Top 10 Albums of 2011

December 15, 2011 — 4 Comments

It’s the most wonderful time of they year – time for everyone to release their “Best of 2011” lists. I hope to post a few different posts:

  • Top 10 Albums of 2011
  • Top 50 Songs of 201
  • Top Books of 2011
  • Top Thoughts from 2011
  • Top Posts of 2011

Today’s Best of 2011 list:

Top 10 Albums of 2011


It’s been a good, not great year for albums. It’s hard to top last year’s trifecta of Sufjan, Arcade Fire, and The National (here is my Top Albums list from last year)

Really this year there’s one great album – Bon Iver – and 9 good albums. One theme this year (at least in my top 10) seems to be albums that sound like they were made in a different era:

  • King Creosote – the 1800’s in Scotland
  • Cults – 50’s doo-wop
  • Beirut (though hailing from exotic Arizona) – early 1900’s Italy
  • M83 is straight out of the 80’s
  • My Morning Jacket’s 1970’s classic rock album

Top Albums/Songs lists are great ways to discover new music. You can click on any of the Albums below to listen to the full album, for free, on Spotify. I highly recommend Spotify – it takes about a minute to download (I use the free version) and let’s you listen to practically any song/album in the world for free. PLUS it lets you listen to playlists that your friends make – i.e. – the Top 50 Songs of the Year list I’ll put on there. Just click “subscribe” at the top of Spotify if you want to add anyone’s lists to your sidebar of lists (and you can delete any lists if you later get tired of them).

Quick aside – any song listed for free on here is 100% legal. And I don’t make any money off any of the links or Spotify or anything. I just like connecting friends to good music and good deals.


Top 10 Albums of 2011

#10 My Morning Jacket – Circuital

A few really good songs on this slow-building, classic-rock sounding album. Love the songs Victory Dance, Circuital and You Wanna Freak Out. $5 right now on Amazon.



#9 Beirut – The Rip Tide

I’m pretty sure Beirut is the only band on this list with a flugelhorn and the ukulele as lead instruments. This is the most upbeat, accessible album from a great band.

Two phenomenal songs from the album: Rip Tide, Santa Fe. $5 right now on Amazon.


#8 Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes

Swedish singer songwriter Lykke Li trades bubblegum pop for heartbreak and regret. But it’s toe-tapping heartbreak. You could call it heartbreak pop. $7.99 on Amazon.

Two amazing songs from the album: Love out of Lust, I Follow Rivers.


#7 M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.

a. The first double album I’ve ever bought. And it’s not your typical album with long stretches of instrumental music. M83 has had great songs in the past but I’ve found their albums to be a little painful to endure. But this album never drags and feels like a cohesive whole – a great 80’s indie pop album.

Midnight City is topping many people’s best song of 2011 lists (definitely in my top 10)


#6  The Antlers – Burst Apart

Kind of a downer of an album – but a great, moving album. $5 on Amazon.

Get the two most popular songs (though No Widows is my favorite) off the album for free on Amazon:

I Don’t Want Love

Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out


#5 Cults – Cults

The doo-wop vibe eventually wears a bit thin at times but it has 5-6 really incredible, addictive songs on it. Great pop-rock. $5 right now on Amazon.


#4 St. Vincent – Strange Mercy

Angst filled, passionate music throughout. Great hooks, great turn of phrase, great music. Only $5 right now on Amazon

Get one of the songs from the album for free – Surgeon (right click to download).


#3 King Creosote & Jon Hopkins-Diamond Mine

King Creosote transports you to another time with his beautiful Scottish songs. Great for the gray days of winter.


#2 Wye Oak – Civilian

Reminds me of a female version of The Nationals – dark, moody and great. Give this one some time – it will grow on you. $5 right now on Amazon

Get the best song on the album (and . . . SPOILER ALERT! . . . as you’ll see on my top songs post, my favorite song of 2011!) – Civilian – for free on Amazon.


#1 Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Without a doubt the best album of 2011. I never jumped on the Bon Iver bandwagon when their first album – For Emma, Forever Ago – swept the indie world. It was too slow and sparse for my tastes. But every song on Justin Vernon’s sophomore effort is amazing.

Get one of the best songs on the album, Calgary (right click to save), for free from Pitchfork.

Click below to listen to the entire album for free (so you can be convinced you need to buy it – $4.99 right now on Amazon):



Two Honorable Mention EP’s

  • Phantogram – Nightlife – I just wish this were full length – every song is REALLY good.
    • Get the incredibly good, best song on the album for free – Don’t Move (right click to download)


What were your favorite albums of 2011?


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