Best albums of 2011: The top 20
A good rule of thumb for making a year-end list: Ask yourself will you still play this album in a year or two? That thinking has me rating Thee Oh Sees much higher than Tune-Yards on this year’s best albums list. Even though WHOKILL is a really interesting album, Thee Oh Sees are just a whole lot more fun.
Click here for the rest of the list, Nos. 21-40. Here’s my top 20 of 2011:
20. Ty Segall – Goodbye Bread: A much more refined offering than last year’s scorcher Melted.
19. Dum Dum Girls – Only in Dreams: It’s maybe better than the band’s first album — great old-school, girl group rock.
18. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake: Framing war through images of World War I’s toll on England, this is one of the greatest albums she’s made in years.
17. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong: These guys bring the rock for their second album. No, really.
16. Fucked Up – David Comes to Life: Forget that it’s a concept album — or a punk rock opera. It’s just as hard as the older stuff.
15. Yuck – Yuck: A cool throwback sound to the early ’90s and even a little ’80s-era Dino Jr. guitar.
14. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy: More crescendo-heavy, genre-defying pop from Annie Clark.
13. War on Drugs – Slave Ambient: If you like the brilliant singer/songwriter Kurt Vile, you’ll definitely like his former band, War on Drugs.
12. Thee Oh Sees – Carrion Crawler / The Dream: Led by indie vet John Dwyer, this band just keeps cranking out infectious garage rock.
11. Woods – Sun and Shade: A breezy, laid-back sound with a little kraut rock mixed in.
10. Smith Westerns – Dye It Blonde: Sickeningly sweet, ’70s sugar pop. I love it.
9. Cass McCombs – Humor Risk: Considered uptempo compared with this year’s other release, Wit’s End. I like this album better.
8. White Fence – Is Growing Faith: A side project of the Strange Boys’ Tim Presley, this collection of psychedelic nuggets is the most interesting truly lo-fi offering this year.
7. Tristen – Charlatans at the Garden Gate: Tristen made my favorite alt-country album in 2011.
6. Iceage – New Brigade: Twelve songs in 24 minutes. These youngsters from Copenhagen didn’t reinvent punk but they revive it.
5. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring for My Halo: If you don’t know Kurt Vile’s music, hang your head in shame. Then go check him out.
4. Panda Bear – Tomboy: Noah Lennox didn’t try to simply remake the remarkable album Person Pitch. Good call.
3. Wild Flag – Wild Flag: If you like Sleater-Kinney and guitarist Mary Timony, this indie super group is for you. It actually exceeded my expectations — just a great rock album.
2. Wilco – The Whole Love: Wilco made one of its best albums in years — an excellent collection of songs that highlight Jeff Tweedy’s love of pop and noise.
1. Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost: Sonically more far-reaching than Girls’ excellent debut Album, this release has a little bit of everything from Beach Boys melodies to Deep Purple guitar to great ballads. It’s just awesome from beginning to end.