Top 30 Albums of 2011 (#15-1)

15. Gem Club – Breakers

14. Atlas Sound – Parallax

13. Doomtree – No Kings

12. Julian Lynch – Terra

11. Winds of Plague – Against the World

10. Washed Out – Within and Without

On Within and Without, Ernest Greene’s first full-length release as Washed Out, the solo artist teamed with producer Ben Allen (Gnarls Barkley, Animal Collective, Matt & Kim). The result was an impeccable album full of summertime jams that will make anyone who thinks chillwave as a genre is dead to reconsider their stance. (Kelsie B.)

09. Coma Cinema – Blue Suicide

Mat Cothran’s third album is just simply one of the best things I’ve ever had the pleasure to listen to. Simultaneously depressing and uplifting, Blue Suicide paints a beautiful picture with the most conventional song structures and instruments. It’s rare that simplicity can be so affecting, but Coma Cinema somehow finds a way to peer deep into one’s soul upon each listen. (Adam W.)

08. Sam Lachow – Brand New Bike

Talented 206 and NY native Sam Lachow dropped his debut solo LP this past summer. It wasn’t just any normal debut album; this LP is in a league of its own and well deserves ones of the best albums of the year. All production was created from scratch to Sam’s vision with live instrumentation and he linked it with some of Seattle’s and New York’s best young talent to bring together an incredible collection of songs. Also, Sam is very fond of WSU and KZUU as he did one of our best live interviews earlier this Fall. (Bryce P.)

07. Panda Bear – Tomboy

Noah Lennox crafted a collection of songs that deviated from his past musical ventures with Animal Collective, pioneering an atmosphere of unconventional sound while still being oddly familiar to the listener. Each track is layered with underlying melodies and rhythms that indulge the audience with a new discovery every listen. The album title, Tomboy, expresses a sense of internal struggle, one that captures each track trying to find its own identity. It’s an attention-demanding collection of experimental pop songs. (Brennan P.)

06. James Blake – James Blake

U.K. experimentalist James Blake had an incredible amount of hype to live up to in 2011, being touted as one of England’s most promising young musicians. His self-titled debut album delivers on all fronts, combining his past work as a dubstep producer with his current fascination with singer-songwriters like Leslie Feist. It sounds like an odd pairing, but Blake ends up creating one of the most fresh and endlessly enjoyable albums of the year. (Adam W.)

05. Protest the Hero – Scurrilous

With each album, Protest the Hero pushes the limit of what they can do for the genre of metal by trying to redefine it with shear musical genius. The fact that they have an amazing singer with the vocal range of Freddie Mercury, and humor of old-school Blink-182, is never dampened but raised up with the incredible chops of the rest of the band. That’s what’s great about Protest the Hero; you hear every bit of energy they put into their work and you are drawn in like a weak swimmer in a rip tide. (Kyle M.)

04. Youth Lagoon – The Year of Hibernation

Boise, ID resident (and poster child) Trevor Powers’ debut LP The Year of Hibernation is bedroom pop at its best – stripped down instrumentation, hazy and anxiety-ridden production, and relatable lyrics about coming-of-age experiences that could happen to anyone. Where Powers truly excels is monstrous and emotional breakdowns that tug at your heart, such as in tracks like “Montana”, “17”, and “July”. (Kelsie B.)

03. Shabazz Palaces – Black Up

While time passes, some albums pop up that can effectively press the pause button on our lives and allow us to let go of the material world. Black Up is the sunlight of hip-hop. It makes you want to be soaking up all of the silky rhythms while enjoying Ishmael Butler’s unique flow, and if you’re not, you’re probably suffering from some sort of vitamin deficiency. Simply put, Black Up redefines hip-hop. This album is mean, but that’s only if you know what I mean. (Kyle S.)

02. Balam Acab – Wander / Wonder

Too-young-to-drink producer Alec Koone drew influences from 60s psychedelic folk, electronic ambient music, hip-hop, and the living world to create an entirely new genre with his debut LP, Wander / Wonder. Throughout the album, Koone utilized chopped-and-pitched vocal samples with watery sounds doubling as percussion and atmosphere. Absolutely one of the year’s best, most original,  and critically underrated releases. (Kelsie B.)

01. Real Estate – Days

Real Estate’s sophomore album Days is a career-defining record, one that pushes this New Jersey band beyond the borders of their surf rock roots and into the history books. All the components from their 2009 debut are still here: gorgeous melodies, sickeningly catchy guitar work, and nostalgic lyrics. The only difference is that everything is done so much better. It’s really astounding how the increased production value makes these songs shine. “Municipality” is the highlight here, containing the pure essence of what makes this album so great. Real Estate are a band who have the potential to define the next decade of rock music. (Adam W.)

One thought on “Top 30 Albums of 2011 (#15-1)

  1. Pingback: The Malleability of Microgenres & YYU’s TIMETIMETIME&TIME | KZUU 90.7fm

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