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Old 12-19-2011, 01:50 PM  
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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, 06:48 PM   #31
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28.) Mr. Mother****in eXquire – Lost in Translation


Yes, that is his actual stage name. And as he says on album highlight “Huzzah!,” (a song as grimy as it is pop-smart) “Don’t forget the ‘Mother****in’, without that I’m nothin’.” This New York MC is a bright star amidst a whole collection of internet savvy NY rappers that are coming up right now (Das Racist, Action Bronson, etc.) under the influence of El-P. eXquire is ****ing grimy, man. Like a new-age ODB in some ways. His songs sound like dirt and broken glass. He raps about booze a lot. And strippers. And, on “The Maltese Falcon,” makes pro wrestling references (including namedropping Savio Vega, of all wrestlers). He is at home rapping about a local chicken spot (“Chicken Spot Rock”) as much as he is the intersection of comic books and hookers (“Galactus Redux”). This is classic NY street rap, and it is ****ing awesome and it is a free download at his bandcamp site so you have no excuse not to bump this album in your headphones.



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Old 12-19-2011, 06:49 PM   #32
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27.) ASAP Rocky – LiveLoveA$AP


For better or worse, the internet has worked to decrease the individuality of regional sounds in hip-hop. The best example of this is the first album from blazing-hot rapper ASAP Rocky. Rocky has lived in Harlem all his life, but his musical style comes straight from Houston, Texas. This is true lean-sipping, UGK-influenced trill shit but its’ coming from a NY rapper. Rocky has a pleasant enough flow; he can ride just about any beat and he is more versatile than your average Texas rapper. Lyrically this album isn’t anything special, but the point of this album is to let Rocky ride these incredible beats. Clams Casino produces about half the album, and those tracks are some of the very best rap songs of the year. Clams (one of the freshest, best producers in hip-hop) should never work with the terrible Lil B ever again when he has someone talented like ASAP Rocky in his circle. Listen to “Demons” or “Bass” to see what I mean. I’ve linked to “Palaces,” the album opener and absolutely a top 5 rap song of the entire year for me. The beat is good enough to make me cry and Rocky rides that shit like a champ. So why is this album only #27? Because the tracks that Clams Casino didn’t produce are way less original, way less expressive, less dynamic. It’s a damn solid listen all the way through, but half the album is above-average and half the album is incredible.



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Old 12-19-2011, 06:49 PM   #33
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YES!! Found a new artist.. La Dispute.. Absolutely love his vocals and lyrics.

Totally agree about the Wolves in the Throne Room and Opeth releases this year --- good albums but a bit disappointing considering what we've heard from them.
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Old 12-19-2011, 06:50 PM   #34
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26.) Hades Archer – For the Diabolical Ages


Hades Archer play a particular blend of black metal and thrash that sounds like Death Angel had an ass-sex baby with Bathory. I don’t even know what that last sentence means, but it is totally true. This is blistering, raw aggression propelled by the highest riff quotient in music this year. MY SOUTHERN LORD THE RIFFS. There are so many riffs on this album and they all kick ass and they come for you without mercy or restraint. Goddamn, this is a fun metal album. Who cares what generic occult imagery and shit the lyrics are about? The rifpillowbitere and guitar tone and pummeling drums are good enough to bring a tear to a glass eye. This isn’t a complex album, but it is really good at what it does. Which is make you headbang until you need a neckbrace.



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Old 12-19-2011, 06:53 PM   #35
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Old 12-19-2011, 07:06 PM   #36
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Quite a bit of overlap so far in our lists. I totally agree with your Clams Casino love. "Motivation" seriously makes me ecstatic for some reason.
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Old 12-19-2011, 11:45 PM   #37
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thx, reap. I look forward to this thread every year. there's a couple I'm anxious to see if/where thay placed on the rest of the list.
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Old 12-20-2011, 12:26 AM   #38
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Awesome list, Reap. If Tech's album is that "low", I can't wait to see what is better.
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Old 12-20-2011, 12:45 AM   #39
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thx, reap. I look forward to this thread every year. there's a couple I'm anxious to see if/where thay placed on the rest of the list.
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Awesome list, Reap. If Tech's album is that "low", I can't wait to see what is better.
Thanks guys. I appreciate it. I hope my top 25 doesn't disappoint y'all too much.
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Old 12-20-2011, 12:47 AM   #40
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25.) Cities Aviv – Digital Lows


Another example of the internet allowing for interesting rap styles to appear in unlike regions, Cities Aviv is a Memphis rapper whose unique flow can perhaps best be described as “RZA but with a slight southern drawl.” It’s a free download at his Bandcamp site, so download this immediately. The sound on Digital Lows is at once very traditionalist and also supportive of the sort of forward-thinking samples that get you noticed on music blogs. It’s got the top-end keys and 808 drums of the Memphis sound, but instead of syrup-thick mid-South synths these beats use indie rock samples and video game music. Closing track “Float On” is a reappropriation of Modest Mouse’s “Float On” (and, really, it’s been like a decade since that song came out so its fair game) in a really surprising and effective way; it isn’t just a sample, it’s using the song as if it were a canvas made of found art. The whole album is very consistent, but the highlight is “****everybodyhere” (linked above), a song that samples every bit of soul EXCEPT soul vocals. In this track Aviv boasts, his voice full of swagger, “In this 8-bit world, I’m Bowser.” ‘Nuff said.


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Old 12-20-2011, 12:47 AM   #41
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24.) Big KRIT – Return of 4Eva


Meridian, Mississippi’s Big KRIT is getting a lot of buzz these days. His major label debut comes out next year, but it’ll be a tall order for it to surpass this free album from this year. If someone says that don’t get Southern rap then you should give them Return of 4Eva. Krit raps about southern life and southern concerns in a socially conscious way that doesn’t forget the simple pleasures of working on your car. KRIT’s flow is very competent; he’s leagues ahead of most southern rappers in terms of technical skill but he’s also not going to blow you away. His songs don’t require technical skill to impress, though. He rides the soulful Texas-inspired beats that he himself produces. You’ve got to love a rapper who produces their own beats. I’m not sure that Return of 4Eva has the highlights that, say, LiveLoveA$AP (#27 on my list) does, but it also doesn’t have the lows. This is a very consistent album from start to finish. Bump this shit in your car, immediately.


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Old 12-20-2011, 12:48 AM   #42
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23.) Absu - Abzu


Texas’ Absu are versatile masters of extreme metal. They can play pretty much anything, and on Abzu they play a blend of black metal and thrash metal that would sound a lot like Hades Archer (#26 on my list) except they replace the heavy dose of Bathory with technical death metal. This album is ****ing bananas. These drums seamlessly alternate between blastbeats and very complex, technical drum riffing. The guitars build up to an absolutely frantic pace and the whole thing gets so fast and so complex that it threatens to drive itself over a cliff. But Absu have been around for a while, and they know what to do from a songwriting standpoint to keep themselves in check. It’s a controlled chaos, and it pays dividends when you trust the band to keep everything on the rails, so to speak. Every time I listen to this album I just have an uncontrollable grin on my face.


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Old 12-20-2011, 12:49 AM   #43
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22.) Disma – Towards the Megalith


Holy. ****ing. Shit. This. Album. Rules. This is a straight-up American-ass Death Metal album by a band formed by two former members of the legendary Incantation. Disma doesn’t do disservice to that pedigree. The guitar tone is nasty as all ****, like the street grime in the bad neighborhoods in Hell. There’s lots of fun tempo changes but they’re kinda’ subtle beneath the wall of sound that Disma creates. My favorite aspect of this album is the vocals. There isn’t a better harsh vocal performance this year. The dude sounds like a true Goddamned monster. Unprocessed, guttural, beastly. There’s great technical skill in addition to the sound; the vocals are a true and precise rhythm instrument here. If you really love no-frills death metal, then this might just be your favorite album of the year. I prefer my metal albums a little bit more complex and less dirty, but there is no denying how good this album is.

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Old 12-20-2011, 12:50 AM   #44
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21.) Cunninglynguists – Oneierology


If you don’t know Cunninglynguists then this is the album to learn about ‘em. They’re a rap trio from Lexington, Kentucky (shout out to Idle Hour Farm!) and they specialize in spittin’. These guys are like Slaughterhouse, if Slaughterhouse could write coherent songs. Kno, Natti, and Deacon (who is also a producer) have a myriad of flows that they put to use. This album might just be their best work. Why? Because of its conceptual nature, of course. “Oneierology” is the study of dreams, and all of the lyrical content is about dreams of varying sorts and what can happen both in dreams and to them. The album’s opener features a repeating vocal sample of the Notorious B.I.G. rapping that famous line of his – “It was all a dream.” Listen to the metaphors on “Hard as they Come,” in which each verse is a dramatic monologue from a controlled substance. What ties the album together even more strongly is the lush, dream-like production. So many vocal samples all throughout the album make for a nearly ethereal atmosphere. This album nails the concept of dreaming way better than the movie Inception did.


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Old 12-20-2011, 12:51 AM   #45
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20.) Bon Iver – Bon Iver


The reaction to Bon Iver’s self-titled second album seems to be one of extremes. People either really love it (Pitchfork named it the best album of 2011) or they really aren’t impressed by it (either legitimately or out of hipster backlash). I am in a middle ground that really thinks the album is damn good but not great. I really, really enjoy this album from start to finish. I’m not even a fan of Justin Vernon’s first album as Bon Iver; that stripped-down shit rarely works for me. This album though? It is way more interesting. There’s all kinds of electronic samples and synth lines and saxophones (!) and orchestral flourishes making the songs bigger, more expansive. The middle lags a bit, but the first four tracks and last three tracks continue to impress me, listen after listen. I won’t belabor this album, as enough has been written about it already in every music publication ever. It certainly has my stamp of approval though.


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