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Listing the Year Away: Favorite Albums of 2011

Everybody has a favorite albums of the year list. This one is mine. I’ve been making an annual list like this for over a decade. So, I’ve got that going for me. But this year I didn’t use any of that “I used to be a music critic” mumbo-jumbo, let alone any of the old “I write music” pretentious shizzy.  This year’s list is just 10 albums, 1 EP and 1 single that I really liked. And the albums are in no particular order.  So there. 

But, I did make a Spotify playlist, so you could listen to all of the albums, the EP and the single, and enjoy my favorites of 2011 for yourself. However, Spotify robbed us of the entire Tom Waits album. So, you’ll just have to go buy that, because I’ll totally respect you more if you own every Tom Waits record. Duh.

This was a tough list to make, because if you follow me on Spotify, you know, I liked a lot of new music this year.  But, I chose 10, because that’s what list-making nerds do. And you can listen for yourself, on Spotify at Favorite Albums of 2011.   And if you don’t have Spotify, well, then, you must not like music enough to be enjoying this blogging anyhow.

Tom Waits –  Bad As Me
Tom Waits. Nuff said.  But truly, the man just keeps making better and better albums. This one was both disturbing and addicting. And I loved it.
TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light
Anybody who ever read my 300+ music reviews a year while I was at the Word knows that I’m head over heels for TV on the Radio.  Well, while some passions burn hot and go quickly, some loves actually do burn eternally. Because this album is now part of my regular rotation. I love their evolution and can’t wait to see where they’re headed next.
 The Roots – undun
  
You would think that being the house band for Jimmy Fallon would change the Roots, make them sell-out, or just wear them out. But, NO. They just keep pushing their own envelopes and writing and recording better records.  The legendary Roots crew are at the top of their game, and this record is the proof in the pudding. Sweet, funky, ass in the pudding. 
Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi – Rome
Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A pop music super-producer and a film score composer walk into a recording studio.  Thankfully nobody yelled, “duck!”  Because this record (featuring Jack White and Norah Jones on vocals) was amazing.  It’s got a sweet wall-of-sound vibe to it through and through, which makes the entire work come of as nothing shy of enchanting. A must listen, even if it’s not your bag.
The Toxic Airborne Event – All At Once
There was a point where I was afraid that I was hearing the single from this album, Changing, in weird places and on radio so much, that we were going to go all Phoenix with this one. You know, when the rest of the world ruins a record you really liked by over playing the singles everywhere in society.  But, I’m glad to report that as of 12/23/11 I am still not sick of this catchy, yet well-written album. And that makes me happy, because I want to keep listening to it over and over again.
Manchester Orchestra – Simple Math
Holy wow. This album still blows me away. It’s artful and rocking and thoughtful and all over the place and no run on sentence is possibly going to sum it up for you. I’d BEEN a Manchester Orchestra fan, but this album is their masterpiece. So far.
British Sea Power – Valhalla Dancehall
The thing I like most about British Sea Power is that there’s always some portion of one of their records where they have me both rocking out and cracking up.  Valhalla Dancehall doesn’t disappoint on that front. Big songs. Good times.
Bombadil – All That the Rain Promises
Just when I thought that I couldn’t stomach ANY more folk-rock or alt-folk or whatever, Bombadil came along with this album and showed me that there actually isn’t a formula for that sound. These guys are unique, even in a genre where most everybody sounds the same. Raw vocals. Great lyrics. Interesting arrangements. Not your girlfriend’s folk-rock.
Jared Mees & the Grown Children – Only Good Thoughts Can Stay

 This album really spoke to me, the way a good storyteller enthralls any audience, and kept me listening as intently as I possibly could, hanging on every word.  If that’s not a good enough endorsement for you, well, then, I’ve got nothin’.

Grouplove – Never Trust a Happy Song

Musically diverse, toe-tappingly fun Grouplove’s first full-length is the record I have most tried to get friends into this year. Yes, I’ve been trying to get my friends into Grouplove. And that’s really fun to say.  This is a band you can believe the hype about, and the album proves that point. Check it out.

FAVORITE EP of the YEAR: 
Superhuman Happiness – The Physical EP

 Superhuman Happiness is a band made up of folks who have played with some of my favorite bands, like TV on the Radio, Iron & Wine, the Roots, Passion Pit and more.  So, it’s no shock that this EP was my favorite this year. It’s thoughtful party music. Get down tracks for smart people. Heady pop. You’ll dig. I personally can’t wait until they’ve got a full-length.

FAVORITE SINGLE THAT DIDN’T SEEM TO COME FROM ANY ALBUM of the year:
Kreayshawn – Gucci Gucci
I don’t know anything about this lady, or where this song comes from, but it was on a mix that a friend made me, and I’ve been rocking it since. It’s fun. It’s funny. It’s bumpin. It’s a club anthem that even a nerd like me can enjoy.  I hope you will too.

There was SO VERY MUCH great music this year. This is really just a sample of the stuff that stuck out for me. Follow me on Spotify for more, and to check out what I get into in 2012. Word.