My Favorite Albums of 2011

I think that the registration of a blog domain name means that you have to do a list of the music that you liked at the end of the year. It also gives me a chance to look through Wikipedia’s list of albums that came out this year, to jog my memory, but also to discover which bands that I love came out with albums that I didn’t pick up six months ago. In any case, I am just going to do my top five, in descending order, and then a list of misc stuff that was good but not “top five” material.

Let’s do this.

5. Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang – Raekwon

I love anything that comes from the Wu-Tang crowd. I was actually pretty cold on this when it came out, but on repeat listening it continues to give me something every time. I think that the Clan are really heads over any other rap group when it comes to production, and “Chop Chop Ninja,” which I will link below, really shows that. I don’t know what to say; I liked the album.

4. Iron EP – Woodkid

A friend linked me the video that I will link below, presumably to show me the visual style, but it was the music that really grabbed me. Apparently a full length album is coming out in 2012, and I will be looking for it. Woodkid’s unfortunate connection with hipster-fad Lana Del Rey might not be good in the long term, but this EP does things for me that nothing else does. Listen to the track “Baltimore’s Fireflies” below.

3. Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under – Amanda Palmer

This album is about Australia, which would normally be something I don’t even give close to a shit about, but this album somehow ended up being one of my favorite from the year. It could be the cover of  Nick Cave’s “The Ship Song” that cements this album as something that is worth listening to–Palmer doesn’t phone anything in, and that track just beats you about the head and neck with emotion. Everything else on the album is pure fun, and the audience involvement adds an additional layer.

2. Distraction Pieces – Scroobius Pip

I like rap music. I like anything that comes out of Strange Famous Records, and Scroobius Pip is basically that entire company in a nutshell. Politically conscious, unique, and aggressive in his stance toward late capitalism. When he satirizes Soulja Boy’s flow with “soldier boy now kill ’em/ kill those Disney villains” I just grin like a little kid. Maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe that is weird. I don’t know.

1. Oh Fortune – Dan Mangan

I have no real defense about why I think this album is the best of the year. It just is. I had an emotional connection to the opening track the first time that I played it, and the album’s overarching theme of missing the whole for the details and the converse of that really got me in some small, unidentifiable way. I have had this feeling more and more often lately, especially when trying to write about art, of aphasia. I just can’t make words about what I am hearing and seeing–it is just a ball of feeling, a mass of being, and it enters me and runs into me in strange and interesting ways. I think this album had something to do with that. I can’t put my finger on it. This album was 2011 for me.

Honorable Mention Albums In No Particular Order:

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