Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Big Beat's Top Albums of 2011: #1 - #10

To recap, here's #11-#20 and #21-#30. But now, here's the Top 10....

10. THE FEELIES Here Before (Bar None)

After reforming in 2008, their first album in 20 years picks up right where they left off. Their signature sound remains intact: jangly, nervy guitar pop that owes more than a bit to The Velvet Underground at their most melodic. The aptly named Here Before finds them energized, with the impression there’s more to come.

[MP3] The Feelies "Should Be Gone" 

9. DUM DUM GIRLS Only In Dreams (Sub Pop)

The clad-in-black L.A. quartet debuted last year with I Will Be, filled with short, fuzzy, lo-fi songs that were equal parts Ramones, Ronettes, and Jesus & Mary Chain. The cleaner production on Only In Dreams firms up some rough edges while losing none of the urgency and serves to let some sunlight into their sound. Still clad in black, now sporting shades.

[MP3] Dum Dum Girls "Coming Down"

8. NOT IN THE FACE Bikini (Electric Factory)

Austin’s Jonathan Terrell & Wes Cargal concoct a barroom-ready brew of self-described ‘punkabilly blues’ that mixes Paul Westerberg, Jon Spencer, Jack White and the Black Keys that’ll have you knockin’ back round after round.

[MP3] Not In The Face "Downtown Girl"

7. LINDI ORTEGA Little Red Boots (Last Gang)

Ortega’s a Canadian alt-country singer born to a Mexican musician father and a mother of Irish heritage. Her music has the requisite amount of twang but with enough of a pop edge that she’s earned the name “Indie Lindi” back home. A bit sassy and sounding juuust a little like Dolly, you won’t hear Ms. Parton purr quite like Ortega does on the title cut.

[MP3] Lindi Ortega "Little Red Boots"

6. TV ON THE RADIO Nine Types of Light (Interscope)

Arriving after a short hiatus that allowed members to work on other projects, TVOTR's 4th disc is largely a mellower affair, stripped of the angst that dotted earlier releases. Still, their mix of post-punk, late night grooves and soulful introspection make an intoxicating potion. An interesting kick off to the band’s second act.

[MP3] TV On The Radio "Second Song"

5. WASHED OUT Within and Without (Sub Pop)

The crowning achievement of the chillwave movement may be the debut from Perry, Ga.'s Ernest Greene. Looping electronic beats atop synthesized ambient sounds, it’s a direct descendent of the lush dream pop and reverb-laden shoegazing of the 80’s and 90s. Within and Without is warm and soothing with enough bounce to give it a little pop.

[MP3] Washed Out "Before"

4. THE BLACK KEYS El Camino (Nonesuch)

Superstars-in-waiting following last year’s Brothers, the Ohio duo hit it out of the park with a big sounding, end of year party record. Taut and lean with only one song over 4 minutes, the Keys’ embellish their brand of Rust Belt blues ‘n’ boogie by adding a few more 70’s style riffs aided by a chorus of backing vocals that's best exhibited on “Lonely Boy”.

[MP3] The Black Keys "Lonely Boy"

3. WILD FLAG Wild Flag (Merge)

Whoda thunk one of the CD's of the year came from an all-female quartet whose average age is 40? Carrie Brownstein penned an article two years ago lamenting the rise in popularity of mostly bearded men making very sensitive music. She and her bandmates made a melodic, post-riot grrrl kick in the pants full of meaty, muscular riffs that revels in its exuberance.

[MP3] Wild Flag "Romance"

2. YUCK Yuck (Fat Possum)

If originality ├╝ber alles were your standard, it’d be easy to dismiss the debut from this London-based quartet.  Daniel Blumberg and Max Bloom's songwriting ultimately wins the day, crafting an album that sounds like a pastiche of early 90’s alt-rock (Dinosaur Jr., Teenage Fanclub) and plays like a collection of chart-worthy singles, failing to live up to its name.

[MP3] Yuck "Holing Out"

1. ANNA CALVI Anna Calvi (Domino)

Calvi’s debut is a rich, slightly gothic soundtrack with songs of love, lust, and Lucifer. Blessed with a huge, soaring voice and influenced by film, classical music and flamenco guitar, her music has a dark, sensual quality that’s drawn comparison to PJ Harvey and Patti Smith. It was my favorite record upon release early in the year and stayed so throughout.

[MP3] Anna Calvi "Blackout"

The list of the entire Top 30 is after the jump.

1. Anna Calvi Anna Calvi
2. Yuck Yuck
3. Wild Flag Wild Flag
4. The Black Keys El Camino
5. Washed Out Within and Without
6. TV On The Radio Nine Types Of Light
7. Lindi Ortega Little Red Boots
8. Not In The Face Bikini
9. Dum Dum Girls Only In Dreams
10. The Feelies Here Before

11. Braids Native Speaker
12. Widowspeak Widowspeak
14. WU LYF Go Tell Fire To The Mountain
15. Loomer Ceiling
16. Ringo Deathstarr Colour Trip
17. Rumer Seasons Of My Soul
18. Cults Cults
19. Raphael Saadiq Stone Rollin'
20. I Break Horses Hearts

21. Lykke Li Wounded Rhymes
22. The Weeknd House Of Balloons
23. Elbow Build a Rocket Boys!
24. Radiohead The King of Limbs
25. Other Lives Tamer Animals
26. Mogwai Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
27. Kate Bush 50 Words For Snow
28. Girl In A Coma Exits & All The Rest
29. The Horrors Skying
30. James Blake James Blake


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