2011: A Look Back

by 5:42 PM 0 comments
    Well kiddos, we have officially entered the new year.  As excited as we are for all the new sounds due to come out in 2012, first let's take a look back at some of the amazing music that was released in the crazy roller-coaster that was 2011.  Today I have compiled a list of my favorite albums and songs of the year to share with you.  Because music takes on such a personal relationship with me I couldn't bring myself to "rate" them in a traditional numbered list.  I have however, made a list, one with no numerical value whatsoever, to ease your brain in trying to take it all in.  Let's get right to it.

Albums of the Year 
    Before I drop this one on you, I would first like to explain what my criteria for best album of the year consisted of.  To me, what really makes an album stand out is it's quality as a whole work of art, rather than just the amount of solid singles that may have come from it.  Even if there is no stand out single, if I can listen to an artist's album, in its entirety, without skipping a track, that is an amazing thing.  I tend to find that most "Best of..." lists on the net contain albums with two or three absolutely perfect singles, but have many more throw away tracks than desired.  So here is the list of the my ten favorite albums, from start to finish, of 2011 (in no particular order).

 A dark, deep album with some amazing beats and even tighter lyrics.  Together/Apart will keep you coming back again, and again.

 This one will take you on a dreamy sonic voyage.  Within and Without sets the perfect mood for curling up with that special someone under a crisp winter night sky.

Warren Haynes could easily be called the new "hardest working man" in the music business.  The guy just can't seem to stop.  Well, it would seem like he has done it again with his newest solo effort.  You can practically feel all the soul he put into this release just oozing out every time you listen.  
An Intellectuals perfect hip-hop album.  Astronautalis seamlessly moves from bluntly singing to fearlessly flowing over driving beats.

Although it may only be a three song EP, with Ancient Machines, Minnesota brings a breath of fresh air to the sometimes over-hyped electronic music scene.

With songs seamlessly flowing into each other, a steady driving beat, and the finale of the 16 plus min. fist pumping opus, Tao of the Dead is the perfect album for that long car trip you've been meaning to take.  This is Rock N' Roll.

This is one of the better produced hip-hop albums I've heard in a long time.  Logic is definitely one to keep an eye on in the coming years. Not to mention Young Sinatra is a FREE release. 

Perhaps it's because I grew up (briefly) in the legendary 80's, this album is like taking a ride back to times of innocent youth.   It's light, fun, and very danceable when alone in your room.  

A working man's album.  Greensky Bluegrass continues to perfect their jam-grass sound and lyrics that anyone from Small-town America can identify with.

Its official, Dispatch is back!  With their first studio release in over 10 years, it doesn't take a scholar to tell they've still got what it took to catapult them to one of the worlds biggest independent bands on their rise to fame.

Runners Up:
[Shipwerck - Journal], [My Morning Jacket - Circuital], [Icebird - Abandoned Lullaby], [Atmosphere - The Family Sign], [Chadwick Stokes - Simmerkane II], [Araabmuzik - Electronic Dream], [Break Science - Further Than Our Eyes Can See], [Kraddy - Anthems of the Hero], [Mister Heavenly - Out of Love], [The Mountain Goats - All Eternals Deck]

Songs of the Year:
The Best of the best.

Ellie Goulding - Lights (Bassnectar Remix) by Bassnectar
In a year where electronic producers were judged by their Ellie Goulding remixes, Bassnectar set the bar high above the rest with his epic reworking of "Lights".  He just may have created the perfect dubstep for the masses with this one.

 The Mountain Goats - "High Hawk Season"
John Darnille has been finely tuning his craft for many years, and it definately paying off.  In "High Hawk Seasons" his voice sounds smoother and more mature than ever as he passionately calls out "Rise if you're sleeping, Stay awake!".  It's hard not to associate this call to arms with the tumultuous year in revolutions around the world we experienced over the past 12 months.

Evidence - Late For The Sky feat. Slug and Aesop Rock (Radio Rip) by rhymesayers
"Late For The Sky" is a special treat for all us hip-hop fans out there.  With the perfect combination of a nice beat and soulful chorus paired with some of the scene's most respected artists (Evidence, Slug of Atmosphere, and Aesop Rock) this was a most welcomed release.

  Deckard Noir - "Rise and Fall (Demo)
Deckard Noir burst onto the scene this year with this epic soundscape titled "Rise and Fall (Demo)".  With a delicate riff on the keys laid over steady drums and climbing guitar parts, this is exactly what a post-rock instrumental track should sound like.  Take some notes people, it don't get much better than this.

DJ Shadow - Scale It Back feat. Little Dragon (Robotaki Remix) by Robotaki
With his remix of "Scale It Back", 20 year old producer Robotaki has shown the professionals how it's done.  He sped the track up just enough to match it effortlessly with the beefed up beat, while simultaneously keeping true to the original track by letting Little Dragon's vocals soar above it all.  Well done sir!

Atmosphere - "Became"
There aren't many artists out there that can paint such a vivid picture with their words that you can practically see and smell their story around you.  Slug of Atmosphere is one such wordsmith.  In "Became" he tells the tale of a camping trip gone wrong.  Every word transports you to another reality where you can feel the danger of the woods all around you.  That is truly something amazing.

Greensky Bluegrass has outdone themselves with their epic, jam of a song, "All Four".  They have mastered the art of honest song writing and their musicianship cannot be denied on the 8 plus min. instrumental part.  If John Butler was a Bluegrass musician "All Four" would have been his "Ocean".  This is one to sit back and just take in.

My Morning Jacket - "Victory Dance"
"Victory Dance" is the perfect song for the perfect summer sunset.  Enough Said.

Although technically The Head and the Heart released their hit "Lost In My Mind" in the last days of 2010, I'm going to let it slide because most people probably didn't actually hear it until this past year.  Not to mention that this song is just that damn good.  This is one that was just made to sing along (poorly) with close friends.  If "Lost In My Mind" brings you no joy, then you sir, have no heart.

Rebleution - "Meant To Be (Feat. Jacob Hemphill of SOJA)"
With the perfect contrasting vocal style coming from Jacob Hemphill and Eric Rachmany, an uplifting message, and great reggae vibes, Rebelution has made an amazing song with "Meant To Be".  Any song that can rise the spirit to a place of pleasure like this one is a beautiful thing.

*more to come



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