Okay, I’m probably a week too late to be posting best of lists, but I’ll still do it of course. Originally, I wanted to do songs of 2011, but everytime I tried to pick a song from each album, I ended up choosing 2 or 3 songs, hence, I’m just making an albums list. Some you can see on critics’ lists, some were widely panned. But my only criteria is that I could listen to the whole album over and over and over
Even if you got nauseous just hearing the songs covered over and over again (in varying degrees of success), you cannot deny that this was the year of Adele. And why shouldn’t it be, this album was just plain pop genius. Remove your disdain for the various covers and the ubiquitous playing in radio stations and you are left with heartfelt songs, catchy riffs and her bombastic voice. And you should most definitely watch her concert at Royal Albert Hall and you will fall even more in love with her. She cackles like a witch, curses like a beeyatch but you will just love her honesty, her passion and her eyelashes, I mean, her music.
Favorite Songs: Rolling in the Deep (of course), Set Fire to the Rain, Rumor Has It
Bon Iver, Bon Iver
This was the year that I fell in love with folk and they, particularly founder/singer/songwriter Justin Vernon, were half of the reason why. The NPR folks dubbed it as a Bruce Hornsby-ish record and for once, that is not such a bad thing. The melodies are soft, the lyrics are painfully earnest and the good vibes just seep through your veins with every listen of this album
Favorite Songs: Holocene, Calgary
Barton Hollow, The Civil Wars
This duo were the other reason why I fell in love with folk (well, the indie hipster kind of folk anyways). A lot of people are always surprised to find out that John Paul White (a Johnny Depp doppleganger) and Joy Williams (a former CCM pop artist) are actually not married to each other because the chemistry they have both in the album and in live performances is just unbelievable. I had their album on loop for almost a week and I never got tired of them, even until now. They’ve gotten a big break lately by being featured in The Hunger Games OST in a duet with Taylor Swift. So stoked more people will get to discover them.
Fave songs: Barton Hollow, 20 Years
Mylo Xyloto, Coldplay
Critics and even some long-time fans (and long time detractors) were not very happy with this album. But Coldplay is in my personal list of bands that can do no wrong in my ears. First listen it was not that bad, in fact it was more than okay. But as I listened to it more, I grew to love it to bits. They’ve perfected a sound that they know fans will love, and they stick to it. They may not be as adventurous as other bands, but why change what works for them right? The only track that I hate? The one with Rihanna. I always skip over that track.
Fave songs: Us Against the World, Don’t Let It Break Your Heart
King of Limbs, Radiohead
Another one of the bands that I will always listen to no matter what. Critics and fans were very divided in their opinion of this album. But, as with any of their previous albums, I get totally lost when listening to it. Their songs are all about atmosphere and the experience of listening, more than the actual lyrics or hooks. No particular track really stands out, not because they’re not good but because it’s one whole listen for me. But critics, even those that panned the album, had to agree that Lotus Flower was brilliant
Fave songs: Lotus Flower, Morning Mr. Magpie
Ceremonials, Florence and the Machine
No one does baroque pop like Florence. And in just her 2nd studio album, she has mastered the art of creating anthemic songs that you just want to burst out singing to, except that you don’t have her vocal chops to give the song justice. So you’ll just lip-synch and dance along to it. Oh wait, that might just be me 🙂 Shake It Out is my official theme song for 2011
Fave songs: Of course Shake It Out, Breaking Down
I’m not as crazy about this album unlike her previous ones where I would just devour each and every song. Her latest one is a slow burn, where you just have to quietly listen to them to fully appreciate the whole album. I haven’t put it on loop which may be one of the reasons why I’m not as fond of it as The Reminder or Let It Die. But it still makes the list because after all, she is Feist.
Fave songs: How Come You Never Go There, Undiscovered First
Strange Mercy, St. Vincent
Annie Clark is my Zooey Deschenel/Jenny Lewis of 2011, meaning she is my indie girl crush for this year. And her new album doesn’t disappoint. In fact, this may be my favorite of her 3 albums too date. Her songs are so cheery and fun that even if she is singing about abuse or dark heartbreak, you still feel joyous and peaceful. She is also an awesome guitarist which adds to her coolness factor.
Fave songs: Cheerleader, Dilettante
Another genre that I fell in love with this year is the retro-sounding indie rock, or bands that would have been right at home in the 60s and 70s, like Real Estate, Best Coast, Phantogram, The Drums, but Cults makes my list. Just like St Vincent, there is such pep and cheer in their songs that you don’t notice that they’re actually singing about really dark things (which is sometimes bad actually). This is just their debut album and I look forward to hearing more from them
Fave songs: Abducted, Never Heal Myself
I Have a Dream, The City Harmonic
Hands down, my worship album of the year. They describe their music as “nostalgic Brit-pop meets campfire sing-along mix that features raucous gang vocals along with agile, soaring anthems crafted to include the listener”. “Be Still O My Soul” was the soundtrack to my faith journey of 2011
Fave songs: Be Still O My Soul, Manifesto
Other albums in my list but I’m just too lazy to write about
The Decemberists’ The King is Dead
Fleet Foxes’ Helplessness Blues
Yuck (yes, it’s a band)
Real Estate’s Day