Category Archives: The Top 10 Albums 2011

The Top Ten Albums Of 2011: Number 1

Number 1: Bon Iver, Bon Iver

And so here it is, the number one album of 2011. This year there was only one winner. This album was as close to perfection as any got to in 2011. Before this year, Justin Vernon was always known as the guy who recorded an album for months in isolation in a cabin. The result, For Emma, Forever Agowas a folk guitar piece of brilliance. It was fragile, heartfelt and full of heartbreak. This year though, the one man project come band really found their own. The self-titled second album could not be further from the debut.

From the opener Perth until closer ‘Beth/Rest’ is an album of sincere lyrics, majestic imagery,  beautiful harmonies, superb musicianship and a collective quality. You cannot skip a track. It grips you from the start, taking the listener on a journey from one beautiful place to another. If ‘For Emma’ was very personal and inward, ‘Bon Iver’ is most definitely for a large audience and one that puts the listener in a zone. Much has been written about Holocene, the grammy nominated track. It is beautiful and epic. ‘Calgary’ is darker, but equally enthralling.

‘Hinnom, TX’ is a track that reminds me more of a sunrise/sunset more than any other song. Its magical, as is the whole album. ‘Towers’ and ‘Wash.’ are both upbeat and continue the quality. As with Vernon’s good friend Kanye West‘s landmark record ‘My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy’ last year, this is the most complete and compelling album released in 2011. It was really Bon Iver’s year.

Words By Conor Kelly

Tagged , , , ,

The Top Ten Albums Of 2011: Number 2

Number 2: M83-Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

M83’s music has always sounded huge. Their previous album ‘Saturdays=Youth’  was full of big sounding synth-pop. If that album was meant for arena’s, ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’ should be played in cities, on top of mountains and in the outer universe. It sounds absolutely massive, with pounding drums and huge choruses.

‘Intro’ is huge and expertly lets the voices of lead singer Anthony Gonzalez and guest star Zola Jesus bounce off each other. It is the perfect start to 2011’s most epic album. ‘Midnight City’  is a gorgeous synth classic, with a warm feel to it. This is a double album, ambitious enough, but the short instrumental pieces such as ‘Train To Pluton’ make this double album tick over. It is hard to pick out one track that stands out, but Steve McQueenmay be the closest thing to being shot into space in a rocket without actually doing it. It is massive.

This is one of the great double albums I can remember, as many really disappoint. In most other years it would be my album of the year…

Words By Conor Kelly

Tagged , , , , ,

The Top Ten Albums Of 2011: Number 3

Number 3: Drake-Take Care

The story is now famous that Drake kept a copy of James Blake’s Self-Titled debut in the studio while he recorded. Minimalism is the key to the beats in most of the tracks and he uses sampling expertly. The likes of The Weeknd(on Crew Love) and Rihanna(on Take Care) are utilized perfectly. The laid back feel to this album is very evident.

Lead single ‘Headlines’ is a brilliant slice of pop. ‘Look What You’ve Done’ is a great reflective song, showing Drizzy looking back on his career so far. Drake raps and sings better than ever on this, with a solid and consistency not seen previously.

‘The Real Her’ featuring Lil Wayne and Andre 3000 is my highlight. Andre’s lines area among the best twelve bars of the year. ‘Lord Knows’ featuring Rick Ross has a groovy beat and a cracking line from Ross. “Only fat Nigga in Sauna with Jews.” Its an outstanding album, His best work so far.

Words By Conor Kelly

Words By Conor Kelly

Tagged , , , , , ,

The Top Ten Albums Of 2011: Number 4

Number 4: The Weeknd-House Of Balloons

The Weeknd released three mixtapes in 2011, this was the first and best. Grimey, dark dubstep beats, along with perfect R’N’B vocals created a unique sound. ‘House Of Balloons’ was a landmark record in the restoration of R’N’B music.

Tagged , , , ,

The Top Ten Albums Of 2011: Number 5

Number 5: James Blake-James Blake

When James Blake first started to come to peoples attention in 2009/2010, he was known for his minimalist post-dubstep production and his use of cool samples such as molding the Kelis track ‘Caught Out Here’ and the Aaliyah track ‘Are You That Somebody’ together to create ‘CMYK’.

His self-titled debut album was a complete surprise though. Featuring minimal production and plain piano filled tracks, Blake also sang vocals. ‘Wilhelms Scream’ is a gorgeous, melodic track which blends his electronic and pianist side together perfectly. ‘I Never Learnt To Share’ is a heartbreaking and subtle tune that builds and builds. The standout though is his cover of Feist’s  Limit To Your Love.’ It does what a cover should, take a completely different perception on a song and make it your own. Blake does that, as he does with the whole post-dubstep genre.

Words By Conor Kelly

Tagged , , , ,

The Top Ten Albums Of 2011: Number 6

Number 6: Fleet Foxes-Helplessness Blues

Fleet Foxes second album is a lot more reflective then the first, also a lot darker. As usual, there are beautiful harmonies and strong lyrics. A band who have taken their strengths and improved on them, a superb album.

Words By Conor Kelly

Numbers 5-1 will be published tomorrow

Tagged , , ,

The Top Ten Albums Of 2011: Number 7

Number 7: Lykke LiWounded Rhymes

The thing that struck a cord for most young people when listening to Lykke Li was the fragility in her voice and her vulnerable side. On her second album ‘Wounded Rhymes’ she brought forward a powerful and sexy side. Get Someis direct and in your face, a more powerful side to her. ‘Jerome’ is an Indie-Pop gem. The second album is definitely a step up from the Swedish sensation.

Words By Conor Kelly

Tagged , , ,

The Top Ten Albums Of 2011: Number 8

Number 8: Jay-Z & Kanye West-Watch The Throne

When it was announced that Jay and Kanye were recording an album together, we knew for the most part what to expect. That did not make it any less compelling however. The huge samples produced by Yeezy, the A-list guests including Beyonce, Justin Vernon, Frank Ocean and Mr. Hudson, lyrics about their obscene wealth and the supreme flow of Hov in particular. Both guys bring pretty much their A-games, which makes this one of the best Hip-Hop records all year.

Words By Conor Kelly

Tagged , , , , ,

The Top Ten Albums Of 2011: Number 9

Number 9: And So I Watch You From Afar-Gangs

Unquestionably the Irish album of the year in my opinion, Belfast instrumental band And So I Watch You From Afar probably got the least press attention. The trio produce math-rock/post-rock with extraordinary instrumentation and skill. Their second album ‘Gangs’ was a shock to me upon discovering it, as I didn’t think an Irish band anywhere had this attention to detail and talent. ‘BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION’ is a sight to behold when played live and it is a terrific start to this. ‘Think:Breathe:Destroy’ is terrific while ‘Lifeproof’ is a fitting finale.

Words By Conor Kelly

Tagged , , , ,

The Top Ten Albums Of 2011: Number 10

Number 10: Fucked Up-David Comes To Life

The Canadian hardcore band Fucked Up have always released passionate and heartfelt records. They stepped up a notch on 2011’s ‘David Comes To Life.’ The album is a concept record loosely based in 1970’s/80’s England. Drummer Jonah Falco described it as a love story between lead character David and a girl named Veronica. The record is so full of passion and character that you feel like you have transported through a rock opera. Standout tracks include ‘Queen Of Hearts’ and ‘Running On Nothing.’

Words By Conor Kelly

Tagged , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: