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.
Tuesday marks the beginning of the fall schedule for new albums. Indie super group Wild Flag, St. Vincentand Neon Indian are among those releasing tomorrow. In two weeks, Wilco puts out its new album.
But before we get to those, here’s an overdue look at five of the most interesting albums of 2011 (mostly releases from the first half of the year). I’m not sure if they’re the best but they have a good shot at being on my year-end top 10. Don’t read too much into the order.
New Brigade — Iceage
They didn’t remake the genre, but these kids from Copenhagen made one of the most compelling punk albums in years. Clocking in at about 24 minutes, New Brigade proves less is still more.
Tomboy — Panda Bear
Noah Lennox couldn’t simply remake Person Pitch. He didn’t attempt to with Tomboy, the follow to his remarkable 2007 release. The album certainly has the signature Lennox/Animal Collective feel yet holds it own as a fresh, original piece of work.
Sun and Shade — Woods
Woods layers one breezy, psychedelic song on top of another. Amid the concise nuggets, Sun and Shade features a couple long players, including the trippy Sol Y Sombra and the Kraut rocker Out of the Eye.
WHOKILL — Tune-Yards
It’s abrasive and often times uncomfortable but Merrill Garbus makes some interesting music. It’s noisy and hard to categorize and that’s what’s best about it.
Yuck — Yuck
Derivative of indie bands from the past two decades or so, I think I like these guys because of the nods to Dinosaur Jr. But, overall, it’s just a really enjoyable rock album.
Read my next five picks after the jump.
Saturday and Sunday are blockbuster days for the Pitchfork fest.
Saturday’s headliner is LCD Soundsystem, part of the last tour for James Murphy and his band. Animal Collective’s Panda Bear will be previewing new songs off an upcoming album. And the great Wolf Parade will be playing songs off its recently released album. Any one of those three acts are strong enough to headline. That’s how good the lineup is this year.
Beyond those sets, my top picks for Saturday (in order of appearance) are: Real Estate, Kurt Vile, Titus Andronicus and Bear in Heaven.
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