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Eric’s Favorites for 2011

January 9, 2012

Looking back on 2011, one finds a year that was filled with such hope and tons of rewarding music from bands that I had not yet discovered. The year could be characterized as one where I devoted much of my listening time to albums released in years previous, but I still have favorites from this year that I will always recall fondly. Here’s to 2012 being yet another year for amazing art to be created and appreciated!

Honorable Mention: We Are Rising by Son Lux, Vice Verses by Switchfoot, The People’s Key by Bright Eyes, Let England Shake by PJ Harvey, Fictionist EP by Fictionist, S/T by James Blake, The Reckoning by NEEDTOBREATHE, The King of Limbs by Radiohead, 12 Desperate Straight Lines by Telekinesis

In alphabetical order…

Bon Iver by Bon Iver

There isn’t much left to say about an album like this. Bon Iver has done more than the unthinkable, he has done the remarkable. Here is an album that just oozes beauty and subtlety, aided by Justin Vernon’s distinct style. The songs seamlessly transition between each other, each their own distinct work within this fantastic album, yet all contributing to the whole of the work. This is the perfect album to listen to through rain or shine, whether walking, driving, or just hanging out. Especially the last song, the most risky one on the album, is welcomed with open arms, letting an album finish on its own terms.

build a rocket boys! by Elbow

With a band like Elbow, one can count on a work of honesty, subtlety, and poetry. Gus Garvey and the gang are not afraid to wear their heart on their collective sleeves, quickly becoming one of the most interesting and amazing bands in the world. With build a rocket boys!, their fifth official release, we find Elbow’s simpler, quieter side. This is an album that examines youth and what it means to grow up, as told through the eyes of Gus Garvey. Don’t miss out on one of the most self assured albums of 2011 or seeing the band live. They will blow your mind.

Burst Apart by The Antlers

Having heard very little of The Antlers in my life up to the release of this album, I wasn’t sure what to expect. With a single described as “Radiohead-like”, my interest was piqued, and that led me to discover this gem. This album shows the musical genius of this band as they weave the aftermath of a relationship “burst”ing apart. There is the utmost care and devotion to the songs, with plenty of emotion to show that this is a real thing. From the first sounds of “I Don’t Want Love”, this album conquers your hears in a web of beauty and some damn good song structure. It was my trip to Israel that really solidified this album in my brain as a winner in 2011, with the Israeli countryside forever associated with the music. A fine work.

El Camino by The Black Keys

Brothers was a fantastic meshing of blues and rock and roll. El Camino is a kick ass, never ending rock and roll onslaught that is perfect for the road. One of the funest albums of the year and one that you just can’t stop spinning.

Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes

It is the single that says everything. “Helplessness Blues” is one of the finest songs I have heard in a long time. And the album that goes around it is just as stunning. I didn’t really find much in White Winter Hymnal to demand my attention, but Helplessness Blues coaxes you in with some of the best songwriting of the year. Those vocal harmonies are to die for as well. If there was a band that I can’t wait to see live in 2012, it is this one.

Odd Soul by MUTEMATH

What a victorious return! MUTEMATH’s Odd Soul is a work of absolute genius and a welcome return to an attitude that hasn’t been seen since before their self-titled record came out. This what a band sounds like when they are most comfortable with who their are as a band and as human beings. Roy Mitchell-Cárdenas is a monster of musical ability, Darren King is still the drum master, and Paul brings it all together with fantastic vocals and keys. This album is meant to be played loud!

Simple Math by Manchester Orchestra

I don’t know what these guys have done that I haven’t liked, and Simple Math is no exception to this rule. Sure, the biting lyrics of Mean Everything to Nothing are gone, but what replaces them are some of the best lyrics Andy Hull and the gang have ever written. This is an album about a relationship that had to be fought for, and it shows. “April Fool” is a standout track, a loud, quick track with one of the best guitar hooks that this band has ever done.

Slave Ambient by The War on Drugs

Perhaps the latest addition to my attention this year, I didn’t really hear any of The War on Drugs until my friend showed them to me. And even then, it took a live show for me to really fall in love with this band and their music. There is something about this music and these songs my brain really enjoys hearing and listening to. It’s the kind of music you wich you could listen to all the time and never get tired of it.

Within and Without by Washed Out

This is the ultimate insomnia fighting album for me. My brain waves, upon hearing the opening riffs, just syncs up with this in a way that is hard to explain. I really like this album and something would truly be amiss if this wasn’t included on my favorite albums of the year list. Do yourself a favor and give it at least one listen. Maybe you will see what I am talking about.

Zonoscope by Cut Copy

Like The Antlers, I had knowingly heard little of Cut Copy before Zonoscope. As one of my first discoveries of 2011, this was a pleasant surprise that grew on me the more I listened to it. Thank you music blogs for drawing my attention to this fun, dancey, throwback of an album. Definitely the first thing I throw on the stereo if people ask me to play something good. Has never failed me yet.

Here’s to 2012, my friends! May it be the best year yet!

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