Yep, this post is titled the Top 15, but I added an extra album after originally posting this.
- Randall Webb
16. Raphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin’
Favorite Tracks: Heart Attack, Stone Rollin’, Day Dreams
Trivia: Saadiq spent approximately one year recording this album, including writing the music and lyrics. On the majority of the songs Saadiq played most of the instruments, including bass, keyboard, guitar, Mellotron, percussion, and drums. He also produced the album.
15. Joe Henry - Reverie
Genre: Alt-Folk, Acoustic
Favorite Tracks: Heaven’s Escape, Sticks and Stones, Deathbed Versions
Trivia: The bulk of this album was recorded in 3 days in Joe’s basement studio. In the mix the listener can hear bird chirping to the music through the open windows in the basement. Joe describes this album as a “raw and raucous and messy affair”.
14. The Cars - Move Like This
Favorite Tracks: Blue Tip, Sad Song, Free
Trivia: “Move Like This” is the Cars 7th studio album and their first release since 1987’s “Door To Door”.
13. Deerhoof – Deerhoof vs. Evil
Genre: Art Rock, Indie Rock, Noise Rock
Favorite Tracks: Behold A marvel In The Darkness, The Merry Barracks, Super Duper Rescue Heads, Must Fight Current
Trivia: This album was part of a project called “Global Album Leak” in which 12 blogs from the internet premiered a song from the album one week at a time. The first song to be premiered was “The Merry Barracks” on October 8, 2010 on the U.S. website Pitchfork.
12. Battles – Gloss Drop
Genre: Experimental, math rock, post-rock, new prog
Favorite Tracks: Africastle, Inchworm, Wall Street, My Machines (featuring Gary Numan)
Trivia: Midway through the recording of the album band member Tyondi Braxton left the band to pursue a solo career. The remaining band continued as a trio and rewrote and rerecorded the entire album with in 4 months. Considering the band’s relative obscurity the album was a moderate success reaching #48 in the UK, #73 in Belgium and #98 in the U.S.
11. Paul Simon – So Beautiful or So What
Genre: Classic Pop, World Music, Folk
Favorite Tracks: Dazzling Blue, Rewrite, So Beautiful or So What
Trivia: This is Simon’s first album in 5 years and his most successful since 1991’s “The Rhythm Of The Saints”. Simon released a Christmas song from the album called "Getting Ready for Christmas Day", which premiered on National Public Radio on November 16, 2010. The song samples a 1941 sermon by the Rev. J.M. Gates, also entitled "Getting Ready for Christmas Day". Simon performed the song live on The Colbert Report on December 16, 2010.
10. Neil Young – Le Noise
Genre: Folk rock, experimental, garage rock
Favorite Tracks: Walk With Me, Love and War, Peaceful Valley Boulevard
Trivia: Okay so this one was released at the end of September 2010, but I didn’t buy it until the beginning of 2011. Neil Young received his second Grammy Award for the song “Angry World” which won for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance. Producer Daniel Lanois (who has also worked with U2, Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, Emmylou Harris, Brain Eno and many others) brought a fantastically layered sonic soundscape to Neil Young. Thus moving Young’s sound into a new and uncharted territory. Young has always been one to experiment with new and unique sounds.
9. She Wants Revenge – Valleyheart
Genre: Alt-Rock, Modern Rock, Post-Punk Revival
Favorite Tracks: Up In Flames, Reasons, Little Star
Trivia: A product of Los Angeles, California “Valleyheart” is a concept album of sorts following the trials and tribulations of life in the San Fernando Valley.
8. Stefon Harris, David Sanchez and
Christian Scott – Ninety Miles
Favorite Tracks: City Sunrise, The Forgotten One, Black Action Figure
Trivia: “Ninety Miles” was recording entirely in Havana, Cuba. The result is a breaking of cultural barriers by bringing together musicians from varying cultures. The album’s producer, John Burk says, "This record is about the power of music to communicate, and break down some of the barriers that result from language and politics and culture."
7. Florence and the Machine – Ceremonials
Genre: Indie Rock, Art rock, Baroque Pop
Favorite Tracks: What The Water Gave Me, Breaking Down, Lover To Lover
Trivia: Florence has stated that much of “Ceremonials” is based on scientific ideas, as several of her family members are doctors or are in school to become doctors so she is usually around a lot of medical and scientific conversations.
6. My Morning Jacket – Circuital
Genre: Indie, Space Rock, Psychedelic Rock
Favorite Tracks: Victory Dance, Circuital, Outta My System, First Light, You Wanna Freak Out
Trivia: The song “Wonderful” was original written by My Morning Jacket founder Jim James (aka Yim Yames) for the Muppets rock band Doctor Teeth and Electric Mayhem. The song was to be performed live on stage by My Morning Jacket and the Muppets. “Outta My System” and the former song were both to be performed in the Muppets tour, which was being planned and produced by Disney. Jim James commented that twice Muppet glory was with in his grasp but eluded him both times. Shortly after the release of “Circuital” MMJ recorded the Muppets song “Our World” for the Muppets tribute album called “The Green Album”. “Circuital” has been nominated for the Best Alternative Rock Album Grammy Award of 2011.
5. Keb’ Mo' – The Reflection
Genre: R&B, Jazz, Adult Pop, Urban Soul
Favorite Tracks: The Whole Enchilada, Inside Out, Crush On You (w/ India.Aire), Just Lookin’
Trivia: “The Reflection” is the first album released by Keb’ Mo” (a former A&M staff songwriter) on his own Yolabelle International label. He also self produced the album.
4. Bjork – Biophilia
Genre: Electronic, Experimental, avante-gard
Favorite Tracks: Moon, Crystalline, Dark Matter, Mutual Core
Trivia: “Biophilia” is an experiment of sound. How the sounds blend together, how they bounce off the walls and between objects. It’s an experiment in physics similar to how planets and microscopic organisms work together. It’s an experiment of sound without humans. The album has made it into the Top 20 in more than 20 different countries around the world including Taiwan, Russia, Greece, Spain, Japan and Croatia.
3. Booker T. Jones – The Road From Memphis
Genre: Blues, R&B
Favorite Tracks: Progress (with Yim Yames of My Morning Jacket), Down In Memphis, Everything Is Everything, Representing Memphis (with Sharon Jones), Harlem House, The Bronx (with Lou Reed)
Trivia: “The Road From Memphis” works as a who’s who of music for Booker T. Jones. Musicians include Dennis Coffey on wah wah guitar. Coffey is best known for the 1971 instrumental hit “Scorpio) which reached #6 in the U.S. and was certified Gold for sales of more than one million. Also on the album are current day soul/funk singer Sharon Jones, My Morning Jacket’s frontman Yim Yames (Jim James), the jazz-rap outfit The Roots and even Lou Reed (Velvet Underground) guests on vocals for the song “The Bronx”.
2. Adele - 21
Genre: Pop, Soul, Indie, Roots
Favorite Tracks: Rolling In The Deep, Rumor Has It, Set Fire To The Rain, He Won’t Go
Trivia: “21” has spent 13 weeks at #1 on the U.S. Billboard chart and has also reached #1 in 24 other countries around the world. As of December 2011 “21” has sold over 16 million copies worldwide. Adele’s bus driver who was playing contemporary Nashville music while she was touring the American South inspired the sound of this album.
1. Gang Of Four – Content
Genre: Post-Punk, Rock, Punk-Funk
Favorite Tracks: She Said You Made A Thing Of Me, I Party All The Time, A Fruitfly In The Beehive, Do As I Say
Trivia: With “Content”, Gang Of Four recaptures their youthful rebellious values and energy. Several of the albums songs touch on the economic hardships our world faces.--> GO4 takes a jab at capitalism, in the song “I Party All The Time”, citing its lack of compassion. Many of the album’s tunes touch on the band’s notions of value and freedom.
2011 was a good year!
Looking forward to an even better 2012!