Our Favorite Albums of 2011

Hey eh'r-body we know you're about to get inundated with end-of-the-year lists so we're adding one more to pile. We couldn't resist because we love good tunes, and thinking about our favorite albums of 2011 is a way to revisit the music that we grooved on over the past year. It's a good way to give things another listen that might not have gotten full consideration the first time around.

We're pretty biased towards Mississippi's Fat Possum label this year. Since we're half Mississippian, we're not gonna try and hide any pride that the label based in Oxford has been on fire this year giving us albums from Yuck, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Bass Drum of Death, and the Smith Westerns. These wouldn't make our list without merit because strong songwriting is an undercurrent in all of our picks.

Check it...

1. Black Lips - Arabia Mountain

Black Lips - Arabia Mountain

This is not gonna be in any critic's #1 slot but this is a band that has reached maturity and is writing some real rock and roll. It was a smart move for them team up with Mark Ronson. It's like when The Ramones teamed up with Phil Spector to produce End of the Century. The Black Lips are badass. Fuck the Brooklyn Vegan comment trolls.





2. Real Estate - Days

Real Estate - Days

Real Estate is one of the best guitar bands active right now and even though we loved their debut, we're having trouble deciding if we like Days or their first album better. The interlocking guitar parts on Days remind us of the song "Days" from Television's second album Adventure. Not sure if that was intentional, but it sure is apt.







3. Smith Westerns - Dye It Blonde

Smith Westerns - Dye it Blonde

Another second album for a buzzed-out band and another band that appears to be growing up tall. These are just great songs and they hit all the right T. Rex moves you need without sounding derivative.






4. Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Unknown Mortal Orchestra

This band has gotten a lot of blog-talk this year but it also seems like one of the most under-appreciated albums of the year. Not sure why more critics didn't freak out about this a little more. It's a clever blend of funk and pop that's equally weird and catchy throughout. Fresh.





5. Bass Drum of Death - GB City

Bass Drum of Death - GB City

Badass, stoner, garage rock. The attention to detail in being sloppy is what sets this apart from other current punk rock bands. They take care to make their carelessness bring the swag.






6. Yuck - Yuck

Yuck - Yuck

Reminds everyone of the 90s, but these guys are too young to simply rehash what happened 15 years ago.






7. Tinariwen - Tassili

Tinariwen - Tassili

Tinarwien is starting to get the widespread acclaim they deserve. It also helps to invite Kip and Tunde from TV on the Radio play on your album if you're aiming for an American audience of Colbert Report viewers.

If you haven't heard Tinariwen, they're often referred to as desert blues rock, and that nomenclature makes sense. Imagine if you gave the fireside band in a North African refugee camp electric guitars and a Jimi Hendrix record. You'd get Tinariwen.




8. Radiohead - King of Limbs

Radiohead - King of Limbs

While not a career defining record for Radiohead, they prove each time out they don't stay complacent. Because of some good new songs, two drummers, and us being perennial Radiohead fans, this one makes the cut. (Ed. Note: The Youtube video "Thom Yorke loves Phish" is better than Radiohead's official video for "Lotus Flower".)




9. Atlas Sound - Parallax

Atlas Sound - Parallax

Bradford Cox is one of the best songwriters active right now. And damn is he active. This is just another in a flood of tracks he's been releasing in recent years as Atlas Sound and Deerhunter. Solid as ever.






10. Cults - Cults

Cults - Cults

The name is a good pointer towards this band's sound: classic, clear, and sorta creepy. This boyfriend/girlfriend duo emerged with a catchy girl-group-ish single for the summer, "Go Outside", and this album rounds off our list with another fresh take on classic songwriting.




Lee McAlilly
Lee McAlilly

Author

Founder of Original Fuzz. Nashville, TN.



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