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.
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)
The Way It Was (Parachute)
The Dreamer, The Believer (Common)