A Very Unauthoritative List of Favorite Records from 2011

A Very Unauthoritative List of Favorite Records from 2011

Rankers gotta rank
Ugh, I know. I just did this whole ranty thing about how year-end best-of lists are mostly stupid, yet here I am talking about the music I thought was the best of 2011. I can't help myself. I love lists, reading and writing them, and the sincere ones are great. I can't help being suspicious of most big blogs and their nearly identical top albums lists, but I also can't help compiling my own selection of favorites. So I'll preface this one with a big fat disclaimer: I got nowhere close to listening to all of the good music released in 2011. I didn't even cover the majority of the buzz bands that everyone else seems to be talking about. Also, there will be no Bon Iver on this list, so if you're in that camp, you'll probably be disappointed. Sorry.
 
That being said, here are some dudes I think did amazing things with this year of music. I feel pretty good about a lot of the records that happened in 2011, and here are the ones, in no particular order, that give me the nicest feelings inside.
 
Youth Lagoon - The Year of Hibernation: I don't think there's been an album as warm, humble, and sincere as this one in a very long time. There are a lot of bedroom pop artists who think they're pretty much the best ever. Trevor Powers is not one of them. His debut comes from a place of real, raw feeling, muted and delicate. And he turns the most subtle tricks with those synths of his. I'm still not over those whistle-chirps he makes.
 
Low Roar - Low Roar: This is more or less what I expected Thom Yorke's solo album to sound like. Woodsy, slow, and haunted with gorgeous melodies, this San Franciscan-turned-Icelandic fellow creates a dark and melancholy (yet ultimately uplifting) world on his first full-length. 
 
St. Vincent - Strange Mercy: Not only does this record feature some of the catchiest tunes of the year, Annie's guitar tone can't be beat. She sounds like those bands that compose on Gameboys, except she's doing it all on the frets.
 
Balam Acab - Wander/Wonder: Dense and surreal, a collection of dreams, of fractured voices and ghostly landscapes. 
 
Mastodon - The Hunter: Mastodon's growth as a band has been a pleasure to watch. They've lost some of their metal edge in exchange for their tightest songwriting yet. They even cut loose into some very strange places on certain tracks, like "Creature Lives".
 
Massive Attack and Burial - Four Walls/Paradise Circus: I said these were all in no particular order, but this limited edition 12" release definitely crowns this list. The two best songs of the year, hands-down. No one builds sonic microcosms like Burial and these are two of his best. Absolutely ethereal.

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