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Old 12-19-2011, 01:50 PM  
Reaper16 Reaper16 is offline
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Reaper's Favorite Albums of 2011

Here it is, y'all. The highly-anticipated annual list of my favorite albums of the year. 2011 was an interesting year in music. There wasn't a single album that I personally rated 9/10. No great albums. But there were a ton of albums that I rated 8.5/10 to 7.5/10. Lots and lots and lots of really good albums. I struggled with the ordering of these albums; it seemed arbitrary at times. So that's why in lieu of doing honorable mentions this year I'm just going to do an ordered top 50. That's right, these are my favorite 50 albums of the year.

As always, this isn't meaning to be an objective list of best albums of the year. While I listen to over 300 new albums each year, I still don't listen to enough to feel comfortable making objective claims about quality. Do you think I snubbed some really great dubstep album? Did I miss out on a perfect bluegrass album? It's very likely that I did, but this is a list of my personal favorites. That's why you're going to see lots of metal albums on the list. It's also why you're going to see as many, if not more, hip-hop albums on this list. 2011 was a stupendous year for rap music.

Anyway, I'm going to be rolling these out over the next couple of days or so as I write up little paragraphs for each album in-between working on other stuff.

50.) Tune-Yards - w h o k i l l
49.) White Willow - Terminal Twilight
48.) Blut Aus Nord - 777 Sects
47.) Blut Aus Nord - 777 The Desanctification
46.) La Dispute - Wildlife
45.) Childish Gambino - Camp
44.) Wolves in the Throne Room - Celestial Lineage
43.) Boris - New Album
42.) Antediluvian - Through the Cervix of Hawaah
41.) Fen - Epoch
40.) Kendrick Lamar - Section.80
39.) M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
38.) Florence + the Machine - Ceremonials
37.) Wild Flag - Wild Flag
36.) Opeth - Heritage
35.) The Roots - Undun
34.) Vektor - Outer Isolation
33.) Rudra - Brahmavidya: Immortal I
32.) Tech N9ne - All 6s & 7s
31.) Lady GaGa - Born This Way
30.) Death Grips - ExMilitary
29.) Leprous - Bilateral
28.) Mr. Mother****in eXquire - Lost in Translation
27.) ASAP Rocky - LiveLoveA$ap
26.) Hades Archer - For the Diabolical Ages
25.) Cities Aviv - Digital Lows
24.) Big KRIT - Return of 4Eva
23.) Absu - Abzu
22.) Disma - Towards the Megalith
21.) Cunninglynguists - Oneirology
20.) Bon Iver - Bon Iver
19.) Trap Them - Darker Handcraft
18.) Das Racist - Relax
17.) Steven Wilson - Grace for Drowning
16.) Necros Christos - Doom of the Occult
15.) Ulcerate - The Destroyers of All
14.) Cormorant - Dwellings
13.) Symphony X - Iconoclast
12.) Danny Brown - XXX
11.) St. Vincent - Strange Mercy
10.) Hell - Human Remains
09.) Wolverine - Communication Lost
08.) G-Side - Island
07.) Dessa - Castor, the Twin
06.) TV on the Radio - Nine Types of Light
05.) Unexpect - Fables of the Sleepless Empire
04.) Sims - Bad Time Zoo
03.) Doomtree - No Kings
02.) G-Side - The One... Cohesive
01.) Astronautalis - This Is Our Science

Thanks for reading and listening. Please put up your own lists in this thread if you'd like, or talk about other year-end lists, etc. Just like you guys have done for the past few years that I've done this.

Per QuikSsurfer's request, here are links to previous year's list threads: http://www.chiefsplanet.com/BB/showthread.php?t=238651 (2010); http://www.chiefsplanet.com/BB/showthread.php?t=219784 (2009) (I would change the order of the top 15 around if I were to re-do this one); http://www.chiefsplanet.com/BB/showthread.php?t=202037 (2008).

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Old 12-19-2011, 01:55 PM   #2
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Link your past annual threads over the years in the OP
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Old 12-19-2011, 01:56 PM   #3
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50.) Tune-Yards Ė w h o k i l l


Iím a big fan of pop music that takes risks, and this second album from Tune-Yards (aka Merril Garbus) certainly takes risks. Itís pop-rock constructed of sound loops: African rhythms and ukulele outbursts and guitars that fall and crumble apart like blocks from a game of Jenga. On top of the layered instrumentation is Garbusí own, eclectic voice. She has an expressive range that sortaí sounds like Janis Joplin meets Robert Plant meets that dude from Dirty Projectors. And thatís one of the flaws of this album Ė it is basically Dirty Projectors worship. If you can get past that, and if you can get past the grating & stupid lyrics, then this is one of the most ambitious and fun pop albums of the year.






49.) White Willow Ė Terminal Twilight


Iím a sucker for symphonic prog, especially bands who are fronted by women, and thatís what White Willow gives me. Nothing particularly original outside of a general heaviness (created not by guitar tone but by mood and drums and prevalence of vocal lines). Itís melodic and pleasant and not very obtrusive, which makes it one of my top albums this year to do work during. The best part about this album is how dynamic the synthesizers are. Thereís fat, warm synth sounds and cool, tinny synth sounds, and crackling, bottom-heavy synth sounds all on the same track, interplaying with each other. The clean & clear lead vocals slice through the drums and synth. Itís a very pretty record. A bit safe, but certainly enjoyable.


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Old 12-19-2011, 01:57 PM   #4
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Link your past annual threads over the years in the OP
Good idea. I'll have those linked later on this afternoon.
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Old 12-19-2011, 02:03 PM   #5
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Only two albums I've listened to in depth this year [podcasts are taking over my life]

Jay-Z and Kanye - Watch the Throne
Adele '21'

Both are impeccible, but that buzz is why I listened to them anyways.

Need to track down TVotR's newest sometime soon.
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Old 12-19-2011, 02:04 PM   #6
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47.) Blut Aus Nord Ė 777 Sects
48.) Blut Aus Nord -
777 The Desanctification

These are basically the same album. Desanctification is a direct sequel to Sects, and they play right into each other. A third and final volume will come out in 2012. So together, they take up spots on the list right next to each other. Blut Aus Nord is a French progressive metal outfit. In 2011 they have taken to numerology. The number 7 is found all over the place on this album, especially in time signatures. The music here is very hard to get your head around. It is so surprising that it jars you and leaves you sortaí brain-paralyzed as it continues to pummel you. The sound is CRUSHING. Walls of drums and guitars bear down on you like youíre in the trash compactor from Star Wars. This album is incredibly nuanced, despite each song blending into the next and despite there being no real standout moments. If this were a best albums list then these two albums would place better. But this is my favorites list, and fact is that I donít enjoy listening to these albums all that much. They are bewildering and impressive, but hard to love.






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Old 12-19-2011, 02:09 PM   #7
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46.) La Dispute - Wildlife
La Dispute are a post-hardcore band who are sort of reclaiming the original intent of the emo movement. Iím talking about way back when emo was first applied to a subgenre of hardcore punk. Las Disputeís songs scoff at conventional song structure; there are basically no choruses on the album at all. Instead, each song is a carefully paced narrative, with the importance placed on the lyrics and vocal performance. I donít know the name of La Disputeís vocalist, but he has one of the most sincere and affecting voices Iíve heard out of this scene. His lyrics are always drenched with emotion, sure, but it is specifically his delivery that moves his audience. And you will be moved. Just listen to the song Iíve linked to, album standout ďKing Park,Ē which tells the story of innocent lives taken by stray bullets. When, during the songís crushing climax, the vocalist gives a repeated cry of ďWill I still get into Heaven if I kill myself?Ē you will feel desperation and fear right alongside the character. This album is one of the most genuinely moving emotional experiences Iíve had listening to music this year.



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Old 12-19-2011, 02:10 PM   #8
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45.) Childish Gambino - Camp

You all know the story: comedian Donald Glover proves that he can bite Weezy and Yeezy’s flows while adding his own numerous punchlines and falsetto hooks. You also may have seen the backlash to this album in publications like Pitchfork (which gave it a 1.6, mostly because it finds fault with Gambino’s stance as a kid who doesn’t fit in and has the audacity to make music about his insecurities. In a year in which Drake received tons of commercial and critical success for his “confessional rap,” Childish Gambino should receive similar praise. While Drake’s musical personal has always seemed like a put-on to me, Gambino feels very true. It’s the nature of his flaws – deep racial insecurities & a sexualization/objectification of women that stems from adolescent rejection – that makes him compelling. He isn’t glorifying these things so much as he’s working through them. Which makes this album a valuable piece of art. Anyway, the hooks on this album border on saccharine; there’s a definite cheese factor to much of Gambino’s treatment of things. But sometimes it all works in his favor, such as in the closing song of the album – a moving dramatic monologue of a bus ride home from summer camp one night. Other tracks are filled with the most audacious and clever hashtag rap punchlines and some very solid technical abilities on display. More than anything, while Camp isn’t a great album, it’s a super fun album to listen to.

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Old 12-19-2011, 02:11 PM   #9
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44.) Wolves in the Throne Room – Celestial Lineage


If you’ve ever heard an album from Pacific Northwest black metal legends Wolves in the Throne Room then you know what to expect here. That’s actually why this album ranks so low for me; I feel like I’ve heard many aspects of this album in their previous work. This isn’t mailed in by any means, just not as big a progression as I like to see from bands. If this is your first Wolves in the Throne Room album, then you’re in for a treat. They play a practically patented blend of traditional black metal rifpillowbitere with more texture and mood based guitar playing. Lots and lots of folk influence, both in instrumentation and in song structure for the shorter tracks. This album reminds me of deer hunting, actually. It’s very much evoking an atmosphere of natural surroundings. It’s a very solid album, especially if you’ve never heard them before.


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Old 12-19-2011, 02:12 PM   #10
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43.) Boris – New Album


Japanese titans Boris released three new albums in 2011. Unfortunately, two of them were uneven, unbalanced, and at times forgettable. Their third (and least-anticipated) is literally titled New Album, and it sees Boris trying their hand at a new sound: J-Pop. Specifically, this album is composed of re-workings of other Boris songs, only arranged through a J-Pop meets pop-rock sound and structure. “Flare” steamrolls ahead with a chorus as catchy as the pop guitars are furious; “Black Original” takes cues from Dir en Grey-style visual kei; “Looprider” tries to achieve a sort of heaviness through shine and gloss. It’s all very unusual and very fun.



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Old 12-19-2011, 02:13 PM   #11
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42.) Antediluvian – Through the Cervix of Hawaah


This is one of the heaviest albums of the year. Hell, of the past few years. The sound is absolutely suffocating. This is what it must sound like to drown, to be deep in a stone cave when water rushes in because you’ve set off a trap. The guitars are liquidy but so, so dense. The vocals are buried in the middle of the mix, and they’re already in an insanely low register, so that the vocals only complicate the crushing, suffocating atmosphere that this album achieves. It’s remarkable, and I imagine that some of you could have a very emotional reaction/rejection of this album. It’s almost panic-inducing; a good reminder of the sheer emotional power that extreme metal music can have.


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Old 12-19-2011, 02:14 PM   #12
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41.) Fen - Epoch


So the Pacific Northwest black metal bands (like Wolves in the Throne Room or Agalloch; the ones that blend in folk and post-rock to the form) have begun to influence black metal bands back across the pond. Fen is a band from the United Kingdom, and they are very obviously influenced by “Cascadian Black Metal.” Epoch uses the static chords and blastbeats of black metal but they create something less immediate than an album from, say, Agalloch. It’s atmospheric, yes, but also like a fog. The mood and soundscapes linger in the air and they aren’t particularly dense but they do darken things up. It’s Agalloch Lite in some ways, and that makes for an entertaining, engaging album. I’m looking forward to these guys taking a big leap in originality on future releases.



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Old 12-19-2011, 02:15 PM   #13
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40.) Kendrick Lamar – Section.80


Kendrick Lamar is a Compton rapper with a laid-back LA vibe, but all of his music is informed by the sort of social consciousness that New York is known for. Lupe Fiasco, back with his early material, showed similar influences (albeit as a Chicago artist), but Kendrick Lamar lacks the ear for pop tendencies that Lupe has always had. Despite the significant buzz he’s built up, it’s actually hard for me to see Kendrick achieving any sustained commercial success. His music is too personal, to introspective, but simultaneously too eager to point the mirror back at society. Listen to tracks like “ADHD,” “Ronald Regan Era” or “HiiiPower”: Kendrick is the voice of the abyss, sharp and cool and always gazing back into us. On a practical standpoint, Section.80 is thrilling when its full-on dedicated to social consciousness and stirring, emotional beats to go along with. Much of the beginning of the album is dedicated to songs that are more personal, often about relationships and women, and those songs drag for me. I love about half of this album and the other half kinda’ bores me. Kendrick’s unique flow is laid-back to lullaby levels sometimes, so when the songs sound dull his flow only compounds that. But when the subject matter and beat are urgent, Kendrick is riveting. Listen to “HiiiPower,” linked below: Kendrick appropriates Kanye West’s signature “Hah?” and even some lines, as if to call out Kanye for making a mediocre album w/ Jay-Z about 1% materialism when Kanye could be making socially relevant artistic statements. Kendrick is a complex artist with a lot to say, and this album (his first full-length) is a sign of fantastic promise.



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Old 12-19-2011, 02:36 PM   #14
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They play a practically patented blend of traditional black metal rifpillowbitere with more texture and mood based guitar playing.
"rifpillowbitere" is the best.
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Old 12-19-2011, 02:40 PM   #15
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Good call on Antediluvian, very sick band indeed.
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