Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The 2011 David Music Poll Results

The 2011 David Music Poll Results

1. Adele, 21 (42 votes)
2. Bon Iver, Bon Iver (29)
3. Florence + the Machine, Ceremonials (25)
4. The Decemberists, The King is Dead (17)
5. Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues (15)
6. M83, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (10)
Cults, Cults (10)
Radiohead, King of Limbs (10)
Lady Gaga, Born This Way (10)

Runners up: Death Cab for Cutie, Codes and Keys (8), Lykki Li, Wounded Rhymes (8), The Weeknd, House of Balloons (8), PJ Harvey, Let England Shake (7), Feist, Metals (7), The Head and the Heart, The Head and the Heart (7)

Notes: We had 89 respondents this year, and two impressive feats for Adele here. Ahe ekes out the highest vote total in the history of the poll (beating 2007’s The Neon Bible by Arcade Fire by one vote). And, for the first time in thirteen years, the collective poll’s top choice matches my own. As many of you say: It was Adele’s year. So how could we resist? Bon Iver, Florence + the Machine, and Fleet Foxes had strong showings for second albums, which is not always the case in the music poll (Arcade Fire notwithstanding). Radiohead hit the list for the fourth time – a first that Death Cab for Cutie would have matched if they’d gotten two more votes.

My choices leave me Rolling in the Deep

I must confess that this was not a particularly great music year for me. Good, yes. Great, no. I think any of my top four from last year would have beat the following for #1 this year. But so it goes. There’s still a lot to be happy about.

(1) Adele, 21

It’s a great album, and I spent the first half of the year listening to it fairly nonstop. And if contains at least three undeniably great songs (hello, “Rolling in the Deep”, “Turning Tables”, and “Someone Like You” – all of which will be played fifty years from now.) If I’m at all hesitant, it’s because Adele fatigue has set in – I’m ready to not listen to this for a while. But for posterity’s sake, it would be ridiculous of me to not recognize this as the album that was most essential to my year.

Best tracks: “Someone Like You”, “Turning Tables”, “Rolling in the Deep”

(2) Florence + the Machine, Ceremonials

Ultimately, this will probably prove more important to me than Adele’s album . . . but it hasn’t quite broken through to that point yet. I imagine I’m being unfair to it, like a parent who is secretly disappointed that the second child isn’t quite as awesome as the first one. Lungs is going to end up being one of my favorite albums of all time; I suspect Ceremonials will end up being (when I look back) one of my favorite albums of 2011. I also don’t know whether or not to count the bonus tracks on the deluxe edition of the album, which aren’t nearly as good as the album proper. But putting that aside, it’s still a stunner. And “Shake it Out” came close to being my song of the year.

Best tracks: “Shake it Out”, “No Light, No Light”, “What the Water Gave Me”

(3) Death Cab for Cutie, Codes and Keys

Just as my love for Lungs makes me too critical of Ceremonials, my disappointment in Narrow Stairs probably made me like Codes and Keys more. It’s indie pop at its best, with songs like “Some Boys” adding an edge to the romanticism.

Best tracks: “Some Boys”, “Codes and Keys”, “Stay Young, Go Dancing”

(4) Lykke Li, Wounded Rhymes

Although there would be echoes of it in albums that came out later in the year, what struck me most about Wounded Rhymes was its singular sound – merging the Spector touch with indie rock to make music that harkened back to Be My Baby while at the same time feeling very now. Sexy, sad, and Swedish.

Best tracks: “Sadness is a Blessing”, “Youth Knows No Pain”, “Get Some”

Honorable mention:

Bon Iver, Bon Iver
Feist, Metals
Alexi Murdoch, Towards the Sun

The Firework Award for Song That Made Me Happiest This Year: Kelly Clarkson’s “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)”

Songs of the Year (not counting those mentioned above):

Matt Nathanson, “Kiss Quick”
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, “Heart in Your Heartbreak”
The Head and the Heart, “Rivers and Roads”
Avril Lavigne, “I Love You”
Fleet Foxes, “Helplessness Blues”
Robyn, “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” (Coldplay cover)

Rumor Has Rachel L’s Picks

1. Adele, 21
2. Christina Perri, Lovestrong
3. Coldplay, Mylo Xyloto

Elisa votes for Civilians

1. Wye Oak, Civilian
2. tUnE-yArDs, Whokill
3. Light Asylum, In Tension (EP)
4. Shabazz Palaces, Black Up
5. EMA, Past Martyred Saints
6. PJ Harvey, Let England Shake
7. Sons and Daughters, Mirror Mirror
8. Wild Flag, S/T
9. Das Racist, Relax
10. Kate Bush, Director's Cut

So Beautiful, So Sarah W. Says

Most Essential: Paul Simon, So Beautiful, So What

Anna Q Lets It Shake

Adele, 21

Civil Wars, Barton Hollow

Corinne Bailey Rae, The Sea*

Decemberists, The King Is Dead

Feist, Metals

PJ Harvey, Let England Shake

Florence and the Machine, Lungs*

Gaby Moreno, Illustrated Songs

(*- not 2011 releases, but listened to throughout 2011)

Andrew H Stands on Ceremonials

Most Essential Album
Florence + The Machine, Ceremonials
But Most Essential Song
Lana Del Ray, “Video Games”
Other Essential Albums
Bon Iver, Bon Iver
Various Artists, The Breaking Dawn Soundtrack (with no apologies – it’s boot-stompingly, heart-chillingly fantastic)

Steven M’s Diamond Life

10. Cass McCombs, Wit's End - not sure how I've missed this guy (this is his fifth record). Singer-songwriter stuff, but pretty sparse, depressing, slow and dark. I find it captivating, and love his voice, although it sort of peters out by the end. Maybe would have been the album Harry Nilsson would be making if he was still around and backed up by The Clientele. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOcnITphyjk&ob=av2e

9. Radiohead, The King of Limbs. Full disclosure - they are my favorite band. I would buy just about anything they put out, no questions asked. Naturally, I eagerly anticipated this 2011 release and devoured it as soon as I got it. I have mixed emotions about it - I love the last four songs, but the first four don't do as much for me. The first four are amazing and a tremendous achievement, meaning I can't imagine any other band being able to play and construct those songs. However, other than "Little by Little," they seem to be missing something, namely a memorable hook or melody line for me. In some ways, they are in another world musically, not needing the typical song constructs to make their point. As for the final four tunes, I love them, they're so complex yet accessible. "Give up the Ghost" sounds like a long lost Neil Young tune, great touch. Here's the last tune on the record, a little disconcerting, the video is backwards, everyone plays left handed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaVylBJQsro Can't wait to see them on tour in 2012 if I'm lucky enough. No band comes close. Still have no idea why they added a second drummer though...

8. Feist, Metals. At first, this didn't grab me like it has at this point. I think things changed after seeing her live on this tour - I understand what she's trying to do a little more - use the vocals instead of other instruments to solo. I was hoping for another "The Reminder," but this is a departure from that. I especially love the background vocals throughout the record, pretty amazing. This could have been at the top of the list if it had a stronger single. With a single on par with "Mushaboom," this could have been a classic record. Still, really well-written and sung tunes, just a little too slow to bring out her best. She's still the best female rock star. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INtvoVTYeGc

7. Lykke Li, Wounded Rhymes - I have the record she made before this, which I enjoy, but she made a big step on this record - much more consistent in both quality and as a record as a whole. I definitely enjoy the record more than the concert, which I thought became tiresome. I really like the influences on this record - '60's Rock and roll, heavy percussive drums, never as present as in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7hqiiKwuJE

6. Little Scream, The Golden Record - Wow, when did this list turn into the "Lilith Faire," with three female artists in a row? Not as surprising as my three Swedish artists in a row in '10's list, but interesting nonetheless. As far as I can tell, Little Scream is, like Feist, from Montreal. Some of these songs are really really good, and the performances are great. No telling what the ceiling is for Little Scream, the songs are varied, not formulaic and all hit the mark. My favorite song isn't necessarily the best, but my favorite because its very Townshend/Who-ish, judge for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zafwnCzuO9M My hope for the years to come is for Little Scream to team up with Thom Yorke, what a combination that would be.

5. Dawes, Nothing is Wrong - Solid songwriting from an LA band - nothing incendiary, but a good listen, Americana/roots music-style. Like Lykke Li, the better performance is on the record, they could tighten things up live. Perhaps a little too Jackson Browne/classic rock sounding, but hey one of the great revelations in the Keith Richards' book is that he listened to "Running on Empty" ("We were in the Pathé Marconi studios because they were owned by EMI, with whom we'd just made a big deal. This one was way on the outskirts of town in Boulogne-Billancourt, near the Renault factory; nothing around like restaurants or bars. It was a car ride, and I remember that I was listening to Jackson Browne's Running on Empty on a daily commuter basis."). In fact, this song has him on it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdjxDLZrtKQ. Like the harmonies between the two brothers, including the drummer.
4. The Naked and Famous, Passive Me Agressive You: it's about time a Kiwi band made it back on the list. Just a fun record, good time music, a good tonic for just about every record preceding this on the list. What they lack in musical chops they more than make up in energy, sophmoric mostly, but without sounding teenage. Good mostly synth party record. Not the greatest song, but what a great title in "A Wolf in Geek's Clothing." You had me at "A Wolf..." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQOwFyGG9Bc

3. Belle Brigade, Belle Brigade - The opener on the now legendary Belle Brigade/Dawes/Blitzen Trapper show this Fall at the Fillmore, I had no expectations. However, the band was hot, performances and vocals spectacular, what a great set. Definitely glad we got there early that night. At that point, I already had the record, and enjoyed it. From the record, I hadn't put it together that the singers are brother and sister. But instead playing Phil and Don, its more of a Nash and Crosby harmony sound, they actually shoot for a CSN sound and pull it off. To credit the vocals for the success of the record is shortsighted - the songs are strong alt.country with inspired performances. Once they get some more tunes under their belt, they could be a force. Quite a debut record. Here's a song with them without the band. In the bath. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1p7EG65tf4

2. Nick Lowe, The Old Magic - I spent a lot of the first part of the year listening to Nick Lowe's back catalog, finding my favorites being the later half of his career. I went to a memorable Elvis Costello this summer and Elvis played "Peace, Love, and Understanding," introducing it as written by England's greatest songwriter - Nick Lowe. From that point on, I was excited about "The Old Magic," and he, as usual, didn't disappoint. Shelagh and I were lucky enough to see him play the record solo at the Great American Music Hall, and the songs and performance were charming and impeccable. He makes songwriting seem so easy. Each song is fantastic, though the 50's songs are probably one too many, but that's nitpicking. What I would do to be able to write a song like "Stoplight Roses" or "House For Sale (at 9:12 of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKhawkQQQmY)." He's also kind enough to throw in "The Poisoned Rose," from my favorite Elvis record, "King of America." He opened up for Wilco this year on tour, must have been a hell of a show.

1. King Creosote & Jon Hopkins, Diamond Mine - This was one of the last records I heard this year, and am so glad I was able to find it. Just absolutely mesmerizing. When I play it in iTunes, it comes up as "electronica," but I believe its the "folkiest" record I've bought in years. It's a mix of Creosote's stripped down songs and Hopkins' smart production and electronic input, somewhat like Alan Parson's additions to "Dark Side of the Moon." Creosote himself decribes it as a ""soundtrack to a romanticized version of a life lived in a Scottish coastal village, the record weaves in slices of life, bike wheels, spring tides, tea cups and cafe chatter." One of those records I wish was a little longer, just an intense atmosphere of a Scottish world through words, music and effects. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJ723RFTe4Q

Best music moment of the year - Without a doubt, the highlight of the year, musically speaking, was getting a chance to meet THE Brian Wilson at Amoeba Records, as he signed a copy of the recently released "Smile" for me. Other than Mozart himself arising from the dead, I can't imagine meeting a bigger musical hero. What a thrill, I couldn't have been happier, and all he said to me was, "your welcome."

My favorite two songs of the year were Mogwai's "White Noise" the (naturally) instrumental opener from the best named record of the year, "Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ovFDMCPoHQ; and Low's "Try To Sleep" from "C'Mon": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXgc0I0zsYs (best use of Stamos since "Stepbrothers").

Ben W Turns Some Tables

1. Adele, 21
2. Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues
3. Beyonce, 4
4. Jay Z and Kanye West, Watch the Throne
5. Lady Gaga, Born this Way
6. Paul Simon, So Beautiful or So What
7. Radiohead, King of Limbs
8. The Decemberists, The King is Dead

Favorite new band is Aunt Martha.

Ned V. Strikes Out for the Riviera

Most essential:

Metronomy, The English Riviera

Other essential:
The Strokes, Angles

Rock on!

Stewart L, Blake Baby

1) Jonsi, Go*
2) James Blake, James Blake
3) Imogen Heap, Ellipse*
4) Kate Bush, 50 Words For Snow
5) Mike Doughty, Yes And Also Yes
6) One Eskimo, One Eskimo, EP
7) Mat Kearny, Young Love
8) Radical Face, Ghost
9) Thom Yorke, The Eraser*
10) Gregory Alan Isakov, This Empty Northern Hemisphere

(*- not 2011 releases, but listened to throughout 2011)

Megan B’s Essentials: DeCoded

So here are my essential albums for 2011:

1. Death Cab for Cutie, Codes and Keys
2. Foo Fighters, Wasting Light
3. Adele, 21
4. Florence and the Machine, Ceremonials
5. Radiohead, King of Limbs
Singles:1. Death Cab for Cutie, Stay Young Go Dancing2. Adele, Rolling in the Deep3. Florence and the Machine, What the Water Gave Me4. Black Keyes, Lonely Boy5. Beastie Boys featuring Santigold, Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win6. Young the Giant, Cough Syrup

Jeff S, Arch Loafer

Here’s my top 10 for the year:

1. Archers of Loaf, Icky Mettle reissue! / Can, Tago Mago reissue! / Superchunk, Foolish reissue!

2. The Weeknd, House of Balloons & Thursday

3. Youth Lagoon, The Year of Hibernation

4. Battles, Gloss Drop

5. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Belong

6. PJ Harvey, Let England Shake

7. Iceage, New Brigade

8. Bon Iver, Bon Iver

9. Holy Ghost, Holy Ghost

10. Fucked Up, David Comes to Life

Aimee F. Finds Someone Like You

These are my shameless-pop single picks:

Obvious, but: SOMEONE LIKE YOU (Adele)

It’s sort of terrible, but can’t stop listening: MOVES LIKE JAGGER (Maroon 5)

Ditto: S&M (Rihanna)




Clearly I was in a dancing mood this year…

Dan P Rages for the Machine

This one's easy:

1. Florence + the Machine, Ceremonials
2. Bon Iver, Bon Iver
3. Patrick Wolf, Lupercalia
4. Adele, 21

One I missed from last year:
The Naked and Famous, Passive Me Agressive You

And some with future potential:
Katie Herzig, The Waking Sleep
Youth Lagoon, The Year of Hibernation

Corey W, Bon Vivant

My most essential album for the year:

1. Bon Iver, Bon Iver

Best Single of the Year:

1. "We Are Young," Fun, Some Nights

Wye? Because Jon S Loves Them!

The number ten cannot contain my favorite albums for the year!

12. Fucked Up, David Comes to Life
11. Times New Viking, Dancer Equired
10. Wild Flag, Wild Flag
9. Wavves, Life Sux
8. Zola Jesus, Conatus
7. Tom Waits, Bad As Me
6. EMA, Past Life Martyred Saints
5. Lykke Li, Wounded Rhymes
4. Bon Iver, Bon Iver
3. Youth Lagoon, The Year of Hibernation
2. tUnE yArDs, w h o k i l l

And my favorite album of the year, from a band who I've always loved and who I have watched mature over the course of several albums into artists I hope will be a lasting influence on rock music:

1. Wye Oak, Civilian

Kate H’s Bon Mots

#1: Bon Iver, Bon Iver

runners up:

Radiohead, King of Limbs

Other Lives, Tamer Animals

The Black Keys, El Camino

Feist, Metals

Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi, Rome

discoveries from previous years:

Gayngs, Relayted

The XX, XX

Doomtree, Doomtree

Four Tet, There Is Love In You

Lucas K Hurries Up His Choices

1. M83, Hurry Up We're Dreaming
2. The Antlers, Burst Apart
3. Cut Copy, Zonoscope
4. The Go! Team, Rolling Blackouts
5. The Mountain Goats, All Eternals Deck
6. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Belong
7. The Decemberists, The King is Dead
8. Jay-Z/Kanye West, Watch the Throne
9. Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues
10. Sebastian, Total

Michael T is Workng for the Weeknd

Here is a list (in descending order) of my favorite albums and songs of the year.

1. The Weeknd: House of Balloons
2. Cults: Cults
3. tUnE-yArDs: whokill
4. James Blake: James Blake
5. Bon Iver: Bon Iver

1. Azealia Banks: 212
2. Fun.: We Are Young
3. Foster the People: Pumped Up Kicks
4. Laura Marling: Sophia
5. Cut Copy: Need You Now

Jeff H Rolls Some Stones

Didn't hear alot of the bigger albums this year but I really liked....

Raphael Saadiq, Stone Rollin

Adele, 21

Yeesh, that Adele pick makes me feel so middle of the road. But what can you do? It's good.

Bright Eyes Has the Key to Josh B’s Heart

My essential albums of 2011 are:

Bright Eyes, The People's Key
PJ Harvey, Let England Shake
Wilco, The Whole Love

Bright Eyes is my favorite, even with the weird rambling speeches by a possibly insane person between the songs.

Jinny W Finds Music For a Time of War

Here are my picks:

1. Carlos Kalmar and the Oregon Symphony, Music for a Time of War.

2. Emerson String Quartet, Mozart's Prussian Quartets.

3. Takacs String Quartet, Haydn Quartets Op. 71.

Dissing Places, Kody K Votes for People and Things

1. Jack's Mannequin, People and Things
2. The Civil Wars, Barton Hallow
3. Adele, 21
4. All Time Low, Dirty Work
5. Lady Gaga, Born This Way
6. Jessie J, Who You Are

Best Import:
Birdy, Birdy

Best Singles:
1. Fun, We Are Young
2. Taylor Swift ft. The Civil Wars, Safe and Sound
3. Snow Patrol, New York

Kristen K’s One and Only

1. Adele, 21Favorite songs:Nicki Minaj, Super BassFuck You, Cee Lo Green

...is the same as Alecia’s One and Only

My fave this year was 21 by Adele.

Matthue R Goes Camp

Weird thing: There's not much punk/loud stuff on here. I mean, Wild Flag, but that might be a vote for my past. I think that the most exciting stuff I'm finding is stuff that I'm just starting to give a second thought to? Also, other thing: A lot of the albums here are free mixtapes that the artists give away online. I mean, I love the hip-hop community.

most essential: Childish Gambino, Camp

2. Wild Flag, Wild Flag
3. Frank Ocean, nostalgia, ultra.
4. Shondes, Searchlights
5. Regina Spektor, Live in London
6. Roots, undun
7. Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday
8. Girls in Trouble, Like You, Like Me
9. The Amy Winehouse uncollected-songs album.
10. House of Balloons, The Weeknd

For Kirsten H, No Poison Iver

but of course, number one goes to:

Bon Iver: Bon Iver

others I adore:

M83: Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

TV on the Radio: Nine Types of Light

Lykke Li: Wounded Rhymes

The Joy Formidable: The Big Roar

Tegan and Sara: Get Along

Radiohead: The King of Limbs

Nero: Welcome Reality (...that's right, I included a dubstep album)

The Antlers: Burst Apart

Explosions in the Sky: Take Care, Take Care, Take Care

Scott T Bangs His Drums

2011 Most Essential Album

The Drums, Portamento - catchiest record of the year for me. In heavy heavy rotation via Spotify until I finally got my Xmas copy

Other 2011 Essentials

Cut Copy, Zonoscope - follow-up to another essential proves equally essential
Ladytron, Gravity the Seducer - another classic from Ladytron
Washed Out, Within and Without - Infectious from first listen

Essentials Discovered in 2011

Bag Raiders, Bag Raiders (2010) - another brilliant Aussie electropop band
Daft Punk, Tron:Legacy Soundtrack (2010) - film was just an excuse for this amazing record. It almost made the movie good.

Patrick C Joins the Cult of Cults

Cults - Cults. Fell for the 60's vibe!

Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues

Sara R loves her Girl Talk

Girl Talk, All Day

in part because of Girl Walk All Day, which is deeply joyous and fantastic.

I could mention other albums but really that is the one which was most essential in 2011.

Elana V Keeps Her Bones

My picks are:
1. Frank Turner, England Keep My Bones -- he's my favorite and best discovery of the year; "I Still Believe" is an essential single

Followed by -- The Decemberists, The Kind is Dead;
And of course, Adele.

Kate W Chooses Her King

King of Limbs, Radiohead
Brothers, The Black Keys
Live at Third Man, White Denim

Matthew U Sets Fire to the Rain

Most essential album:
Adele, 21
It's her year, there's no escaping it...

Other essential albums:
Gillian Welch, The Harrow and the Harvest
The Civil Wars, Barton Hollow
Moby, Destroyed
Brian Eno, Drums Between the Bells
Shpongle, The God Particle (EP, full album coming soon)

Artist I bought this year that I can't believe I wasn't already worshipping:
Neko Case, all her albums

Discoveries from the past:
Groove Armada, Black Light
Deadmau5, 4x4=12

Preeti C Heads Toward a Fall

Essential album of 2011: Gorillaz – The Fall
My favorite 2011 discovery (though it came out in 2010): Kid Canaveral – Shouting at the Wildlife

Dean B.’s Tide is High

Favorite Albums of 2011:1. Beirut - Rip Tide2. Alexi Murdoch - Towards The Sun3. Ryan Adams - Ashes & Fire4. Radiohead - King Of Limbs5. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake6. Bon Iver - s/t7. R.E.M. - Collapse Into Now8. Mike Doughty - Yes And Also Yes9. Feist - Metals10. Eddie Vedder - Ukelele Songs11. Thao & Mirah - s/t

2011 Favorites Mix Tape1. Lotus Flower – Radiohead2. Sad Song – The Cars3. Under Cover of Darkness – The Strokes4. Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win – Beastie Boys f/Santogold5. Discoverer - R.E.M.6. The Trick – Das Racist7. Keep Your Heart - TV on the Radio8. East Harlem – Beirut9. The Glorious Land – PJ Harvey10. How Dare You – Thao & Mirah11. Ashes & Fire – Ryan Adams12. Comfort Me – Feist13. Rational Man – Mike Doughty14. You Are A Tourist – Death Cab for Cutie15. The Broken Places – Moby16. Holocene – Bon Iver17. Virus – Bjork18. Through The Dark – Alexi Murdoch19. One Sunday Morning - Wilco

Josh L’s King David

1. Decemberists, The King is Dead2. Fucked Up, David Comes to Life

Scott D’s Bout That Life

1. Lady, Bout Dat Life2. Lady Gaga, Born This Way3. Rihanna, Talk That Talk

Rob M’s Counting His Days

1. Real Estate - Days
2. Caged Animals - Eat Your Own
3. Bewitched Hands - Birds & Drums
4. Yuck - S/T
5. Cloud Nothings - S/T
6. Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost
7. Hooray For Earth - True Loves
8. New Animal - S/T
9. Black Lips - Arabia Mountain
10. Hotel Mexico - His Jeweled Letter Box
11. War On Drugs - Future Weather
12. Ume - Phantoms
13. The Horrors - Skying

Fiona S Takes it All

Adele, 21

Florence and the Machine, Ceremonials

The Decemberists, The King is Dead

Coldplay, Mylo Xyloto

Beyonce, 4

Almost Great/Should have been:

Lady Gaga, Born This Way

Jasper D Shakes it Out

Most essential album of 2011:

Florence and the Machine, Ceremonials

Other essential albums of 2011, in no particular order:

Adele, 21
Lady Gaga, Born This Way
Lykke Li, Wounded Rhymes
Jessie J, Who You Are
Rachael Yamagata, Chesapeake
Patrick Wolf, Lupercalia
Ellie Goulding, Lights
Bjork, Biophilia
St. Vincent, Strange Mercy

What a fantastic year for music.

Lauren O Rises the Ashes

Ryan Adams, Ashes and Fire!
Incredible writing, driving, and lounging-by-the-fire-doing-nothing accompaniment. :)

Paula M Keys In Her Choices

It was hard to narrow down the list but I think I have finally done it. 1. Death Cab for Cutie, Codes and Keys This was a hard call to make. Death Cab and Florence + the machine were my top choices. If I were being completely honest, I'd tell you Florence had the better album and I let my sick obsession with Death Cab color my decision. But honesty be damned. I decided to pick Codes and Keys because it was most essential to me even if it wasn't the best album of the year. 2. Florence + the machine, Ceremonials Fine, I'll be honest. It was the best. 3. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, BelongI discovered this album because Rhapsody recommended it and I absolutely love it. I've sung it's praises to many people. However, no one seems to have heard of it. I'm not exactly on the cutting edge of the music scene so this leads me to believe that the band may not actually exist. 4. Destroyer, KaputtI have been a long time Destroyer fan and this album does not disappoint. It makes me quite happy. 5. The Head and The Heart, The Head and The HeartI'm not sure if this one actually counts. I loved the album but I only recently learned it was actually a re-release. (Not on the cutting edge, remember?) Do re-releases count here? Probably not but this album was essential to me. 6. Bon Iver, Bon IverI finally caught up and got on the Bon Iver wagon. Everyone was right. It's amazing. 7. Adele, 21I know she has been horrendously over played. My husband is so sick of her he can barely control his verbal assaults each time she comes on the radio. But this album broke my heart. It broke my heart into a hundred pieces and threw them on the floor. Afterwards, it helped me pick up every piece. And what more can you really ask of an album? 8. Real Estate, DaysThis was a late in the year find but it became essential quite quickly. Just listen to "It's Real." 9. Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost
It's just a good, old fashioned album about love and heartbreak.

10. M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
Some songs can be skipped but they had me at "Midnight City."
11ish. If number 5 doesn't count, move everything else up and add Alex Turner at number 10.

Honorable Mention
Bright Eyes, The People's Key
Foo Fighters, Wasting Light
Big Talk, Big Talk
Alex Turner, Submarine
Cat's Eyes, Cat's Eyes
Tune-yards, w h o k i l l

Bill K Goes for the Head, Heart

1) The Head and the Heart/The Head and the Heart Perfect chill-out music for an evening drive. Harmonies straight out of the Indigo Girls playbook. If you don't like "Rivers and Roads"
there may be something wrong with you.

2) Foster the People/Torches
Awesome pop music. Listened to it a million times this summer and fall. "Call It What You Want" is my favorite track.

3) Adele/21
'Twas the year of Adele. Did you know that "Someone Like You" was the first number one song in more than a decade to feature just piano and vocal. A fact.

4) Guster/Easy Wonderful
Maybe this is a 2010, but man is it good. I found it in 2011 so that's enough for me.

5) Haley Reinhart
I know. American Idol is over. But this girl is so amazing, I could, as Simon Cowell might have said, listen to her sing the phone book.
Her version of Benny and the Jets was my favorite vocal performance of the year.

Rex O. has the Hundred in his Hands

THE HUNDRED IN THE HANDS (self-titled album) is easily my fave new band.
NEW YOUNG PONY CLUB (album: Optimist) comes in as a close second.
CRYSTAL CASTLES(self-titled) in third.
ADELE, 21 in fourth

Eamon T Says This to All The Girls

Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost
(Each record keeps getting better. Amazing.)

The Kills - Blood Pressure
(How two people can be this cool is beyond me.)

Lady Gaga - Born This Way

Chapel Club - Palace
(Best new English band.)

Blood Orange - Coastal Grooves
(Dev Hynes latest and best project to date.)

Adele - 21
(Also undeniable.)

Beth Ditto - Beth Ditto EP
(She's everything.)

Wild Flag - Wild Flag
(The 90's really are alive in Portland. Rock n' Roll chicks. Yes!)

Hercules and Love Affair - Blue Songs
(Real disco)

Florence and the Machine - Ceremonials
(As much as I don't want to like this...I find myself singing Shake It Off on a daily basis)

Honorable Mentions...
Pj Harvey - Let England Shake
Cults - Cults
Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Belong
The Rapture - In the Grace of Your Heart

Looking forward to in 2012
Scissor Sisters - not in love with the single they just released...but can see it's commercial appeal
Lady Gaga - just announced she'll be putting out another record. Don't know how Mother Monster does it all.
Suede - rumors are that they're working on new material

Alaya J’s Americana Harvest

Most essential album of the year:

The Harrow and the Harvest, Gillian Welch (Welch's first album in eight years. Every song is gorgeous. Her voice is one for the ages.
David Rawlings' guitar gently weeps, and you haven't heard harmony until you listen to them sing together. This album felt like a gift.)

Other favorite albums of the year:

The King Is Dead, The Decemberists (Almost made my most essential, except no one can beat Gillian Welch. But she sings on this album!
Which might be my favorite Decemberists record. The English-major-relaxes-in-the-country thing works for them.)

Cults, Cults (I listened to this a lot. I figured it should get a mention on the merits of play count alone.)

El Camino, The Black Keys (Short, sweet and loud.) The Rip Tide, Beirut (This didn't get much love from the press, but I find Beirut compulsively listenable, and this one is no exception).

So Beautiful or So What, Paul Simon (Paul Simon steps up his game.
"Waiting for Christmas Day" and "The Afterlife" are quirky, classic Paul Simon stand outs.)

Helplessness Blues, Fleet Foxes (This didn't sweep me away quite as much as their debut, but it's still an immersive, mesmerizing album.)

Bon Iver, Bon Iver (I don't get the last song. It hurts me. Everything else is great).

Simmerkane II, Chadwick Stokes (I stumbled upon this album via the song "Coffee & Wine," which I strongly suggest you download right now.
Catchy, playful, old-new Americana.)


Pumped Up Kicks, Foster The People (Have I listened to this song about a hundred times since I first heard it? Yes. Have I danced every time?

Shake It Up, Florence + The Machine (The album as a whole doesn't quite work for me, but I love this track).

Blue Jeans, Lana Del Rey (I love this song! Video Games is all right, but this is the one that's got the embarrassingly high play count. It reminds me of how much I, too, love the "Marlon Brando in Streetcar Named Desire" look).

Albums I'm sorry I missed last year:

The Turista, Josh Rouse (I love this guy. It's sort of like soft rock, except I normally hate soft rock. Just easy and beautiful and unpretentious. This might be my favorite album of his yet).

Be My Thrill, The Weepies (Actually, is this a theme? Another easy, unpretentious band. I read a review that described their music as being like a "warm hug." Who doesn't like warm hugs?)

Steven M Says, Long Live the King

1. The Decemberists, The King is Dead
2. Brave Irene, Self-titled
3. Josh Rouse & The Long Vacations, Self-titled
4. Brown Recluse, Evening Tapestry
5. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Belong
6. Chixdiggit, Safeways Here We Come
7. Tenement, Napalm Dream
8. Me First & The Gimme Gimmes, Go Down Under
9. P.S. Eliot, Sadie ________________________________

Bryant P Sings the Blues

Most essential albums of 2011, with most essential tracks for each:1. Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues"Helplessness Blues," "Bedouin Dress," "Montezuma"2. Smith Westerns, Dye It Blonde"Imagine Pt. 3," "Weekend"3. Kelly Clarkson, Stronger"Stronger," "You Can't Win," "Dark Side"4. M83, Hurry Up We're Dreaming"Splendor," "Midnight City"5. Cults, Cults"Never Saw the Point," "Walk at Night"6. Craft Spells, Idle Labor"After the Moment," "Scandinavian Crush"7. The Head and the Heart, The Head and the Heart"Ghosts," "Cats and Dogs"8. Seryn, This Is Where We Are"We Will All Be Changed"9. Tennis, Cape Dory"Cape Dory," "South Carolina"10. The Drums, Portamento"I Don't Know How to Love," "Money"Honorable mention, but not quite essential: Washed Out, Within and Without; Bon Iver, Bon Iver; Toro y Moi, Underneath the Pine; Thao & Mirah, Thao & Mirah; Charles Bradley, No Time for DreamingTracks I listened to the most this year: "Ghosts" by The Head and the Heart (110); "Helplessness Blues" by Fleet Foxes (107); "Imagine Pt. 3" by Smith Westerns (100)

What the Water Gave Marie R

Most essential:
Florence + The Machine, Ceremonials

Also essential:
Adele, 21
Feist, Metals
The Head and the Heart

Erich N Reaches 21, Drinks It In

1. Adele, 21

The Roots, Undun
Jay-Z & Kanye West, Watch the Throne
The Weeknd, House of Balloons
Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday
Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi, Rome
Amos Lee, Mission Bell
Lady Gaga, Born This Way
Beyonce, 4
TV on the Radio, Nine Types of Light

Anna O Joins the Goat Rodeo

Most Essential Album:
Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile, The Goat Rodeo Sessions
If you love classical and bluegrass, this is the album you’ve been waiting for.

Other Favorites:
Beirut, Rip Tide
I go up and down on Beirut, but I enjoyed a lot of the songs on this album

Adele, 21
21 was my first introduction to Adele (I still haven’t listened to all of 19). That voice!

Unfortunately that’s about it for albums. Only since 2009-2010 have I gradually been getting into The Decemberists, Avett Brothers, Vampire Weekend, and Mumford & Sons. So I listened to a lot of their albums last year to my great enjoyment. I can’t get enough of the collaboration between Mumford, The Dharohar Project, and Laura Marling. Only 4 songs, but the amount I’ve played them they seem to be an entire album’s worth.

Teri Y Was Born a Wolf

I think this was a pretty good year for music. Often I find an album I love and then a few months later I find myself not listening to it at all any more. This year I kept going back to albums and not just for that one great single.

This year I had two most essential albums:
Patrick Wolf, Lupercalia
Lady Gaga, Born This Way

Then in no particular order:
The Wanted, Battleground
Ellie Goulding, Bright Lights
Florence + The Machine, Ceremonials
Zebrahead, Get Nice!
Avril Lavigne, Goodbye Lullaby
Cobra Starship, Night Shades
Kelly Clarkson, Stronger
I think it's also important to point out that Robyn, Body Talk is still going strong even though it's been out since 2010.

Top Singles:
Blake Lewis, Heartbreak on Vinyl
Travie McCoy, We'll Be Alright
The Good Natured, Wolves
Britney Spears, Till the World Ends
Karmin, Crash Your Party
Many, many songs from Glee

Best find I missed last year:Chromeo, Business Casual

Lonnie M’s Playing By Heart

Jonathan Coulton, Artificial Heart

Josh R’s Bon Voyage

Bon Iver was hands down my top album of the year, and seeing the band perform live, it was an incredible experience.
Here are my top ten albums of the year:

1: Bon Iver, Bon Iver
2: Feist, Metals
3: Bombay Bicycle Club, A Different Kind of Fix
4: The Antlers, Burst Apart
5: Florence & The Machine, Ceremonials
6: Foster the People, Toches
7: PJ Harvey, Let England Shake
8: Radiohead, The King of Limbs
9: Bright Eyes, The People's Key
10: Coldplay, Xylo Myloto

Elizabeth E Makes Me Stronger

Adele, 21 - Duh.

Kelly Clarkson, Stronger - beware boys everywhere, Kelly is back and she's been screwed over. And it's so much fun for the rest of us!

Florence + the Machine, Ceremonials
The Black Keys, El Camino
Death Cab for Cutie, Codes & Keys
The Decemberists, The King is Dead
Foo Fighters, Wasting Light
Foster the People, Torches
Blind Pilot, We are the Tide
Oh Land, Oh Land
Bon Iver, Bon Iver
Marketa Irglova, Anar
The Jezabels, Prisoner

Kevin W’s Lips Are Unsealed

2011 Albums1. Black Lips, Arabia Mountain -- The best Black Lips effort yet pretty much makes it the best album of the year. I repaired and painted the exterior of my house this summer. I live in Alabama. It's hot in the summer in Alabama, very hot. But this Black Lips album made that a fun experience, truth be told. There are at least six or seven songs on here -- "Raw Meat," "Bone Marrow" and "New Direction" in particular -- that make it impossible to remain in a bad mood.

2. The King Khan Experience, The King Khan Experience -- You know what else is good? Free music. Especially free music by Mr. Supernatural himself. Who cares if this was brought to the world from a car company?

3. The Reigning Sound, Abdication -- Another free album from Scion A/V. Honestly, it's not Greg Cartwright's finest work, but even his B game is better than most people's A game.Top single, 20111. Hunx and His Punkettes, Lover's Lane -- I don't know if this was released under Hunx and his Punx or his Punkettes or what, but it's just a slithering little stunner. I am pretty sure this is what Phil Spector had in his heart of hearts all along.

2. Indian Wars, Tuscaloosa Bar -- Okay, so there are better songs out there, but I'm kind of obligated to list this seeing as I live in T-Town.

Early favorites for best song of 2012
King Khan and His Shrines, Bite My Tongue -- Everybody should see a King Khan show before it's too late. Seriously. If you can't have fun at one of his shows you are likely dead or Newt Gingrich.
Mikal Cronin, Am I Wrong -- This is the flipside to the King Khan track. I know precious little about this guy, but this track's a fine start.

Most disappointing album, 2011
The Ettes, Wicked Will -- Meh. Just meh. I guess she left her best work with The Parting Gifts.

Albums from 2010 that was released too late to make the list:
White Wires, WWII -- Who says I don't appreciate straight-out pop?
Sugar Stems, Sweet Sounds Of -- I mean, really, I like a good pop song.

Annie M Wants Someone Like Adele

Overall the year belongs to Adele, 21
Promising new discovery: Agnes Obel, Philharmonics
Most interesting Sound of Music remix: Brooklyn Rundfunk Orkestrata, The Hills Are Alive
And the Broadway album of the year would have to go to The Book of Mormon

Amanda M and the Big Nine

TV On the Radio, Nine Types of Light

Eugene K Watches the Throne

I don't know that I have an album that I would consider the most essential. It's kind of a toss up between Watch the Throne and Bon Iver and the James Blake.

Kanye West & Jay Z, Watch the Throne
Bon Iver, Bon Iver
James Blake, James Blake
Kendrick Lamar, Seection:80
The Weeknd, House of Balloons
Lykke Li, Wounded Rhymes
EMA, Past Life Martyred Saints
Frank Ocean, Nostanlia/ultra
BEBETUNE$, inhale C-4 $$$$$
dj BC, Another Jay On Earth

Emelia Z, 21 at Heart

Adele, 21
Bon Iver, Bon Iver
Coldplay, Mylo Xyloto

Drew L. Prepares for the Jihad

1. Andrew Jackson Jihad, Knife Man
2. Bomb the Music Industry!, Vacation
3. The Horrible Crowes, Elsie

Honorable mention:

Wu Lyf, Go Tell Fire on the Mountain
Girls, Father, Son, Holy Ghost

Jordan S Drinks the Wine

I think I only have one standout for 2011:

Iron & Wine, Kiss Each Other Clean

Ryan C’s Washed Out 2011

1. Washed Out, Within and Without
2. James Blake, James Blake
3. Destroyer, Kaputt
4. M83, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
5. The Weeknd, House of Balloons
6. JJ, Kills
7. How to Dress Well, Just Once EP
8. Cults, Cults
9. Girls, Father, Son, Holy Ghost
10. Drive soundtrack

Sarah DL’s Show of Compassion

Album of the year: CAKE: Showroom of Compassion although I still haven't forgiven the band for playing their New York shows on the nights of the Passover seder so I couldn't have my Cake and eat it too.

Songs: LMFAO - Sexy and I Know It Serious ear worm. Has the added bonus that my teen daughter is absolutely mortified that I downloaded it. I'm practicing singing it in the car so that I can break it out the next time she and I are in the presence of a karaoke machine. Cause I'm evil that way.

I also admit to a strange fascination with DJ RedFoo, who in addition to being Berry Gordy's son, is a former day trader who's appeared on Jim Cramer's Mad Money. AND he cites my favorite band, Led Zeppelin, as an influence. I used to work on Wall Street. We both like Led Zeppelin. It's like we're….soul mates. But seriously, what I REALLY want to know is: What's the deal with the dude with the box on his head?

Don’t Underestimate the Things Cassandra P Will Do With Her Picks

Here's my list, ranked in order (reluctantly):

1. Adele, 21
2. The Weeknd, Thursday
3. The Weeknd, House of Balloons
4. Beyonce, 4
5. Drake, Take Care
6. Rihanna, Talk That Talk
7. Florence + the Machine, Ceremonials
8. Jay-Z and Kanye West, Watch the Throne
9. Wale, Ambition
10. The Weeknd, Echoes of Silence

Ronnie A’s Favorite Movie Moments

A number of movies this year shunned original scores and used classical pieces to great effect. The two best were Tree of Life (favorite cut: Zbigniew Preisner’s Lacrimosa 2 during the creation sequence) and the opening of Melancholia with Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde (the only movie this year to use that music properly). The rest:

Le Havre, Little Bob kicks ass
Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Attack the Block, Basement Jaxx
Jane Eyre, Dario Marianelli
Moneyball, “The Mighty Rio Grande” by This Will Destroy You and “The Show,” written by Lenka, performed by Kerris Dorsey
Take Shelter, David Wingo
Carey Mulligan singing New York, New York in Shame
Downton Abbey, the moment Sybil comes down to dinner wearing her bloomers. I can listen to that music cue over and over (Alfie Boe)

Veronica W’s List Bursts Apart

The Antlers, Burst Apart
Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues
Adele, 21
Cults, Cults
Lykke Li, Wounded Rhymes
The Decemberists, The King Is Dead

Megan S, Fleet of Foot

I'm finding it increasingly hard each year to find albums that 1) I love from top to bottom and 2) I return to again and again, which are my primary criteria for a top 10 list. Thus, my list this year is a very short one. In a very particular order:

1. Helplessness Blues - Fleet Foxes
2. Middle Brother - Middle Brother
3. The Whole Love - Wilco
4. Parallax - Atlas Sound

Top Discoveries From Previous Years (in no particular order):
1. The Monitor - Titus Andronicus
2. Epic - Sharon Van Etten
3. Sam Cooke at the Copa - Sam Cooke
4. Running On Empty - Jackson Browne
5. Let It Be - The Replacements

Julian H, Foxy As Ever

1. Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues
2. M83, Hurry Up We're Dreaming
3. Neon Indian, Era Extra
4. Beirut, The Rip Tide
5. Hooray for Earth, True Loves
6. Handsome Furs, Sound Kapital
7. Lady Gaga, Born This Way (Bonus Track Version)

Cora K, Rapturous

The Rapture, In the Grace of Your Love
The Vaccines, What Did You Expect From the Vaccines
The Drums, Portamento
Above and Beyond, Group Therapy
Gotye, Making Mirrors
Best concert: The Rapture at The Corner Hotel, MelbourneBest DJ: Above and Beyond, Amnesia, IbizaMost memorable festival experience: Portishead at Harvest Festival, Weribee. They were so dark that free therapy sessions should have been given out afterwards.

Rhiannon F Goes with the Flo

Ok best album - Florence + the Machine - Ceremonials.

Also over here in sunny ol' England there was an advert around Christmas time for John Lewis (department store) and they had this really cute kid in it but the song behind I loved. It was Slow Moving Millie with Please, please, please let me get what I want. A cover of The Smiths and also She + Him did a cover of it for 500 Days of Summer but Slow Moving Millie's version is so nice.

Bon Appetit, Melissa W!

My list is short this year, as I didn't discover much, just dove back into my old stuff and basked in nostalgia for the most part. But on the 2011, front...

1. Bon Iver, Bon Iver
2. Cults, Cults
3. Wilco, The Whole Love
4. Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues
And, new to me, but perhaps long-known to other parents around Brooklyn and the world:
5. Various, Music for Aardvarks and Other Mammals ("Tess" is a standout)

Kathleen P says Trapper is a Keeper

Blitzen Trapper - American Goldwing
Cassettes Won't Listen - Evinspacey
The Dears - Degeneration Street
The Decembrists - The King is Dead
Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
Kooley High - Presents David Thompson
Lupe Fiasco - Lasers
Oh Land - Oh Land
Rihanna - Talk That Talk
Tennis - Cape Dory

Special Mention For a Most Promising EP - Glass Candy, Warm in the Winter

Maggie S Catches a Cab

Favorite 2011 Albums
1 - Death Cab for Cutie - Codes and Keys
2 - Zoe Keating - Into the Trees
3 - Boy & Bear - Moonfire
4 - Florence & the Machine - Ceremonials

Notes: Three of these are by artists I loved so much I didn’t think they could pull off an album I would like as well or —gasp — even better than their previous ones. But Death Cab, Florence, and Zoe delivered three albums that are that Holy Grail of music — songs that are fantastic on their own but make even more sense as an album. Boy & Bear is an Australian newcomer for me. It was what I WANTED the Fleet Foxes album to be.

Favorite Albums I Found in 2011 (Not from 2011)
- Ramona Falls - Intuit (2009)
- Fionn Regan - The End of History(2007)
I’m not sure if I would’ve been sucked into Ramona Falls without their weird and distressing music video for “I Say Fever,” but I DID see the video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eqZHvpAbss), and the rest is iPod history. Fionn Regan is an Irish songwriter who is always appropriate to play when you have any sort of company over, even when that company is your mother.

2011 Albums I thought would make it, but didn’t:
- Coldplay - Mylo Xyloto (songwriting largely buried by bombastic, big stage production)
Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues (beautiful but inaccessible, with the exception of “Helplessness Blues” and “The Shrine”)
- Feist - Metals (lovely but missing the whimsy of her earlier work)

Favorite 2011 Singles
Coldplay - “Major Minus”
Gotye - “Someone That I Used to Know”
Shinedown - “The War Inside”
Adele - “Rolling in the Deep”
Imogen Heap - “Lifeline”
City & Colour - “Little Hell”
The Civil Wars - “Barton Hollow”
Foster the People - “Pumped Up Kicks”
Lost Lander - “Cold Feet” & “Afraid of Summer”**Lost Lander gets bonus points for being so new and so small that you get to be the cool person for knowing they exist for at least a few months

Favorite Singles I Found in 2011 (Not From 2011)
The Saw Doctors - “Red Cortina (acapella version)
The Submarines - “1940 (AmpLive remix”)
Arcade Fire - “Ready to Start”
Bell X1 - “Snakes & Snakes”
Woodpigeon - “And As the Ship Went Down . . .”

Thu Says, “Bon’s Away!”

a year of great singles trapped inside mediocre albums:

1. bon iver, bon iver
good but nowhere near as good as for emma, forever ago. too much green, not enough white. best tracks: minnesota, WI and michicant.

2. nicolas jaar, space is only noise
apparently this kid was born in the ‘90s. he’s good at replicating the sound of rain falling infinitely outside a gray window, so, kudos.
especially: too many kids finding rain in the dust, keep me there.

3. feist, metals
i’m just happy this exists. most of all for: the circle married the line.

4. st. vincent, strange mercy
i applaud st. vincent for wanting to get weirder, but remembering the ease and glibness with which she told john to marry her in 2007, i wish her lyrical bravado were still the most important part of her music. alas, girl’s still got plenty of moxie with: surgeon, cheerleader, and cruel.

John A: The Oak’s On Him

11.M83: Hurry Up We’re Dreamers
10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.: It’s a Corporate World
9. Bjork: Biophilia
8. PJ Harvey: Let England Shake
7. Fleet Foxes: Helplessness Blues
6. Radiohead: The King of Limbs
5. Elbow: The Seldom Seen Kid
4. Panda Bear: Tomboy
3. Beirut: The Rip Tide
2. The Decemberists: The King is Dead
1. Wye Oak: Civilian

Best “Metal” Record: Anthrax: Worship Music
Best Reissue: Smashing Pumpkins: Siamese Dream
Biggest Surprise: Coldplay: Mylo Xyloto (it doesn’t suck!)
Best Discovery: Riddle of Steel (from St.Louis; broke up in 2003, two killer albums; for fans of Queens of the Stone Age, The Police and Van Halen!)

Jonathan V is in it, Head and Heart

My Favorites of 2011

1. The Head and the Heart, The Head and the Heart
2. F*cked Up, David Comes to Life
3. The Antlers, Burst Apart
4. Destroyer, Kaputt
5. Active Child, You Are All I See
6. M83, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
7. Kate Bush, 50 Words for Snow
8. Beirut, The Riptide
9. Florence & The Machine , Ceremonials
10. Washed Out, Within and Without

1. THE HEAD & THE HEART - The second time listening through this simple, sweet folk album, I knew it was going to be my favorite of not just 2011, but retroactively 2010, 2009, and possibly 2008. Heartfelt, full of quiet yearning, usually an album needs to be “live” to have this same warm vibe.

2. DAVID COMES TO LIFE – A punk epic that redefines the rock opera, this is a truly great record. The track “Just One More Night” must be heard to be believed--imagine a Green Jelly song that gives you chills up and down your spine. Its final strains will be accompanied by the sound of you weeping openly.

3. BURST APART – Get lost in a forest of falsetto and digital fuzz.

4. KAPUTT – Dan Bejar’s lyrics sound like indie pop riddles, his music is downright gorgeous, and he proves on “Kaputt” that he’s capable of morphing from “Hunky Dory” to “Avalon” without losing his essential Canadianness.

5. YOU ARE ALL I SEE – For a good month, you were all I heard! Active Child's music is increasingly indescribable, like the genes of several genres remixing themselves for fun and profit. Just listen to the first minute of “Hanging On”. You won’t know what the hell you’re hearing, and I mean that in the best way.

6. HURRY UP, WE’RE DREAMING – This is another epic M83 album, full of space and awe and unexpected gorgosity. “Midnight City” was the single of the year for me, with its hyperactive electropop rooster chorus.

7. 50 WORDS FOR SNOW –Kate Bush has concocted another beguiling mystery of an album, with its own arch sense of humor and real gravitas. Where else are you going to hear a song about knocking boots with a snowman? And who else can make that song both erotic and heartbreaking? She’s one of our great storytellers, in any medium.

8. THE RIPTIDE – Consistently brilliant. Music that's inventive and old-fashioned at the same time.

9. CEREMONIALS – What’s even better than a year with a great new Kate Bush record? A year that ALSO features a great new record from somebody working in the same mystical, voice-as-sound-weapon vein.

10. WITHIN AND WITHOUT – Car commercial music mixed with sex scene music, what more do you want?

More Than Honorable Mention:

We Are Augustines for unbridled muppet passion, Feist for a wonderfulness that I have officially taken for granted, Iron and Wine for pretty much the same thing, The Decemberists for their brilliant skin-shedding act, John Maus for his borderline-satire-synths, and The Vaccines for earnestly punky britpop.

Albums of the Year that Weren’t from the Year:

Three of the best albums I heard in 2011 were not from 2011, two of them not even remotely…

The Blue Nile, “Hats”

How can something so understated be so overwhelming? Call it the Zen of Soft Synth.

Genesis, “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”

This album is a proggy odyssey, full of gorgeous instrumentals, batsh*t crazy lyrics, and the brashest performance from Gabriel ever put under a needle.

Kverlatak, Kverlatak

Norwegian metal in Norwegian, not that this matters if you want to rock with them.

Kevin K. Gives 2011 to December

My list:
The King Is Dead by The Decemberists
Middle Brother by Middle Brother
The Double Cross by Sloan
The Wombats Proudly Present: This Modern Glitch by The Wombats
Nothing Is Wrong by Dawes
Torches by Foster the People
The Sound of His Own Voice by John Wesley Harding
Dye It Blonde by Smith Westerns
International Pop Overthrow by Material Issue (Re-issue)
The Whole Love by Wilco
The Last Place by Army Navy
W H O K I L L by Tune-Yards
The Electromagnetic Escape by The Red Sea Pedestrians
Pickin’ Up The Pieces by Fitz & The Tantrums
Hot Sauce Committee Part Two by Beastie Boys
Sky Full of Holes by Fountains of Wayne
Alabama Shakes EP by Alabama Shakes
21 by Adele
The Go Rounds (2011) by The Go Rounds
KMAG YOYO (& other American stories) by Hayes Carll
El Camino by The Black Keys
Only In Dreams by Dum Dum Girls
We Are The Champions by Jeff The Brotherhood
All Eternals Deck by The Mountain Goats
An Argument With Myself EP by Jens Lekman
Hello Sadness by Los Campesinos!
It’s A Corporate World by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
Kiss Each Other Clean by Iron & Wine
The Old Magic by Nick Lowe
Stone Rollin’ by Raphael Saadiq

Andrea C, Throws Her Support to Minnesota, WI

1. Bon Iver, Bon Iver
2. Adele - 21
3. Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes
4. Low - C'mon
5. Foster the People - Torches
6. Cults - Cults
7. Neon Indian - Era Extrana
8. M83 - Hurry Up We're Dreaming
9. Florence and the Machine - Ceremonials
10. Phantogram - Nightlife

May 2012 bring yet more fantastic music. I'm waiting for the National's next album...

Billy M Will Lay Your Shit Bare

21, Adele
Born This Way, Lady Gaga
Anar, Marketa Irglova
Night of Hunters, Tori Amos
Ceremonials, Florence + The Machine
Born to Die (leaked!), Lana Del Rey
Helplessness Blues, Fleet Foxes
The King Is Dead, The Decemberists
Femme Fatale, Britney Spears
Bon Iver, Bon Iver

Harry S, Aggressively Naked, Famous

Passive Me, Aggressive You, by The Naked and Famous, and Wild Flag's eponymous album

Zack Goes For Flora Over Fauna

Fredrik, Flora

Jonas R Looks into the eyes of a Stranger

Most essential:

Amy Lavere, Stranger Me -- such a great breakup album I wish I had a vindictive heart and someone just broke it.

Filling out my Top 10, in no particular order:

Cake, Showroom of Compassion
Wild Flag, Wild Flag
John Doe, Keeper
Wilco, The Whole Love
Beastie Boys, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two
Snakefarm, My Halo at Half-Light
Thao and Mira, Eleven
Honeyhoney, Billy Jack
Adele, 21

Honorable Mentions:
Shilpa Ray, Teenage and Torture
The Gaddabouts, The Gaddabouts
The Smithereens, 2011
David Lynch, Crazy Clown Time
Ryan Adams, Ashes & Fire
Dum Dum Girls, Only in Dreams
Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling, Dharohar Project EP

Siobhan V Raves On

Veronica Falls - Veronica Falls
Cults - Cults
Out of Love - Mister Heavenly
Strange Mercy - St Vincent
In Heaven - Twin Sister

!Bonus! Rave On - Buddy Holly covers

Brant R Goes Kaputt

My Most Essential Album:

In Range of Most Essential:
James Blake/James Blake
Stephen Malkmus/Mirror Traffic
Washed Out/Within and Without

Eventual Essential Potential: Atlas Sound/Parallax; The Black Keys/El Camino; Bon Iver/Bon Iver; Clams Casino/Instrumental Mixtape; Florence + The Machine/Ceremonials; Eleanor Friedberger/Last Summer; Girls/Father, Son, Holy Ghost; Little Dragon/Ritual Union; Frank Ocean/nostalgia, ULTRA; Real Estate/Days; Smith Westerns/Dye It Blonde; Surfer Blood/Tarot Classics [EP]; tUnE-yArDs/W H O K I L L; Youth Lagoon/The Year of Hibernation; Yuck/Yuck

Other Albums I Enjoyed: Adele/21; Beyoncé/4; Blouse/Blouse; Bright Eyes/The People’s Key; Guy Clark Jr./The Bright Lights EP; Coldplay/Mylo Xyloto; Danger Mouse/Rome; The Decemberists/The King Is Dead; Fleet Foxes/Helplessness Blues; Noel Gallagher/Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds; Jay-Z & Kanye West/Watch the Throne; The Joy Formidable/The Big Roar; Lady Gaga/Born This Way; The Strokes/Angles; Tom Waits/Bad As Me; The Weeknd/House of Balloons; Wilco/The Whole Love; Wild Flag/Wild Flag

Some Essential Tracks: Adele/Rolling in the Deep; Atlas Sound/Mona Lisa; Battles with Matias Aguayo/Ice Cream; The Black Keys/Nova Baby; James Blake/Limit to Your Love; Blouse/Videotapes; Cults/Abducted; Destroyer/Savage Night at the Opera; Eleanor Friedberger/I Won’t Fall Apart on You Tonight; Noel Gallagher/I’d Pick You Every Time; Girls/Alex; The Joy Formidable/Austere; Little Dragon/Ritual Union; Stephen Malkmus/Stick Figures in Love; Smith Westerns/Weekend; The Strokes/Life Is Simple in the Moonlight; Surfer Blood/Voyager Reprise; tUnE-yArDs/Bizness; Washed Out/Amor Fati; Yuck/Shook Down

Essential Albums from Previous Years:
Alice Cooper/Billion Dollar Babies [1973]
Beach House/Teen Dream [2010]
The Black Keys/The Big Come Up [2002]
Cut Copy/In Ghost Colours [2008]
Deerhunter/Halcyon Digest [2010]
Electric Light Orchestra/Out of the Blue [1977]
Brian Eno/Before and After Science [1977]
Heart/Dreamboat Annie [1976]
Ke$ha/Animal [2010]
Lynyrd Skynyrd/(pronounced 'lĕh-'nērd 'skin-'nērd) [1973]
TV Girl/TV Girl [EP] [2010]
Washed Out/Life of Leisure [2010]
Ron Wood/Gimme Some Neck [1979]
Neil Young/Live Rust [1979]

Essential Tracks from Previous Years: ABBA/Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (a Man After Midnight); Alice Cooper/Hello Hooray; The Black Keys/I’ll Be Your Man; Cut Copy/Out There on the Ice; Deerhunter/Desire Lines; Electric Light Orchestra/Summer and Lightning; Electric Six/Synthesizer; Brian Eno/By This River; Donald Fagen/I.G.Y.; Fleetwood Mac/Lindsey’s Song #1 (I Know I’m Not Wrong); The Flying Burrito Bros/Hand to Mouth; Heart/Crazy on You; The Hold Steady/Certain Songs; The Human League/Human; INXS/Mystify; Jackson 5/Maybe Tomorrow; Ke$ha/TiK ToK; Nicolette Larson/Lotta Love; Huey Lewis & the News/Walking on a Thin Line; Madvillain/Sickfit; J Mascis/Ground Me to You; Harry Nilsson/River Deep, Mountain High; Pearl Jam/Corduroy; Katy Perry/Hot N Cold; The Rascals/Groovin’; Right Said Fred/Don’t Talk Just Kiss; Johnny Rivers/Secret Agent Man; Semisonic/Closing Time; The Staple Singers/(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay; Mavis Staples/Trippin’ On Your Love; Rod Stewart/It’s Not the Spotlight; Sweet/Fox on the Run; Yann Tiersen/Fuck Me; Alphonse Trent and His Orchestra/After You’ve Gone; TV Girl/If You Want It; The Walker Brothers/No Regrets; Washed Out/Feel It All Around; Steve Winwood/While You See a Chance; Ron Wood/Worry No More; Neil Young/Lotta Love

Nick E is a Holocene-ster

1. Bon Iver, Bon Iver
During a summer overrun with Gaga and Britney and Rihanna, this album was a breath of fresh air. The pop was fun, it served its purpose; but it’s Bon Iver I wanted to come home to at the end of a day. This has earned a permanent place on my iPod.
2. Dolorean, The Unfazed
After several albums that only offered love songs about adultery, self-destruction, and a half-botched suicide pact, this one closes out with an unapologetic, almost saccharine love song. It’s like finally being rewarded with affection from a withholding lover! And the rest of the album is great, too.
3. M83, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
I want to buy a car just so I can drive around at night listening to this on a dark interstate.
4. Florence + The Machine, Ceremonials
This one might deserve to rank higher, but I’ve only listened to it a few times at this point. There’s something oddly shameless about these songs – totally uninhibited. If I had long hair, I’d have to let it down when listening to this.
5. Stephin Merritt, Obscurities
Something old, something new. A little bit of everything I love about this man’s music and, for the first time in a while, not a single track so weird I have to skip it.

Stephanie S Paints it Black

Here we go...

1,The Black Keys, El Camino
2. Florence and the Machine, Ceremonials
3. Bon Iver, Bon Iver

Best new finds:
Brother by Matt Corby
Seeker Lover Keeper ( Aussie super group with Sally Seltman, Holly Throsby and Sarah Blasko)

Kasia G Shows Some Mercy

My essential album of the year was:

St. Vincent, Strange Mercy

Anica Likes Welch’s Jelly

Most essential:
Gillian Welch, The Harrow & The Harvest
(I mean, come on. It's Gillian.)

Also essential:
The Roots, Undun

Me likey:
The Black Keys, El Camino
Ana Egge, Bad Blood
The Jayhawks, Mockingbird Time (but mostly for sentimental reasons)
Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, & Chris Thile, The Goat Rodeo Sessions

Best old albums I bought last year:
John Fahey, The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death The Dillards, Wheatstraw Suite

2010 album I'm still playing the most:
Gorillaz, Plastic Beach
(so good)

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