My Favourite Albums of 2011

‘Tis the season of lists.  Lists of Christmas presents to buy, lists of things to accomplish at work before heading out for a break, lists of cards or letters to send.  One of my seasonal traditions is to check out the ubiquitous end-of-year ‘Best Of’ lists of albums, movies, TV shows, books, blogs, or whatever people think is cool and warrants some extra attention.  By perusing trustworthy lists each year, I tend to find a few examples of something brilliant and life-affirming that somehow slipped under my radar.  That’s how I found the TV show The Wire and the book The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

This year, I thought that I’d try my hand at writing about my 10 favourite albums.  There was a lot of great music released in 2011, and I got to hear quite a bit of it by snooping around my usual haunts (blogs, Metacritic, Mojo magazine, satellite radio).  I won’t presume to tell you what to buy, and I won’t declare my top 10 the “best of” the year.  I didn’t hear every record made last year, and even if I had, who made me the ultimate judge of good taste in the musical arts anyway?  All I know is that I really enjoyed a number of new albums this year, and I’d like to share them with you.

Back in the 30 Day Song Challenge, a few of you commented that you’d like to hear about what’s new & cool in music.  I suppose that not everyone has the copious amount of spare time that I spend (waste?) doing research and keeping my proverbial ears to the ground.  Maybe my top 10 list will give you some ideas on what to check out in the new year.  In my capsule reviews, I’ll do my best to describe what I liked about each record and give you some impressions of what it sounds like.

Now to set some ground rules before we get started.  While technically anything released in 2011 is fair game, let’s stick to new releases (eg. the 20th anniversary releases of Nevermind and Achtung Baby aren’t eligible).  Likewise, live albums and compilations (eg. greatest hits packages) seem like cheating.  I really didn’t listen to a lot of hip hop or country or trad jazz or 17th century lute music this year (if Sting reads this blog – I’m on his shit list now!).  As a result, my favourites will likely skew towards something a 30-something white male bookish indie rocker with a sensitive side might enjoy.  Your mileage may vary.  Actually, your mileage is virtually guaranteed to vary.  That’s the beauty of popular music.

The top 10 countdown begins on Thursday, with (hopefully) one post per day until the grand reveal of my favourite album of 2011 on New Year’s Eve.  Check back often for updates, and by all means post a comment if you agree or disagree.

Finally, let me be the first to wish you a Happy Festivus!  Try not to overdo it with the Feats of Strength and/or Airing of Grievances this year.  Let’s make this a Festivus for the rest of us to cherish.


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