30 June 2011

Favorite Albums of the First Half 2011

So, usually I wait until the end of the year to slip into listmaking mode, but this year has been kinda unprecedented for me in terms of music. The past year I've gotten a Squeezebox, gotten an Android device and, most importantly, started a Rhapsody subscription. The three of these things together have fundamentally changed the way I listen to music, entirely for the better in unprecedented ways. I can't recommend this mode of attack for any music lover enough. Quite literally, I've listened to (and formed opinions on) over 200 albums released in 2011 already and going strong. So why wait until December to tell you what's what? This being the halfway point between January 1st and December 31st, let's do it...

Here's a vague view of my favorite albums of the year thus far... and there have been some killer ones. I'm listing my top 10, then the next 15, then the rest of my top 50. All three groups are in alphabetical order as I'm still getting a feel for a lot of these. I can definitely say that I highly recommend all of 'em. If I'm missing something, let me know and I'll check it out (or will politely avoid letting you know that your favorite wasn't one of mine...).


First, here are my favorite EP's so far, which contain some of the best music I've heard so far this year, particularly the Junip & Sea and Cake:

Broken Bells -- Meyrin Fields (EP)
Carolina Chocolate Drops/Luminescent Orchestrii (EP)
Here We Go Magic -- The January (EP)
Junip -- In Every Direction (EP)
The Sea and Cake -- The Moonlight Butterfly (EP)

Also, there are some awesome live/archival albums that merit a mention, including: Bob Marley's Stanley Theater show, everything Phish has remastered and released this year (I'm partial to the Greek shows and 10/30/10), Bob Dylan @ Brandeis, Galactic, and certainly Brad Mehldau's amazing Live in Marciac.

Now the full-length studio albums...

The top 10 (in alphabetical order):
Danger Mouse -- Rome
The Decemberists - The King Is Dead
Fleet Foxes -- Helplessness Blues
The Head and the Heart -- The Head and the Heart
Iron & Wine -- Kiss Each Other Clean
Buddy Miller -- The Majestic Silver Strings
Smith Westerns -- Dye It Blonde
Gillian Welch -- The Harrow and the Harvest
White Denim - D
Yellowbirds -- The Color

The rest of the top 25 (in alphabetical order)
Bardo Pond -- Bardo Pond
Beastie Boys -- Hot Sauce Committee Part Two
Braids -- Native Speaker
The Dears -- Degeneration Street
Deerhoof -- Deerhoof vs. Evil
Brett Dennen -- Loverboy
Eulogies -- Tear the Fences Down
Grails -- Deep Politics
Holy Ghost -- Holy Ghost!
My Morning Jacket -- Circuital
Thao & Mirah -- s/t
Toro Y Moi -- Underneath the Pine
TV On The Radio -- Nine Types of Light
Woods -- Sun and Shade

The rest of the top 50 (in alphabetical order)
Hayes Carll -- KMAG YOYO (& Other American Stories)
The Cave Singers -- No Witch
Death Cab For Cutie -- Codes and Keys
Alela Diane -- Alela Diane & the Wild Divide
The Dodos -- No Color
Elbow -- Build a Rocket Boys!
The Go! Team -- Rolling Blackouts
Sarah Jarosz -- Follow Me Down
Joan As Police Woman -- The Deep Field
Lia Ices -- Grown Unknown
Loch Lomond -- Little Me Will Start a Storm
Middle Brother -- Middle Brother
Mogwai -- Hardcore Will Never Die...
Nathan Moore -- Dear Puppeteer
Nostalgia 77 -- The Sleepwalking Society
Oh No Oh My -- People Problems
Gruff Rhys -- Hotel Shampoo
Bob Schneider -- A Perfect Day
Tapes ‘n Tapes -- Outside
Tea Leaf Green -- Radio Tragedy
Tedeschi Trucks Band -- Revelator
Tennis -- Cape Dory
Chris Thile & Michael Daves -- Sleep With One Eye Open
Vetiver -- The Errant Charm
John Zorn -- Nova Express

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