MAGNET’s Top 20 Albums Of 2011

20. JAMES BLAKE | James Blake (Universal Republic)
From March 2010, when Hessle Audio issued his debut EP, to February 2011, when Universal Republic released this debut LP, James Blake didn’t go more than 17 weeks without giving techno-phobic, lock-jawed rockists something new to chew on. Stepped-on dubstep became a brunoise of R&B delicacies, arranged with tweezers on a filigreed platter. Absorbing those mutable updates now—all at once, preferably through headphones—is akin to watching an embryo grow under a microscope in the cockpit of a rocket ship. Blake’s namesake may be the boldest major-label move of the year: a claustrophobic remorse code of muted broken signals, intermittent transmissions from a satellite heart spinning out of orbit and the cold sweats that kick in when the rockets fail and the parabola bends. His itchy productions were born with an innate sense of agitated drama, the tension that lies in the shadows of a pregnant pause or fermata rest. Once Blake started actually singing, in a cut-up confessional between Antony Hegarty’s pearly gatekeeper and the sweet-and-low rumble of Brown Sugar-era D’Angelo, they had no equal. —Noah Bonaparte Pais

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19. PANDA BEAR | Tomboy (Paw Tracks)
Forgive Noah Lennox for all the seasick hacks with a four-track, for the clamps on your garbage can during that year of “Bear” bands (we think it was 2005), for the indignity of seeing the word “chillwave” serifed in the New York Times. Forgive him for Animal Collective breaking up, even though that hasn’t happened yet—for when it eventually does, it will be because the most melodically charged experimental “rock” band in America over the last decade lost both its melodic muscle and its experimental engine. Tomboy, Lennox’s third outing as Panda Bear, is that kind of album: a massive, crushing thing, not so much in literal size (six ticks short of 50 minutes, though looped ad infinitum) as in perceived weight (180 grams of Element 118, for all you Robert Schneiders out there). It’s an antithetical record of substances and substance, surfers and Scheherazades; a record of pedals and petals, its sound waves rippling between electrical pulse and human impulse. Lennox could have simply purged the Dramamine-prescribed beach ploys of 2007’s Person Pitch, and everybody would have forgiven him. Instead, we can thank him for taking pop music further into the ether than anybody thought possible. —Noah Bonaparte Pais

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18. THURSTON MOORE | Demolished Thoughts (Matador)
Lightness of touch is a tricky proposition in rock music. So, the breathy, pillowy Demolished Thoughts—a gossamer, almost incorporeal sigh of an LP from an underground iconoclast whose collected noise dispatches could fill several moldy milk crates—might be considered, among other things, an exercise in risk. Thurston Moore’s rough edges—vocally, and in terms of guitar tone—are here sanded and polished to an incandescent shine, hemorrhaging string sweetness and harp honey, accompanying swathes of strategically layered distortion contextualized as something beautifully alien. Even when its players’ angelic drift gets caught on a briar patch—see the vaguely punk-rock beginning of “Circulation”—Thoughts is never anything less than ethereal. There’s an unavoidable sense that the whole thing could collapse at any time, that Moore—who at times seems like a ghost haunting his own album—might discorporate and dissolve; he never quite does, of course, and emerges clutching a sonic document of sadness, wonder and loss. —Raymond Cummings

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17. ELEANOR FRIEDBERGER | Last Summer (Merge)
Seeing Eleanor Friedberger live twice in 2011—once in a tiny room with an electric guitar turned way down, and again in a huge hall with her almost-noisy three-piece backing band—gives a well-rounded picture of her emerging brilliance. It’s something that threatens to eclipse her work with brother Matthew in Fiery Furnaces. Sure, there’s some serious Chrissie Hynde/Pretenders yearning, melodic action going on with Friedberger’s new group, but she also has that thermometer-busting Patti Smith drone that gets into your bloodstream. NYC references sprinkled throughout Last Summer might make you nostalgic for Woody Allen’s cinematic love notes to his hometown, but there’s also a real feel for Tom Verlaine’s grainy (nonexistent) diary entries on “One-Month Marathon.” “I Won’t Fall Apart On You Tonight” may be the most exciting single track of the year. If she builds on that, Friedberger could become a star, if that’s even what she wants. “I Imagine Governor’s Island As Shutter Island” is as precise as vintage Kenneth Patchen. The more you listen, the less certain you are of anything about Friedberger’s fractured art. The first lines of this piece are already fading away as if written in disappearing ink. Better read fast. —Jud Cost

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16. THE KILLS | Blood Pressures (Domino)
The sullen, bluesy tracks on Blood Pressures are an instantaneous, shivery thrill, in part because they deliver Alison Mosshart’s strongest, most dynamic vocals yet. The combination of greasy, smoky sex and cold, brittle emptiness on “Future Starts Slow,” “Heart Is A Beating Drum” and “Baby Says” make for one of the most physically satisfying listens of the year. But how do you determine if the album passed the time-lapse test of 2011? Ask yourself a question, boys and girls: If I put Blood Pressures on right now this very minute, will it make me want to get naked? Specifically, does it make me want to slowly peel off my clothes like I was raised by a harem of seedy, luckless strippers? Does it make me attempt to move my hips in ways previously unattempted, which will more than likely throw me off balance and send me to the floor with the least amount of grace and dignity possible? Will I still feel sexy even after I fall on my ass? Might I feel even sexier on the floor? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding yes, so we have ourselves a winner. —Jeanne Fury

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15. WILCO | THE WHOLE LOVE (DBPM)
The Whole Love is the first Wilco album since the Jay Bennett years that sounds driven less by an overriding concept than by the needs of the songs themselves. That might not make it better than Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (Bennett’s swansong) or A Ghost Is Born, but it does make it better than Sky Blue Sky and Wilco (The Album). This is a deliberately, gloriously messy record, firing off in different directions arbitrarily, and the sequencing seems designed to announce that devil-may-care attitude. Opener “Art Of Almost” furthers the motorik, Can-inspired explorations of latter-day songs such as “Spiders (Kidsmoke),” and it builds to a frenetic climax thanks to Nels Cline’s screeching guitar solo. But then comes “I Might,” a bit of bright, perky pop not far from Being There, followed by “Sunloathe,” a woozy piano ballad. It’s as if Jeff Tweedy and Co. are showing off: “We can do this! And we can still do this!” There’s a loping country song called “Open Mind,” for those old Uncle Tupelo fans, and some new twists, such as Randy Newman-like toe-tapper “Capitol City.” The current Wilco lineup is the most stable of Tweedy’s career, and that stability has bred a complete, easy confidence in his band’s ability to be brilliant at whatever it dabbles in. —Steve Klinge

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14. TUNE-YARDS | w h o k i l l (4AD)
Obviously, Merrill Garbus has a unique approach to capitalization and spacing. That ain’t the half of it. At times, it sounds like Garbus has created her own musical genre—one filled with her husky vocals, ukulele riffs and ping-ponging samples and loops. On sophomore release w h o k i l l, it coalesces into a giddily hypnotic kind of avant pop, all the while making room for additional musicians playing bass, saxophone and more. She evokes Afropop on “My Country,” devises an R&B slow jam with “Powa” and nails the heart-stopping melodies of “Doorstep” and “Wooly Wooly Gong.” Garbus’ songs have their own interior logic, even when they shoot off into noisy, dissonant or just plain strange territory. Lyrically, these tracks boldly explore conflicted emotions, whether it’s rebuking state-of-the-union “My Country” or her fantasy of making love to the policeman who arrested her brother on “Riotriot.” It’s heartening that there’s room in this crowded, disjointed music world for someone like Garbus to emerge. tUnE-yArDs is informed by these confusing, frustrating times, while still conveying the pure physical joy of creating such music. And, BTW, it’s a joy to listen to as well. —Michael Pelusi

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13. BON IVER | Bon Iver (Jagjaguwar)
Of all the artists in contention for 2011’s album of the year, it’s Justin Vernon who split both fans and critics down the middle. Largely, it seems, because he didn’t take the easy option and simply repeat the formula and myth that made his previous album, For Emma, Forever Ago, such a huge hit among the world’s bedsit romantics. The heartbroken, hirsute backwoods-poet shtick and his stark, spartan backdrops were largely discarded. Instead, it was a big hello to multi-tracked, Auto-Tuned vocals, lush instrumentation and a crack backing band. The result? A polished, buffed, almost over-produced thing of rare beauty. An album that’s dense, lyrically opaque, near impenetrable. What can be made out often borders on gibberish (or borderline genius; it’s hard to tell), but Bon Iver seems more than anything to be about being completely lost in music, surrendering to a sense of joyous melancholy, in search of transcendence. It manages to be both sweeping and widescreen, yet intimate and inviting (thanks largely to Vernon’s bruised falsetto), and it’s an almighty flip of the middle finger to an obsessive audience’s expectations. A gem of a record. That said, the nausea-inducing Bruce Hornsby-lite “tribute” slapped on at the end really is an atrocity, and goes way beyond the realms of human decency. Someone should have taken Vernon to one side and given him a good slap for that. —Neil Ferguson

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12. RADIOHEAD | The King Of Limbs (TBD)
The strange mime-meets-epilepsy dance that bowler-topped Thom Yorke does in the video for “Lotus Flower” exemplifies the oblique dichotomies that King Of Limbs occupies: the twilight zone between funny and serious, between form and shape, between hue and color, between agony and ecstasy. Like so much of the music Radiohead has created in the 21st century, it sounds like it was made by paranoid androids: one part chimerical electronica, one part rock noir, one part accident and one part invention. The twitchy, inscrutable swirl of sonics is rife with anxiety and phantom menace—like we’ve rigged the Nostromo to self-destruct in five minutes and we’re racing for the escape pod amidst the steam and sirens, knowing fully well it will take us six minutes to get there—and offset by the minimalist operatics of Yorke’s vocals, which have the same effect as horses at a riot. It’s his unique brand of genius that he can make every song sound like an accusation and an elegy all at once. What exactly he’s on about remains open to debate, and the particulars are probably best left to the obsessive narratives and counter-narratives of message-board exposition, but suffice it to say King Of Limbs’ eight songs are ghost stories from inside the machine. —Jonathan Valania

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11. FUCKED UP | David Comes To Life (Matador)
If you enjoy having concept albums screamed at you, life has been a disappointing slog since 2005: the year the Hold Steady released Separation Sunday. With David Comes To Life, however, Toronto’s Fucked Up created its own punk-rock salvation opera and delivered it with an astonishing lack of both pretense and noise control. Damian Abraham’s grizzly-bear roar narrates the boy-meets-girl moment of the album with all the subtlety of Tarzan courting Jane: “Hello, my name is David, your name is Veronica/Let’s be together, let’s fall in love.” Whatever else happens over the course of these 18 songs and nearly 80 minutes of endless riffage is not your problem, as even the members of Fucked Up themselves can’t explain the plot of the album. It is, somehow, nonsensical in all directions: David contains the band’s most concise songs, but it sprawls over four vinyl sides; the songwriting becomes more sweetly melodic while Abraham remains as gruff as ever; and the record is most rewarding in small, short blasts instead of the long-haul listen. A brutal epic that somehow transcends all its idiosyncrasies and too-clever conceits, David Comes To Life is a classic case of failing upward. —Matthew Fritch

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10. BILL CALLAHAN | Apocalypse (Drag City)
Forget everything you know about Bill Callahan, his solo work and his sometime experimental project Smog. Live now, in the presence of Apocalypse. It’s the album of this time and place—the Dude of albums. Callahan evokes the U.S. on the verge of its demise or transformation with love and freedom in the Whitmanian sense. He sets the theme on “Drover” with the image of a cowboy, singing on the range with his lone guitar and the wind: “One thing about this wild, wild country/It takes a strong, strong/Breaks a strong, strong mind.” The drover is a ready-made symbol for America, but Callahan’s leaves open space for Native American symbols on “Universal Applicant” (“I found the bees nest in the buffalo’s chest”) as well as Buddhist meditation on “Riding For The Feeling” (“Riding for the feeling/Is the fastest way to reach the shore”). The march -like “America” is our anti-hero’s anthem: “Afghanistan/Vietnam/Iran/Native America/America/Well, everyone’s allowed a past/They don’t care to mention.” And Apocalypse ends with Callahan dropping the reins on “One Fine Morning,” speaking to himself as much as the rest of his cowboy nation: “No more drovering.” —Matthew Irwin

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9. BIRD OF YOUTH | Defender (Jagjaguwar)
First Beth Wawerna astonished her musician friends with her secret cache of sharply observed, artfully written songs, then she enlisted those friends to make one of the most deeply affecting debut albums in ages. Recording as Bird Of Youth, Brooklynite Wawerna takes us on a (mis-)guided tour of the heart and mind of a smart young woman looking back on the (mis-)adventures of her 20s. Regret, joy, hard-won wisdom and wry humor permeate the 10 songs on Defender. But it takes more than clever lyrics and catchy melodies for music to sink in the way this does. Producer Will Sheff combines Wawerna’s warm voice and performances by members of Nada Surf, the Wrens, the National, the Mendoza Line and Sheff’s own Okkervil River, creating enough moments of sonic bliss to embed these songs permanently into your grayest matter. If you’ve ever wondered what that cute, smart quiet girl over in the corner was thinking, Wawerna lays it out in “The Great Defender,” “Right On Red,” “The Sound Of One Name Dropping” and others. “Bombs away,” Wawerna sings of a woman scorned, “she is here to stay.” Let’s hope so. —Phil Sheridan

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8. WYE OAK | Civilian (Merge)
Civilian makes us feel like spongy fanboys—like Christian Bale as Arthur Stuart in Velvet Goldmine—running up to our rooms to, um … well, the point is the album conjures active and powerful emotions through the barrage of lo-fi, intellectual and ’80s-knock-off LPs that came out in 2011. On the title track, one-man rhythm section Andy Stack drives tension with keys and a muted drum while guitarist Jenn Wasner lays down brutally self-reflective lyrics about needing a dude. Her vocals exist within her mouth, spilling out as necessary, still hesitant. She does all the real emotional work with her guitar—metallic, patient, dissonant; all that good shoegaze material. Even on tunes like “Dog’s Eyes,” when she sets us up with playful, bouncy notes, she still shake us down in distortion. And the opening lyrics to “Doubt” are some of the most powerful we’ve heard: “If you should doubt my heart/Remember this/That I would lie to you if I believed it was right to do.” Shivers, man. Civilian leaves a distinct sensation of melancholy reserved for those of us with an abiding sense of aloneness. It’s for the disappointed idealists, and if you pity either state of being, you just don’t get us. —Matthew Irwin

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7. BRIGHT EYES | The People’s Key (Saddle Creek)
Gray-haired reunions galore, scads of classic record reruns (both in deluxe packaging and on the stage) and Jeff Tweedy defending “dad-rock” to Men’s Journal. In music, nothing middles quite like middle-age, and in 2011, we had plenty to remind us. But for Bright Eyes, frontman Conor Oberst’s transition into functional adulthood has helped him make one of the best records of his career. Oberst’s fascinating-yet-fraught development over the years has orphaned plenty of half-there concepts and aimless segues, but at last, The People’s Key brings it all home. The sci-fi ramblings of Denny, a friendly conspiracy theorist from El Paso, don’t just glue the songs together, but inspire fine poetry in their lyrics. And musically, Oberst has never mustered such a consistently satisfying set. “Triple Spiral” is a pop/rock double rainbow, Oberst’s dubious ambition to make reggae-inspired music that doesn’t sound Rasta comes to effervescent life on “One For You, One For Me,” and “Approximate Sunlight” haunts and skulks among his very best. The People’s Key may lack much of the raw thrills and larynx-scathing emotion of Oberst’s early stuff, true. But it’s the fully formed thought he’s been threatening to make since he was a teenager. —Jakob Dorof

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6. R.E.M. | Collapse Into New (Warner Bros.)
If you listen to R.E.M.’s last album for signs of a band hanging it up after 31 years, you’ll compile a long list of gotcha moments: the passing-the-torch lyrics of “All The Best”; the stunned-soul realization of “Walk It Back”; the way “Blue” builds up with layers of Peter Buck’s guitar feedback, Michael Stipe’s litany of desire and a benediction from Patti Smith, then dissolves into a triumphant reprise of “Discoverer,” Collapse Into Now’s first track. But if you listen for signs of a band on its last legs, you’ll come up empty. Whether you think R.E.M.’s best songs were stadium-sized rockers or more intimate acoustic pieces, there’s something to satisfy: The group keeps up with Peaches on “Alligator_Aviator_Autopilot_Antimatter” and speeds through “That Someone Is You,” while “Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando And I” and “ÜBerlin” are two of the most tender moments in a career full of them, due in no small part to Mike Mills’ backing vocals. The record speaks for itself, but track down the videos of R.E.M.’s spirited live-in-studio performances of several Collapse Into Now songs, and you’ll see a band still giving its all even when no one seemed to be watching. —M.J. Fine

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5. PJ HARVEY | Let England Shake (Vagrant)
It’s nearly impossible to place Let England Shake within the context of PJ Harvey’s other output. Its best analogue may be 1996’s Murder Ballads, by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, which he recorded while in a torrid romance with the English singer/songwriter (and features a duet with Harvey herself). Like the similarly expansive Murder Ballads, Harvey’s 10th studio album presents familiar arrangements in a startling new context—interpolations of “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” and “Summertime Blues”—favors naked production and places a premium on vivid lyrics and unique phrasings over melody. Cave’s bugaboo was crimes of passion; Harvey zeroes in on World War I-era atrocities in England. It’s certainly fertile ground: Harvey borrows a page from Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” to describe trees decorated with disembodied limbs on lead single “The Words That Maketh Murder,” then twists the metaphor to portray advancing soldiers at the edge of a forest on “Bitter Branches.” Longtime collaborators John Parrish and Mick Harvey create a subdued, swinging soundtrack, while PJ Harvey—employing her upper-register—narrates from above like an Angel of Death. Let England Shake is easily Harvey’s most accessible record since 2000’s Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea and, conceptually, one of her best. —Nick Green

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4. STEPHEN MALKMUS AND THE JICKS | Mirror Traffic (Matador)
That Mirror Traffic is arguably the most-feted-to-date effort in Stephen Malkmus’ solo catalogue isn’t a surprise, and it’s hardly a mystery why. There’s an organic, teasingly intoxicating simplicity to the album that overshadows its compositional complexities and the archness of its rhetorical feints. Congratulations are due to Malkmus, drummer Janet Weiss, keyboardist Mike Clark and bassist Joanna Bolme for exercising a judicious restraint missing before, for forcing themselves to answer some important questions. Why go headband/headbang hard when you can seduce the audience with sinewy softness? Why go eight ways of weird—“Kindling For The Master,” we’re looking at you—if you can skew pastorally gnarly? Why flog out a knotted prog jam for eight minutes when two or three will do in a pinch? Traffic feels invitingly relaxed, cozy and slept in thrice, as if the Jicks invited us into their practice space for a live run-through record preview, then decided to replace the LP with the preview. That casual, offhand air makes all the difference in the world in emphasizing that this band’s less a post-alt-rawk retirement project than 21st-century Monster of Indie Rock in its own right. What Pavement reunion? —Raymond Cummings

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3. WILD FLAG | Wild Flag (Merge)
Listening to Wild Flag’s self-titled debut is like riding the Coney Island Cyclone: thrilling and disorienting, with sudden spins, unexpected slowdowns and jerky stops. It makes you feel dizzy, woozy and brave. And given the chance to stay on and take the ride all over again, how can you say no? There wasn’t a song more stubborn than “Racehorse” in 2011; even if you saw Wild Flag play it live months before you could listen to the album version, Carrie Brownstein and Mary Timony’s weaving guitar lines—all classic-rock crunch and ragged-glory swagger—lodged the tune deep in your head. Janet Weiss and Rebecca Cole pulled off a similar trick with the urgent “Future Crimes.” Weiss’ drums hammer your skull, making way for Cole’s melodic keyboard to burrow into your brain. But a strong case could be made for “Romance” and “Glass Tambourine,” and even deep tracks such as “Something Came Over Me” and “Short Version” cut deeply once you succumb to their synthesis of psychedelic note-bending, R&B groove and girl-group harmonies. Wild Flag’s got everything under control, so let its sonic rollercoaster pull you up and hurl you around the track until you can’t stand up straight. —M.J. Fine

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2. TOM WAITS | Bad As Me (Anti-)
When Tom Waits shouts “all aboard” at the top of his 17th studio album, he is, of course, prodding listeners to board his mystery train of clotted rock ‘n’ roll, sloppy tango, Depression glassy blues, wistful accordion-pumped sea shanties and angled oddly Beefheart-ish punk. You want a bumpy ride. You get it. The 61-year-old Waits has been doing this kind-of murky mess for a minute, turning to bent blues (1980’s Heartattack And Vine) and cranky cabaret (1983’s Swordfishtrombones) after dropping the drunk-y L.A. hotel-lounge bit he cultivated in the ’70s. Now, it’s not that he reinvents the wheel every time out. He’s not preciously intellectual. Rather, Waits is a hands-on technician; he rips the tires off the car and burns the rubber down. That’s what the customer wants, after all. What makes each Waits recording more innovative than the last is how the howler and wife Kathleen Brennan—his compositional co-creator and co-producer—find the wretched and the romantic in the deepest recessed nuances: of slippery melodies made powerfully blunt in their brevity and of audacious lyrics filled with darkly battered characters seeking sunlight. The customer is always right. —A.D. Amorosi

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1. YUCK | Yuck (Fat Possum)
Exactly 20 years after the year punk broke, Thurston and Kim broke up, a few big-in-the-’90s bands broke out their old lineups for reunion tours, and four twentysomethings from London tried to break it all over again for the love of whatever. With the fog of alt-rock revivalism accompanying its debut album thicker than the cloud of pot smoke around Fishbone at Lollapalooza ’91, it may seem as if Yuck sifted through the wreckage of old Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr records, looking for shards to smash, Dirty thoughts on its Green Mind. But it would be 21st-century grotesque if the 12 songs on Yuck were a mere nostalgia trip. The more believable explanation is that two of Yuck’s members—Daniel Blumberg and Max Bloom—tried to distance themselves from the teenage Britpop of former band Cajun Dance Party and are now making rock ‘n’ roll in the most powerful way they know how. “I’ve had enough of being young and free,” sings Blumberg on one of the album’s rare articulate moments. It’s the tug-of-war between brute guitar force and vulnerable-sounding vocals that makes Yuck so compelling. The album’s ability to veer from pouty acoustic strums to scorched-earth eruptions makes it a rare example of a recording that’s perfectly hard and melodic, boy and girl, bitter and sweet from beginning to end. The Pixies did it in 1989, Yo La Tengo in 1997, the Comas in 2004. If it only happens once a decade, we got this one early, and there’s no looking back now. —Matthew Fritch

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14 Comments

  1. Posted December 9, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    How could you not have youth lagoon?

  2. Posted December 9, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    I don’t understand how Kurt Vile’s “Smoke Ring for my Halo” is not on this list or any of the other end of year lists I’ve seen in all the hip web sites. That is a killer release from this past year.

  3. Posted December 9, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    It’s nice to see a year-end list with a rock album at #1, but you really think the Yuck album is better than the Wild Flag and Wye Oak albums (and while we’re at it, even those albums are out of order in your rankings)? I don’t understand. I like Yuck and everything; they’re fun and talented, and at times, soulful. But c’mon, the number 1 album be more ambitious and have more substance. Okay, the Yuck album is very good, like a 7.5. If the album actually sounded like the live versions of the songs, I could say an 8. Here are some artists that didn’t make your list and yet made better albums: Ganglians, Yellowbirds, Snowman, Josh Pearson, Pterodactyl, Girls, Puro Instinct, Young Prisms, Amen Dunes, Big Troubles, Crystal Stilts, A Grave With No Name, and Favourite Sons. Surf City’s Kudos would also be in my top albums if you consider it a 2011 release, but it was released a year ago everywhere else.

  4. Posted December 10, 2011 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    No War on Drugs or Destroyer?? Whaaat??! The Yuck album is fine but I think you’ve given it waaay too much credit.

  5. Posted December 10, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    So far checking out the top ten lists for 2001, Magnet as usual hits the sweetest spots. Comparing to Paste and NPR, Magnet tracks the best of the best.

  6. Cosmo
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    FINALLY someone sees sense to put the Yuck album at number one!

  7. Benjamin Woodward
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    My Morning Jacket put out a killer album this year. Circuital provided some of the best tracks for my 2011. Not to mention, MMJ performed the most deafening live show I’ve ever attended.

  8. Kevin Frace
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Bob Pollard’s Lord of the Birdcage and Boston Spaceships’ Let It Beard!

  9. Tom's Diner
    Posted December 13, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Not sure how you missed the St. Vincent record, The Horrors, Kurt Vile or The War On Drugs. R.E.M. cleaned out the garbage bin to fulfill their contract obligations, shouid have been titled “Time Of Outtakes”. Was that a nostalgia pick? The Radiohead was rubbish as well.

  10. Posted December 20, 2011 at 3:19 am | Permalink

    I might be the only one, but I’m not buying the YUCK thing. I saw them open for Tame Impala and, they’re decent live, but their whole vibe is tired and boring. The idea that they don’t just rip off one band but every band seems to appeal to people, but it just sounds like a bad 90′s comp and ventures into terrible Better Than Ezra-esque territories as much as it does anything Dinosaur Jr or Pavement. That song Shook Down sounds like a cross between “Last Christmas” by Wham! and a Toad the Wet Sprocket B-side. Listen to it right now and tell me that you don’t hear it. It’s poppy and catchy, but not necessarily good or interesting.

    That being said, every list is going to have elements that people disagree with (especially, the number 1 spot) and other things that they will. Putting Bill Callahan on the list so high is something that no one else has done, but it’s an amazing album. The fact that it’s listed as #10 but only listed at #10 on your singer songwriter list, shows that there are group decisions taken into account for these lists, which makes sense. Not everyone at Magnet, likely, agrees with this list, by that logic.. and they shouldn’t. Stephen Malkmus at #4? Good, that’s a great album too. It’s in my top 10 of the year. Thurston’s wasn’t that impressive to me, however. Not much has changed since Trees Outside the Academy, which was really good, except there’s no Mascis production. Oh yeah, Mascis’ album was probably better, as well as Kurt Vile’s. But… whatever, these lists are wack anyway but, if nothing else, they will hopefully expose people to some new artists/releases they might not have seen. This is by far not the worst year end list that I’ve seen this year and there are a few choice selections on here.

    Now I’m gonna go check out the 10 albums you didn’t hear list. You can’t please everyone… ever.

  11. Arsnlrob
    Posted December 22, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    Spot on about REM. Radiohead’s album is complete crap.
    These are up there for me:
    - Tim Booth “Love Life”
    - Noel Gallagher + The High Flying Birds
    - Beady Eye
    - Jon Fratelli “Psycho Jukebox”
    - The Mountain Goats “All Eternals Deck”
    - Snow Patrol “Fallen Empires”
    - Coldplay “Mylo Xyloto”

  12. jeffort23
    Posted December 27, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Permalink
  13. simone
    Posted January 3, 2012 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    R.E.M. are the best!!!!

  14. Posted January 3, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    what about non english speaking bands?

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