I know I'm a little late to the game with this, but better late than never. There were plenty of excellent releases in 2011 that I'd be remiss if I did not do some type of year-end wrap-up of my favorites. There are certainly albums I never got around to that would likely replace some on this list, but you have to close the book some time and since 2012 is already here, that time is now. So what follows are my thirty favorite albums of 2011, broken into three easily digestible posts.
With a title that befits the music contained on the album, the Boxer Rebellion's third full length is finely crafted, melancholic rock. My full review can be found here.
Sometimes melodramatic, sometimes over the top, but never dull, Montreal's The Dears returned with their fifth album, one of many impressive indie rock releases that came out of Canada in 2011. My full review is here.
I certainly wasn't expecting a new Cars album in 2011, or that it would turn out as good as "Move Like This" did. Fourteen years after their last studio album, Ric Ocasek and the boys, minus the late Benjamin Orr, returned with what they do best. An album of vintage Cars material.
This multicultural rock band from California broke out in a big way in 2011. Mixing numerous styles into their rock based music, they've connected with a lot of listeners and are poised for an even bigger 2012. Yes, there is more original music being made, but I sure as hell still can't shake the likes of "My Body", "I Got" and "Cough Syrup". My full review is here.
The post-rock legends from Austin, Texas added another emotionally resonating full length to their catalog. "Let Me Back In" is among the greatest songs they've recorded and it was a thrill to finally get to see the quartet live in 2011.
There is so much great music coming out of the Detroit area and the Rochester based band Bear Lake is a strong contributor to that trend. "If You Were Me" continues their streak of accessible but still challenging rock and pop with strong electronic undercurrents. It's no surprise then that Bear Lake's music continues to pop up on national TV shows. This is also a band not to be missed live.
My favorite album title of 2011 by far, and yet another great record from the Scottish post-rock masters. Loud, yet melodic, instrumental rock music and the band mixed more electronics than normal into their sonic attack. My full review is here.
I'll hold out hope for a 2012 U.S. release of this one, an album dominated by warm harmonies and melodies that stick in your brain. Acoustic based pop at its finest. My full review is here.
The leaders of two of my favorite Detroit based bands combined to form a dynamic pop duo that got them signed to a major label deal with Warner Bros., touring the country relentlessly and generating the most buzz of any Detroit band since possibly the White Stripes. They'll make their first national television appearance on Conan in late January and show no signs of stopping in 2012. My full review is here.
Still the best live band on the planet for my money, a fact I saw confirmed again this year, My Morning Jacket returned to some of their earlier influences and sounds this time around after the eclectic "Evil Urges". This album did not resonate with me at first, but over time it revealed itself as yet another solid effort from Yim Yames and company.