KBD's Top 20 Albums of 2011 (Part One)
Another year, another great batch of albums for your listening pleasure. What made my list of the year's best? Read on to find out...
20. Asobi Seksu - Fluorescence
The duo of James Hanna and Yuki Chikudate have created another delicious blend of shoe-gazing dream pop that will have you feeling like you’re floating in the air. Tears will roll down your cheek as Yuki hits those high notes on such tracks as “Leave The Drummer Out There” and “Sighs.” Asobi Seksu have always put together albums that leave you feeling good, relaxed, and -- above all -- discovering your inner peace, and Fluorescence is no exception.
19. Flogging Molly - Speed of Darkness
When your punk music needs a strong traditional Celtic twist, Flogging Molly is always there to bring it to you. Their recent album once again shows off the lyrical talents of Dave King, from its sailing-inducing title track and the sad captain’s ballad “So Sail On” to the cries of battle in “Revolution.” After eleven years together Speed of Darkness proved that Flogging Molly are nowhere near slowing down, but rather outpacing their competition.
18. VERBAL - Visionair
It may not be as strong as when he teams with Taku Takahashi for their amazing m-flo duo, but VERBAL shows that he has the chops to create a strong rap album on his own. No worries for those wanting some of his better-known “LOVES” collaborations: he has brought along some friends in the forms of Lil Wayne, Namie Amuro, Nicki Minaj, and Drake for the ride. Visionair features such great club-worthy tracks like “BALL N BOUNCE,” “I WANT IT ALL,” and “Fall Out.” The album’s only crime: it wasn’t released outside of Asia (unless you did what I had to do and purchased it from an import site).
17. Cheeseburger - Another Big Night Down The Drain
With all due respect to LMFAO, the Brooklyn-based rockers have truly concocted Party Rock, especially with their opener “Party Song.” The celebration doesn’t stop there, with their track “Winner” making Charlie Sheen look like an epic failure, and the after-shenanigans cleanup “Roll Like That.” Cheeseburger also pulls a KISS and has a few one-night stands on the same album, with “Gina” being the bad girl in the bedroom and the heartbreaker named “Suzy.” Another Big Night Down The Drain is anything but its namesake, as it is the soundtrack to one of the greatest evenings of your life.
16. American Water - This Is Where It Ends
A new face in the local waters, American Water’s debut album will have you clamoring for more. With its mixture of alt-rock sounds and dream pop essence This Is Where It Ends is the type of album the Boston music scene’s been waiting for. From the acoustic “Sink or Swim” and the grungy “Old Best Friend” to the exciting “This Place Is Going Down” American Water have created an album that’s both catchy and noteworthy. Be on the lookout for this band somewhere down the line. Something tells me they might make their mark in some way or form.
15. Evanescence - Evanescence
After being off our radars for half a decade, Amy Lee and her comrades returned, cranking the rock up tenfold. Its shockingly positive opener “What You Want” and “The Change” are a welcome remodeling to their formula, but Evanescence haven’t forgotten to break your hearts the heavy-hitting “Lost In Paradise.” Amy Lee’s voice hasn’t sound this great in years, being more mature than what was heard on the band’s first two albums. Evanescence’s self-titled return made sure that we didn’t forget what made them such a powerhouse of rock in the first place, but at the same time it showed what happens when they push the rock element further than ever before.
14. The Go! Team - Rolling Blackouts
When this UK outfit releases a new album, you know there’ll be plenty of happiness pouring out of your speaker. The high school band-sounding “T.O.R.N.A.D.O.” and the magical girl-transforming “Secretary Song” are just the mere openers on this sound circus. Tracks like “Buy Nothing Day” and “The Running Rage” will have you jumping around for no apparent reason, a sure sign that the joy The Go! Team brings to the table are flowing ever-so freely through your body.
13. R.E.M. - Collapse Into Now
It’s a shame that R.E.M. broke up this year, but at least they left us with one more great album. Its opener “Discoverer” showed that Michael Stipe’s voice hasn’t changed a bit in the band’s 30-year existence, while at the same time displays the band’s sense of maturity they developed from being together for so long. “ÜBerlin” could’ve been the hint of the band’s break-up, thanks to the lyrics regarding “flying on” and changing for the better. One can only imagine what would’ve been the next step in what was the best musical comeback last decade, and sadly that’s all we can do now. Be glad that Collapse Into Now exists, for it shows what made R.E.M. such a treasure in the music community.
12. Flash Bang Grenada - 10 Haters
The album Jay-Z and Kanye West wished they could’ve made. A collaboration between underground rappers Busdriver and Nocando the duo teleports, plays cops & robbers, and goes “Hyperbolic” with the legendary Del the Funky Homosapien. The vernacular they use is nothing short of sheer brilliance, and the beats -- while simplistic -- captures the truth that, in these hard-pressing times, less is truly more. Be sure to pass the “Moisturizer” around.
11. the pillows - Horn Again
After taking a year off from releasing anything, Hokkaido’s brightest stars return with a great collection of alt-rock tracks that are sure to put a smile on anybody’s face. A great blend of their best sounds from the 90s and 2000s this album once again proves why the pillows are the best band out of Japan. From its opener “Limp Tomorrow” to its fast-paced closer “Doggie Howl” Horn Again is a strong reminder of why we fell in love with them in the first place. Their “Brilliant Crown” might also be one of the most beautiful songs released in 2011.
Check out Part Two of the Top 20 list here on the Boston Bastard Brigade! Who knows? One of your favorites might just be on it.