raised boys really captured the essence of motown in every way that matters. This isn’t their first record but it’s the first released with Universal Republic and I’m happy to see that this one is finally getting them the attention they deserve.

Marksmen – Oh Sister Of Mine
No, I haven’t seen them play live… but it’s a sore subject and I don’t want to talk about it ok. If another person tells me, “Oh my gosh if you think you love the album now just WAIT until you see them live!” I might explode. But I know they have some exciting tours planned for 2012, one of which is with Eisley this spring, so I’ve already marked the date on my calendar, I suggest you do the same! All in all, I love this album and this band… they certainly go to eleven.

Manchester Orchestra – Simple Math
This album got quite a few terrible reviews… a fact that nearly lost me my faith in humanity. I think this is one of their best albums to date, with the exception of Mean Everything To Nothing. I’ve decided to give Simple Math a place on this list because a) it’s fantastic and b) I want to spite all of the fickle-fan reviewers who tend to jump ship as soon as band gains some popularity (aka may actually be able to make a living). The music video for the title track was also pretty bad ass… check it out.

The Black Keys – El Camino
It hasn’t been out long, but I know well enough to know that this album isn’t just a flash in the pan. The way I see it, I could spend thousands of dollars on surgery to look like a super model… or I could listen to El Camino and feel like one. Done.

Eisley – The Valley
This isn’t some sort of family promotional stunt I assure you. This is genuinely one of my top listened to albums this year and it has earned every right to be on this list… I even considered listing it twice. The Valley was a long time in being released due to label complications (that I’m sure all of you are tired of hearing about) but 2011 will always be remembered as the year the amazing team from Equal Vision Records really came through and made things happen. It’s been a great year, for a great band, with a great album.

Feist – Metals
Even if feminine indie vibe music isn’t your genre of choice I expect any sane music lover to at least be able to appreciate how sick this chick’s voice is. She uses her voice as a complex instrument in a way that very few people would think to, much less be able to. The only critique I have on this album is that it’s too good to sing along to… in comparison my own voice sounds like a beached fish trying to hit notes that are octaves out of it’s range.

Ben Howard – Every Kingdom
Mr. Ben Howard is a 23 year old from Devonshire, England with an educational background in journalism who just so happens to also be a sick musician and song writer… some people have all the luck. This is his debut album and I’d classify it as British folk… light on the folk. It hasn’t had much recognition here in the US but it did peak at #7 on UK charts, not bad for a first album right?

Mutemath – Odd Soul
Yeah… they did it again. Who’s shocked? Well, I’m certainly not. They maintain about a 200% energy level throughout the album… just listening to it is like getting a work out, or it actually is a work out if you’re like me and find yourself unable to sit still while listening to it. I get to see them live in just a few weeks and I have a feeling that it’ll be a night to remember fo’ sho’… or should I say “fo’ show”.

The Envy Corps – It Culls You
This album has been too long in coming. And a tour that comes through Texas looks to be even longer in coming. I’m telling you, when they finally make it down here they’re going to have to have a pretty good excuse for staying away for so long. But aside from my deep rooted annoyance at their tour schedule (or lack there of) I am exceedingly stoked to finally have this album. There wasn’t a whole lot of promotion for the album but it truly is an astounding album. It’s very very Radiohead-esque but it’s far better than King Of Limbs, so I hope their giving themselves a pat on the back for that!

Blind Pilot – We Are The Tide
ZOMG… I love this album. It’s a great back porch album/driving with the windows down album/I’m down on my luck and need some comfort album/I don’t know exactly what I want to listen to album. It’s soothing and uplifting yet it still avoids the extremes of either of those and wont put you to sleep nor is it annoyingly peppy. It’s a well rounded album and overall a delight to listen to.

Bon Iver – Bon Iver, Bon Iver
This album has been owning the sh** out of top album lists this year… but I think Mr. Vernon has earned it.

City & Colour – Little Hell
His voice woos me at the deepest level of my soul. I thought for sure that this album could not be better than Bring Me All Your Love but I love it just as much. How could one man write two such albums? This album may have gone to 12… it just may have.

Cold War Kids – Mine Is Yours
This album has made my year a far more enjoyable one… plain and simple.

The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow
Considering how HUGE they’ve gotten this year I’m amazed at how many sites have omitted them from their best of ’11 lists. I think their new found popularity has lost them their indie/underground appeal for many people. But I think their quick rise in popularity only confirms that they deserve a little recognition!


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  1. Best Albums of 2012 | Predictably Me - December 31, 2012

    […] already! It feels just like yesterday when I was sitting right here in my living room drafting my Best Of 2011 – They Went To Eleven post… but I suppose it was quite a few yesterdays ago! Anyway, here is my list for 2012 (in […]


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