While I don’t plan to turn this site into Grantland, I am a pop culture addict. TV, movies, music and books fill the time between hockey games. So here is my list of the Top 10 albums of 2011. Not quite as as good a year as 2010, but there were still some gems.
10. Time Machine – Rush. It seems like Rush puts out a live album every other year, but this one is exceptional. It’s a single concert (Cleveland on April 15, 2011) and features a performance of Moving Pictures in its entirety. Here’s a favorite from Signals:
9. People and Things – Jack’s Mannequin. Not as strong as his first two records, Andrew McMahon aka Jack’s Mannequin’s latest is still top-notch piano pop.
8. Ceremonials – Florence + The Machine . On the other hand, Florence + the Machine’s second album managed to top their fantastic freshman effort, Lungs. Amazing voice, amazing music.
7. Bon Iver – Bon Iver – This one took a while to grow on me, as I had to wade through all the hype. Multiple listens have put this record in my Top 10.
6. The King is Dead – The Decemberists. Yes, this sounds like a classic R.E.M. album. And that’s a good thing. A return to strong songs after 2009’s rock-opera The Hazards of Love makes for a better record.
5. A Walk Through Time – Jamestown Story. This is kind of a greatest hits: re-recordings of songs off their early independent albums. Jamestown Story is a an under-appreciated folk/indie band from Duluth, Minn.
4. Lifelines – Andrea Corr. After the disappointing solo effort Ten Feet High, the magnificent lead singer from the Corrs went the cover song route and the results were astounding. Her cover of the Blue Nile’s “Tinseltown in the Rain” is the song I listened to the most this year.
3. 50 Words For Snow – Kate Bush. The Queen is back with her best record since 1989’s The Sensual Word. Both minimalist and lush at the same time, many songs have a jazz feel (Rochester’s Steve Gadd appears on drums). Her amazing voice and songwriting have not diminished in her more than 40 years of making music.
2. England Keep My Bones – Frank Turner. Turner is an English folk/punk singer in the mold of Billy Bragg. A ballsy and sincere masterpiece.
1. 21 – Adele. What else? This album’s on everyone’s Top 10 list and deservedly so. In this day and age, it’s rare to have an album popular with so many demographics, but these songs can’t be denied. And I’m not sick of “Rolling in the Deep” yet.