Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Best Albums of 2011

I figured phrasing this list differently would keep people from thinking everything is in order of preference. Anyway, these 50 albums, collectively, make up my favorites to listen to these past 365 days.
Check out the list after the jump!


50) The Go! Team- Rolling Blackouts
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The Go! Team made their return in 2011. Rolling Blackouts being made up of their typical, beautifully dystopian, charismatic style, but, with a twist. Rolling Blackouts has a more indie-pop-rock feel than their older "cheerleader on acid"-sound. While not my favorite album from the group, it is a solid release and a wonderful return album.

49) Miss A- A Class
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While I will admit that I discovered this album only recently, let me just say that it is brilliant. Full of energy, smooth and clean vocals, and a variety of musical styles ranging from dance pop to pop-ballad, Miss A really killed it with this release. This is just so perfect.

48) Egyptrixx- Bible Eyes
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It would be a freaking lie to say that dubstep didn't become popular here in America in 2011. However, the kind of super gnarly dubstep that came into vogue isn't my taste. Canada's Egyptrixx was a brilliant foray into new, modern, minimal, and creatively sleek kinds of dubstep.

47) MEN- Talk About Body
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Oh gosh. I've long loved Le Tigre and JD Sampson, this side project of Sampson's has been on my eye for a long time, so, when their debut album came out this year, I was excited. With fun, danceable beats and intellectual, politically charged lyrics HOW COULD I NOT LOVE THIS ALBUM.

46) Jessie J- Who You Are
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Let me say that I was disappointed by this album, actually. It needed more raw, in your face tracks like "Do It Like A Dude". I wish that "Price Tag" hadn't been desecrated by B.O.B. as well. However,  tracks like "Do It Like A Dude", "Nobody's Perfect", and "Who's Laughing Now" showed off Jessie J's creativity, style, and vocal prowess in marvelous ways.

45) RuPaul- Glamazon
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RuPaul is one of my personal idols and a genuine inspiration. Glamazon was an album packed with club-banging tracks that could easily destroy 90% of what appeared on popular radio this year. Not to mention, the pure humorousness and positive attitude the album exudes makes it a perfect album.

44) Azari & III- Azari & III
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God. This album. Such fantastic, effervescent, old-school house. With perfectly fitting and perfectly perfect vocals, the albume echoes the golden beginnings of the house scene. Just. God. This album. Shuts everything down.

43) Gotye- Making Mirrors
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With an incredible, chameleon like vocal sensibilities, Gotye's Making Mirrors encapsulates such genuine emotions and creative spirit.

42) Cults- Cults
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That line was stuck in my head pretty much all day. Lo-fi retro 60s throwback never sounded so good as it did in this album. Tracks like "You Know What I Mean" and "Go Outside" have stuck with me, in my head really, for a long time, or so it seems.

41) Oh Land- Oh Land
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I think the post that got the most views this year here on Chromatist was my Music To Discover post about Oh Land. Her artful sense of dance-pop is one that is both fresh and well thought, each song is delicately layered and crafted, creating a beautifully sculpted, addicting album.

40) Jessica 6- See The Light
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One of the brightest and freshest sounds to come out of the retro-dance/disco revival that happened in 2011. With addictive, danceable melodies and rhythms and Nomi Ruiz's beautiful, unique, and irresistible voice, See The Light was not only a tasteful rendition of retro-styles but also an incredibly chic and captivating album altogether. 

39) EMA- Past Life Martyred Saints
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This is kinda another obligatory inclusion, much like Rolling In the Deep in the Best Songs of 2011. (That is not to say I do not genuinely like either of these inclusions, I'm just saying.)
With notes of industrial, the album is collectively a washed out photograph of some of the best of the lo-fi genre. Other songs though like "Red Star" portray a deeper tenderness otherwise unseen.

38) Kaskade- Fire & Ice
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Kaskade's most recent effort is perhaps his most creative. With each track given a more uptempo "fire"-track and a more minimal and chilled out "ice"-track, because of this much of the albums lyricism and vocal prowess is incredibly multifaceted. Tracks like "Eyes", "Turn It Down", and "Llove" are all brilliant both "hot" and "cold", as is the whole album.

37) Nero- Welcome Reality
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This doesn't need a whole lot of explaining. Post apocalyptic-environment, actually good dubstep, and vocals that are somewhat strange but still addictive. A+.

36) Penguin Prison- Penguin Prison
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I'm so happy Penguin Prison finally has an album out. After following his work for a long while it is refreshing to see tracks like "Something I'm Not", "Golden Traing" and "A Funny Thing" with the purely brilliant, more recent tracks of "Desert Cold" and "Don't F**k with My Money". A wonderful compilation of tracks and a marvelous debut.

35) Beth Ditto- Beth Ditto: EP
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I'm aware that this doesn't fit the "correct" definition of an album but I don't even care. Filled with floor fantastic, Simian Mobile Disco produced tracks, that can slice diamonds in half with their retro-disco sound and stylish appeal, the Beth Ditto: EP is a tastebud tantalizing vignette into what the future holds for Ditto. So. Damn. Good.

34) F(x)- Hot Summer
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With a unique sound and an even more unique group, F(x)'s album Hot Summer is a thing of beauty. With the somewhat ridiculously titled title track, the group set fire to the Korean charts. Highlights include "Danger", "Chu", "Hot Summer", and "La chA TA". I really love F(x), their sound, their look, and of course, Amber.

33) Esben & The Witch- Violet Cries
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This gothic band debuted this year with their incredibly dark, ethereal sound. With strong vocals and incredibly eery ambience, Violet Cries became the creepy alleyway lined with dead trees your ears couldn't help but wander down.

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Dripping in cool, this "post-dub" album is a beautifully curated look into the curious new genre. Lined with minimal beats, percussive cool, and incredibly varied and unique vocals, SBTRKT is an album that is tough to place as just one genre of music. This ubiquitous juxtaposition of various sounds is so thoughtful, so crystal clear, and most importantly, very, very different.

31) Beirut- The Rip Tide
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This albums is basically everything everyone loves about Beirut.
Which is why it is great.

30) Anna Calvi- Anna Calvi
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With a knockout voice and a mysterious-cool this album is the kind of pensively presented album you'd listen to if you want to appear both cool and hip. Lyrically, Anna Calvi is an album that covers nearly every spot on the map. Incredibly unique and marvelously demure, Anna Calvi is a simple album with beauty in every crevice.

29) Neon Indian- Era Extraña
Lavish electronic pop. The most lavish and delectable electro pop to come out this year, probably. Echoing the likes of M83 with the luxurious layering of electronics and created the most desirable blend of shoegaze and electronic, this album taps into all your needs for chill wave and hands you not only chill wave but pure decadence.

28) Lupe Fiasco- Lasers
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Lupe Fiasco is still one of the most clever, politically aware, and cerebral out there. And that is why I love his music. Well thought out, addicting to listen, fantastic album.

27) Bjork- Biophilia
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This album basically wins its place in this list just based on the fact that it is Bjork.
Organic, beautiful, and just magically produced, Biophilia has some of my favorite songs by Bjork of late. Her music is so very piercing and so very honest, two things that I believe popular music should try more to be.

26) CocknBullKid- Adulthood
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Let me just talk about how damn intelligent the songs on Adulthood are. With lyrics that typically don't appear in pop music, CocknBullKid articulates her emotions in atypical ways. The creativity that simply radiates from from the album and the addictive sound of her voice, it is hard to find a reason to not love this album.

25) The Golden Filter- Syndromes
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Artsy, haunting, and dramatic in sound, Syndromes is the picturesque image of an electronic album. Lovely, lovely album.

24) Amy Winehouse- Lioness: Hidden Treasures
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This posthumous album of a truly talented artist is one that makes me just really miss Amy so much more. Winehouse's stellar voice and her absolutely sincere love and sound of jazz is something of a perfect anachronism. She is so talented, so amazing, and this album reiterates  that.

23) Jamie XX & Gil Scott-Heron- We're New Here
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This match made in heaven is just, augh. With the palpable mutual respect the two artists have for eachother, Heron's voice lives on (R.I.P) in these masterfully created, revolutionary tracks.

22) Austra- Feel It Break
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Feel It Break is one of my favorite albums of the year. While I've said position on the list makes no matter, Feel It Break would easily fall into my personal top 10 of the year. With absolutely mind blowing and gorgeous operatic vocals provided by Katie Stelmanis and dark, ominous, and oftentimes piercing synths--aside from the piano-only, absolutely to die for song, "The Beast--this is a wonderfully dark album.

21) Example- Playing In The Shadows
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Sure hate all you want because Example is sort of popular and, yes, dubstep.
However, this is one of the best almagamation of pop and dubstep. Incredibly catchy and vocally interesting, Playing In The Shadows is an incredibly dancey, crowd pleasing, and altogether fantastic album.

20) 2NE1-  2NE1 2nd Mini Album: EP
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I saw some blog that called 2NE1 the Korean TLC. Well. Kind of, yeah.
Fusing elements of hip-hop, R&B, and pop this EP is one that has an incredibly range from in your face hip-pop ("I Am The Best") to the touching and emotional "Ugly" and "Lonely". This is just a really lovely EP, reason to love kpop.

19) Patrick Wolf- Lupercalia
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Lupercalia is very different for Patrick Wolf, emotionally. Much of the album is full of positivity, happiness, and love as opposed to his post-apocalyptic previous album, The Bachelor. Lupercalia is genuine and an inexplicably good album. Patrick's voice is as melodic as ever and man, if I were ever to want to sing, I'd want Patrick Wolf's voice. This is an exquisite album, through and through.

18) M83- Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
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M83, strangely, became sort of a household name this year with their addictive "Midnight City" being used for a Victoria's Secret advertisement. The whole album though is sprawling, spectral, and a juxtaposition of scattered, orchestrated arrangements and shoegaze.

17) Yelle- Safari Disco Club
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I mean. You know how I feel about this album, probably.
Perfect vocals, perfect ambience, perfect album. DONE.

16) Adele- 21
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/obligatory post

15) St. Vincent- Strange Mercy
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Weirdly, this is the first album by St. Vincent I could actually get behind. With avant-garde sensibilities, St. Vincent's Strange Mercy is an album that appears to the listener as important, carefully crafted, and as a glorious billowing shadow.

14) James Blake- James Blake
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This too is sort of an obligatory post but, nonetheless. James Blake's self titled album is one that resplendently displays a perfect synthesis of R&B and electronic. Vocally hypnotic and powerful, James Blake is an album that, without a doubt, is one of the best in 2011.

13) Kanye West & Jay Z- Watch The Throne
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This album is one of the best because it is just a perfect example of A+ sampling and cameos. With appearances by Frank Ocean, Elly Jackson, Beyonce and samples of the weirdest things, this album, just, augh.

12) Lady Gaga- Born This Way
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Well. I mean.
I won't say that this is the best Gaga album ever. However the amount of starpower that is in this album is amazing. With hit track after hit track, it would be sacrilege to say that this is a bad album.

11) Grimes and D'Eon- Darkbloom
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This crooner blessed with an incredibly unique voice released an album this year that is so very other worldly, very creative, and much unlike anything I've heard before. With scattered electronics this album is a sonic collage of different sounds and will surely surpass even a great critic's expectations.

10) Girls Generation- The Boys
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You know what is crazy? How Girls Generation is slowly creeping into the U.S. I went on iTunes the other days and saw a remix album of their single "The Boys" featuring Snoop Dogg.
This album is basically a kpop masterpiece. Simultaneously, I don't know why kpop isn't more popular here in North America considering the songs on The Boys could sweep most pop-radio to the floor.

9) Glass Candy- Warm In The Winter: EP
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Okay. I know this ep really only has 2 songs.
Glass Candy is just so effortlessly chic, the kind of music you could stomp down a runway to wearing the latest haute couture. Just. Gosh. Amazing.

8) Kimbra- Vows
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While Kimbra gained most of her fame from her cameo in Gotye's "Somebody I Used To Know", it should be known that she too released a fabulous album in 2011. A delicious combination of different sounds from different eras, Vows is an album that is as deeply layered as Kimbra's voice is beautiful.

7) Niki & The Dove- The Drummer
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Bjork for club kids, in some respects. With undefinable vocals and puzzling electronics, The Drummer sets itself up to be both cool to listen to and surreal to dance to.

6) T-ara- John Travolta Wannabe
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"Roly Poly" was pretty much the biggest kpop song in 2011. 'Nuff said.

5) Designer Drugs- Hardcore/Softcore
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Perfect to fix your need for 90s rave music.

4) Foster The People- Torches
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Sure. You can hate the fact that "Pumped Up Kicks" was everywhere that existed (hell, I think I heard this song as far away from home as Lithuania). But to say that Torches is a bad album would be just wrong. The indie-electro-pop appeal of the album is undeniable, sure, sometimes it is kind of just like ear-crack, but Torches is also an album that will surely get you dancing.

3) Zola Jesus- Conatus
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Aggravated synths, powerful vocals, and gloomy atmospheres are what you should anticipate before listening to Conatus. Gorgeously cacophonous, Conatus is an album that entraps you like a hurricane and surrounds you with synths, drum machines, and operatic gloom.

2) Class Actress- Rapprocher
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Gloriously 80s, this sizzling debut full of summery, catchy, and retro-synth persuasion is such a pleasure to listen to. Such a promising debut from a brilliant band.

1) Florence + The Machine- Ceremonials
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I mean, come on.
I was really scared for this album, if you remember, but with its powerhouse vocals, brilliant visceral lyricism, and more matured sound, Ceremonials became equally great to Florence's debut, Lungs.

And that is it!

This is my last post of 2011. Stay tuned within  the next week for my list of artists to look out for in 2012!
Thank you to everyone who has supported me and this blog. Chromatist has grown so much in the past year, its amazing and I'm truly grateful for all my readers' support. Here is to another year!
Have a safe New Years eve everyone!
Much love,
Au revoir.

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