The Nextbop staff is compiling its lists of the best albums of 2011 in jazz and all other genres. We’ll release our mass lists during the last week of December but we want to make sure everyone’s individual lists have the chance to shine.
My tastes are different. For example, I think every Katherine Heigl role would be vastly improved if Anne Hathaway or Mila Kunis were offered first dibs. I’m also fruitlessly awaiting Michelle Rodriguez and Sanaa Lathan buddy cop action drama, co-starring Taylor Lautner as Sanaa’s secretly drug addict son, Maya Rudolph as Michelle’s over-worrying physician life-partner, Gina Torres as their by-the-books antagonist and Sam Jackson and Marion Cotillard as the villanious power couple. Directed by Katheryn Bigelow and produced by Michael Mann. Which is all to say, my brain just looks for different things in art.
10. The Roots - undun (Def Jam)
It’s weird that there are bands as relentlessly public as The Roots who inexplicably get little monetary public support. Hopefully that changes as this Roots album is their most sonically palatable record to diverse ranges of listeners. It may take away from their purist hip-hop cred but they stopped being a pure hip-hop band in the eras ago. Everyone else has this album on their top tens or shortlist, so you should have figured out you need to listen to it.
9. Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi Present - Rome - Starring Jack White & Norah Jones (Parlophone/EMI)
Rome is the soundtrack to the best movie Quentin Tarantino hasn’t made a direct homage to.
8. Saul WIlliams - Volcanic Sunlight (Colombia)
Every time I think I’m getting too old or too scholastic for hip-hop, Saul Williams releases an album and helps me remember MC’s don’t always talk about bitches and stacks. And sometimes they have fun with their music too. Wait, you say there’s too much singing on the album to qualify as hip-hop? Explain that to Kayne West, Lil’ Wayne, Mary J. Blige and Heavy D.
7. TV on the Radio - Nine Types of Light (Interscope)
Isn’t it TV on the Radio’s turn to be the world’s biggest critically lauded rock band? I feel like Radiohead is just kind of bored with the crown right now (that’s Gen X for you) whereas TVOTR has been all kinds of on top of their game, release after release. Even with the band exploring many different tangents in their off-time, they still come correct.
6.Tyler the Creator - Goblin (XL)
Buy Via: https://www.oddfuture.com/en/products
This was the most disputed album this year, with music writers and musicians alike taking sides over whether or not we should allow ourselves to like Odd Future despite all the lyrics about sexual assault and graphic violence. Once I was an angry kid with too much time on my hands and I said a lot of stupid shit that I didn’t realize the full societal impact of, so i can make concessions, especially since Goblin proves OF is starting to evolve from saying crazy things because they can.
5. Meshell Ndegeocello - Weather (Naive)
Every year I look at the list for All Tomorrow’s Parties and am disappointed that they didn’t reunite Meshell Ndegeocello and Rachelle Ferrell’s power duo. And then I remember I imagined the group. But still, ATP should invite Meshell, one of the greatest living songwriters and band leaders, along to curate anyway. All the proof they need is contained in Weather, which in twenty years will be informally inducted into the great American songbook by various artists.
4. Zola Jesus - Conatus (Sacred Bones)
Zola Jesus makes music for people genuinely too macabre to listen to Rhianna and lacking the ADHD needed to be a Lady Gaga fan. Beyond the spooky textures is a really solid pop record and a strong voice that isn’t suppressed by pop’s conventions. It’d be great to see what she’d do with a big budget arena tour.
3. True Widow - As High as the Highest Heavens And From The Center To The Circumference Of The Earth (Kenmado)
I like my rock & roll with oomph. I also like listening to My Bloody Valentine without persistent hearing loss. True Widow’s second album is focused, noisy in the best of ways, and melodically menacing.
2. Kim Boekbinder - The Impossible Girl (self released)
I wish music as interesting as Kim Boekbinder’s was vastly popular, then I could turn the radio back on and stop wasting money every few years buying a new mp3 player. I can’t quite focus on her genre, other than to say it’s exactly what elves would play after unionizing from oppressive shoemakers.
1. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake (Island/Vagrant)
Buy via: http://www.pjharvey.net/shop.asp
If Watch the Throne was an ill-timed shallowly introspective offering from hip-hop’s two biggest talents, then Let England Shake was the album that is a proper reflection of the last decade’s debacles involving one of the major western powers. It is a return to rock music’s roots with a thoroughly modern rock sound, a feat which many artists of the early alternative generation stumble over.
Alexander Brown is a freelance writer. More of his work is available at his blog, Relax and Aspire.