|2011: The View Without Hipster Shades|
Yeah, those hipster shades. You know what I'm talking about. Anyway, take a good look. Top 50 music releases of the year. My thoughts and favorite songs in the description.
"Promises" - Disappointing, but I'm sure it'll grow on me at some point during these next ten years without new Thrice music.
"Never Dead" - The full stupidity of the album's title did not hit me until I had to type it correctly in order to make this list. Good thing the music rocks pretty hard.
"Professional Loving" - Very uneven, but absolutely stellar in a few places.
A Dramatic Turn of Events
"On the Backs of Angels" - A step in the right direction for the most part. I just hope that they've used up all of their ideas for ballads now.
Tales of the Sands
"Wide Shut" - Needs more prog. It might help to differentiate the songs. That said, this definitely sounds cool.
"Enemies With Benefits" - One time I listened to this and it sounded like a top 10 contender. I'm not sure what has been wrong all of the other times. Ah, whatever. Awesome production and creative rhymes throughout.
|44|| ||Red Hot Chili Peppers|
I'm With You
"Meet Me at the Corner" - I cannot argue with anyone who says that this is the worst RHCP album. That doesn't mean it isn't good though.
Time Is Up
"Scumbag in Disguise" - Does it sound like something you've heard before? Of course. It's thrash! However, their superb musicianship and raw energy make up for any shortcomings in the originality department.
|42||Above & Beyond|
"Only a Few Things" - These guys can do more than make great remixes. Excellent vocal trance that will make you feel like it's 2001 again.
"Moron TV" - Amazing grooves and clever lyrics make for a very entertaining album.
"The Sea" - A mature modern pop record. Much of the album is very similar to what you'd hear everyday on the radio except it lacks the obnoxious production and puerile lyrics currently dominating the charts. Recommended for any fan of pop music.
"A Darker Forest" - Thursday ends their career on a high note with their most consistent release since War All the Time.
Old Raves End
"Hostile" - Probably not something I've given more than about 5 spins to, but I haven't felt the need to look any further when wanting to hear this type of music.
|37||League of Lights|
League of Lights
"Anime" - Beautiful melodies and passionate, uplifting lyrics. A pleasure to listen to.
Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang
"Last Trip To Scotland" - It's always good to see a veteran at the top of his game. Show them how it's done.
"Marvins Room" - Extends for way too long, but the the weak tracks from the playlist and you've got yourself a fine mix of hip-hop and R&B.
"Bittersweet Melodies" - It's still no Let It Die, but Feist changed things up and put together a strong, fresh-sounding effort.
"He Won't Go" - Yes, there were better albums this year. Yes, it's overhyped. Yes, it's still good music.
If Not Now, When?
"In the Company of Wolves" - Almost completely unrecognizable from the band that previously transformed on Morning View ten years ago, the great songwriting present here shows that it probably doesn't matter who they decide to sound like in the future. They have the skill to make it work.
|31||Pain of Salvation|
Road Salt Two
"Softly She Cries" - The vintage sound is better defined and the album overall may be slightly better than part one, but yeah. We don't need a Road Salt Three, Daniel. Please.
The Ghost You Gave To Me
"Pretty" - An excellent, melodic, modern rock album with a healthy dose of prog.
"Songs For Women" - Smooth.
"Adrift in the Ocean" The progressive tendencies and quality vocal performances on Atma set it apart from 2011's lesser sludgy offerings.
"Dying World" - Hell of an intense record. Features a great vocalist pushing his voice to the limit, but the style still ends up being restrictive at times.
"White Telephone" - Doesn't quite come close to beating out her performance in Melancholia as the best thing she's done this year, but it's still a very solid musical effort that includes a couple of brilliant songs.
"Face in the Snow" - Hopefully, Akerfeldt has fulfilled his childhood fantasies and returns with something more interesting next time. Heritage was an enjoyable little diversion, but I'm confident Opeth can create something better (as they have ~9 times in the past) when not limiting themselves to writing songs under such stringent conditions.
|24|| ||Tech N9ne|
All 6's and 7's
"Worldwide Choppers" - Too many fantastic guest appearances to list. Gotta at least give a shout out to Busta though. Oh, and Tech did alright too.
"Reign in Madness" - It's quite good for what it is, but I guess I'm still in shock and cannot accept that this is the same band who created music like V: The New Mythology Suite. Some killer riffs and guitars solos as usual, but it lacks the other elements that made Symphony X Symphony X.
"Trycolour" - One of the most promising new acts to emerge in 2011. Indie rock done right.
Echoes of Silence
"Initiation" - The "weakest" entry in the trilogy. Lol. The man could already put out a best of compilation and it would sell like hotcakes.
The Light of the Sun
"Hear My Call" - The strongest work of her career and extremely worthy of its debut at number one on the Billboard charts.
"Rebel of Babylon" - How could they have been holding these back on releasing these tracks? Amazing. With any luck, the next album will follow more closely in line with some of this stuff. Or it could be even more like Load. Thrash is dead.
"The Bottom" - This is one of those self-titled albums that is self-titled for a good reason. Staind sees the band bringing back the power of their early material and combining it with the songwriting experience they've gained along the way to release their best work since Break the Cycle.
|17|| ||Little Dragon|
"Shuffle a Dream" - It can be easy to overlook Yukimi Nagano's sharp lyricism while being occupied with those infectious electronic rhythms and her soulful vocals, but that would be a shame. Ritual is the complete package. Praiseworthy in every department.
"Bridge Burning" - What year is this again? Dave Grohl sure had me confused. A band that should theoretically be long past their prime puts out one of most energetic and ultimately best rock records of the year.
"I Care" - Classic songwriting and instrumentation propel a superb 45+ minutes that covers the full spectrum of everything that could be desired in a pop album.
"The Birds" - Unreal production. The deepest of the three mixtapes.
|13||Fair To Midland|
Arrows and Anchors
"Golden Parachutes" - Man, this record is all over the place. And that's what makes it so good.
"Triumph" - The reinvention of Saul Williams as a pop musician. Any tears shed were quickly wiped away by the same unseen force urging the body to begin dancing.
"Finest Hour" - Sade meets Portishead wasn't a bad description of Submotion Orchestra's sound. The quality of the music isn't too far off from those groups either.
|10|| ||Chelsea Wolfe|
"Pale On Pale" - Darker and, in some ways, heavier than any metal album I've heard this year. Listening to this is a dangerously spiritual experience.
Last Night On Earth
"Last Night On Earth" - An intelligent and expertly put together album that can be enjoyed by any fan of alternative or indie music.
"Made of Stone" - Some of the best choruses of the year, heartfelt ballads, crushingly heavy guitars and of course Amy Lee's incredible vocals. "Mainstream" alternative rock/metal does not get any better than this.
50 Words For Snow
"Snowflake" - Beauty. That is the only single word that can be used to describe what 50 Words For Snow is and yet it does not give adequate credit to how magnificent these compositions are.
"Lighthouse" - An ambitious and wonderfully executed hip-hop album.
|5||Lou Reed and Metallica|
"Frustration" - Metallica fans may recall the band being forced to fade out of and omit a large portion of the outro to Load's "The Outlaw Torn" due to time constraints. Thankfully, they are no longer in a position where that is a concern. Could Junior Dad have been scaled back by about ten minutes? Sure. However, Lou and the boys felt that the the song wasn't done saying all that it had to say. Who cares if it would require the use of a second disc? Not willing to be bound by any trivial restrictions or limitations, these five men have released a truly groundbreaking recording. 87 minutes of music-no...art in its purest form. What a thing to behold.
|4||For All We Know|
For All We Know
"Down On My Knees" - In a year of disappointments from some of the established, well-regarded progressive metal bands, a side-project by a newcomer to the genre ends up being one of the best releases. Having also made significant contributions to League of Lights and Within Temptation, Ruud Jolie would be my artist of the year if not for...
House of Balloons
"What You Need" - Abel Tesfaye. House of Balloons is just about flawless at everything it attempts. From timeless, straight R&B jams to warped, dirty cuts there is a clearly defined sound that usually takes artists years to establish. I respect the hell out of him and appreciate that he continued to expand the scope of his music on the subsequent mixtapes, but the fact of the matter is he discovered the perfect formula right from the very first experiment.
This Mortal Coil
"Blink of an Eye" - Redemption continues to show why they are my favorite band of the 21st century. This is the fourth fantastic record they've put out since 2005. The songwriting is just so far beyond anything done by similar prog metal bands. Despite Ray Alder's declining range, he seems like a better singer year after year in large part due to the brilliant melodies written by Van Dyk. Not to mention the lyrics. And that is the main focus of This Mortal Coil. This album is definitely one of the most inspiring pieces of music I've ever been fortunate enough to hear.
|1||Arch / Matheos|
"Neurotically Wired" - Album of the year. I knew it from the moment "Incense and Myrrh" faded out of my speakers for the first time. I knew it because it could possibly have been the album of the year if it were released in any of the past ten. Ah, let me not get started. I have other things to do tonight. Just click and read the review. For any fan of unique heavy metal and progressive music to knowingly neglect to listen to this album would be absurd. You've been put on notice.