The Top 25 Albums of 2011

12/21/2011 4:01 AM |

Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Key Track: “How Can U Luv Me”

There was much early mystery surrounding the band, as little was known of them aside from some infectiously odd and funky lo-fi tracks up on their Bandcamp page. It was strange and exciting to hear those songs and hanker for more. Luckily, the self-titled album measured up to the appeal of the initial sample, powering through a singular, energetic collage of musical knick-knackery, making it one of the year’s most addictive.

Take Care
Key Track: “Take a Shot for Me”

If you’d told us last year, when this smooth-voiced Torontonian singer-rapper’s lame debut Thank Me Later dropped, that his second album would wind up on our next year-end list, we would’ve said there was no way. But this record’s astonishingly deep; none of its 18 tracks are less than enjoyable and most are impeccably layered, bass-heavy, moody and anthemic. It’s finally time to thank Drake.

Little Scream
The Golden Record
Key Track: “Boatman”

Little Scream carried The Golden Record in her for a tumultuous decade before it was realized with the help of members of Arcade Fire and The National. The album maintains the rarest kind of intensity—reaching out to the alone, in a blink able to switch from a Joni Mitchell vibrato to a black hole of wailing distortion. This year, there’s no doubt that Little Scream has emerged as an artist from whom we can expect greatness.

Forest Fire
Staring at the X
Key track: “Future Shadows”

A saxophone runs across Forest Fire’s sophomore album, Staring at the X, but other than that, the New York-based band is refreshingly immune to The Great Indie Rock Trends of 2011, instead forging a new brand of folk-rock, something that sounds both peculiar and familiar, belonging to a starry, demented, existential-wrestling planet. It’s a record full of grand statements without even meaning to be. Like Wilco for the young, maybe?

Wild Flag
Wild Flag
Key Track: “Short Version”

There was much buzz this year about Wild Flag’s all-female dream team culled from some of the best of 90s bands, and rightly so. Their self-titled debut is an unabashed celebration of straightforward rock, and one that draws directly from the influences and talent of Sleater-Kinney, Helium, The Minders and more. Looking back, Wild Flag gave 2011 a much-needed high kick to the ass and then shredded its way to our hearts.

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