Friday, February 10, 2012

The Best Albums Of 2011

Here's a link to my full feature on Huffington Post about the best albums of 2011.

And for those that just want the facts:


Fleet Foxes Helplessness Blues (CSN rocks out) --

Tom Waits Bad As Me (bohemian troubadour in top form)

King Creosote and Jon Hopkins Diamond Mine (quirky concept album, gorgeously done)

Gillian Welch – The Harrow and the Harvest (simple, straightforward, striking folk)

Teddy Thompson – Bella / kd lang –Sing It Loud /Ron Sexsmith – Long Player, Late Bloomer (pure pop by pure pros)

Wynton Marsalis and Eric Clapton – Play The Blues / Branford Marsalis and Joey Caldarazzo – Songs Of Mirth And Melancholy (trad jazz)

Glen Campbell – Ghost On The Canvas (haunting country pop)

Bombino Agadez (Tuareg rocks!) / Boubacar Traore Mali Denhou (gentle African guitar) / Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Songs From A Zulu Farm (ecstatic and playful children’s music)

Various Artists – This May Be My Last Time Singing: Raw African American Gospel on 45 RPM (1957-1982) (gut bucket gospel so good you’ll convert)

Adele 21 (unstoppable soul diva)

Grouplove Never Trust A Happy Song (raucous LA pop-rock)

Panic! At The Disco – Vices & Virtues (sterling but overlooked pop-rock)

Nick Lowe – The Old Magic (vintage wine, vintage bottle)

Wild Flag Wild Flag (giving super groups a good name)

Brad Mehldau – Modern Music (focused jazz trio)/Colin Vallon – Rruger (bold EU trio following in Mehldau’s wake)

Jay-Z and Kanye West – Watch The Throne (braggadocio taken to new heights)

Bon Iver – Bon Iver (stares down success with quiet confidence)

Ballake Sissoko and Vincent Segal – Chamber Music (delicate instrumentals)

Paul Simon – So Beautiful Or So What (mortality, musically)

Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa – Don’t Explain (the blues, thumpingly good)

Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Del McCoury Band – American Legacies (jazz, bluegrass, Americana…music)

Ambrose Akinmusire – When The Heart Emerges Glistening (delicate jazz)

James Blake – James Blake (trippy pop)

Various Artists – Live From The Old Town School (folk’s beating heart)

Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost (split personalities, all of them interesting)

Tinariwen – Tassili (bluesy, distinctive, campfire sing-alongs)

Joy Formidable – The Big Roar (noisy pop)

Dario Marinelli – Jane Eyre soundtrack featuring Jack Liebeck (the year’s best score)/ Matthew Cooper Some Days Are Better Than Others (shimmering gauzy pop score to indie film)

The Coral – Butterfly House/The Magic Numbers – Runaway (pop, unimported, unrecognized)

Pistol Annies – Pistol Annies/Miranda Lambert – Four The Record (country’s top gal and friends)

The Low Anthem – Smart Flesh (brainy Americana)

Charlie Haden and Quartet West – Sophisticated Ladies (female singers, jazz swingers)

Black Keys – El Camino (rock, no fuss)

M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (ambient pop)

Alison Krauss and Union Station – Paper Airplanes/ John Hiatt – Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns (old dogs, old tricks, happily so)

Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee, Part Two (feisty hip-hop from the old-timers)

Ben Howard – Every Kingdom (gentle pop)/Mike Bloom King Of Circles (Seventies singer-songwriter vibe for this warm solo debut)

Vinicius Cantuaria and Bill Frisell – Lagrimas Mexicanas (two great guitars, one great voice equal haunting Latin music)/

The Gourds Old Mad Joy (rootsy celebration) / Marc Broussard – Marc Broussard (bluesy rock)

Suzanne Vega – Close-Up Volume 3: State Of Being (acoustic songs, electric songwriting)

Various Artists – Those Shocking Shaking Days: Indonesia Hard, Psychedelic, Progressive Rock and Funk (1970-1978)

Original Cast Album – The Book Of Mormon (religiously funny)

Drake – Take Care (emo-rap)/ Shabazz Palaces Black Up

Brad Paisley – This Is Country Music (yes it is) /Steve Earle – I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive (determined, focused country)

Megafaun – Megafaun (seventies-ish rock)

Fatoumata Diawara Fatou (more Malian guitar talent combined with impeccable vocals)/ Khaira Arby Timbukto Traab (country to Diawara’s city sound; not locale so much as the gritty, rawer feel)

Houston Person – So Nice (late period capper for understated jazz blower)

Real Estate Days – (shimmering indie pop)

Eileen Jewell – Queen Of The Minor Key (sneakily impressive)

Frank Ocean – nostalgia/ultra (backward/forward looking moody pop)


Rumer – Seasons Of My Soul

Charlie Haden and Hank Jones – Come Sunday

Damien Jurado -- Marqopa

Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas

Ben Kweller – Go Fly A Kite

Kathleen Edwards -- Voyageur

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