Man, it has been 20 years since I started talking about these lists back on KSSU? Crazy. One of these years I need to dig out those old notepads and get that stuff typed out.
The Aquabats Hi-Five Soup!
They Might Be Giants Album Raises New and Troubling Questions
Rachael Yamagata Chesapeake
Ludacris 1.21 Gigawatts: Back to the First Time
My Top 20 Albums of 2011:
20. Megadeth Th1rt3en
I know, putting this at #13 would have been the obvious choice, but I just didn’t think it was quite that good. Much like their last album, there was a lot of hype for what ended up being another very good (but not great) Megadeth album.
19. The Lonely Island Turtleneck and Chain
This one really surprised me. I thought it was a throw-away title earlier in the year, but the humor somehow held up with me. The production value is also ten times better than it should be for something like this.
18. Warp 11 Borgasm
Catchy rock songs about sex, drugs and Star Trek are Warp 11′s bread and butter, and it’s what they’ve been doing for years. That’s why it was so shocking when the band dropped a concept album (and a mostly serious one) about being assimilated by the Borg. This could have been such a bad idea, and somehow they pulled it off brilliantly. This is coming from someone who dislikes concept albums and someone who’s really sick of the Borg.
17. LMFAO Sorry for Party Rocking
As much as I didn’t expect to like this album, I can’t deny how much fun it was to listen to. I can only guess it was just as much fun to make.
16. “Weird Al” Yankovic Alpocalypse
It was great when “Weird Al” was releasing some songs online to tide us over to his next album, but having those previously released songs make up almost half of this album wasn’t his best idea. The new material is solid but the previously released songs make it feel like less of an album and more like an EP tacked onto an old EP.
15. William Shatner Seeking Major Tom
I would have rather had a sequel to his excellent album Has Been, but this delightfully bizarre double album of rock remakes will do. It’s worth it just for his version of “Space Truckin” in which he was either giddy or really drunk.
14. Theory of a Deadman The Truth Is…
I was starting to get worried that better album sales meant that ToaD was going to lose their bitter edge that made them an angrier, grittier, leaner, meaner Nickelback. Their latest album does get a bit of the grit back, but it’s still not back to Gasoline levels.
13. Classified Hand Shakes and Middle Fingers
If Drake is Canada’s most popular rapper, Classified is Canada’s best kept hip-hop secret. I don’t know if he’ll ever break in America, but I can hope.
12. Coldplay Mylo Xyloto
Every time Coldplay has a new album, I decide I won’t like it. Then I listen to it and I like it. 2011 continued that pattern.
11. Bright Eyes The People’s Key
This album is Conor Oberst’s final album under the Bright Eyes name, and it’s probably the right time to walk away. The album had moments that reminded me of Bright Eyes’ best stuff, but some of it just sounded like a noble attempt. Here’s hoping 2012 finds a new Conor Oberst solo album.
10. MC Lars Lars Attacks!
After the just-okay This Gigantic Robot Kills, MC Lars rebounds with a way-better-than-okay collection. This was one of three albums (mixtape and rarities collection) MC Lars dropped in 2011, and that’s a work ethic I’d like to see more artists have. “Lars Attacks!” is a killer track, while “Summer Love (is so in tents)” might be the most d’aww rap song ever.
9. Foo Fighters Wasting Light
Dave Grohl just keeps on dropping solid album after solid album. The return of Pat Smear was just a subtle enough kick in the pants to get the Foos to drop one of their best albums yet.
8. Alice Cooper Welcome 2 My Nightmare
This CD gets a special distinction for being the best album without one standout song. Alice checks in on the protagonist of the original Welcome to My Nightmare, and he finds devils, angels, modern technology, madness, and Ke$ha. This might be Alice Cooper’s most diverse album yet.
7. Various Artists Muppets: The Green Album
This album is this high almost on the sheer power of “Rainbow Connection” by Weezer w/Hayley Williams. The rest is pretty good too.
6. The Decemberists The King is Dead
This album dropped so early in the year, I’d almost forgotten how good it was. Then I remembered I liked it so much I featured six songs on the Shag, instead of the usual four. This album finds the Decemberists focused and streamlined, and that’s a good thing.
5. The Black Keys El Camino
This album has the opposite problem of the Decemberists, as in it came out in December. I’m worried I’m putting it this high because it’s so much fresher than a lot of other albums. The Black Keys decided to throw a rock and roll dance party, and I recommend you pick out this audio invite.
4. Jay-Z & Kanye West Watch the Throne
The first time I heard “H*A*M”, I was positive this album was a really, really bad idea. I’ve seen quite a few collaborations that should have been huge, but for some reason they never work out as a sum of two parts. A friend suggested I give the whole album a listen, and eventually I did. The album was so good I actually like the song “H*A*M” now.
3. Adele 21
For the past month, this was my stock answer for “album of the year” questions. It was really refreshing for such a good album to also be the best seller of the year. How a 21-year-old can sing with such emotion and devotion I’ll never know.
2. St. Vincent Strange Mercy
When I was listening to St. Vincent’s last album, my wife asked me if I liked it. I said “Yes, but I can’t tell you why because I don’t know.” I don’t even know how to describe her newest album, other than “awesome”. The music is all over the landscape, but the lyrics are where this one shines.
1. Anthrax Worship Music
I was starting to think I would never have a band repeat as “album of the year” honorees. It seemed even less likely a band could do it twice with different singers. [sound of white noise] was my album of the year in 1993, and it made me a fan of the John Bush era of Anthrax for life…or so I thought. Joey Belladonna returns with more age, more grit, and way more sneer in his vocals. The band is tighter than ever, and this long in the works album was well worth the wait. [sound of white noise] is still one of my all time favorite albums, but I’m going into 2012 with a split decision on which Anthrax singer I like better thanks to this album.
Previous albums of the year:
1992 AC/DC Live
1993 Anthrax [sound of white noise]
1994 Dangerous Toys Pissed
1995 Warrant Ultraphobic
1996 Sheryl Crow Sheryl Crow
1997 Megadeth Cryptic Writings
1998 Rob Zombie Hellbilly Deluxe
1999 Marvelous 3 Hey! Album
2000 Sarah Harmer You Were Here
2001 Various Artists Josie and the Pussycats Motion Picture Soundtrack
2002 Reverend Horton Heat Lucky 7
2003 Evanescence Fallen
2004 The Wildhearts The Wildhearts Must Be Destroyed
2005 Fiona Apple Extraordinary Machine
2006 MC Lars The Graduate
2007 Rilo Kiley Under the Black Light
2008 Vampire Weekend Vampire Weekend
2009 Matthew Good Vancouver
2010 Best Coast Crazy for You