Top 5 Albums of 2011

Top 5 Albums of 2011

IF you can believe it another 12 months, filled with some of the best music releases we’ve seen in a long time, has come and gone which means it’s time for me to assemble my nearest and most trusted music hunter gatherers together to come up with our top album picks for 2011.

Last year’s inaugural post of this kind proved to be quite the hit amassing over 2,000 hits in a few short weeks after its release, so it only makes sense to resurrect the format in the hope that collectively, we may be able to introduce you to some new tunes that you might otherwise not have come across in your own explorations.

Remember, none of us are suggesting that in the world of music these should be considered the best releases from this year. We are simply sharing our individual favourite albums – those discs (do people even buy discs anymore??) that were on constant rotation as we got on with our lives throughout 2011.

Just like last year, each album mentioned, where possible, will be linked to its iTunes listing. So, if you’re interested, previewing and purchasing the albums for yourselves is just one easy click away!

Here we go – enjoy!

MICHELLE DAVIES (@michd10)

Michelle Davies

1. WITHIN & WITHOUT – WASHED OUT

When I look back at 2011 this feels like the soundtrack. I had it on so often in the background that it wouldn’t be fair not to list it here. I adore it. And I’ve proven that you can’t get sick of it.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Amor Fati”

2. BON IVER – BON IVER

I don’t feel like I even need to justify this. Mesmerising from the first track. Worries actually melt away while listening… this is one of those albums that feels timeless. I was a huge fan of their first album, but the follow-up is impeccable.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Calgary”

3. MAKING MIRRORS – GOTYE

Australia is officially a force to be reckoned with – between “Gotye”, “Boy & Bear”, and “The Paper Kites”, it was Aussies who monopolised air time on my iPod this year (three guesses who’s responsible for filtering all these great tunes to his Canadian friends!). The first time I listened to it in it’s entirety I remember thinking “ooh – this will make the best of”…

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Somebody That I Used to Know”

4. WATCH THE THRONE – JAY-Z & KANYE

I went in a skeptic (so much hype)… but can’t deny it – I love it. I like it to drive to, to work to, to run to… hell, I might even do yoga to it. I wouldn’t call myself a hip-hop fan, so the fact that I fell in love with this album the way I did really says something.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Otis”

5. EL CAMINO – THE BLACK KEYS

Seven albums in and this band’s still killing it for me. This album isn’t even a month old and it still beat down “M83″ and “Bombay Bicycle Club” to make my list. I remember when it came out someone said “any one of those songs could start a party” – I can’t think of a better way to sum it up.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Gold on the Ceiling”

CONCERT OF THE YEAR

December 19, 2011 Jay-Z & Kanye @ Rogers Arena, Vancouver
I had it down to two last weekend, and then I went to Jay-Z and Kanye’s final night of the “Watch the Throne” tour.

INSANE.

I’ve never seen an arena show like it. They impressed me in so many ways – from how much fun they were having together, to their taking the time to carefully sign stuff for fans, posing for pictures… both of their egos fit in the building, and for me, totally lived up to the hype and far exceeded the lofty expectations I went in with. Pretty incredible to see two artists at the top of their game, together, truly bringing it.

RYAN ASHTON (@rwashton)

Ryan Ashton

So I’ll admit – for whatever reason, 2011 wasn’t exactly a banner year for me in terms of new music discovery. I’ve reviewed a number of the customary “best of” lists for 2011 and I wouldn’t say I’m familiar with many of the albums that have caught fire this year. But no matter – the ones I did dig up this year were mostly awesome and I’m pretty jacked about the top five that caught my ears this past year.

1. MISSION BELL – AMOS LEE

I’ve been a huge fan of Amos Lee since his self-titled debut album arrived on the scene a few years ago. While many critics have panned “Mission Bell” because it’s so similar to previous albums, that – precisely – is why I’m such a huge fan of this year’s release. Why ruin a good thing?

STAND OUT TRACK(S): Top track on this album is a tie between “Flower” and “Learned A Lot”.

2. BARTON HOLLOW – THE CIVIL WARS

I saw The Civil Wars open for Adele at the Air Canada Centre this year. I hadn’t heard of them prior to the show, but after a good 7-8 song set it was pretty clear that they weren’t to be taken lightly. Barton Hollow provides a great set of melodic southern Americana tracks filled wonderfully with acoustic guitars, banjos and violins.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Poison & Wine” rises above all others as the top track from this album.

3. TORCHES – FOSTER THE PEOPLE

What’s likely to be a common album on everyone’s list this year, I can’t resist the head-bobbing, turn-it-up-to-eleven sounds of pretty much every track on this album. The band’s enthusiasm is infectious and it comes through loud and clear throughout the whole album.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): Top two tracks on this album have to be “Call It What You Want” and “Don’t Stop”.

4. EL CAMINO – THE BLACK KEYS

A latecomer to the music scene this year, El Camino sure was a great finale to 2011. My initial reaction to the album wasn’t overwhelming, but after a weekend on repeat I find myself going back again and again to this outstanding 38-minute set.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Gold On The Ceiling” is an awesome track that I can’t get enough of.

5. LOVERBOY – BRETT DENNEN

Definitely the dark horse album on my list, Loverboy is one of those albums that just puts a smile on your face from the moment it opens. I’ve seen Brett Dennen in concert 3 or 4 times now and have been a huge fan since first hearing his folky renditions a few years ago.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): Give “Comeback Kid (That’s My Dog)” a spin and see if you don’t agree.

CONCERT OF THE YEAR

October 1, 2011 Foster the People @ Sound Academy, Toronto
After giving much credit to the album Torches, but not knowing much about the band or how the album would translate to a live show, I was interested to learn how this show would pan out. If I said that they blew the doors off the place, it would be an understatement.

Loud and full of incredible energy, this show left me wishing they had a deeper catalogue to dive into. To cap it all off, I managed to get the band’s setlist from the sound engineer at the end of the night, adding yet another piece to my concert merch collection.

HONOURABLE MENTION

June 26, 2011 James Taylor @ Rexall Centre, Toronto
I’ve been a fan of James Taylor for years now and getting the chance to see him live was something I couldn’t miss. An open-air amphitheatre on an early summer night provided a near-perfect setting for the crowd to be entertained by great music and legendary stories from one of the finest singer/songwriters ever.

He played a solid 21-song set that included the classics like “Fire & Rain” and “How Sweet It Is” – couldn’t have asked for anything better.

KATIE DRECHSEL (@kat_drex)

Katie Drechsel

An unexpected highlight for me – this year marked a big one for really creative, game changing videos that supported some of the music I love. I’ve included some stand out videos – I hope you think they were worth including. I honestly think a lot of artists stepped up their game this year when it came to their videos!

1. MAKING MIRRORS – GOTYE

I have a weak spot for Aussie artists/bands. Goyte is right near the top of this list. I fell in love with him/them in 2006 with the release of “Like Drawing Blood“. Since then I have anxiously waited the next masterpiece.

Thankfully Gotye did not disappoint. This was one of those albums you fall in love with the first time you listened it. Bold pop with adult themed lyrics and a distinct 80s sound. j’adore.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Somebody That I Used to Know (feat. Kimbra)”

I literally played this song on repeat for months; intense, dramatic, catchy and so easy to sing out loud too!

2. ZONOSCOPE – CUT COPY

My favourite Australian band and a must see live show! Seriously the best dance party at a concert goes to Cut Copy and their “Cutters”. Obsessed doesn’t begin to describe my feelings towards this band.

I love listening to whole albums and this album is definitely an albums-album, you can tell serious thought went into the transition between songs. Zonoscope helped lift my spirits when I was going through some serious injury recovery. And it was the anthem at my first Coachella Music Festival experience: music + friends + sun + palm springs + infinity pools – how could I not pick it?

STAND OUT TRACK(S): I liked this song when I listened to the album, but Cut Copy kills this song live. Period. If you get the chance to see them live, do it and pray they play “Pharaohs & Pyramids”.

3. THE ENGLISH RIVIERA – METRONOMY

These Brits have consistently evolved their sound. I’ve heard this album being compared to the sounds of “Phoenix”, “Junior Boys”, and “Stars” – all bands I love, which explains why I had to include it in my top picks. I love every song on this album, its truly easy to listen to the whole album and not want to skip a song.

The album has been a big part of some wicked road trips including “#girlswhowine” and trips to Whistler. Hearing it brings back so many happy memories of time spent with fab friends.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): Metronomy oozes understated & cool. Two of the best examples from The English Riviera are: “The Look” and “The Bay”.

4. LITTLE HELL – CITY & COLOUR

Enter the Canadians. I love City and Colour, and Dallas Green. I fell madly in love with this album and it actually drove me to create a playlist of their whole discography that I played exclusively while at home for at least two months.

Little Hell is perfect, I don’t skip a song and it was probably the hardest album to pick a “Stand out track” from. It’s musical bliss.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): I saw them live at Coachella and Sasquatch Music Festivals this past year, their live performances of “Weightless” and “Fragile Bird” were stand outs, so they tie to win my “top pick” vote.

5. BON IVER – BON IVER

The first time I heard any of Bon Iver’s music was live at Sasquatch three years ago, it was just Justin Vernon and one other person. We had never heard of him before and he literally gave me goose bumps and made me teary eyed. His music is magical and authentic. It lets me feel disconnected from busy city life and a demanding career. It lets me get lost in thoughtlessness and make me feel closer to nature.

I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Bon Iver. I don’t think I’ll never forget the first time I heard them in the blazing sun, flowers in my hair, softly swaying at the Gorge. I think this is the album most people will pick.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): I absolutely can not pick only one song… sorry Masey. Top three: “Holocene”, “Calgary” and “Wash”.

CONCERT OF THE YEAR

April 15-17, 2011 Coachella Music Festival @ Empire Polo Club in Indio, California

I travelled to Palm Springs with 10 amazing music loving friends. We enjoyed three days and nights of the best music in the world.

The stand out shows from the festival, for me, in order of greatness were: “Empire of the Sun”, “Presets”, “Cut Copy”, “Chromeo”, “Foals”, “Foster the People”, “City & Colour”, “Arcade Fire”, “The National”, “Two Door Cinema Club”, “Mumford and Sons”, “Broken Social Scene”, “Angus and Julia Stone”, “The Rural Alberta Advantage” and “The Black Keys”.

EPIC. I was on a music high for weeks!

ROB MASEFIELD (@masey)

Rob Masefield

1. LITTLE HELL – CITY & COLOUR

What can you say about Dallas Green (aka “City & Colour”) other than he’s without question one of the current era’s most talented Canadian performers. There was never any doubt in my mind that “Little Hell” was going to make my top 5 this year. What I wasn’t expecting was that this wee album would become a crutch of sorts when the tough transition of returning home to Australia got me down on occasion this year.

Brilliance. If you’ve had the great pleasure of having seen the man rock out LIVE you’ll know exactly where I’m coming from.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): Simple. “Weightless”. So raw, so angry, so rock, so perfect.

2. THE LATENESS OF THE HOUR – ALEX CLARE

I guess you could consider Clare’s debut release, produced by the acclaimed club mixers “Diplo” and “Switch”, the surprise entry in my menu this year. His dub-step-influenced, almost experimental beats and sounds aren’t for everyone, but boy did they EVER prove to be for me!

I was well aware of the raw vocal talent of the Brit after being introduced to his first hit “Damn Your Eyes” – a simple but powerful ballad, earlier in the year by a good friend. I thought I’d give his album a one-time run through just to see what else he had on offer. Unexpectedly, “The Lateness of the Hour” got my tick of approval on the first play through which is no mean feat considering I usually have to play an album through 3 times before I can make a confident evaluation. Good, good stuff.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): While tracks like “Too Close” and “Hands Are Clever” are on high rotation on my iPhone, you simply can’t go past “Treading Water” as the defining anthem from this album. Try it – let me know if it’s for YOU?

3. MAKING MIRRORS – GOTYE

I see that more than a few of my peers this year are with me on this one…

Wally De Backer, or “Gotye”, is a skinny weed of a bloke with a HUGE presence on stage and definitely in your ears. I had the immense pleasure of catching a LIVE 10-piece Gotye performance at Brisbane’s Powerhouse in early October where a mini-orchestra of synths, strings, brass and percussion combined to blow a packed house, and me away.

Considering his quirky collaboration with fellow Aussie mononym, “Kimbra”, titled “Somebody that I Used To Know” was probably the biggest single in Australia in 2011 (yet to be confirmed by Triple J’s 2011 Hottest 100 in a couple of weeks), this album, filled with tracks of similar depth and quality, is almost an automatic inclusion. I hate to toe the “popular” line, but in this case I have no choice. It’s THAT good.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “In Your Light” – Big, brassy and uplifting. Abuse the volume dial on this one!

4. WITHIN & WITHOUT – WASHED OUT

Every year I love to get my hands on an album I can plug into and literally “chill out”. This year, it was “Within & Without” from American chillwave musician Ernest Greene. On a bike on the sea wall in Stanley Park, in a plane over the Pacific, or on a packed morning Ferny Grove line train into the Brisbane CBD, this album has the ability to lift you to another place, another time, where it’s all good and all fine. It’s for that reason that I LOVE it!

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Amor Fati” – Soothing goodness.

5. JUNK OF THE HEART – THE KOOKS

As is usually the case for me, I ummed and ahhed about the final spot in my top 5 albums this year. This spot could so easily have gone the way of the brilliant “Boy & Bear” who captivated Australia in 2011 with their debut album “Moonfire”, or to “Arkells” – a wicked, hard-working, stunning LIVE band out of Ontario, Canada who blew me away with their album “Michigan Left” (thanks for the tip Michelle)!

But no. I had to give this final, coveted spot to an album that consistently pumped through my earphones and put a smile on my face throughout 2011. Without question that was “The Kooks” and their 3rd release “Junk of the Heart”. Track 1 to 14, your ears are the winners. Simple as that really.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Mr Nice Guy”

CONCERT OF THE YEAR

October 10, 2011 Foo Fighters @ Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast
It was a case of “save the best for last” this year as I headed down to the Gold Coast with Melanie (see below) to catch Dave Grohl and the Foo’s rock the foundations of Metricon Stadium. It’s not until you are thoroughly entertained by these absolute pros for over 3 hours at a time that you realise just how many hits they have locked away in such a short career span. Add to these hits some epic covers of tracks by Queen (Tie Your Mother Down) and Pink Floyd (In The Flesh?), and you’ve got yourself one loud, awesome rock concert!

More than ably supported by the ever entertaining Jack Black and his pet “Tenacious D” side show, you could hardly go wrong on reaping the value out of the $140 ticket (thank goodness I did though)! Just like AC/DC in Vancouver a few years ago, the mighty Foo Fighters put on a stadium gig to remember!

MEGAN GORSCH (@gorschtown)

Megan Gorsch

1. WHITE HEAT (30 Hits) – ICEHOUSE

One of the most underrated Aussie bands of our generation, in my humble opinion, FINALLY came out with a “best of” collection this year! *insert much a hoppin’ an’ a hollerin’ here* All the greats, and a couple you kinda forgot you knew & loved too.

I would LOVE to see a tribute album to Iva Davies’ fine tunes in kinda the same vein as the Crowded House “She/He Will Have Her/His Way” albums. And I’d be the first to volunteer handpicking the artists and songs! Man my talents are wasted on this planet!

STAND OUT TRACK(S): Pfffft… How do you pick a winner from a bucket of winners?? I guess “Electric Blue” holds a special place for all it’s 80′s awesomeness.

2. FULL HEARTS & EMPTY ROOMS (EP) – EMMA LOUISE

I was put onto this young Brisbane songstress by my mate Sam who worked on her “Jungle” film clip. I saw the clip at various stages of production and fell in love with her unique voice and heartfelt lyrics. She scooped the pool at the Queensland Music Awards this year, winning Songwriter of the Year award for “1000 Sundowns” & Song of the Year for “Jungle”.

Mark my words, you’ll be seeing & hearing a whole lot more of this fine musician in coming months and years. I can’t wait for her debut album!!

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Bugs”

3. INSOMNIA – WASHINGTON

Still not sure what the go is with this album. I read somewhere she was performing it as a one off performance “installation” or some such arty farty bullocks. Meh, it’s full of great Megan Washington tunes, and proves “I Believe You Liar” wasn’t a lucky fluke.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Letterbox”

4. OWN THE NIGHT – LADY ANTEBELLUM

Gotta love a little country every now and then. And I like this 3 piece of boot scooters very much.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Just A Kiss”

5. MAKING MIRRORS – GOTYE

2011 was the “Year of Gotye” (in Australia anyway), so I’d be pretty unpatriotic to not include this one. Gotye takes all the rules of music & bends them to his will like Uri Geller’s spoons. If his uber popular radio song “Somebody That I Used To Know” doesn’t top the Triple J Australia Day countdown on January 26, I think the earth will cease to spin. If ever there was a sure thing…

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Easy Way Out”

CONCERT OF THE YEAR

Either I didn’t see any gigs this year, or if I did they weren’t all that memorable. It’s depressing just thinking about it. Can we talk about something else please??

JENNIFER MCKENZIE (@jlmckenzie)

Jennifer Mckenzie

1. 21 – ADELE

This album release was much anticipated after Adele won the Grammy for “Best New Artist” in 2009. It doesn’t disappoint. It’s a great listen from start to finish. Adele’s voice is powerfully beautiful and the reason I consistently listen to this album over and over again.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Turning Tables” & “Set Fire to the Rain”

2. BON IVER – BON IVER

This album is an escape for me. A beautiful album throughout. The more you listen to it, the better it gets.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Minnesota”, “WI” & “Holocene”

3. CIRCUITAL – MY MORNING JACKET

I first became a fan of My Morning Jacket when I saw them at the Pemberton Music Festival in 2008 when they were touring the release of “Evil Urges”. It’s hard to pin point what I love about “Circuital”, but maybe I don’t need to. I’ll just let the album speak for itself.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Wonderful (The Way I Feel)” & “Outta My System”

4. CEREMONIALS – FLORENCE & THE MACHINE

An album that showcases Florence Welch’s massive voice which I am constantly amazed by. This album is completely enjoyable.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Shake it Out” & “No Light, No Light”

5. ANGLES – THE STROKES

It’s been a while since I have liked a Strokes album but there is just something about this one that I love. It’s toe-tapping good times.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Gratisfaction” & “Taken for a Fool”

CONCERT OF THE YEAR

July 11, 2011 New Kids on the Block / Backstreet Boys @ Rogers Arena, Vancouver
Ok. I am prepared for the mocking over this one. But seriously, this show made me feel young again. It was two hours of laughing, singing and dancing. How can that be a bad thing?

HONOURABLE MENTION

September 14, 2011 Band of Horses @ The Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver
Band of Horses was on my Top 5 album list last year so was thrilled to be able to see them in person this year and in such an intimate venue like the Commodore. They are just so thoroughly enjoyable to listen to, whether it be live or not – they put on a great show. Check out my video uploads of the show. Apologies for the drunken ramblings in the background!

MATT BURGESS (@therealburgo)

Matt Burgess

1. BURST APART – THE ANTLERS

You know, I never quite understood the buzz about The Antlers’ “Hospice”, but man… did they turn me around with “Burst Apart”. There’s something absolutely haunting about this album. That floating, fragile voice from Peter Silberman filled with emotion, those ethereal chords, that reverence… the first time I heard this record, it was like the first time Radiohead woke me up.

“Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out” absolutely blew me away when I first heard it, and the album closer on this album, “Putting the Dog To Sleep”, is some of The Antlers’ best lyrical work to date; and, not for nothing, is absolutely heartbreaking.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Putting the Dog to Sleep”

2. IN THE MOUNTAIN IN THE CLOUD – PORTUGAL. THE MAN

There’s just so much going on here. Portugal. The Man somehow manage to sit in a life raft, floating on top of layer upon sonic layer, and pull it all together with killer licks and melody into a hook-filled album; all the while making it look easy. While John Gourley’s vocals aren’t for everybody, I can almost guarantee you’ll find yourself humming along to 90% of these tunes.

With choruses that were made for sing-a-longs, I think this is my favourite release of theirs since I first heard “Church Mouth” back in 2007. The only reason this isn’t higher in this list is that the album feels frustratingly unfinished; but it hints at greatness.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Sleep Forever”

3. NO TIME FOR DREAMING – CHARLES BRADLEY

That voice! That voice. You listen to Charles Bradley sing, and from the first turn of phrase you can tell dude has paid his dues. After decades of chasing his dream, Charles Bradley has finally released his debut record with Daptone Records at 62 years of age, and has it ever been worth the wait.

Backed by the incomparable Menahan Street Band, this is a soul album as it should be: a release filled with authenticity. Unlike some of his younger contemporaries, Bradley was actually around to see folks like Otis Redding and James Browne perform in their prime, live. So when he sings, you’re listening to the days when funk and soul meant something.

They say you can’t sing the blues until you’ve lived a full life… well, ladies and gentlemen, Charles Bradley has 6 decades worth of emotions to pour into his songs. And he’s not going to waste a second.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Why is it so hard?”

4. UNDUN – THE ROOTS

From what I can tell, I’m kind of in the minority with my admiration for this album which has me puzzled. A concept album that tells – in reverse – the tale of Redford Stephens’ rise and death in just 40 minutes, it’s a fleeting piece of brilliance from The Roots.

Listening to this album is a completely different experience; and yes, I mean experience in the purest sense of the word. With The Roots’ skill with narrative, it’s near impossible to listen to this album without having a full-on movie playing in your head. And “Black Thought” is so clinical, so aggressive on this album it’s friggin’ scary.

Depressing, oppressive, slightly off… and brilliant.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Make My”

5. BON IVER – BON IVER

You know, when I first heard Bon Iver’s sophomore album, my initial reaction was: “whooo boy, this is going to piss a lot of people off.” The album was undeniably brilliant, but such a departure from “For Emma, Forever Ago” that I thought fans may have found it hard to adjust to. Sometimes I underestimate people, and it was a pleasant surprise to see this album praised by… well, pretty much everyone. How many people do you have contributing to this, Rob? 10? I’d be surprised if I don’t see this listed on at least 8 of those.

When I first wrote about this album, I said “This is one of those albums that takes a few spins before it’s the memory of your favourite girlfriend’s scent. That comfortable, warm smell of strawberry vanilla.” And I still stand by that. It’s timeless.
Unapologetically leaving the “cabin in the woods” mythos behind them, Bon Iver is the most confident and complete sophomore release I have ever heard. I can’t wait to see where Justin and Co. go next.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Towers”

CONCERT OF THE YEAR

You know, 2011 was a bad year for me, gig-wise. With my fiancee going back to study for much of the year, we were down to living on one income, and cuts had to be made… unfortunately, gigs was one of the first things to go. So it meant that I was pretty much restricted to a) gigs that I was invited to, or b) free gigs. Happily, this led to some awesome and unexpected discoveries, which – really – are the best kind.

June 30, 2011 M Jack Dee @ The Old Museum, Brisbane
The first was M Jack Bee. Thanks to some dudes at Universal, I managed to get a free ticket to check out the the Pete Murray launch of “Blue Sky Blue” at Brisbane’s Old Museum. It was a great intimate setting, and Pete as usual kicked ass. But the real treasure of the night, for me, was opening act M Jack Bee. Dude absolutely killed up on stage, and when I head his tune “Moth”, I was absolutely hooked.

HONOURABLE MENTION

May 20, 2011 Tim Nelson & the Cub Scouts @ Queen Street Mall, Brisbane
The other gig that stands out to me is another completely unexpected, and unintended one. Walking down Queen St Mall on the way to our staff social party at Strike bowling, I stopped dead in my tracks when I heard Tim Nelson’s (of Tim Nelson and the Cub Scouts) vocals. I can’t remember the last time I ever heard such a pure clarity in a live show, never mind in an open air setting like Queen St Mall.

Needless to say, I was about 30 minutes late for the party. Their recorded stuff doesn’t quite capture what I heard that day, but if you ever get a chance to catch them live, get down to a show and be amazed.

NOTE:

Burgo has his own brilliant music blog which is worth keeping your eyes on throughout the year. Whip over there now and you can check out his extended “Top 10 Albums of 2011″!

MELANIE SALTZER (@melchecker)

Melanie Saltzer

1. MAKING MIRRORS – GOTYE

I loved “Like Drawing Blood” (2006) and this follow up album did not disappoint – the complexity of his songs and all the different styles. I saw him live twice this year and he was just amazing.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): Stand out track is “In Your Light” because it’s so upbeat and always makes me feel better no matter what (or “I Feel Better”… or “Bronte” – I’m so torn!).

2. COMPANY – BLUEJUICE

I saw these guys perform live at Splendour and they blew me away with their energy. Their songs are silly… and poppy… and catchy.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Act Yr Age”

3. WHO YOU ARE – JESSIE J

I’d heard of Jessie J, but it wasn’t until a friend posted her home-videoed cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing”, that I fell in love with her voice.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Price Tag” – It’s a catchy song, has a worthwhile message and a very cute film clip.

4. THE LIFE OF RILEY – DRAPHT

I prefer R&B to hip hop, but Drapht is a pretty cool rapper (for a white guy). His songs are catchy, make you wanna bounce and they stick in your head.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Bali Party” – which is set to become a summer anthem (and was already the theme song for this year’s schoolies party).

5. SORRY FOR PARTY ROCKING – LMFAO

I have tried to hate them but after seeing them perform at the “American Music Awards” and on “So You Think You Can Dance” and finding myself unable to NOT dance to their songs, I can’t help but like them. They have catchy tunes, stupid film clips and they themselves seem like complete idiots.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Sexy and I Know It” – I defy you NOT to nod along… if not get up and dance.

CONCERT OF THE YEAR

October 8, 2011 Gotye @ Brisbane Powerhouse, Brisbane
Had to be Bluejuice’s high energy, neon bounce-fest at Splendour… until I saw “Gotye” at the Powerhouse on the 8th October. It was the matinee performance (he ended up selling out two night and two afternoon performances in Brisbane) and I went with our very own Masey.

Wally (lead) was full of joy and seemed to love being on stage performing for us; each of his 10 person band played at least two instruments, making the sound HUGE. We got to help out with two songs and I remember the film clip for “Bronte” (playing on screens back of stage) being completely mesmerising. It nearly made me cry.

Your chance to sample our favourites

As with last year, I want to give you the opportunity to sample some of the “stand out tracks” from the albums submitted and mentioned above.

Because a few people flaunted with the standard format this year and put forward more than one “stand out track” per album selection, I’ve only selected the first song they have mentioned in each case (just to clear that up).

Grab a comfy chair, a packet of your favourite munchies, turn off your mobile and kick back with some of the best tracks from 2011! Enjoy!

Rdio Top 5 Albums of 2011 Playlist
Spotify Top 5 Albums of 2011 Playlist

PS. Merry Christmas to one and all!

 Image credits: Background & lead image by Phil Hilfiker (Flickr).

6 Comments

  1. Ryan says:

    It’s a great tradition you’ve put together here mate. May you always want to continue to seek out new music; may I always be lucky enough to contribute.

  2. Karen Payne says:

    I definitely need to revisit your posting and update my iPod music… And yes, people still buy discs Masey… I am old fashioned and smuggly proud. :o )

  3. Katie says:

    Masey, it’s an honour to be ask to contribute again. To be honest it is now one of my favourite parts of December – the build up, the decision process and then reading the actual post. Thanks again for including me… even though I don’t (didn’t) follow all your guidelines.

    Albums I struggled with leaving off my list but I’m glad others covered: “Washed Out”, “Foster the People” and “Portugal. The Man”.

    Until 2012 ~ happy listening!

  4. Meg says:

    Nice end of year wrap up once again cuz!

    Glad to be part of it (even if you didn’t let me include “Forest Sun” due to your “rules’”!)

    Pffft…CHECK OUT FOREST SUN EVERYBODY!!! Ha…

  5. Melanie S says:

    Thanks for including me this year! I really struggled to find music released this year that I had listened to a lot (who knew I was so 2010?) and I wish I had included “Foster the People” now…

    Anyway. LOVE the playlists and the other reviews. Thanks again. :)

  6. Jen says:

    Yay! Now I can start downloading new music. :)

    Thanks for all the recommendations. Awesome list.

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