best albums of 2011 (so far)

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Friday, July 1st, 2011

best albums so far 2011

best albums of 2011 (so far)

at about this time last year, i posted a list of my favorite albums of 2010 up to that point. at the end of 2010, it was fun to look back and see if i still had similar feelings. the black keys’ brothers was able to hold onto the top spot whereas albums by jennifer knapp, janelle monae & fair (among others) didn’t make the year-end list at all.

so i thought i’d do the same this year. there’s been a lot of good music, but admittedly, in looking at this list, it’s not necessarily been a great year for music so far. i’m anticipating quite a few albums (kanye/jay-z, u2, coldplay, amy winehouse (maybe?), dr. dre, fiona apple (possibly?) and a list of others) by year’s end that will almost certainly bump quite a few of these from the list. we’ll see.

in the meantime, here’s my favorite 20 albums, so far, of 2010:

20. the decemberists: the king is dead

19. cults: cults

18. chris thile & michael daves: sleep with one eye open

17. the civil wars: barton hollow

16. eisley: the valley

15. bon iver: bon iver, bon iver

14. cake: showroom of compassion

13. josh garrels: love & war & the sea in between

12. manchester orchestra: simple math

11. derek webb & sandra mccracken: tn ep

10. beyoncé: 4

9. fleet foxes: helplessness blues

8. alison krauss & union station: paper airplane

7. sarah jarosz: follow me down

6. adele: 21

05. eddie vedder: ukulele songs. i had incredibly high expectations for this album and while i can say it didn’t live up to those expectations, it’s still a great album. it gets a little sleepy at times, but it’s made up for with some truly great songs.

04. nicole atkins: mondo amore. i expected to like there might not be a least expected album on this list. her previous release, neptune city was a nice collection, but was largely a one-listen-and-done album for me. this album makes me anticipate more work from her.

03. tune-yards: w h o k i l l. ok, so i take back my opening sentence on the previous album. this—by far—is the most unexpected album of the year for me so far. i literally accidentally downloaded this album and i’m so glad i did. a white girl mixing african drum beats and experimental indie music shouldn’t be this good and compelling and intriguing, but it is.

02. david bazan: strange negotiations. much like eddie vedder’s ukulele songs, i had enormous expectations. and much like vedder’s album, it didn’t fully live up to those expectations. but this album still ranks #2. if i say nothing else, that alone should testify as to how good it is.

01. elbow: build a rocket boys!. there’s little i could say about this album that i haven’t said before. but let’s just say that this is the only ranking on this list that required zero brain power. i debated about what was #2 and 3 and so on, but there was no doubt about this. unlike other of these albums, my enormous expectations were met…and possibly even surpassed. it’s hard for me to imagine anything dethroning this album at year’s end.

so there you have it. there’s the list. what do you think? i’ve certainly missed some good albums. what are they? i’ve also, no doubt, ranked some too high or too low. what are they? help me to flesh out and “correct” my list.

i’ll be looking forward to december when i wrap up the year in music and see what the second half of 2011 brings us.