Top Ten Albums of 2011

When George Bernard Shaw wrote that youth is wasted on the young, he wasn’t compiling a top ten album list for 2011.
Lykke Li sings that youth knows no pain. It also knows how to craft some of the best music of the year.
Young describes many of the recording artists, who have made this list, Li, Anthony Gonzalez, Erika M. Andersen and the 18-year olds, who make up Dirty Gold, are kids making music worth checking out.

1.  M83: Hurry Up: We’re Dreaming (Mute)

During an interview, Anthony Gonzalez noted that he was inspired by My Bloody Valentine’s game-changing 1991 release ‘Loveless.’ ‘Hurry Up We’re Dreaming’ isn’t on the ‘Loveless’ level but it’s not far away, which is a massive complement. ‘Midnight City’ is one of the best singles of the year and the rest of the catchy, irrepressible synth-rock is just as intoxicating. The album harks back to the big, grand, sweeping albums, which are rare these days.

2.  EMA: Past Life Martyred Saints (Souterrain Transmissions)

Erika M. Andersen’s quirky, beguiling pop-rock is
uniquely bleak.  Her songs are moving, ominous and catchy. The South Dakota born singer-songwriter-guitarist has a very bright future if she can approximate her debut disc.

3.  PJ Harvey: Let England Shake (Vagrant/Island Def Jam)

Harvey has been quietly consistent since releasing her first three albums, which are gems any fan can return to. ‘Let England Shake’ is right up there with her best work. Harvey goes back to World War 1 for inspiration for this dark, ominous and compelling album, which is hypnotic at times.

4.  Dirty Gold ‘Roar’ (Autumn Tone) If you dig deep, you’ll find Dirty Gold. The pair of 18-year old Mormons from San Diego crafted the summery single, ‘California Sunrise.’ which perfectly evokes a warm, bright morning with endless possibilities. Dirty Gold is an original, uncompromising act, who won’t be heard from until they finish their Mormon mission two-years from now.

5.  Das Racist ‘Relax’ ‘Greedhead Music’)

The Brooklyn rappers are humorous, cerebral and best of all, irreverent throughout the consistently catchy offering. The sonic risks by the versatile performers push them to the head of the hip-hop class.

6.  St. Vincent: ‘Strange Mercy’ (4AD)

Annie Clark aka St. Vincent lives up to a great resume  (Glenn Branca guitarist, Polyphonic Spree singer). She proves that she can do it on her own with ‘Strange Mercy.’ Fans of sweet, ethereal pop-rock will dig ‘Strange Mercy.’

7.  Iceage: New Brigade (What’s Your Rupture?)

The finest punk band in years are comprised of a bunch of fiery Danish teens. The songs are raw, urgent and hook-laden.

8.  Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks ‘Minor Traffic’ (Matador)

After touring with a reunited Pavement, Malkmus harks back to the seminal band’s sound. “Minor Traffic’ recalls the group’s ‘Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain’/’Wowee Zowee’ hey day. A sprawling, playful adventure.

9.   Dum Dum Girls ‘Only In Dreams’ (Sub Pop)

It’s not just Dee Dee anymore. The Dum Dum Girls are a now a band. Dee Dee is a confident,  compelling singer-songwriter. The band crafts a number of tough but catchy tunes such as ‘Bedroom Eyes,’ and ‘Just a Creep.’ A young band realizing its potential.

10.           Lykke Li   ‘Wounded Rhymes (Atlantic)

The stylish and sexy Swede makes a huge jump from her decent debut, ‘Youth Novels,’ to her fully realized ‘Wounded Rhymes.’  “Youth Knows No Pain’ is a near perfect single and the rest of the album is very consistent.


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