The TOP TWENTY ALBUMS of 2011 (The Year-End Awards)

Originally posted 2012-02-05 02:00:04. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

It is the best and truest mark of artistry in the music industry, and sales are no indication of significance.  Sequencing and thematic continuity, sonic experimentation within a basic set of familiar parameters, a healthy range of types and topics: these are the standards by which to judge an album.

The album.

It ascended into an art form in the mid-sixties under the careful work of artists like the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and the Beach Boys.  It was taken to new heights with the experimentation of later bands, from the concept albums of the Moody Blues to the spin-off success of artists like Bruce Springsteen.  The album – and rock in general – saw a rebirth in the nineties, with the work of those like Weezer, the Wallflowers, the Barenaked Ladies, and a slew of others who led a surge of excellent rock music.

These days, the album has faced a crossroads.  Specifically, with the advent and surge of digital sales, the physical formats of music are on the chopping block.  Still, with the rise of vinyl sales even as CD sales continue to decline, there is hope yet.  And, contrary to an army of naysayers, there are still excellent albums being made.  This year, as with the past several years that I have been tuned into a vast array of albums, I would say there are about five albums that will undoubtedly stand the test of time and compete for top spots when I eventually get around to my Best Albums of All Time list.  Which, at this point, might have to wait until I hit retirement.

But, for the moment, you have my Best Albums of 2011 list, and if you’re interested in reading more about any of these albums, you can access my Weekend Review report (including star rating, production info, and a full review) by simply searching the album title and band name in the search bar above.  And, of course, if you see reason for disagreement or any gaps in my list, it’s up to you to leave comments below.

1)  The Whole Love (Wilco)

2)  The King is Dead (The Decemberists)

3)  Last Night on Earth (Noah & the Whale)

4)  Wasting Light (Foo Fighters)

5)  Bad As Me (Tom Waits)

6)  Unfortunate Casino (Gerry Beckley)

7)  The King of Limbs (Radiohead)

8)  Yuck (Yuck)

9)  Lasers (Lupe Fiasco)

10) W H O K I L L (The Tune-Yards)

11) The Graduation Ceremony (Joseph Arthur)

12) Vol. 2: High and Inside (The Baseball Project)

13) Collapse Into Now (R.E.M.)

14) Move Like This (The Cars)

15) The Valley (Eisley)

16) Cloud Maintenance (Kevin Hearn)

17) I’m With You (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

18) Alpocalypse (Weird Al Yankovic)

19) No Color (The Dodos)

20) Nighty Night (8in8)


Honorable Mention:

The Way It Was (Parachute)

The Dreamer, The Believer (Common)

The BEST COVER SONGS of 2011 (The Year-End Review Awards)

Originally posted 2012-01-16 10:00:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

What better way to kick off a Monday at the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover song music video blog than to unveil the Weekend Review’s picks for the top ten cover songs of 2011.  After all, this is kind of our thing.  And this has been a busy year for covers.  Not only were there two – not one, but two! – collections of Buddy Holly covers released as tribute to the legendary singer/songwriter in 2011, but there were also two covers EPs put out by Relient K.  This is not to mention Brian Wilson digging back to his childhood (farther back than the Gershwin brothers this time) for the inspiration to In the Key of Disney.

A regular amount of covers wasn’t enough for 2011.  No, no: 2011 needed more covers!  Now, as you’ll recall from our mission statement, it has always been the goal of this blog to put an end to the proliferation of bad covers on YouTube.  In keeping with that tradition, we will now take the time to recognize these non-YouTube covers that have demonstrated excellence this year, standing out from the pack of mediocre (or worse) ones:

1)  “(You’re So Square) Baby, I Don’t Care” – Cee Lo Green (Cover of Buddy Holly)

2)  “Caroline No” – America (Cover of the Beach Boys)

3)  “Here Comes My Girl” – Relient K (Cover of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers)

4)  “Colors of the Wind” – Brian Wilson (Cover of the Disney song)

5)  “Baby” – Relient K (Cover of Justin Bieber)

6)  “Not Fade Away” – Florence and the Machine (Cover of Buddy Holly)

7)  “Interstate Love Song” – Relient K (Cover of Stone Temple Pilots)

8)  “It’s So Easy” – Paul McCartney (Cover of Buddy Holly)

9)  “Listen to Me” – Brian Wilson (Cover of Buddy Holly)

10) “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” – Brian Wilson (Cover of the Disney song)


Honorable Mention:

“Surf Wax America” – Relient K (Cover of Weezer)

The BEST COMPILATIONS of 2011 (The Year-End Awards)

Originally posted 2012-01-21 10:00:16. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Every year, there are a wide variety of compilations, best of’s, essentials, greatest hits, and retrospectives that are released.  I usually only buy one here or there.  This year, there were three outstanding compilations, which are recognized below.  In each case, the packaging is excellent, notable if only for the excellent attention to liner notes that provide further context and insight into the tracks.  Even though all three were of high quality, Ben Folds’ reasonably-priced, beautifully packaged, well-selected Best Imitation of Myself takes the prize without debate.

1) The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective – Ben Folds

2) Twenty – Pearl Jam

3) Outside Society – Patti Smith

The BEST “SHOULD’VE BEEN THE SINGLE”’s of 2011 (The Year-End Review Awards)

Originally posted 2012-01-14 20:00:16. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Every year, a significant percentage of music listeners base their playlists and knowledge of music on the tracks chosen as singles.  The obvious drawback here is that these tracks are chosen based on the likelihood they will be radio hits.  In short, the songs that fit the formula prescribed by the labels will be chosen, and the other – oftentimes superior – songs are left unnoticed.

Now, I understand why this is the process; I really do.  Those who like albums are left to take our chances on the LPs.  However, even in choosing the singles, the powers-that-be often surprise me.  The following three tracks are the songs that I feel should have been the singles for their respective albums instead of the ones that were actually chosen.  I’ve listed out the songs that were chosen as singles, and you’ll find that, in a couple cases, there are three songs that have been chosen over the song I feel is most single-worthy.  As a final note, Colbie Caillat recently released “Brighter Than the Sun” as the second single from All of You, which leads me to believe that I’m not completely off base in my opinions.

1)  “Hurts Like Heaven” – Coldplay (over ‘Every Teardrop is a Waterfall,” “Paradise,” and “Charlie Brown”)

2)  “Fire Fly” – Childish Gambino (over “Bonfire,” “Heartbeat,” and “All the Shine”)

3)  “Brighter Than the Sun” – Colbie Caillat (over “I Do”)