Welcome to another installment of Up on the Sun's 2011 Review. We've been counting down our favorite songs, shows, national and local releases of 2011. Today's list comes from contributor Melissa Fossum.
Maybe I'm too indecisive for my own good, but year-end lists are always a challenge. Most Up on the Sun writers posted their lists over a week ago, and I'm just now getting around to finishing mine.
My top five was easy to pick, but narrowing 40-or-so albums down to a top 10 was difficult. A lot of artists I like released new material this year; I enjoyed the new Wilco and Blink-182 albums, but didn't think they were top 10 worthy.
There were plenty of great records I left out, too. So here's a quick set of honorable mentions: Cults, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Danger Mouse And Daniele Luppi's Rome, Feist, and Givers.
10. Destroyer, Kaputt
Dan Bejar brings us another strange, yet beautiful album that combines slow jams, 80's synths, and sax.
9. Frank Turner, England Keep My Bones
From the first lines of "Eulogy": "Not everyone can be Freddie Mercury, but everyone can raise a glass and sing," it's clear that England Keep My Bones is full of anthemic songs. Turner proved this by encouraging every single person in the Rhythm Room to sing along to his set a few months ago.
8. Girls, Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Girls sound retro without ripping anybody off. Elements of Elvis Costello and The Beach Boys can be heard, but only as trace elements in songs like the guitar-heavy "Vomit."
7. Adele, 21
Yes, both "Rolling in the Deep" and "Someone Like You" have been over-killed, but that doesn't change the fact that Adele has a fantastic voice and the songwriting to back it up. It's nice to see a female musician reach mainstream success without relying on Autotune or sex appeal.
Adele said it best herself in a Rolling Stone interview: "I love seeing Lady Gaga's boobs and bum. I love seeing Katy Perry's boobs and bum. Love it. But that's not what my music is about. I don't make music for eyes. I make music for ears."
6. Foster The People, Torches
I guess I'm just a sucker for a catchy tune, because Torches is 34 minutes of pure ear candy. Say what you will about the band, but this album reminds me of MGMT's Oracular Spectacular without all the drugs, making it a solid release full of fun indie pop.
5. The Kills- Blood Pressures This album is full of masterfully done garage rock and takes some risks with tracks like "The Last Goodbye," where Alison Mosshart proves her vocal capabilities are on par with Chrissie Hynde.
4. Smith Westerns, Dye it Blonde
Smith Westerns borrow from the glam rock sensibilities of T. Rex to create an infectiously catchy sophomore album.
3. M83, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
This album is stunning and almost flawless. This dreamy synthpop double-album juggernaut has some slow points, but hits like "Midnight City," "Claudia Lewis," and "Steve McQueen" are absolutely phenomenal. Hurry Up, We're Dreaming is some of the M83's best work yet.
2. Cut Copy, Zonoscope
It may not be In Ghost Colours, but Cut Copy has once again released a fantastic album full of deep synth cuts well-suited for the dance floor.
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1. St. Vincent, Strange Mercy
Ah, the elusive number one slot. Choosing an album of the year seemed like a difficult decision until I realized that every time I tried to listen to Florence + the Machine, Feist, or Adele, I had a strong urge to hear "Cheerleader" or "Cruel." Strange Mercy is full of brilliant songs that will be stuck in your head for days.