The best things I’ve heard in 2011

Got in a quick ride this morning and now am settling in to watch the City-Arsenal match, so why not make a year end best of list as well? I cheated a bit here, not everything on this list was released in 2011, but I first heard it this year. Some of these are albums, other singles, and I threw in a couple of movies as well. Listed alphabetically, as I think it’s pretty much impossible to call any more of these better than the rest.

A Tribe Called QuestBeats, Rhymes & Life

Great documentary about one of the best hip hop groups ever. Directed by Michael Rapaport? Whatever, it works.

Adele – 21

Just a really great, old school pop singer record. No wardrobe changes, backing tracks, or stage full of dancers needed.

Avett Brothers – Talk On Indolence

My favorite performance from this year’s Orlando Calling. So much energy and fun on display.

Battles – Ice Cream

Maybe my favorite track of the year. Somewhat NSFW video below.

Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee Part Two

My favorite record they’ve done since Check Your Head. And how great is this video, still?

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Beautiful stuff here.

Cut Copy – Zonoscope

Closest thing going these days to classic New Order.

Daystar – Daystar

Quality Manchester band playing some really solid guitar rock tunes. Available in the US on iTunes.

Decembersists – The King is Dead

Fitting that the Decemberists would make would make one of the best REM albums in a decade during the year that REM called it quits.

Feist – Metals

As different from The Reminder as it could be, and all the better for it.

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

No sophomore slump here.

Flying Lotus – Cosmograma

This one came out last year, but I really didn’t pick up on it until early this year. Definitely better late than never in this case. Sounds like what Miles Davis would be doing if he came along today as a DJ.

Jay Z/Kanye West – Watch the Throne

Yeah, I’m just as shocked as you, but this is an undeniably good album. And if nothing else, they’ve got immense taste in beats.

Los Campesinos! – Hello Sadness

Love this group and album, even if I still don’t know what’s going on in this video.

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart – Belong

Got a hankering for some fuzzy 90s guitar rock? Here’s the album for you.

Patton Oswalt – Finest Hour

No audio for this one, but go seek out “The Ham Incident.” Haven’t laughed that much in a long, long time. “I want all the ham.”

Pearl Jam/Cameron Crowe – Pearl Jam 20

Hey look at this, Cameron Crowe and Michael Rapaport (see above) made two of the best ever Behind the Music episodes.

PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

Can’t really say much more than PJ Harvey is just an amazing talent. But still not my favorite album by a female artist this year. That’s still to come.

R.E.M – It Happened Today

A great way to go out.

Radiohead – The Daily Mail

I really enjoyed The King of Limbs, but man this tune just blows me away, esp once they unleash around the 2:57 mark. Looking forward to seeing it played live in February.

Rihanna – We Found Love

Again, don’t be shocked. This is a genuinely great pop song with a pretty great, Trainspotting-esque video to boot.

The Roots – Undun

Who said the concept album is dead?

St. Vincent – Strange Mercy

It takes a lot to knock PJ Harvey off the best female artist album of the year in my eyes. The record brings a lot though.

TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light

These guys just keep making great records.

Wilco – The Whole Love

A much more upbeat record than they’ve made in a while, which is a very welcome development.

UPDATE: Huge, massive oversight on my part. Added back here through the magic of editing.

Thundercat – The Golden Age of Apocalypse

Flying Lotus produced gem of bass virtuoso Stephen Bruner’s celestial jazz grooves. Worth seeking out.

What are your favorite records/songs of 2011?

Cheers. And happy listening in 2012.


Posted on December 18, 2011, in Music and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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