Top 15 Albums of 2011 – The Beerbrarian Guest Post

Some background: every year the proprietor of the blog and I trade top 10, or 15, or 20, or whatever lists. Then we argue and make fun of each other as if we could change the others’ mind. Here is my list. If you like it, feel free to stop by my blog where I talk about libraries and beer, and occasionally post a link to a semi-relevant song. You can also follow me on twitter. If you don’t like it, as George Will says
“Well…” Be warned that the word “best” appears a lot below.

1. Los Campesinos – Hello Sadness: They’re now 4 albums into their career and this might be their best. Or their 4th best. They’re consistent, and this is their most mature, adult album, which means they can actually play instruments now and shout less.

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2. Fucked Up – David Comes to Life: Speaking of shouting… In a year in which not a lot of bands even tried to matter, and those that did pee sitting down, it’s strange that a hardcore group with an uncommercial, ungooglable name would actually make a rock album. Yelling, female guest vocalists, presaging the Occupy Wall Street protests, the best guitar riffs I’ve heard in years? It’s all here.

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3. Bon Iver – Calgary: Some people think Justin Vernon pees sitting down. I don’t. This is beautiful.

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4. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake: Her best in recent memory, maybe ever, and I bet Nick Cave is kicking himself for letting Mick Harvey take The Colour of The Earth to PJ Harvey, or maybe that’s a story I like to tell myself.

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5. The Roots – Undun: Stripping away between 25 and 34 minutes off your typical rap album in 2011, or 2007, one would think The Roots would be forced to actually focus. Instead you get a song cycle about a victim and perpetrator of inner city violence bookended by two Sufjan Stevens suites, which oddly makes for their best album since Illadelph Halflife, and maybe ever.

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6. Comet Gain – Howl of the Lonely Crowd: Painfully jangly, painfully British. I just assumed it was a reissue from the C86 scene.

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7. Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost: It’s time to admit these guys, or this guy, are legit.

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8. Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die…: By embracing Krautrock and baroque, among other styles, Mogwai have made their best and most vital album in just about a decade. I placed it here because it doesn’t sound like Mogwai.

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9. The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar: Overproduced to the point of murder, but damn if it’s not the best sounding album of the year on computer speakers, which is the point of that overproduction.

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10. Clams Casino – Instrumentals: Picture a cross between Moby’s Play and DJ Shadow’s Entroducing, if it were composed by someone who drinks too much cough syrup.

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11. The Antlers – Burst Apart: A slow, gorgeous burn.

12. Yuck – s/t: Everything alt-90s-style power-pop is supposed to be, even if they wouldn’t know what breakfast was if Teenage fan Club didn’t eat it.

13. Seapony – Go With Me: Cuter and janglier, which is how I really like ‘em.

14. Veronica Falls – s/t: Cute and jangly, which is how I like ‘em.

15. The Amazing – Gentle Stream: I don’t know who these guys are, or what their backstory is, but the blend of British pastoral folk with psych and shoegaze is a winner. More please.


Tyler the Creator – Yonkers,
Lana Del Ray – Video Games,
Nas – Nasty,
The Joy Formidable – Whirring,
Death Cab for Cutie – Codes and Keys,
Holy Ghost – Some Children,
Beirut – Santa Fe,
Cold Cave – The Great Pan is Dead,
Fleet Foxes – The Shrine/An Arugment,
I Break Horses – Winter Beats,
Danny Brown – Monopoly


Top 20 Albums of 2011 – The “Better Late Than Never” Edition

Pre- (r)amble: Year-end lists are fun, but also kinda dumb. It takes a lot of listens to get familiar with an album and really formulate a solid opinion about it. I should know, I’ve written tons of reviews without doing it! Also, let’s be honest, albums released towards the end of the year usually end up getting the short end of the stick. Did anyone really get a chance to digest The Black Keys’ El Camino (released December 6th) before writing their year-end list? Of course not. It’s January 20th and I’ve still only heard it twice (yet I’m guessing it’s the 15th best album of 2011). So, that’s what this is, my guesses of what my favorite albums of 2011 were. Check back in three years and I’m sure the list will be very different.

  1. P.J. Harvey – Let England Shake

As a music critic I’m almost contractually bound to make this my favorite. Luckily, I don’t mind a bit because it’s excellent.

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  1. Radiohead – King Of Limbs

Even an album that’s underwhelming by Radiohead’s standards is still great by everyone else’s.

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  1. Dead Skeletons – Dead Magick

Hypnotic drone-goth for the BJM/Spacemen 3/Suicide/JAMC fan in all of us.

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  1. Gruff Rhys – Hotel Shampoo

No matter what he does Gruff Rhys can do no wrong.

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  1. Disappears – Guider

Six songs of monolithic monochromatic proto-punk excellence.

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  1. The Amazing – Gentle Stream

Like Nick Drake fronting a rock band. A really good rock band.

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  1. Acid Baby Jesus – LP

Crazy psych-garage from Greece.

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  1. Iceage – New Brigade

These guys may not be old enough to drink but they’re young enough to inject post punk with some serious hardcore energy.

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  1. Veronica Falls – Veronice Falls

The Slumberland-iest of all the bands on Slumberland Records.

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  1. Dengue Fever – Cannibal Courtship

Really fun…makes me want to see them live.

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  1. The Soft Province – The Soft Province
  2. Shade – Latonka
  3. Asteroid #4 – Hail To The Clear Figurines
  4. Yuck – Yuck
  5. The Black Keys – El Camino
  6. J.C. Satan – Hell Death Samba
  7. The Fall – Ersatz G.B.
  8. Tom Waits – Bad As Me
  9. Boris – Attention Please
  10. The Roots – Undun

There you have it. Now go out and buy 5 copies of each of these.