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 Lists
05.09.13 Dude...2013...yeah03.12.12 10 Albums I've Been Diggin This Year
01.22.12 The 50 Best Albums Of 201112.29.11 Top 10 Most Disappointing Albums Of 201
12.26.11 Best Of 2011: Honorable Mentions11.06.11 2011 Rap I've Been Lovin
05.11.11 Top 10 Albums Of 2011...so Far05.04.11 Beastie Boys Albums Ranked
04.24.11 Favorite Albums Of The 2000's02.27.11 30 Best Songs Of 2010
02.21.11 Worst To Best: Radiohead Albums01.01.11 50 Best Albums Of 2010
01.01.11 Disappointing Albums Of 2010

The 50 Best Albums Of 2011

I'm a little late to the end of the year list scene, but 2011 has come and past and with it, some truly amazing albums. Sure, there have been some truly awful albums (Lulu anyone?) and some genuine disappointments (Lasers...why Lupe?) But these are the albums that struck a chord with me in 2011. Sure, there are some that people might raise an eyebrow with (I liked the new Death Cab more than most) but this is just my opinion. I'm not big on metal either so...yeah, sorry for snubbing that genre. Just not my taste. Now here are my 50 favorite albums of 2011.
50The Black Keys
El Camino


Striking critical as well as commercial success in 2010 with Brothers, The Black Keys return a year later with El Camino. The album is simpler as well as shorter than Brothers, but that doesn?t stop El Camino from delivering hard hitting rock songs that are catchy and visceral at the same time. The single ?Lonely Boy? is the best showcase for how a catchy chorus can fit within a rock song that punches hard. The Black Keys have come a long way and El Camino may be their best album yet.
49Wild Flag
Wild Flag


An all women power pop rock group? Sounds intriguing from the get go and if this debut album is any indication, Wild Flag is a band to keep an eye out for. The immediately accessible lead single ?Romance? is danceable and raw in its execution. It?s just the beginning as the album delves into songs that evoke the spirit of all girl power pop bands of the 60?s. It?s extremely enjoyable and energetic and stays that way throughout the whole album.
48Girls
Father, Son, Holy Ghost


After a highly regarded debut album and EP, Girls has released arguably their finest collection of songs yet. Father, Son, Holy Ghost is obviously influenced by psych rock bands of the 70?s but also keeps the feeling of being a Girls album. The single ?Vomit? would feel right at home in a Pink Floyd album and the simple and yet effective songwriting throughout creates a feeling of unpredictability when songs like ?Die? put an emphasis on distorted guitar riffs. It?s exhilarating and the best Girls album to date.
47Amon Tobin
ISAM


With ISAM, Brazilian producer Amon Tobin does what he does best and creates a feeling of listening to the sounds of nature. Stick with me here. The sounds presented here are bizarre and odd and the feeling of being within the unknown is prominent throughout the entire album. And yet, with all this odd experimentation, the album sounds focused and not just like a bunch of random noises. It?s disorienting, it?s trippy and it?s a brilliant piece of work by a master of his craft.
46 Azari & III
Azari & III


Not many dance albums nowadays seem to try to capture the feeling of the 90?s club scene. From the first song on their self-titled debut, Azari & III are out to capture that 90?s club feeling without being overtly cheesy. The results are delightfully fun. The opening track ?Into The Night? is fast and full of retro synths that would be right at home in the 90?s club scene. What really stands out with Azari & III though is their focus on fantastic vocal work that elevates the dance beats to emotional and irresistible heights. The infectious ?Reckless (With Your Love)? is incredibly sincere all the while being danceable and fun. Just like the rest of the album.
45Kate Bush
50 Words For Snow


On Kate Bush?s latest album, the UK singer songwriter doesn?t stray too far from what made her a fantastic artist in the first place. Namely, piano ballads mixed with gorgeous vocals and atmospheric songs that are cold and yet, beautiful. The opening song ?Snowflake? has the singer singing gently behind a minimal piano melody that is simple and gorgeous at the same time. The album?s title track lists off, you guessed it, 50 different words for the word ?snow? and the result is hypnotic, dark and emotional.
44Radiohead
The King of Limbs


Yeah yeah, The King of Limbs is definitely not Radiohead?s best work. It doesn?t hold a candle to masterpieces such as OK Computer, Kid A and In Rainbows. Despite this, The King of Limbs is still one of Radiohead?s most ambitious and experimental albums yet. The repetition in the melodies may drive off usual Radiohead fans as well has the incredibly short 30 minute length. But if you stick with it, the soaring horns of ?Bloom? and the piano driven ?Codex? are amongst the captivating songs of this album that?s one of the more interesting releases of the year. Plus, Thom Yorke?s vocals are always mesmerizing.
43Das Racist
Relax


Coming off two critically acclaimed mixtapes and the stupidly infectious ?Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell? song, Das Racist finally released a proper studio album to wondrous results. Das Racist have definitely moved on from the feel of those mixtapes. It?s newer, it?s harder and it?s brilliant. Relax is consistently entertaining and every song has a different feel such as the Arab inspired beat of ?Michael Jackson? to the club friendly ?Girl?, there?s a song for any hip hop preference here. They?re not a one hit joke anymore, Das Racist is here to stay and have proved they have the chops to do so.
42John Maus
We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves


Though coming off Ariel Pink?s mesmerizing Before Today, fellow Ariel Pink prot?g? John Maus struck gold with his oddly titled third album. The entire album is immensely catchy as well as expectedly psychedelic. It definitely takes a few listens for it to sink in, but once it does, the retro love song ?Hey Moon? to the breathtakingly psychedelic ?Believer? will bring you back again and again. It?s definitely less accessible than Ariel Pink?s releases but that?s what makes John Maus?s new album more interesting and unique.
41CunninLynguists
Oneirology


This hip hop trio has been around for over 10 years and they have created their best work to date with Oneirology. It?s the well thought out lyricism that brings the theme of dreams and the dark subject matter to life. And with Freddie Gibbs showing up on the ominous ?Hard As They Come? and Big K.R.I.T showing up on the violent reflections on ?Murder?, CunninLynguists enhance each song with each feature and they?re backed by some truly stunning and atmospheric production. It?s thrilling and has all the makings of a hip-hop classic.
40Toro Y Moi
Underneath The Pine


Last year?s Causers of This was a chillwave classic and for his sophomore album, Chazwick Bundick moves on with a sound that is much funkier and danceable. Underneath the Pine isn?t chillwave by any means, but Bundick?s smooth vocals over the 70?s inspired production make you forget that this guy started off in that chillwave genre. It?s a better album too. Once the synth grooves of the appropriately titled ?New Beat? hits your ears, the fresh and yet familiar sound is a welcome feeling. Underneath the Pine is enjoyable and full of heart all while being a new direction for this talented artist.
39Grouplove
Never Trust a Happy Song


With all the hubbub over Foster the People?s catchy, chart topping hit ?Pumped Up Kicks?, people seem to overlook the fact that Foster the People?s debut was extremely mediocre containing three solid singles mixed with dull summer jams. Grouplove?s debut album avoids this fiasco and delivers an album full of catchy and fun summer tunes. From the irresistible singles ?Tongue Tied? and ?Itchin? On A Photograph? to the simple, hook filled ?Lovely Cup.? It?s all very simple, very sugary sweet and very delightful and fun.
38ASAP Rocky
Live.Love.A$AP.


Signed for a jaw dropping three million bucks, Harlem rapper ASAP Rocky had a lot to prove with his debut mixtape. Thankfully, he knocks it out of the park with some truly amazing production from Clams Casino and blissfully hazy raps. Opener ?Palace? is grandiose in its reflection of new found fame and ?Kissing Pink? mixes R&B influences with a hypnotic beat and laidback delivery from Rocky. The whole album brings you into the high and for that, Live. Love. A$AP. is an experience that lives up to all the hype behind this very promising rapper.
37Cut Copy
Zonoscope


Though not quite In Ghost Colours, Cut Copy have release their third album and have proven that they still have it in them to deliver 80?s influence dance rock. Solid vocals and catchy hooks, Zonoscope is Cut Copy doing what they do best: creating fun and danceable synth pop goodness. The opening track ?Need You Now? is the best song on album that starts out that starts out with a retro melody that soon becomes much larger than life as it goes on. It shows how the band doesn?t settle for what they start?and that?s all the better for the listener.
36Neon Indian
Era Extrana


The sophomore release from Alan Palomo?s chillwave project is an overall darker album than his 2009 masterpiece, Psychic Chasms. The feel is much colder and the album retains the low-fi vibe of Psychic Chasms. The songs themselves are much more retro sounding and the vocals are distorted to near incomprehensible levels, such as in the catchy single, ?Polish Girl? which sounds straight out of the 80?s . The whole album is much more complex than Psychic Chasms and is more interesting because of it.
35Mogwai
Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will


The latest from the Scottish band, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will is a gorgeous mixture of instrumentals that rarely have any vocals at all. Multiple effects are added to the instrumentals and in turn becomes one of Mogwai?s best and most breathtaking releases.
34Atlas Sound
Parallax


The third solo album from Deerhunter?s Bradford Cox, Parallax is the best album yet from Atlas Sound. Taking a cue from last years? Deerhunter release, Halcyon Digest, Parallax is much more accessible than the previous albums from Atlas Sound. But just because it?s accessible, doesn?t mean Cox has dumbed down his art. Parallax is arguably some of his best songs yet, Deerhunter or otherwise. It?s a gorgeous and complex album that shows the singer becoming more confident in his craft.
33Panda Bear
Tomboy


The fourth solo album from Noah Lennox of Animal Collective is also his best. Tomboy is full of melodies that are layered with so many effects that the result is expectantly hypnotic. Lennox?s gorgeous and soaring vocals are a thing of beauty and if you?re a fan of his previous work with Animal Collective or his other solo venture, you need to listen to Tomboy. Rather than just another solo release from Lennox, it?s a genuinely gorgeous and haunting experience.
32TV On The Radio
Nine Types of Light


The acclaimed experimental rock band delivers another solid album with Nine Types Of Light. The album is a super fun, cheerful and unique listen that is also the most accessible album yet in the entire TV On The Radio discography. It?s just as experimental as previous releases and the chorus?s even recall arena friendly bands such as U2. One of the band?s best albums to date.
31Beastie Boys
Hot Sauce Committee Part Two


Their first non-instrumental album since the lackluster To the Five Boroughs, the new Beastie Boys album is without a doubt the hip-hop trio?s best album since Hello Nasty. There?s nothing new necessarily with the lyricism and it?s just as humorous and the flows are hard hitting as usual. With punk inspired tunes such as ?Lee Majors Come Again? and psychedelic rock elements in ?Ok?, the trio delivers the expected variety and the result is endlessly entertaining.
30Shabazz Palaces
Black Up


One of the more unique rap releases?well?ever, Shabazz Places debut LP, Black Up is full of experimental beats that are both mind bending and ominous. It?s quite unlike anything I?ve ever heard from the hip hop genre and it?s not only fresh, but very catchy with lyricism that bounces off the unconventional production with depth and creativity. It?s unlike anything this year and though it?s not for everyone, it definitely deserves a listen.
29tUnE-yArDs
w h o k i l l


A crazy and bizarre blend of genres, the new album from Merill Garbus is an improvement over their debut album, BiRd-BrAiNs. Who Kill is their most thought provoking effort yet and doesn?t skimp on the commentary all while being fun and catchy.
28The Antlers
Burst Apart


The Antlers struck indie rock gold with Hospice in 2009 with one of the most depressing and downbeat albums to revolve around heartbreak and loneliness. It was a truly exceptional record but here, the band doesn?t try to do what they?ve done before. Burst Apart shows the band expanding and becoming more of collective than they ever have before. Because of this, the album?s cold atmosphere has so many different sounds to it and no one song sounds the same. The variety enhances the band?s obvious feelings of moving on from the loneliness felt in Hospice and becoming a more united and accepting band as a whole. Plus, Peter Silberman?s vocals are still astounding.
27St. Vincent
Strange Mercy


The latest from indie pop band St. Vincent lives up to the title in that it definitely is a strange album. That doesn?t stop it from being great though. In fact, Strange Mercy thrives because of how different it is. It doesn?t play it safe by any means and it?s a very messy sounding album. But that?s what makes it so intriguing and such a gorgeous listen. Annie Clark?s vocals are just as important as the odd, yet gorgeous melodies. They both work together and make Strange Mercy a standout 2011 release.
26Wild Beasts
Smother


Following up their Mercury Prize nominated album, Two Dancers, wasn?t going to be easy. Despite this, Wild Beast have made an album full of gorgeous melodies, stunning vocals and a very intimate and yet lonely vibe. It?s very atmospheric and sad but also ends up being an inspiring and overall, beautiful sounding album. Their best work yet.
25Youth Lagoon
The Year of Hibernation


Recording his album in his own bedroom, Trevor Powers made an emotional and intimate gem of an album in The Year of Hibernation. From the distant and lonely vocals to the simple, yet gorgeous production, Powers has made an album that is syrupy sweet as well as powerful. And with the opener ?Afternoon?, Poewers shows he can turn is emotions into something catchy and cheerful.
24Death Cab For Cutie
Codes and Keys


The long running indie rock band have been on a downward spiral for a few years now and though it?s not their best album, Codes and Keys is Death Cab?s best album in years. It sounds much more cheery and hopeful than their previous work and there is a lot more experimental sounds this time around. It?s still Death Cab, it?s just that the band is in a much more ?feel good? area and the album is a new direction for the band. It?s not groundbreaking, but that doesn?t stop Codes and Keys from shining
23Iceage
New Brigade


There?s nothing like some hard punk rock as well as some youthful spirits cranking out visceral and fast punk songs. Such is the case with Iceage, a Danish punk rock band with a debut album that is hardly over 20 minutes long and the members are barely out of their teens. New Brigade is a barrage of lightning fast tracks that bring back Ramones era punk rock. It?s a very good start to an extremely promising new band.
22James Blake
James Blake


With the rise of dubstep, many artists have branched off in newer forms of the genre for something much darker and atmospheric. One of the best artists to branch off like this has been James Blake and his debut album is a very good entry in the genre. The album?s vocals are astounding and in songs like ?Limit to Your Love? and ?Wilhelm Scream,? Blake adds heartbreaking lyricism backed by dark and claustrophobic production. James Blake shows you don?t need crazy and obnoxious beats to make good of the dubstep genre.
21Common
The Dreamer/The Believer


After his awful venture into club friendly territory with ?Universal Mind Control,? Chicago hip hop legend Common has gone back to what made him good in the first place: uplifting and positive hip hop. The Dreamer/The Believer is full of amazing soulful production from longtime collaborator No I.D. and socially conscious lyricism. Nas shows up on the hit single ?Ghetto Dreams? and John Legend sings as well as he always does in ?The Believer.? It?s all very positive and with this, Common has made his best album since Be.
20Battles
Gloss Drop


After losing lead vocalist Tyondai Braxton, Battles looked doomed for their sophomore release. How was it supposed to come close to their outstanding debut album Mirrored? Gloss Drop was released and thankfully, it ends being just as good if not better than its predecessor. Featuring guest artists such as Matias Aguayoa on ?Ice Cream? and Gary Numan on ?My Machines,? Battles have made another delightfully experimental and bursting with creativity. It?s also a much more accessible album than Mirrored. Despite losing their lead singer, Battles have proven they can still make a fantastic release.
19Dumbo Gets Mad
Elephants at the Door


Coming out of nowhere, Dumbo Gets Mad came out of nowhere in early 2011 and gave away their debut album, Elephants at the Door, for free off their website. Despite being a free release, Elephants at the Door was a weird and original piece of psychedelic rock. The surf rock influence ?Plumy Tale? and creepy and bizarre ?Why Try?? are all mixed into an album that recalls old psychedelic rock bands of the late 60?s and early 70?s. It?s trippy and a very entertaining experience.
18The Weeknd
House of Balloons


It has been a busy year for Abel Tesfaye, also known as The Weeknd, who burst onto the music scene in 2011 with a trilogy of mixtapes. They included House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes of Silence and the spot could go to any of the three, but House of Balloons gets it for being the debut and thus, being the most surprising and intriguing album of the bunch. The Weeknd inject R&B vocals of sex and drugs over a drugged out and spacey production that is quite unlike anything else this year. On ?High for This,? the lyrics involve drugging a girl and the production is appropriately atmospheric. The vocals are absolutely amazing as well which helped Tesfaye be included on the new Drake LP. The future is bright for this new artist.
17Kendrick Lamar
Section 80


Generating a lot of buzz amongst the internet, the new album from Kendrick Lamar is politically and socially conscious all while Lamar raps over some of the best production of the year. The reflections of race and relationships all feel genuine and the jazzy and effect heavy beats are fresh. The whole album is really a breath of fresh air in a genre that is constantly moving forward. Kendrick repeats the phrase ?Fuck dat? in the single ?A.D.H.D? and no matter the meaning, it feels directed at all the unoriginal hip-hop artists making it big. Fuck dat indeed.
16Washed Out
Within and Without


Instead switching up how the way chillwave is presented, Ernest Greene a.k.a Washed Out, went for a much more standard route for his debut album, Within and Without. However, besides not being something insanely unique, Washed Out?s debut shows that chillwave can put out very good releases if done right. From the soft drum line of ?Soft? and the elaborate synths of ?Amor Fati,? Within and Without does everything chillwave is known for (distant low fi vocals and dreamy synths) and does it better than anything in the genre.
15Death Grips
Exmilitary


To say Exmilitary is one of the hardest and most vicious rap albums of the year would be an understatement. MC Ride?s vocals consist of a solid flow but he screams pretty much every word of it. Zach Hill of Hella contributes hard hitting and aggressive drums throughout. The production is mixed with these drums with experimental electronics. All the songs are full of violence and sexual content but instead of glamorizing it all, songs like ?Takyon (Death Yon)? or ?I Want It I Need It (Death Heated)? paint brutal pictures that show Death Grips have something to say?even if they?re going to scream it.
14Danny Brown
XXX


Detroit rapper Danny Brown came bursting onto the scene with the most over the top mixtape of the year. Though, because of Danny Brown?s loud and nasally deliver, some might have a hard time getting into XXX. Those who do, however, will get one of the most bizarre and entertaining rap albums of the year. He speaks out against radio singles in ?Radio Song? and doing a bunch of drugs in?well, all of the songs. It?s delightfully crude with lines like ?Stank pussy smellin like Cool Ranch Doritoes? and Danny Brown holds no punches with the deliriously sexual lyrics and hard hitting production.
13The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Belong


The New York indie pop?s sophomore release is a lot different than they?re self titled debut. Instead of being full of noise rock tunes, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart capture the catchier side of indie pop by having songs such as single ?Heart in Your Heartbreak? which is full of catchy choruses but yet, full of heart. The whole album never ceases from being a sugary pop ride, but The Pains of Being Pure At Heart add in enough heart and solid lyricism to add substance to their catchy songs.
12Drake
Take Care


On Drake?s sophomore release, the Canadian rapper enhances everything good about his debut Thank Me Later and the result is one of the most atmospheric and emotional hip hop releases of 2011. Drake expresses doubts in opener ?Over My Dead Body? and discusses a heartbreaking break up in ?Marvin?s Room.? Songs like these are very personal and emotional while Drake isn?t afraid to show his boastful side in songs like the Just Blaze produced ?Lord Knows.? The whole album is filled with amazing production, fantastic guest appearances from Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd, and overall, is just the best album yet from this promising rapper.
11Holy Ghost!
Holy Ghost!


When LCD Soundsystem announced their retirement as a band, I was crushed. They were one of my favorite bands and thought Holy Ghost! are a bit more disco oriented than LCD Soundsystem, they definitely soften the blow of LCD?s absence and record label DFA has another fantastic band. The duo, consisting of Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel, have created a very fun debut album with songs like ?Do It Again? about being unmotivated and doing the same routine every day. The album is insanely catchy and entertaining throughout and full of retro sounding synths and solid vocals. Holy Ghost! are definitely a fantastic substitute to LCD Soundsystem and their debut album proves why.
10Destroyer
Kaputt


The Canadian indie jazz pop band delivers their ninth album Kaputt and it?s easily their best yet. Full of gorgeous synths and excellent use of the saxophone, most songs already astounding to listen to from an instrumental stand point, especially the extremely danceable self-titled track which is such a smooth track. The vocals elevate every song to higher highs with Dan Bejar?s dreamy and calming vocals. ?Savage Night At The Opera? would be right at the home in the 80?s and ?Suicide Demo For Kara Walker? is a moving and gorgeous song with piano and flutes adding to a smooth and infectious drum beat. Simply put, Kaputt is a fantastic album and the band?s most accessible release to date. It?s a gorgeous and emotional listen that shouldn?t be missed.
9WU LYF
Go Tell Fire to the Mountain


The Manchester band WU LYF (Short for ?World Unite! Lucifer Youth Foundation?) made a name for themselves not by advertising themselves, but by avoiding any press and not revealing much background of themselves. There is a certain element of mystery to their debut album Go Tell Fire to The Mountain. The album itself is full of passion and inspiring anthems, sung in sometimes indistinguishable vocals. But that?s because of Elley Robert?s intense and rough voice that delivers powerful chorus?s in songs like ?We Bros? and ?Spitting Blood.? Gorgeous melodies and complex lyricism show that WU LYF don?t need the publicity to prove themselves.
8Tyler, The Creator
Goblin


There?s a strong possibility you heard of Tyler, The Creator and the rest of the Odd Future gang in 2011. Though they have releases dating before 2011, Goblin as well as the hit single ?Yonkers? might be the point when Odd Future changed from rap loving, skate hooligans, to full blown celebrities. The thing Goblin does well is create an entirely different world in which Tyler places raps in. He goes on to chant ?Kill people, burn shit, fuck school? in the aggressive ?Radicals? and even raps as a vampire who preys on women in ?Transylvania.? The production is done from Tyler and the album is full of old school synths and drums but the album has such a dark atmosphere and the therapy theme of it all makes it seem even more insane. It?s a unique spin on the genre and effectively works to really place you in the mind of a psychopath. It?s brutal and sometimes hard to listen to, but that is what makes it brilliant.
7The Horrors
Skying


Moving away even further from the garage rock influences of their so-so debut Strange House, The Horrors have further embraced the showgaze aspects of their previous LP, Primary Colors. Skying is full of gorgeous, retro synths, haunting vocals, and variety. The Horrors have definitely made their best album yet. Songs range from haunting and somber with ?Still Life? to personal and grandiose with ?Changing the Rain?. Most of this is because of Faris Badwan vocals that wouldn?t sound out of place on an album from The Cure. The Horrors have made their most emotionally satisfying album to date.
6Jay-Z and Kanye West
Watch the Throne


Though starting out as a collaborative EP, Watch the Throne has turned into a full blown album and one of the best of 2011. The expected grandiosity of the beats are here in the form of the yelping Otis Redding sample in ?Otis? and the elaborate ?All of the Lights?-esque production of ?Lift Off.? And the lyricism is typical Kanye and Jay-Z. Namely, rapping about being awesome and rich. But the two rappers bounce off each other like the old friends they are and some lines are literally laugh out loud funny (The ?What she order!? Fish fillet!?? line in ?Niggas In Paris? made me laugh hard). But Kanye West and Jay-Z don?t just rap about luxurious lifestyles all through Watch the Throne. ?New Day? has Jay-Z and Kanye rapping to their unborn children and ?Murder to Excellence? has the rappers discussing black accomplishments. The changing topics lead to an album that is inconsistent in tone, but with Watch the Throne, that?s not a handicap. It?s unpredictable and the various tones throughout make it a surprisingly human album. Not quite to the level of Kanye West?s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, but still, a human element in this album was a great surprise.
5Bon Iver
Bon Iver, Bon Iver


By now, everyone has heard the story of Justin Vernon and Bon Iver?s first album, For Emma, Forever Ago. Secluded in a log cabin, Justin Vernon recorded one of the most heartbreaking and acclaimed indie releases of all time. For the self-titled follow up, the band have created an album full of the beauty and soft melodies of its predecessor, but this time, Bon Iver feel as if they?ve matured since their debut and made their songs much more layered and rich with detail. And Vernon?s vocals are just as beautiful and abstract as one would expect. It?s the sound of a band working together to create something even more gorgeous and heartbreaking than ever before.
4PJ Harvey
Let England Shake


For her first album in four years, PJ Harvey has made a full-fledged protest album. Her singing and lyricism is just as lovely as it always has been and the instrumentation is full of fast paced rhythms and grooves. Instead of focusing on a particular conflict however, Harvey emphasizes the feelings that go with conflict throughout conflict. The chant heavy ?The Words That Maketh Murder? and guitar and horn drivin ?The Glorious Land? all come together to make the listener feel the toll war takes on a country and the people within it.
3The Roots
undun


For the tenth album from the Philadelphia hip hop group, The Roots, the band went for a concept album instead of the straightforward path. Though the story told in undun is straightforward, it?s told in reverse, from the death of a man named Redford Stevens to his birth. The middle is plagued with all the troubles in his life that involve crime and drugs. It?s not a new story, but The Roots make it an effectively dark one. This album is the darkest album yet from The Roots. Undun is a tragedy of this character and The Roots effectively use every song on the album to make the tragedy hit harder. The album ends with four instrumental songs that signify the birth of Stevens, which creates a heartbreaking atmosphere even after the album ends?because you know what kind of life that man leads. With metaphorical lyricism, dark themes, and fantastic production, undun is The Root?s best album yet.
2Fucked Up
David Comes to Life


How do you follow up an album as good as the 2009 Polaris Music Prize winning album, The Chemistry of Common Life? With an 18 track rock epic of course. With Fucked Up?s third LP, David Comes To Life, Fucked Up tell the story of a man named David that falls in love with a girl named Veronica. It becomes much more convoluted and complicated throughout, as do most rock operas, but Fucked Up never stop feeling sincere and even though the album is full of hard punk rock tunes like ?Under My Nose?, there?s songs like ?Queen of Hearts? which has the two main characters claiming their love for one another. It?s sweet and the rough vocals of Damian Abraham, while edgy, still help tell the story of a man?s love. It?s excellent and fast paced. It?s also very heartfelt, which is weird to say about a hardcore punk album.
1 M83
Hurry Up, We're Dreaming


The sixth album from the French band M83 is easily their best ever and the year?s best album. The double album is a long listen and some songs aren?t always winners, but the passion in Anthony Gonzalez?s voice as well as the barrage of synths are enough to send any listener into a dreamy coma. The album is full of 80?s pop sounds and reflections of the past. Hurry Up, We?re Dreaming starts off with a one-two punch with ?Intro? and ?Midnight City?. In ?Intro?, the synths gradually build up to something much more grandiose while Gonzalez?s vocals echo with magnificent beauty throughout. Then Zola Jesus appears and together, she and Gonzalez belt so much emotion that it becomes one of the most powerful songs all year. And then ?Midnight City? propels you forward with one of the catchiest and hypnotic pop songs in a long time. The punchy 80?s production and repeated yelping add to the catchy feeling of the song, but when the song introduces Saxes, ?Midnight City? becomes another powerful anthem of retro beauty. And the whole album is full of unique songs and twists and turns. "Raconte-Moi Une Histoire? brings back memories of childhood innocence as a little girl talks about a color changing frog over bubbly synths. Later on, ?Steve McQueen? is propelled by arena friendly vocals and layer upon layer of gorgeous synths. Hurry Up, We?re Dreaming is a masterpiece that effectively captures a multitude of moods and meanings. One will have a hard time not reminiscing with their past during a listen to M83?s gorgeous new album. It?s a pop album for the ages.
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