1. (TIE) Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues / Feist – Metals
I’ve mulled over this for a long time and there’s simply NO WAY for me to choose one of these albums over the other. In my opinion, these two stand far apart from the rest. Early in the year, I was blown away by Helplessness Blues, an album that really resonated with ME in this year of my life. Then, in October, Metals came out and I wasn’t really sure what to make of it at first. But the more I listened, the more it felt like my eyes were opening to a universally brilliant piece of art. I guess I could say that Helplessness Blues might be my FAVORITE of the year, while Metals is the BEST.
3. Paul Simon – So Beautiful Or So What
4. Adele – 21
5. The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow
6. The Decemberists – The King Is Dead
7. Tedeschi Trucks Band – Revelator
8. Lisa Hannigan – Passenger
9. Wilco – The Whole Love
10. Amos Lee – Mission Bell
11. Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
12. Dawes – Nothing Is Wrong
13. Beirut – The Rip Tide
14. Laura Marling – A Creature I Don’t Know
15. Middle Brother – Middle Brother
16. The Head and the Heart – The Head and the Heart
17. Florence and the Machine – Ceremonials
18. Alex Ebert – Alexander
19. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
20. My Morning Jacket – Circuital
21. The Strokes – Angles
22. Peter Bjorn & John – Gimme Some
23. Robbie Robertson – How To Become Clairvoyant
24. Chris Thile & Michael Daves – Sleep With One Eye Open
25. Radiohead – The King Of Limbs
Happy New Year!
About this time a year ago, I posted my favorite albums of 2010. Looking at my Top 10 from last year, it’s pretty amazing to think about how they compare to this year. I’m not sure if it’s simply the quality of what’s been released in 2011…or maybe it’s how attached I became to the music…but my favorite albums THIS year seem to be of a much higher caliber. My 2011 list will be up on the 1st of the year!
pH balanced – Top 10 of 2010:
1. Vampire Weekend – Contra
2. Band Of Horses – Infinite Arms
3. Ray LaMontagne & the Pariah Dogs – God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise’
4. Local Natives – Gorilla Manor
5. The Black Keys – Brothers
6. The New Pornographers – Together
7. Josh Ritter – So Runs The World Away
8. Ben Folds & Nick Hornby – Lonely Avenue
9. Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More
10. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Tedeschi Trucks Band – Revelator
Take the power of Susan Tedeschi’s voice and the utter genius of Derek Trucks’ guitarwork and obviously any collaboration between them is brilliant. But this 11-piece ensemble that was carefully crafted for over a year is simply dynamite! Every track on this album is so solid…my favorites include “Come See About Me”, “Bound For Glory”, and “Learn How To Love”.
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Amos Lee – Mission Bell
I have mixed feelings about this album…similar to the feelings I have for the Wilco album. I love Amos Lee’s music, especially his voice, and I really love the band Calexico, who back him on this album. I guess I had higher hopes for the collaboration, but there ARE some really great songs on here. I’d say half are extremely strong, especially “El Camino”, “Windows Rolled Down”, “Violin”, and “Flower”, which happen to be the first four tracks. Honestly those four almost carry the rest of the album for me. They’re that good.
The Decemberists – The King Is Dead
This band isn’t for everyone. They’ve got a very distinctive sound and singer Colin Meloy’s voice is understandably grating to certain ears. For one reason or another, I’m a huge fan of their music. This (their sixth) album is incredibly strong, partially because Gillian Welch’s vocals join seamlessly into 7 of the 10 tracks. Unlike their previous release, The Hazards Of Love, these songs are mostly simple and stripped down. Meloy says the album was “an exercise in restraint” and it certainly paid off. There’s space just where it needs to be, and it’s beautiful.
Adele – 21
Yea, I know, this is a really obvious one. I’ve gotta say though, despite the insane amount of radio play and mainstream success this album saw, it cannot be denied that it’s REALLY GOOD. And you can’t say that about a lot of “popular” music these days. I love Adele and all the she stands for. I remember hearing this album for the first time and immediately being floored by “Rumor Has It”…these days I’m a big fan of “Set Fire To The Rain” and “I’ll Be Waiting”. Like you, I could probably do without hearing “Rolling In The Deep” or “Someone Like You” for a solid year…but it’s still great to hear a truly talented person’s songs getting overplayed.
Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
This year, Helplessness Blues grabbed hold of me and never really let go. I don’t think I’ve ever listened to an album quite so many times without growing tired of it. These songs are filled with moments that make my heart swell, give me goosebumps, and take my breath away. There’s only one other album I’ve heard this year that comes close to the beauty of this one…I’ve yet to decide which will be my top choice…
The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow
It’s truly hard to believe that John Paul White and Joy Williams have only known each other for a few years. In 2008, they were brought together for a blind songwriting session and they clicked…to say the least! Their debut album, Barton Hollow is brilliant. The songs evoke a range of emotions with their breathtaking harmonies and delicate instrumentation. The chemistry between these two makes them one of my favorite live acts of the year as well…check out their live TV debut on Jay Leno:
The Civil Wars
Wilco – The Whole Love
48 hours ago, I was planning to write this post and I knew just how I’d start – “I want to LOVE this new Wilco album…but I don’t.” But something happened over the course of the last few days as I listened again for the umpteenth time…and while this album still isn’t my favorite of the year, I like it a whole lot more than I did before. There are certain tracks that I’m not a fan of, but there are some seriously beautiful moments on here…I especially love track 6, “Born Alone” and the epic 12 minute album closer, “One Sunday Morning” which has such a great vibe to it.