While I fully acknowledge that I have become a terrible and unreliable blogger, I still want to continue to continue my ‘traditional’ Top Albums of XXXX post.
These are the albums that I got the most enjoyment out of last year. They may not be the “best”, but for me they got the job done. You can revisit previous years lists if you like, but for now here’s the 2011 list…
The full list, with listening opportunities after the jump…
10. Trombone Shorty – For True
I am a sucker for brass. Just am. This album – a fusion of New Orleans jazz, R&B, rock and pop – delivers. Even with the inclusion of Kid Rock (NOT a fan), It found itself on frequent repeat. Perhaps because it does have Jeff Beck on one track to help offset the Kid Rock factor.
Check out: Dumaine Street (and keep listening for the entire NPR Tiny Desk Concert – Have I ever mentioned how AWESOME Tiny Desk Concerts are?)
9. The Apache Relay – American Nomad
In September of 2011 I caught wind of The Apache Relay. I liked what I heard, but didn’t get too over the top into them. They I found out they were opening for G. Love (hell they might have even bumped G. Love’s really, really good Fixin’ Do Die off this list) at a show I was given tickets to. I started boning up on the disc and soon it was a constant companion. If you know me, you know I am a Springsteen fan. This hits many of those notes for me. They even cover a song off Nebraska.
Check out: Lost Kid
8. Middle Brother – Middle Brother
Seems every year there is an album that I didn’t think was going to make it on the list at first that indeed makes it on the list. Middle Brother is a bit of a super group – of under appreciated musicians. John McCauley of Deer Tick, Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes, and Matt Vasquez of Delta Spirit pull together to produce an awesome album of folk rock. Deer Tick and Delta Spirit have found their way onto my lists before. Goldsmith was the weak link in the group for my ears. Until this year (as #7 will illustrate).
Check out: Middle Brother (not entirely safe for work)
7. Dawes – Nothing is Wrong
Taylor Goldsmith’s outfit has been on my radar for quite a while and several of my friends (who know a lot more about music than I do) swear by them. Just something about them never fully resonated with me. It always seemed like they were trying too hard to capture that ’70s Laurel Canyon/Eagles/Jackson Browne sort of sound. Well, they are still in that neighborhood, but I think they stopped trying too hard and have really nailed it. It’s damn near perfect for what it is.
Check out: Time Spent in Los Angeles
6. Old 97s – Grand Theater Vol 2.
Volume One made the list last year. This one rocks even more and earns an even higher spot.
Check out: Perfume
5. The Decemberists – The King is Dead
I like The Decemberists, always have. Sometimes though you get the impression that they are taking themselves too seriously. Well, two things happened in 2011 to dispel me of that notion. I started following Colin Meloy on Twitter and they released The King is Dead. From the first song you get the impression they just want to keep things simple and not be as dramatic as they wound up being on the (overly self-important?) folk rock opera The Hazards of Love.
Check out: the aforementioned first song Don’t Carry it All
4. Hayes Carll – KMAG YOYO (and Other American Stories)
I have to admit, when I first saw the title of Hayes Carll 2011 album I thought it was some sort of recorded live in studio thingy, but didn’t know where radio station KMAG was. Turns out it’s military slang/acronym for Kiss My Ass Guys, You’re On Your Own. You gotta love Carll.
Check out: KMAG YOYO
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – It’s a Corporate World
Winner of best band name on the list competition. A little bit electronic (reminds you a bit of a mellowed out Passion Pit) but with rock solid harmonies. But they can also make you think you are listening to classic Beatles all at the same time. It’s a style of music that I found myself drawn to more and more as 2011 drew to a close. A number of almost made the list bands fit the bill here.
Check out: Morning Thought
2. The Head and the Heart – The Head and the Heart
My last year’s number 1 was a mocked by some. This year my number 2 may be equally mock-able. They are too trendy in some circles (Though they never attained the traction of Marcus Mumford’s mob). Regardless, I found myself turning The Head and the Heart songs way up on the radio any time they came on. You too may find yourself wishing you were a slave to an age-old trade.
Check out: Down in the Valley
1. John Wesley Harding – The Sound of His Own Voice
I will fully acknowledge that I am a total fan boy on this one. Well, not totally. I am a total fan boy, but the album still is great. Wes’ put out a disc that has backing from members of REM and The Decembrists and contains some stellar songwriting. It’s the type of music you might see on sale at Starbucks.
That is until you hear this… (even if it’s not anti-Starbucks)
David Wax Museum – Everything is Saved
Givers – In Light
The Airborne Toxic Event – All at Once
Deer Tick – Divine Providence
G. Love – Fixin’ To Die
Rural Alberta Advantage – Departing
The Low Anthem – Smart Flesh
Generationals – Actor-Caster
Mike Doughty – Yes and Also Yes
Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire
Drive By Truckers – Go Go Boots