Top 5 1/2 Albums of 2011

I don’t buy as much new music as I used too. For years, I made weekly trips to Bull Moose in Portland to pick up a CD or two- sometimes three. Then I got into I-tunes and for a spell, foolishly bought more than I should simply based on the relative ease it took to do so. But in the past year or so, I’ve scaled back- spending money on fun things like student loans, car payments and keeping the lights on instead. Life is pretty awesome that way.

The year is coming to an end and because this is a blog and blogs follow and comment on trends, I’ve decided to rock out a list of the best 5 ½ albums that were released this year.

These are listed in no particular order, but if they were, El Camino by the Black Keys would be number one because let’s be honest, that album rocks and as a country, society and modern civilization- we need albums that rock.

1. The Black Keys El Camino. This album gets the award for the Most Anticipated Album of the Year. I couldn’t wait for it to come out and have already had to take a break from it- something that usually happens at least three weeks after buying an album. “Lonely Boy” is great and so is “Gold on the Ceiling.” Come on, every song is awesome. This album is awesome. It could be re-named El Awesome and I wouldn’t think twice.

2. My Morning Jacket Circuital. Is Southern Prog Rock a certified musical genre? If so, My Morning Jacket are the kings. If not, then they are the originators. This is one of those rare albums that just gets better the more you listen to it. I don’t promise much, but I can promise that I’ll never get sick of the song “Holdin on to Black Metal.”

3. The Roots undun. I feel like a damn fool. After the first listen of this album I told Drewnami it was good, but not great. He was disappointed. He should be more disappointed in my ability to rate music because dude, I was very wrong. Very wrong. The only way I could be more wrong about something was if I told you that there isn’t a better cereal in terms of bang for your buck than Honey Nut Cheerios. undun is a complete, solid and pretty much perfect album. The flow is undeniably flawless. We should feel like idiots for being concerned that the Roots were on the slow road to Sell Out Town when they signed on to be Jimmy Fallon’s house band.

4. Kanye West & Jay Z Watch the Throne. This is the kind of album I think we all hoped Chinese Democracy by Guns n Roses would be- an album that truly lived up to the hype. I should mention that I feel very strongly that Axl Rose is to rock music as Kanye is to hip hop. But that’s also another discussion. Watch the Throne is why we buy albums and why we pay to hear musicians apply their trade. It’s an album that is the result of two superstar dudes just totally going for it. It’s admirable, astonishing and admittedly humbling.

5. Max Tannone Ghostfunk. Tannone is a DJ from New York who has previously mashed up Mos Def and reggae as well as Jay Z and Radiohead. On this album he mashed up Ghostface Killah and afrobeat. The final product is a sometimes clumsy, but all the time rad collection of party jams. I will happily download anything Tannone comes out with now and thanks to Twitter, I was able to tell him that and then have a quick conversation about Game of Thrones. Thanks Internet!

And the ½ goes to my dear friends Paranoid Social Club and their album Axis VI. Why the ½? Well for a couple reasons:

– Terrible album cover. It looks like someone threw up on it.
– “Count on Me” is one of the best songs of the year, but also accompanied by one of the worst videos of the year.
– There are maybe 6 or 7 super strong songs on the album. The rest are forgettable.
– I wish the songs were lined up differently. The album doesn’t really have a definable flow to it.

I’m sure there albums that in someone’s opinion, and maybe even mine, that were better than the five and ½ listed here. But that my friend is what 2012 is for.

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