150 Best Albums of 2011

Maura Johnston, at that time holding down my old job as music editor of the Village Voice, designated 2011 “the Year of the Bro” after reassuring readers that “of course it wasn’t” “the worst year for music ever” (she was making a point there actually, about headline clickbait.) Katherine St. Asaph, participating in the same VV conversation while pondering Drake and the Weeknd and Frank Ocean, expanded the branding to “the year of the bro showing off a fantastic sound system atop his baggage.” Zach Lyon, in a tumblr roundtable, opted for “The Year of, I dunno, Saxophones or Some Shit” then considered that “the Year of the Trollgaze Meme” might be more accurately “the first year of the Decade of the Trollgaze Meme” (more on that cryptic term in a bit) and/or “the year rockism and poptimism (full disclosure: I hate that word) smashed together and sucked the lives out of each other.” (Zach’s parentheses, by the way. I hate both words, myself.)

Kallen Law, likewise roundtabling, opted for “The Year Pander-pop Failed,” even as demographics including women and gay people were pandered to by artistes including Beyoncé and Lady Gaga. Kat Stevens, focusing on her new jacket and English electropop chirper Nadia Oh and flatulent youtube horses, went for “The Year That Condensed 365 Days into 5 Minutes (and even that was too long)”; Frank Kogan for not “the Year of (K-pop’s) HyunA Screaming at a Chicken” but rather “The Year Of That Squiggly Little Dance Thingee!,” which “in fact refers to two squiggly little dance thingees: (1) the squiggly little thingee you do with a synthesizer (‘squiggly little synth thingee’) and (2) the squiggly little thingee you do with your feet (‘squiggly little feet thingee,’ which we’ve been referring to as ‘the shuffle dance’)” which I gather is what he also refers to as “the spread leg dance” as variously performed by HyunA, Rihanna, Selena Gomez, and maybe not so much John Boehner but apparently also LMFAO who may or may not have originated it.

Many observers of music and otherwise also pointed out at the time that 2011 was the year of Occupy Wall Street, thus prompting Carl Wilson in Slate’s Music Club to describe it as “a year that confronted dichotomies—of race, of class (the 1 and the 99), of gender (broken men, and the assertive women I hope we’ll talk more about, plus arguable rule-proving exceptions like Adele or Lana Del Rey), of style (the rapping/singing divide in particular), and especially of power, whether political, social, economic, or global (or Canadian).” And back at that tumblr roundtable, Jamieson Cox (at least I think it was him — definitely somebody Canadian who couldn’t access Spotify yet) suggested that “We could be looking back in a decade and marking 2011 as part of a transitional period, where our über-pop stars migrated from ‘conventional’ hugeness (record sales, radio dominance, etc.) to online-centric supermassiveness (VEVO clicks, GIF ubiquity, [insert your favourite Internet thing]).” Which proved more or less right!

It’s fun to look, 11 years later, at what musique critiquers at the end of 2011 were predicting — and not just about musique, either. “Meme culture is still in its infancy—what it will become a decade from now is a mystery,” Carl Wilson pointed out. “Though it gets overblown, the impact of social media on the Arab uprisings and the memelike identity of #occupy are things we couldn’t have imagined a few scant years ago. Being alarmist and bummed about it all is too much of a get-off-my-lawn reaction.” Oh really?? Not to pick on Carl, though — how could he or anybody else at that encouraging historical juncture possibly have been concerned about the alt-right, QAnon or deepfakes, not to mention Tweeted misinformation, conspiracy theorizing, coup incitement and/or anti-semitism by true-or-faux billionaire Silicon Valley moguls, presidents and hip-hop heroes?

It was easy to feel all tech-utopian in 2011 — Or at least not all tech-dystopian, yet. Then again, when Maura Johnston bemoans “pick-a-little gossip blogs and their attendant hatefuck-ready comment sections, which will probably tell you more about the ugliness of the current moment’s throbbing id better than any sociological survey ever could,” she sure does seem to be tapping a sewage drain that would start spewing out all over the Western world by at least Gamergate in 2014, ultimately threatening democracy itself.

Scott Seward saw other bad moons rising. “Listening for clues” in 2011 albums by PJ Harvey and Necro Deathmort and Britney Spears (“Till the World Ends”!), and even more so in all the hoarders, trappers, smokers, scavengers, foragers and fermenters he watched on reality TV or read about in the New Yorker, he guessed that “somewhere in the back of our minds, we know that things could get really ugly in our lifetime.” We’re barely a decade past when he blogged that, and that he hit the bullseye is already undeniable. “I also feel like people – not just me and mine – get sicker for longer periods of time now. Am I crazy?” At least one pandemic clearly impacted by climate change answers no, he’s not. “Throw in the economy and national and world unrest and people occupying stuff and the surreal public/political atmosphere of avoidance and denial and…well, you know. Kaboom.”

On a somewhat more mundane level, Eric Harvey wondered in the Voice whether the bro-step likes of Skrillex and Deadmau5 might “trigger the rise of an entirely guitar-free musical culture for the next decade,” and I’m still wondering if it did, too! Nitsuh Abebe observed on Slate that “so far as I can tell, those (Skrillex etc.) crowds contain a good number of mid-American kids who just spent their teenage years hearing adults use terms like ‘foreclosure’ and ‘layoff’ while teetering precipitously around the lower middle class,” but did they stick with electronic whatever-it-was as the economy improved then got bad again? And also, who did they vote for? I honestly have no idea.

Another end-of-2011 prophecy that may or may not have come true (I’m pretty sure it didn’t, but it still should!), once again from Maura: “I’m calling it now: In four or five—or maybe three?—years, someone will go all Hyped2Death on the 7-inch output of the mid-to-late ’90s, much of which is currently molding away in 99-cent-single bins.  Maybe the releases will be digital-distro-only.”

And speaking of hyping things to death, at least for 15 minutes, Maura’s also the person who came up with the concept “trollgaze,” which I’m fairly certain I never heard of in its moment as I was in music-conversation-avoidance mode. Can’t locate (and doubt I ever saw) her original piece, but references elsewhere demonstrate she defined it as not so much a genre as a “marketing strategy’ where “the potential for laughing at/being annoyed by/saying ‘wtf” at a piece of art trumps its aesthetics.”  Or, as explained by Nick Murray (again, from the Voice confab Maura chaired): “internet-age pop that is designed to circulate through blogs and Facebook walls by doing the sort of things that make people click.”

Examples apparently included white girl rapper Kreayshawn, Rebecca Black’s homemade viral hit “Friday” (“or at least Rebecca Black parodists” Carl Wilson stipulates), the Lou Reed/Metallica linkup Lulu (which I reviewed, rather passively but not negatively, in Rolling Stone then never had the urge to put on again), Lana Del Rey (whose purported controversy Tricia Romano interviewed me about in early 2012 for the Daily Beast though I’d barely listened to her songs and who 11 years later is my teenage daughter’s friend Lucy’s second-favorite singer after Taylor Swift) and (have to list him last because of his dumb comma) Tyler, the Creator. Not all of whom necessarily (as Maura put it) “wear lampshades on their heads over and over (to) take attention away from artists who are trying to figure out what the hell they’re doing,” and some of whom might even be trying to figure out what the hell they’re doing themselves. But hindsight is 20/20, right?

Now that I’m finally privy to the phenomenon, it occurs to me (maybe obviously) that the trollgaze debate wasn’t so much about music as about consumption of music. A recurring theme in general in 2011, it seems – The tumbler roundtable I referred to above inconclusively raised questions about, as Jamieson Cox put it, “are we becoming faster and more efficient at sifting through tons of music to find the gold nuggets we so desperately seek, or are we neglecting gigabyte upon gigabyte of worthy music because there’s simply too much to digest?” Eric Harvey confessed a related anxiety, namely  that “my online immersion has at times altered my perception of greater musical time—hype cycles, release dates, the speed of acquisition.” Kat Stephens raised an amusing contradiction: “There seems little point in buying any new music in physical or digital form either, as pretty much everything I want to listen to is on Youtube or Spotify. I think this means I am either GETTING OLD or I am DOWN WITH THE KIDS.”

Frank Kogan argued that, even if “we are getting faster at sifting through music (whatever we mean by ‘sifting through,’ and setting aside for the moment whether we’re doing it ‘better’),” we’re not getting any better at socially analyzing it. To illustrate, he points out that LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” video, wherein (its caption explains) “Redfoo and Sky Blu slipped into comas after excessive party rocking” and later do the shuffle dance, makes use of ”a metaphor that dates back at least to 1957 (the year of [Huey ‘Piano’ Smith’s] ‘Rockin’ Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu’) if not far earlier: the beat as an infectious disease agent that infiltrates and possesses us, destroys or liberates us, is bad for us, rescues us from being good, etc.” And yet “the ‘Rockin’ Pneumonia’ metaphor, along with its surrounding paradoxes, has most certainly not been digested by rock critics or anyone else over the past 55 years, or it wouldn’t keep repeating on us, incessantly.” Just like gastric reflux! (I highly recommend Pantoprazole, but to each gut its own.)

Not much more than a century ago, it’s worth pointing out, consumption was considered America’s leading cause of death; pneumonia (presumably the non-rockin’ variety) was up there, too. And consumption is also a defining factor in so-called (initially by Eric Harvey apparently) PBR&B, another designation I took nearly a dozen years to hear of, which implies that the Drake/Weeknd/Frank Ocean contingent (two-Toronto-thirds of which rank to this day among the biggest pop stars out there) were the preferred Black popular music brand of indie-rock hipsters who drink Pabst Blue Ribbon (if any actually ever did) and prefer blurry atmospherics and passive-aggressive depression to catchy hooks and emotive passion, especially if it comes on appropriately amorphous Pitchfork-enabled “mixtapes” that cost nothing and don’t exist as physical entities.

Other pundits dubbed the stuff R-Neg-B (Jody Rosen) or r&bummer (Maura again I think), but Eric Harvey complained that “discussions focused almost entirely around audiences, or maybe they began with a theoretical audience and then worked backwards into the music, with the result that few were ultimately able to say much about either.” I don’t have much to say about it either, except that I’ve never had much use for it, and that its hazy vagueness and stoned emo proclivities were seemingly anticipated not only by The-Dream, Trey Songz and Kanye West, but longtime critic fave D’Angelo and his dreamy ilk.

I’m more open to what seems to have been a mini-boom in self-aware if not winking disco-club dollies (Brits Nadia Oh and Nicola Roberts and Katy B, Fernanda Ulibarri from Mexico and best of all Americans Dev and Britney Spears, who respectively made one of my favorite albums of the decade and just missed my 2011 top ten.) I get the idea these discs might have some connection to “moombahton” (“derived from house music and reggaeton” and “created by American DJ and producer Dave Nada in Washington D.C. in 2009,” wikipedia tells me), but probably none to “vaporwave” (wikipedia again: “defined partly by slowed down, chopped and screwed samples of smooth jazz, elevator, R&B, and lounge music from the 1980s and 1990s.”) Floral Shoppe by Macintosh Plus a/k/a Vektroid a/k/a Ramona Andra Xavier is said to have been a defining blueprint of the latter, as was James Ferraro’s more acclaimed at least then (The Wire album of the year) Far Side Virtual, which I don’t like as much. Game of inches out there, fellas.

Jonah Weiner at Slate Music Club, making the taxonomy even more confusing: “Ferraro has been lumped in with the ‘hypnagogic pop’ scene, in which the out-of-vogue music of bygone decades, most commonly the ‘80s, is resuscitated and enveloped in a thick sonic fog that connotes longing, loss, and forgetting.” Which sounds a lot like the chillwave that Simon Reynolds had defended in the Village Voice way back in early 2011, but once again wikipedia sets me straight on the (seemingly quite slight) difference: “While chillwave and hypnagogic pop both evoke the cultural aesthetics of the 1980s and 1990s, chillwave espoused a more commercial sound that emphasized ‘cheesy’ hooks and reverb effects.” Which is to say hypnagogic pop was punk and chillwave was new wave. Or something. I’m pretty sure Sun Araw and Rangers fit into one of those categories, unless they fit into the other one.

Simon Reynolds spent much of 2011 peddling his new book Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to Its Own Past, which I should probably read someday. Tom Ewing, in his contribution to the Voice round-robin, called it “the most-cited book in music criticism this year” (my own third book, Rock and Roll Always Forgets, also came out in 2011, but everybody always forgets it.) Ewing, however, offered a reservation: “The book touched a nerve with many readers, who intuitively agreed with Reynolds’ sense that music’s drive towards the future had sputtered and stalled. My feeling is that private retromania—the involuntary encroachment of your own memory—is more of a problem than acts reusing and referencing the ’80s and ’90s.”

Which after all is what artists do, and what they always did. Carl Wilson, reacting to Reynolds’s “‘there’s nothing new in music these days’ thesis,” counters that “it’s a loss of perspective to assert that the ways young musicians are collaging genres, microsamples, and found forms now is emptier than the way punk combined retro garage rock, downtown boho, and suburban trash culture, say, or the way early hip-hop blended Jamaican DJ toasting, African-American patter traditions, and funk and disco beats. Nothing comes out of nowhere; revival is always also reinvention.” Sounds about right to me.

Tiny Mix Tapes, introducing their list of what the website considered the year’s 50 best albums (with James Ferraro at #21), called 2011 “a time when nostalgia and memory have become aestheticized,” but when weren’t they? Jody Rosen thought Adele’s moneymaker-of-the-decade 21 “hews to retro-soul boilerplate,” but Carol Cooper, after correctly complaining in the Village Voice that “American pop music sounds too fat and happy, so full of its own global importance that would-be anthems like (Lady Gaga’s) ‘Born This Way’ and (Beyoncé’s) ‘Run the World (Girls)’ come across as insular and petulant, rather than triumphantly universal,” admitted she was nonetheless “won over by the way that both (Adele’s) ‘Rolling In The Deep’ and (Maroon 5’s) ‘Moves Like Jagger’ dared to be retro-disco numbers, executed with just the right amount of wit and disingenuous charm.”

I could take or leave Adele myself; still stumped that fourth single “Rumour Has It,” easily 21‘s most powerful track, was a relative commercial flop. (Maybe it flopped because it was powerful.) And I wish she went more for the finger-snapping early Rickie Lee Jones diddybop of “My Same” on her 2008 debut 19. But mostly I hear her as reduction of a reduction ad infinitum — the legacy of decades’ worth of mostly diminishing UK soul-diva revivals: start at Amy Winehouse minus the tragic self-destructive habits, and from there wander back through Joss Stone, Lisa Stansfield, Annie Lennox, Alison Moyet, and ultimately to Shirley Bassey and (if you squint your ears) Dusty Springfield. Maybe throw in Welsh pop star Duffy, who people confused her with when she first came out, and not-even-British Norah Jones, as a mega-blockbuster music-biz savior who makes good taste in soulful old sounds her life’s mission. All of which is fine with me, and none of which excites me in the least.

But none of that’s an argument against retro per sé, which always is and isn’t with us. For instance, there have surely been worse years than 2011 for latter-day facsimiles of sirloin-and-spuds pre-thrash hard rock (Midnight Chaser, Ghost, Freedom Hawk, Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, High Spirits, Gentlemans Pistols, Pentagram, Gideon Smith & the Dixie Damned, Premonition 13, Kentucky Headhunters, King Mob, Badmouth and so on — plus oh yeah Manilla Road, Riot, Anvil, Nazareth, Uriah Heep, John Waite etc. if you count actual old guys.)

And the ancient relics don’t end there — Van Der Graaf Generator, T.P. Orchestra Poly-Rythmo, Garland Jeffreys, Rocket From The Tombs, Muhal Richard Abrams, Betty Wright, Merle Haggard and Dennis Coffey also place albums in my yearly 150 below, and that’s just folks who’ve been recording since at least the mid ’70s; as longevity goes, several post-punk veterans (Amebix, Ex, Mekons, Fall) aren’t too far behind. So is all that festering fossil fuel carbon-offset by the three electronic dance compilations and two avant jazz releases in my top 10? And if my list’s forward-looking K-pop numbers are keeping apace with 2010‘s precedent, well, so are my backward-looking Southern soul numbers. Finally, if I was all that opposed to checking the rearview mirror, I wouldn’t finally be figuring out 2011 in 2022 at all, would I?


  1. Dev The Night the Sun Came Up (Universal/Republic)
  2. Matana Roberts Coin Coin Chapter One: Gens de Couleur Libres (Constellation Canada)
  3. Radioclit Presents the Sound of Club Secousse Vol. 1 (Crammed Discs)
  4. Van Der Graaf Generator A Grounding in Numbers (Esoteric UK)
  5. Vijay Iyer With Prasanna & Nitin Mitta Tirtha (ACT Germany)
  6. The Scene Is Now Magpie Alarm (Tongue Master UK)
  7. BLNRB: Welcome to the Madhouse (Out Here)
  8. Opeth Heritage (Roadrunner)
  9. Generation Bass Presents Transnational Dubstep (Six Degrees)
  10. Gates Of Slumber The Wretch (Metal Blade)
  11. Britney Spears Femme Fatale (Jive)
  12. Midnight Chaser Rough and Tough (Heavy Artillery)
  13. Randy Montana Randy Montana (Mercury Nashville)
  14. Honey Ear Trio Steampunk Serenade (Foxhaven)
  15. Manilla Road Playground of the Damned (Shadow Kingdom)
  16. Pistol Annies Hell on Heels (Columbia)
  17. Ghost Opus Eponymous (Metal Blade)
  18. A Pony Named Olga The Land of Milk and Pony (Busty Germany)
  19. Eric Church Chief (EMI Nashville)
  20. Hammers of Misfortune 17th Street (Metal Blade)
  21. Miranda Lambert Four the Record (RCA)
  22. Ralph Carney’s Serious Jass Project Seriously (Smog Veil)
  23. Anti-G Presents Kentje’sz Beatsz (Planet Mu UK)
  24. Amebix Sonic Mass (Amebix/Easy Action UK)
  25. Veronica Falls Veronica Falls (Slumberland)
  26. Marika Hughes Afterlife Music Radio: 11 New Pieces for Cello (DD)
  27. Hella Tripper (Sargent House)
  28. David Nail The Sound of a Million Dreams (MCA Nashville)
  29. Endangered Blood Endangered Blood (Skirl)
  30. Freedom Hawk Holding On (Small Stone)
  31. Lauren Alaina Wildflower (Interscope)
  32. Kode 9 and the Spaceape Black Sun (Hyperdub UK)
  33. Herpes Symptome und Beschwerden (Tapete Germany)
  34. Steve Coleman The Mancy of Sound (Pi)
  35. Riot Immortal Soul (Steamhammer Europe)
  36. Anvil Juggernaut of Justice (The End)
  37. Joe Fielder Trio Sacred Chrome Orb (Yellow Sound)
  38. The Ex Catch My Shoe (Ex)
  39. Luke Haines 9½ Psychedelic Meditations on British Wrestling of the 1970s and Early ’80s (Fantastic Plastic UK)
  40. The Dirtbombs Party Store (In The Red)
  41. Sunny Sweeney Concrete (Republic Nashville)
  42. Blood Ceremony Living With the Ancients (Metal Blade)
  43. Le Tout-Puissant Orchestra Poly-Rythmo Cotonou Club (Strut Germany)
  44. Skrillex Bangarang (Big Beat)
  45. HyunA Bubble Pop! (Cube South Korea EP)
  46. The Baseball Project Volume 2: High and Inside (Yep Roc)
  47. Alela Diane & the Wild Divine Alela Diane & the Wild Divine (Rough Trade)
  48. Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats Blood Lust (Metal Blade/Rise Above)
  49. Stealing Angels Advance Music (Skyville promo)
  50. Electric Wizard Black Masses (Metal Blade)
  51. Gutbucket Flock (Cuneiform)
  52. Garland Jeffreys The King of In Between (Luna Park)
  53. Open Mike Eagle Rappers Will Die of Natural Causes (Hellfyre Club)
  54. High Spirits Another Night (High Spirits)
  55. Matthew Shipp Art of the Improviser (Thirsty Ear)
  56. Buraka Som Sistema Komba (Enchufada Europe)
  57. Necro Deathmort Music of Bleak Origin (Distraction UK)
  58. Adam Rudolph’s Moving Pictures Both/And (Meta)
  59. Das Racist Relax (Greedhead Entertainment)
  60. Sunshine Karmageddon (Epic Europe)
  61. Eddie Varaneio (Pogo Tropical Brazil)
  62. The Revelations feat. Tre Williams Concrete Blues (Decision)
  63. Sarandon Sarandon’s Age of Reason (Slumberland)
  64. Chucha Santamaria Y Usted Chucha Santamaria Y Usted (Young Cubs)
  65. Rocket From The Tombs Barfly (Smog Veil)
  66. Muhal Richard Abrams Sound Dance (Pi)
  67. LPG The Special Album (Windmill Media South Korea)
  68. Iceage New Brigade (Dais)
  69. Macintosh Plus Floral Shoppe (Beer On The Rug)
  70. Wolf Legions of Bastards (Century Media Germany)
  71. Antietam Tenth Life (Carrot Top)
  72. Cormorant Dwelllings (Cormorant)
  73. Hexvessel Dawnbearer (Svart Finland)
  74. Hedvig Mollestad Trio Shoot! (Rune Grammofon Norway)
  75. Argus Boldly Stride the Doomed (Cruz Del Sur Italy)
  76. Kaizers Orchestra Violeta Violeta Vol. I (Petroleum Norway)
  77. Mekons Ancient & Modern 1911-2011 (Bloodshot/Sin)
  78. SOOLj Electro SOOLj (CNH South Korea EP)
  79. Elder Dead Roots Stirring (Meteor City)
  80. Teddybears Devil’s Music (Big Beat/Atlantic)
  81. New Keepers of the Water Towers The Calydonian Hunt (Meteor City)
  82. Miguel Zenón Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook (Marsalis)
  83. Betty Wright and the Roots Betty Wright: The Movie (S-Curve/Ms. D)
  84. The Fall Ersatz GB (MVD Audio)
  85. James Carter Caribbean Rhapsody (Emarcy/Decca)
  86. 2NE1 2nd Mini Album (YG South Korea EP)
  87. Vektor Outer Isolation (Heavy Artillery)
  88. Girls Generation/SNSD Girls Generation/First Japan Album (Natuwave Japan)
  89. Pete Rock/Smif-N-Wessun Monumental (Duck Down/Bucktown Entertainment)
  90. Beyoncé 4 (Columbia)
  91. Rainbow Arabia Boys and Diamonds (Kompakt Germany)
  92. Nadia Oh Colours (Tiger Trax UK)
  93. Shabazz Palaces Black Up (Sub Pop)
  94. Electric Six Heartbeats and Brainwaves (Metropolis)
  95. Gentlemans Pistols At Her Majesty’s Pleasure (Metal Blade)
  96. Nazareth Big Dogz (Eagle)
  97. Nicola Roberts Cinderella’s Eyes (A&M UK)
  98. Pentagram Last Rites (Metal Blade)
  99. Gideon Smith & the Dixie Damned 30 Weight (Small Stone)
  100. DJ Rashad Just a Taste Vol. One (Ghetto Philes)
  101. Tom Russell Mesabi (Shout! Factory)
  102. Dessa Castor The Twin (Doomtree)
  103. Ledisi Pieces of Me (Verve Forecast)
  104. Uriah Heep Into the Wild (Frontiers Europe)
  105. Sun Araw Ancient Romans (Drag City/Sun Arc)
  106. Martina McBride Eleven (Republic Nashville)
  107. Thy Catafalque Rengeteg (Season of Mist)
  108. Premonition 13 13 (Volcom Entertainment)
  109. Mastodon The Hunter (Reprise)
  110. Danny Brown XXX (Fool’s Gold)
  111. Woods Of Ypres Woods 4: The Green Album (Earache)
  112. John Waite Rough & Tumble (No Brakes)
  113. Katy B On a Mission (Columbia)
  114. The Bats Free All the Monsters (Flying Nun New Zealand)
  115. PJ Harvey Let England Shake (Vagrant)
  116. Rainbow So 女 Girls (DSP South Korea EP)
  117. Thompson Square Thompson Square (Stone Creek)
  118. Reggae’s Gone Country (VP/Elektra Nashville)
  119. Donnie Ray Who’s Rockin’ You (Eck)
  120. Those Darlins Screws Get Loose (Oh Wow Dang)
  121. Mayer Hawthorne How Do You Do (Universal Republic)
  122. Havok Time is Up (Candlelight)
  123. Carl Sims Hell on My Hands (CDS)
  124. The Kentucky Headhunters Dixie Lullabies (Red Dirt)
  125. Rangers Pan Am Stories (Not Not Fun)
  126. Justice /Cross (Vice/Because/Ed Banger)
  127. Toby Keith Clancy’s Tavern (Show Dog/Universal)
  128. Metalian Rock Solid (Heavy Artillery)
  129. Selena Gomez & the Scene When the Sun Goes Down (Hollywood)
  130. Luther Lackey Married Lyin’ Cheatin’ Man (Ecko)
  131. Witch Mountain South of Salem (Mountastic)
  132. Blues Mix Volume Four: Soul Blues Party (Ecko)
  133. King Mob Force 9 (Steamhammer Germany)
  134. Kultur Shock Ministry of Kultur (Kultur Shock)
  135. Merle Haggard Working in Tennessee (Hag/Vanguard)
  136. Badmouth Heavy Metal Parking Lot (Rambo Music)
  137. Dennis Coffey Dennis Coffey (Strut)
  138. Black Tusk Set the Dial (Relapse)
  139. Ectoplasm Girls TxN (Ideal Recordings Sweden)
  140. Raphael Saadiq Stone Rollin’ (Columbia)
  141. Mary Mary Something Big (Columbia)
  142. Kendrick Lamar Section 80 (Top Dawg Entertainment)
  143. The Roots Undun (Def Jam)
  144. Steel Magnolia Steel Magnolia (Big Machine)
  145. Ms. Jody Ms. Jody’s in the House (Ecko)
  146. The Doppelgangaz Lone Sharks (Groggy Pack)
  147. Shystie Blue Magic (Pirates UK)
  148. Big Freedia Scion A/V Presents (Scion Audio/Visual EP)
  149. Fernanda Ulibarri Átoma (Cosmica Mexico)
  150. Cali Swag District The Kickback (Sphinx)


  1. I’m a simple guy: I see my hero Chuck Eddy put a Ghost album on his list, I’m happy. It should have been way higher, but I’ll take what I can get. I consider Tobias Forge a visionary genius, and by far the best band band/artist of the century. I meant it, I’ve internalized it, I said it. This is why we desperately need a second edition of Stairway To Hell. Anybody wanna give Mr. Eddy $2m to write it? Please and thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. via facebook:

    Nate Patrin
    I remember 2011 as being an especially unhappy year for me, largely in part to a lot of this discourse and some of the slapheaded ways it was approached by critics (and, more frequently and crucially, social media / blogger types who weren’t so much MUSIC critics as scene-report weirdos who reduced everything to a jerkoff motion; this was peak Carles, after all). It’s like the late-Xer contingent of us who decided “I want to be a critic” sometime in the early ’90s were starting to panic about what the millennials were doing and went on a bender. Then, somehow, I got used to it. Not comfortable in it, but used to it.

    Chuck Eddy
    I just had to refresh my memory about who (or what) Carles was; somebody mentioned him in one of those year-end. posts I quoted as well. Honestly doubt I ever even looked at Hipster Runoff; had barely a passing idea at the time what it even was. Four years after leaving the Voice then Billboard, I was still relieved not to *have* to know. Still not worried I missed anything.

    Sara Sherr
    Rumour Has It was my favorite Adele song too. It was briefly a hit at karaoke but not as much as all the ballads.
    Also, “Rolling In the Deep,” which my Black regulars would church clap and stomp to and it really added to the experience.

    Steve Pick
    Your essay is pretty dang entertaining, considering it’s almost entirely about music I haven’t heard and genres I don’t understand. I was hoping I could find my own favorite albums of 2011, but this is the problem with posting link on Facebook to another site which does not keep its archives up to date. I can see comments on my link, which indicate that I was listing a lot of Americana that year. That probably scans.
    I do remember that 2011 was the year when the record store started stocking more new vinyl than we had in a long, long time. People were coming in to buy turntables they could use to convert their old vinyl onto CD, but the forward thinking ones were looking for copies on vinyl of what they already owned on CD. I was confused as could be – records were never as easy to use or as good sounding as CDs, were they? We were aware of Spotify, I think, but didn’t know just how huge this toe-dip into vinyl resurgence was going to become.
    My usual list of records in your list I’ve actually heard (though there are several by artists I like that I haven’t heard): Britney Spears, Pistol Annies, Miranda Lambert, the Baseball Project, Garland Jeffreys, PJ Harvey, Those Darlins, Merle Haggard, and Raphael Saadiq. I was walking some narrow musical paths back then.

    Kevin Bozelka
    Great-ass year for music, horrible-ass year for me (worst ever, in fact). So I’m surprised I kept my ear that close to the ground. I was on Death Grips early as well as moombahton although some drip on ILM claimed it was old hat by May of that year. Ooh vaporware too. I’m nothing if not trendy.
    My Pazz is below. I’d switch out “Hello” for LMFAO: “Sexy and I Know It.” “212” would be higher (never connected deeply with anything she released after). Das Racist: “Michael Jackson” and Ellie Goulding: “Lights” would be in the top ten too.
    And below that are albums and singles that were in the running, many of which I cannot recall at all but are sounding nifty on replay.
    1. Das Racist: Relax (Greedhead)
    2. Death Grips: Exmilitary (Third Worlds)
    3. tUnE-yArDs: w h o k i l l (4AD)
    4. White Denim: D (Downtown)
    5. Unknown Mortal Orchestra: Unknown Mortal Orchestra (Fat Possum/True Panther)
    6. Blow Your Head Vol. 2: Dave Nada Presents Moombahton (Mad Decent)
    7. Kendrick Lamar: Section.80 (Top Dawg Entertainment)
    8. Paul Simon: So Beautiful or So What (Hear Music)
    9. Rustie: Glass Swords (Warp)
    10. Rangers: Pan Am Stories (Not Not Fun)
    1. Beyoncé: “Countdown” (Columbia)
    2. Nicki Minaj: “Super Bass” (Young Money/Cash Money)
    3. Gotye featuring Kimbra “Somebody That I Used to Know” (Samples ’n’ Seconds)
    4. Beyoncé: “1+1” (Columbia)
    5. Azealia Banks: “212 ft. Lazy Jay” (Azealia Banks and Jef Martens)
    6. Chris Brown: “Look at Me Now ft. Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes” (Jive)
    7. Lady Gaga: “Marry the Night” (Streamline/Interscope/KonLive)
    8. Rebecca Black: “Friday” (Ark Music Factory)
    9. Blawan: “Getting Me Down” (white label)
    10. Martin Solveig & Dragonette: “Hello” (Mercury)
    DJ Shadow: The Less You Know, The Better
    Toro Y Moi: Underneath the Pine
    Maria Minerva: Noble Savage
    Neighborhood Children: Welcome to the Neighborhood
    DJ Bedbugs: Teen Pop Lock and Drop Vol. 1 (cureforbedbugs.com)
    Hauschka: Salon Des Amateurs
    Azari & III: “Reckless (With Your Love)” – 2009 but didn’t hear it until 2011
    James Brown vs. Led Zeppelin: “Whole Lotta Sex Machine” (no label)
    Princess Chelsea: “The Cigarette Duet”
    Katy Perry: “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”
    Death Grips: “Guillotine (It Goes Yah)”
    151 Feva Gang: “Kush Groove”
    Martyn: “Masks” (Brainfeeder)
    Noir & Haze: “Around (Solomun Vox Mix)” (Noir Music)
    Pangaea: “Hex” (Hemlock)
    Nicolas Jaar : Space Is Only Noise (Circus Company)
    Vakula: “JVM” (Leleka)
    Joker featuring Buggsy & Otis Brown, “Lost”
    Big Sean featuring Nicki Minaj, “Dance (A$$)”

    Chuck Eddy
    I tried hard last week with TuNeYaRdS and Paul Simon. They both had a cut or two I liked okay, but not enough, none I Ioved, and several that made me cringe. As for Das Racist, turns out I actually much prefer their two sloppier and crazier 2010 albums — from which Relax repeated some songs (not sure how many), but more professionally than I’d prefer. It’s a sellout record! So it made my list, but not as high. I P&J’d Azaelia Banks’ album in 2014; not sure yet if it holds up. Still can’t stand “1+1” (sees Single Jukebox review in my 4th book), but 4 had a few songs I liked way more than I expected. My P&J singles ballot (I didn’t actually vote for Dev’s album ’til 2012):
    1. 2NE1 – I Am The Best
    2, The Dirtbombs – Sharevari
    3. GD&TOP – High High
    4. Bobby Brackins feat. Dev – A1
    5. Carl Sims – Hell On My Hands
    6. Buraka Som Sistema – Hangover (BaBaBa)
    7. Mary Mary – Walking
    8. Woods Of Ypres – I Was Buried In Mount Pleasant Cemetery
    9. Martina McBride – Teenage Daughters
    10. Dev feat. The Cataracs – Bass Down Low

    Kevin Bozelka
    yeah, I’ve relaxed somewhat on Relax. But it’s still a fine album. And “Michael Jackson” is the best thing they ever recorded.

    Chuck Eddy
    I should check out that Moombahton compilation; should have looked around for one. If I like it, I may need to bump something.
    My runnerup singles from 2011 (which I may or may not still like):
    Toby Keith – Red Solo Cup
    HyunA – Bubble Pop!
    Dev – In the Dark
    Gerod Rayborn – Feels Like Prison On My Job
    Blame Sally – Living Without You
    Galaxy Dream feat. Turbotronic – Ready 4 Romance
    Mayer Hawthorne –The Walk
    Roach Gigz – Wild Child
    SNSD – Bad Girl
    Thompson Square – Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not
    T-Ara – Yayaya
    Big Freedia – Almost Famous
    Far East Movement feat. Lil Jon & Collette Carr – Go Ape
    IU – The Story Only I Didn’t Know
    Miranda Lambert – Baggage Claim
    Eric Church – Homeboy
    Korpiklaani feat. Tuomari Nurmio – Ukon Wacka
    Taylor Swift – Mean
    Metronomy – The Look
    Rosehill – Midnight America
    Steel Magnolia – Bulletproof
    Keith Urban – Long Hot Summer
    Mel Waiters – Barbecue
    O.B. Buchana – I Wish He Didn’t Trust Me So Much
    Reba McEntire – If I Were A Boy
    Luther Lackey – Hold My Mule
    Pistol Annies – Hell On Heels
    Randy Montana – 1,000 Faces
    Big Bang – Tonight

    Christian Iszchak
    “sirloin-and-spuds pre-thrash hard rock” will stay with me forever


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: