Top 10 Albums of 2011

#1. Foster the People – Torches

2011 was a year where pop and electronic music collided on a paramount level, highlighted by Foster the People’s freshman album. Driven by the slinky Summer surprise single ‘Pumped Up Kicks.’ While a big success for the group, the song underrepresented the core of Torches – thunderous tom-driven drums, synths and vocal samples comprising the lot of the ten tracks featured here. Whether you loved or hated Foster the People this year, certainly you heard the name, which further merits them the top slot of 2011.

#2. The Black Keys – El Camino 

A late year release wasn’t going to impede this foot-stomping from rolling into the list. Highly anticipated by many after their inevitable breakthrough year with 2010’s ‘Brothers,’ The Black Keys prove not to be a one-off fluke. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney perfect their blues fused rock-and-roll from their humble beginnings. This album rocks from the very second it kicks off with lead single ‘Lonely Boy,’ and organs mirroring the slinky guitar riffs add an extra touch to the two-man group’s overwhelming clatter for being a reserved duo of rust belt renegades.

#3. Blink-182 – Neighborhoods

I was a ‘metal’ kid in my youth. When my classmates were rocking Simple Plan on their clunky portable CD players (good God do I appreciate my iPod) I was moaning about my life along with Disturbed. Sad childhood aside, I never embraced the bubblegum pop-punk present in my heyday.

This is why I have fallen in love with blink-182’s return album. The class clowns have done some (slight) maturing and created an energetic disc that’s two parts classic blink, one part Angels & Airwaves. Travis Barker’s unique pulsing on the skins lays the backbone for an excellent return album, not quite to glory days of youth, but that’s what makes Neighborhoods so much more believable.

#4. Adele – 21

For just a second, put the numerous awards, press clippings, and constant accolades and praise from your mother and possibly father about the girl from across the ponds, out of your head. At the heart of it all, Adele is so damn talented.

Turn on the record, and listen to the first track, “Rolling in the Deep.” Not only does Adele’s soulful tone bring you back to a nostalgic place, but her lyrics result in a similar emotion. Lyrics like those in “Turn the Tables”  with “Next time I’ll be braver/I’ll be my own savior when the thunder calls for me” show that while the album is all about heartbreak, there is still faith that there will be a better day and we’ll all be stronger.

#5. Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto

Alright we get it, Coldplay can make a radio hit. They’ve been putting out piano-filled ballads since 2000’s Parachutes, but what’s next in their musical endeavors?

The result is a sometimes anti-war, pop-synth, electronic album that makes you want to get out of your seat and jump around. The first five tracks I believe may be one the best  that I’ve ever heard. I know that may sound bold, but Mylo Xyloto succeeds with every note.

What really shines with Mylo Xyloto is guitarist Jonny Buckland’s noticeable showcase of talent. His solos in “Hurts Like Heaven” and “Charlie Brown” bring a new dimension to the already established musical trademark of the band. Vocal stylings from Rihanna in “Princess of China”  and her duet with Chris Martin near the end of the record is a different touch.

#6. Jay-Z and Kayne West – Watch the Throne

I’ve been waiting in anticipation since the news leaked out of the future Yeezy and Hova collaboration and wasn’t let down. This album should be played at the IMAX theatres, that’s how big the album is.

The finished product is full of selfishness, Will Ferrel samples, and much more. The greatness of the album is in its over-the-top nature that is to expected from two of the greatest MC’s of my decade.

Writing about the songs does a disservice to almost perfectly produced tracks. So I’ll let the music do the talking.



#7. The Vaccines – What Did You Expect From the Vaccines?

The Vaccines are clearly influenced by some of the best British rock bands of all time. The Vaccines take their inspirations here and mesh them all into one of the most confident debut albums of 2011. Starting with the quick-paced ‘Wrecking Bar (Ra Ra Ra),’ the album rarely lets up its full-steam ahead swagger, even down to the slowed down jams like ‘Post Break-Up Sex.’ A good first outing, this record shows what the great potential these guys have in store.


#8. The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar

The Welsh trio crashed onto the music scene with an aptly titled raucous. Female-fronted and blasts of blaring sound are reminiscent of acts such as Sonic Youth, but Ritzy Bryan’s swooning melodies bring a hook to the music. With drums as explosive as barrels of propane, it adds a metal dynamic to the group that lures in listeners from a range of fandom. Some of the biggest songs of the season lie on this album, while it’s only sustainable downfall is the record contains multiple songs that fall under being filler tracks.

#9.  We Were Promised Jetpacks – In The Pit of the Stomach

While an American fan base for We Were Promised Jetpacks may be hard to come by, their second LP deserves a spot on the list no matter their shadowed identity. The Scottish quartet take their frantic indie rock stylings and kick on extra pedals for good measure. You can almost hear the calluses forming on drummer Darren Lackie’s hands, and the harrowingly mournful singing of Adam Thompson make these tracks bleed with an earnest measure. To Hell with jetpacks, these guys are entitled to rocket ships.



#10. Arctic Monkeys – Suck it and See

Perhaps the title of the album was a lash out at critics’ who demeaned their third album, 2009’s ‘Humbug’, or maybe the boys were issuing out a request for joy. It’s hard to decipher the cryptic lyrics of Alex Turner, who echoes timeless intricate lyrics almost effortlessly. Suck it and See is a more mid-tempo romp in their catalog, (aside from the quick fix of ‘Library Pictures’ which harks back to their beginnings,) with each track growing with another spin.

Arctic Monkeys remain one of the biggest draws across the pond, and hopefully with their supporting slot alongside new American heroes the Black Keys this spring they can recruit some Yankees to their devoted fan base.