Editor’s Best of 2011: 50 Albums / 125 Songs

Charles Bradley @ ACL 2011 || Photo by Wesley Hodges / LMB NOLA

As it has the tendency to do, the diaspora from music’s big bang genesis continues to sprawl to the endless stretches of the universe. Over the past 12 months, new genres, sonic ideas and sounds that were inconceivable only a year ago nebulously formed from the remnants of burned out supernovas of yesteryear to inspire what we’ve heard over the past 12 months. As sure as death, taxes and the interminable Keith Richards (who cannot be killed by conventional weapons), the movement towards chaos will persist in 2012 and with releases from personal Yeasayer, Delta Spirit, Janelle Monae (planning 2 albums in 2012), FUTUREBIRDS, AIR, moe. and Dr. Dog already slated for the year of reckoning (as well as a new Black Sabbath LP), here’s looking forward to another big year in 2012.


2011 has been a great year for music and an even better year for obsessive music fanatics with the arrival of Spotify to our broadband shores, making it easier than ever to discover and share new music with like-minded fiends. Continue on for my subjective lists below (If you have Spotify, you can check out a playlist of these songs here). I invite any and all comments on what’s missing, after all, this is just one man’s jams. But first, here is a brief summary of the year in music.

Fleet Foxes and M83 were able to do the unthinkable and outdo their prior selves. made the definitive and best solo album of his legendary career. The world was introduced to a 63-year old once-in-a-generation soul brother Charles Bradley, the oldest rookie in the game. A young indie-pop band that could from Lafayette, LA called burst out of the Louisiana bubble, signing a record deal and traveling the globe, instantly gaining widespread notoriety in the indie rock world. Radiohead returned with their first album in over 3 years, disappointing those demanding near-perfection, but delivering yet another excellent album. The Red Hot Chili Peppers came out of retirement sans Frusciante and dropped a dud. This year was sorely lacking in the classic dance album-that-binds-all department (see Passion Pit Manners in ’09 and LCD Soundsystem This Is Happening last year). Finally, the “genres” chillwave and dubstep entered the mainstream lexicon. And if you are looking for a sign of a looming apocalypse: KORN and Skrillex collaborated.

Stay tuned for lots more live music Year In Review coverage including a super post in a couple of weeks that will have several local artists and industry folks weighing in. Alas, here is what I dug on this year:

Top 50 Albums of 2011

1. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
2. Within and Without
3. Charles Bradley – No Time For Dreaming
4. Gregg Allman – Low Country Blues
5. Atlas Sound – Parallax
6. My Morning Jacket – Circuital
7. M83 – Hurry Up We’re Dreaming
8. Danger Mouse and Daniel Liuppi – ROME
9. Garage A Trois – Always Be Happy, But Stay Evil
10. Toro Y Moi – Underneath The Pine
11. Man Man – Life Fantastic
12. John Hiatt – Dirty Jeans And Mudslide Hymns
13. A.A. Bondy – Believers
14. The Whole Love
15. Cass McCombs – WIT’S END
16. Real Estate – Days <-- Addendum: Smith Westerns - Dye It Blonde after RE
17. Tinariwen – Tassili
18. Monster Rally – Coral
19. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo
20. Antlers – Burst Apart
21. Keys To The Kingdom
22. Gillian Welch – The Harrow and the Harvest
23. and the Runnin’ Pardners – Can’t Beat The Funk
24. Cloud Control – Bliss Release
25. Metronomy – The English Riviera
26. J. Mascis – Several Shades of Why
27. War On Drugs – Slave Ambient
28. Wooden Shjips – West
29. Blended Babies – Shooter McGavin
30. Battles – Gloss Drop
31. Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost
32. Cults – Cults
33. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Unknown Mortal Orchestra
34. Gringo Star – Count Yer Lucky Stars
35. Bibio – Mind Bokeh
36. Booker T. Jones – The Road From Memphis
37. Alexander – Alexander
38. Youth Lagoon – The Year of Hibernation
39. Destroyer – Kaputt
40. Portugal. The Man – In The Mountain In The Cloud
41. Needle In The Groove
42. Primus – Green Naugahyde
43. Akron/Family – S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT
44. Mastodon – The Hunter
45. Moon Duo – Mazes
46. White Denim – D
47. Panda Bear – Tomboy
48. Decemberists – The King Is Dead
49. GIVERS – In Light
50. Erland & The Carnival – Nightingale
T-50. Lil Wayne – Tha Carter IV

Noteworthy EP’s

Futurebirds – Via Flamina
Oblangle Fizz Y’all
Alabama Shakes – Alabama Shakes EP
Jimmy Cliff – Sacred Fire
Toro Y Moi – Freaking Out
RACES – Big Broom EP

Top 125 of 2011

1. Fleet FoxesHelplessness Blues

2. WilcoArt of Almost

3. Booker T. Jones (and Yim Yames) – Progress

4. RadioheadCodex

5. Charles BradleyHeartaches and Pain

6. Washed OutFar Away

7. My Morning JacketVictory Dance

8. Smith WesternsAll Die Young

9. John HiattDown Around My Place

10. Toro Y MoiElise

11. George Porter Jr. and the Runnin’ Pardners – Doin’ The Dirt
12. A.A. Bondy – The Heart Is Willing
13. Gregg Allman – Floating Bridge
14. My Morning Jacket – Movin’ Away
15. FIDLAR – Wake Bake Skate
16. Fleet Foxes – The Shrine / An Argument
17. Futurebirds – Wild Heart
18. Cults – Go Outside
19. Atlas Sound – Terra Incognita
20. M83 – Wait
21. Radiohead – Separator
22. Jonny Corndawg – Life of a Bear
23. Man Man – Shameless
24. Garage A Trois – Omar
25. White Denim – Street Joy

Antlers – Parentheses
Papa Grows Funk – Needle In The Groove
Lykke Li – I Follow Rivers
M83 – Midnight City
Lyonnais – Transitive Properties of Youth
Deer Tick – Main Street
Jimmy Cliff – Ruby Soho (Rancid cover)
Pepper Rabbit – Lake House
The Blind Boys of Alabama (w/ Hank Williams Jr.) – I Saw The Light
Theophilus London – All Around The World
TV On The Radio – No Future Shock
Jimmy Cliff – Guns of Brixton (Clash cover)
Monster Rally – Soft Lamp / Palm Reader
Monster Rally – Cuban Velvet
The New Mastersounds – Passport
The Decemberists – Down by the Water
Steve Earle – Waitin’ On The Sky
Futurebirds – Via Flamina
Justin Townes Earle – Maybe Baby
The Strokes – Life Is Simple In The Moonlight
Wooden Shjips – Flight
Elbow – the birds
Cut Copy – Take Me Over
Dom – Family of Love
Man Man – Dark Arts
PUJOL – Scully
Cloud Control – There’s Nothing In The Water We Can’t Fight
Pure X – Twisted Mirror
Trentemoller – No You Girls Remix (Franz Ferninand)
Mocean Worker – Jive, Jive, Jive
Radiohead – Give Up The Ghost
Atlas Sound – Modern Aquatic Nightsongs
Wilco – One Sunday Morning
The Raveonettes – War In Heaven
– Yours Forever
Lil Wayne – President Carter
Lana Del Ray – Blue Jeans
Firehorse – Machete Gang Holiday
Panda Bear – Afterburner
Primus – Tragedy’s-A-Comin’
She & Him – Baby It’s Cold Outside
The Strokes – Games
tUnE-yArDs – Bizness
Gary Clark Jr. – Bright Lights (Originally recorded prior to 2011 – released in 2011 on EP)
Middle Brother – Me, Me Me
Moon Duo – Seer
The Felice Brothers – Fire at the Pageant
Tristen – Eager For Your Love
Neon Indian – Future Sick
Mastodon – Curl of the Burl
Watch The Throne – No Church In The Wild
Megafaun – Scorned
Kurt Vile – Society Is My Friend
J. Mascis – Several Shades of Why
Gringo Star – Shadow
Black Lips – Mad Dog
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Nerve Damage!
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Pfunny Pfriends
Gillian Welch – The Way It Goes
Danger Mouse and Daniel Liuppi – Two Against One (featuring Jack White)
Danger Mouse and Daniel Liuppi – Seasons Trees (featuring Norah Jones)
The Phantom Family Halo – Mindeater
Erland The Carnival – Map of an Englishman
Destroyer – Chinatown
Cass McCombs – Memory’s Stain
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – Tune Grief
Bibio – Anything New
Dirty Beaches – Lord Knows Best
Battles – Sundome
Akron/Family – So It Goes
Portugal. The Man – You Carried Us [Share With Me The Sun]
Alexander – Let’s Win!
Races – All For You
Real Estate – Kinder Blumen
Smith Westerns – Weekend
Beirut – Rip Tide
Youth Lagoon – Daydream
The Weeknd – High For This
The War On Drugs – Come To The City
Trombone Shorty – Nervis
The Black Keys – Lonely Boy
Reptar – Rainbounce
Exitmusic – The Sea
St. Vincent – Surgeon
Caveman – December 28th
The Roots – Make My
My Morning Jacket – Holdin’ On To Black Metal
Fleet Foxes – The Plains / Bitter Dancer
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Factory of Faith
North Mississippi All-Stars – Stuck Inside of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again (cover)
M83 – My Tears Are Becoming A Sea
M83 – Splendor
Jessica Lea Mayfield – Trouble
Antlers – Hounds
Black Lips – Family Tree
Portugal. The Man – Head Is A Flame [Cool With It]
Rival Sons – Gypsy Heart
Battles – Futura
John Hiatt – Train To Birmingham
War On Drugs – Best Night
LMFAO – Party Rock Anthem (just checking that you made it all the way down to the bottom)

** I didn’t like the new Bon Iver album. Am I alone here?

For my 2010 list on my dusty, old blog go here

November 30, 2011 |  by  |  Features
About the author

Wesley grew up in coastal Georgia and is a former resident of The Music City and The Big Easy where he helped get LMB NOLA off-the-ground after launching in January 2011. Over the past few years, he has also contributed steadily to JamBase and Relix Magazine. Recently, Hodges moved on to L.A. where Abita Beer is hard to find, costs about $6 if located and impromptu parading in the streets will most likely get you arrested on the spot.

  • K_w195

    With the exception of the Mastodon Album, why the lack of anything heavy?

    • West Leigh

       What are your recommendations from this year? I’m all ears. More partial to heavier stuff live these days.

  • MPC

    I’m with you – I didn’t like the Bon Iver album at all.  I was happy to see you include Gringo Star.  Excellent album and probably my favorite live show this year

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