Either way, music has had a very good year, bringing us new music from some of the best new names in our world. There have been a variety of releases, ranging from debuts to 13th studio albums over careers spanning 30+ years. Some have been able to follow-up with greatness, some I think we've heard the last of.
Here's the list of everything I started with on my quest to see what the best was that came out of this year. I just found a list (which I'm sure was incomplete) of artists that released this year, and started listening to the iTunes previews of each 2011 release. Yup, been putting lots of work into this one. And let me tell you - I listened to a LOT of bad music.
But I also found quite a few gems, and many things I hadn't gotten to properly experience throughout the year. For instance, I found out that I love Cold War Kids; KoRn is now a dubstep nu-metal band; and Hugh Laurie sounds nothing like he does on house in his music.
It's been an interesting year. I wanted to take this last post of 2011 to document some of my favorite releases. I surprisingly did wind up with plans tonight, so I'll keep this as brief as I can.
(in alphabetical, not preference, order)
10. Cold War Kids - Mine Is Yours
I had literally never heard a single song from this band before. Ever. And I LOVED it. There were so many songs i would listen to again, no problem. It was such a great experience.
This band has their own sound, and it's a little punk-pop, but with more rock to it. It's absolutely the right sound for me. They put together a great piece of art here and I want to hear the other ones, yet I don't want to be disappointed if they don't measure up (I think I'll be okay though). I am extremely happy that a new artist love came out of this experience. :)
9. Augustana - Augustana
Remember the band that brought us "Boston"? That was one of the major songs I got in to my freshman year of college, and I still love it to this day - about as much as I love this album.
These guys have brought their sound to a new level. This isn't as poppy of an album as "Boston" came from, but it is still uniquely them. It's a sound that is familiar without being a copy of something else. Really a great job done all-around, and more enjoyable than most of the things I listened to in the past couple of days.
8. Panic! At The Disco - Vices & Virtues
Here's the quick story - two of the guys left the band after the last album. People thought either there would be new members hired or they would just disband entirely. Instead, these two forged on and made a new album.
This is such a more mature sound to this band, without loosing their fun rhythms that they always possessed. They are grown up now. There is an awesome tone to this album and it's a good time with heartful lyrics. It's a great album for any time and I think there's something for everything here.
7. Frank Turner - England Keep My Bones
I honestly did not listen to this until today when I was sampling albums that were released this year to create a proper list. This is absolutely fun and lovely music all at once.
Frank gives an Irish accent with a little guitar-punk sound. It's very different then anything I've really heard, though there's a familiarity in the melodies and the chords being used. It's beautiful and youthful and funny all at once. I really want to listen to this one more as well, just to get more into the artist.
6. Parachute - The Way It Was
If I had to pick one, "Something To Believe In" was my anthem this year. I hadn't heard much of the rest of the album until recently, and I am sad I didn't discover it earlier - this is amazing work.
Yes, the band is one of those pop-rock sort of acts that people tend to mock, but these guys bring lyrics and music that's downright inspiring. I loved so much of this and am shocked it's their sophomore album. It sounds brand new, but very polished, like an impressive debut. Nonetheless, I look forward to listening to this many more times in the coming months.
5. Lady Gaga - Born This Way
Yeah, I forgot this came out this year too. So much has already come from it! This woman is one of my idols in the music business. She's brilliant, even if I don't necessarily enjoy every song on the album. The hits are the best part, and then there's maybe one or two other good ones.
However, you've got to give her credit as one of the best tourers and all-around entertainers of the year. She knows how to make every experience unique, and never disappoints even once. It's like she has a million ideas for one thing, and says "hell, why NOT do them all?" and just changes it up for every appearance. And hey, the music's actually not bad to boot!
4. Kelly Clarkson - Stronger
Oh don't look at me like that. I made it very clear in an earlier review that I love this chick's music, and empowering female music is entirely necessary in a girl's year. Plus, it's actually a great mix of genres - rock, pop, country, and dance are all here. I don't normally enjoy those over-mixes, but this one works.
Kelly came back with a vengeance this year, not caring who she ticked off with her quite-personal accounts about someone or something. Almost this entire album is about overcoming and being better for it. Power-pop, sure, but damn good.
3. Daughtry - Break the Spell
My first reviewed album still holds a special place for me. The band hit a lot of right notes in this one, and I never get sick of the songs I selected from here. The music is still rock, and Chris' voice alone makes it a lot heavier than many mainstream rockers you hear today.
There's grit, but the music is enjoyable. We can relate to a whole lot of what he's saying, and scream it down the highway on a good long drive, because that's the beat get need and get. The album's a wonderful addition to an already great Daughtry catalog.
2. Adele - 21
I don't find this woman over-rated in the last bit. She's got it and in the most unique way. The music is deep and heartbreaking, but necessary to that hurting heart. It's angry but with purpose and poignancy. And yet above all else there's the sense of passion that drive the entire record.
I know she's 'mainstream' now, so maybe that makes what I'm saying uncool. I did, in fact, like her first record a lot too. I'm a sucker for good lyrics, and she brings it. The arrangements are incredibly interesting. If this girl sweeps the Grammys, God bless her, she deserves every one of them.
1. Yellowcard - When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes
This was actually a surprise even for me. I adore this band and actually got to see them live this year for the first time in over 10 years. They were even better now.
I hadn't heard anything from this album until that show on November 1st. Normally, I hate when bands perform brand new music in shows because I can't sing along as well. With this though, I still enjoyed every single song. This band continues providing not just songs, but anthems for the young. They still capture my heart with the input of the violin, and the energy is incredible.
This is my favorite since Ocean Avenue, and I'm so excited to see them back together and creating music. Welcome home Yellowcard.
So, there you have it!
That's my 2011 top 10. This was so hard to decide on, but I'm pretty satisfied. And now, I'm off to make the most of these last few hours - and you better be too!!
Thanks for a great start to this blog at the tail-end of 2011. I hope we can keep growing it and sharing music together in 2012!! Stick with me - there's so much more music out there to discover!!
and.... HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!