Ryan  Burns, phd
December 30, 2011

Favorite music releases of 2011

In music, 2011 was a lot like that guy or girl at your work, or at your school, who tries so, so hard to be the best but just ends up being just slightly better than average. You feel bad for the person not because you can do any better, but because they looked kinda silly in the process (see footnote 1).

I don’t know… aside from my top 10 or 11, there weren’t really any clear front-runners, nothing that I’ll be listening to earnestly for years. 2010 was different in this regard. My top 13 or 14 from last year are albums I’ll fall in love listening to over and over again for years to come. 2011 had a lot of great releases, but I think most will fade slowly away and eventually just be associated with that-time-of-my-life. Nostalgia will surface them occasionally, and they will bring back wonderful memories. And that’s about it.

That said, my top 10 albums were amazing, and satisfied my music needs for the year. These were on repeat for most of the year following their releases.

Top 20 Favorites

  1. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
  2. Arborea - Red Planet
  3. Tim Hecker - Ravedeath, 1972
  4. Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring for My Halo
  5. The Rosebuds - Loud Planes Fly Low
  6. Geotic - Mend
  7. m83 - Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
  8. Youth Lagoon - The Year of Hibernation
  9. Cults - Cults
  10. The Antlers - Burst Apart
  11. tUnE-yArDs - W H O K I L L
  12. Washed Out - Within and Without
  13. Panda Bear - Tomboy
  14. Atlas Sound - Parallax
  15. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy
  16. *AR - Wolf Notes
  17. Beirut - The Rip Tide
  18. Ferla - Ferla
  19. Sundrips - Just a Glimpse
  20. Araabmuzik - Electronic Dream


  1. Toro y Moi - Causers of This (very, very close to my top 20. loved it!)
  2. Cold Cave - Cherish the Light Years (same as above)
  3. Belong - Common Era (growing on me)
  4. Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost (it was a lot of fun the first several listens but petered off)
  5. Shabazz Palaces - Black Up (I enjoyed it, but not enough for the top 20)
  6. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues (for a band that’s obviously so good, I just have a really hard time with FF)
  7. Fucked Up - David Comes to Life (enjoyable)
  8. Bill Callahan - Apocalypse (meh, it was OK)
  9. Je Suis Le Petit Chevalier - A Shelter in Bolinas
  10. Marketa Irglova - Anar
  11. Woods - Sun and Shade

**Ambivalent or Disliked Releases **

  1. James Blake - James Blake (wildly popular this year, I just could not get into this cd for whatever reason…)
  2. Destroyer - Kaputt (something about his voice…)
  3. Thurston Moore - Demolished Thoughts (unfair critique: not a hint of Sonic Youth. so disappointed)
  4. Radiohead - The King of Limbs (ah, this may be the first post-Pablo Honey album I haven’t liked!)
  5. Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes (it was OK, but I didn’t really like it a whole lot)
  6. Weeknd - House of Balloons (sorry, but “ugh”)
  7. Iron & Wine - Kiss Each other Clean (i wanted so bad to like this. i really did)
  8. Six Organs of Admittance - Asleep on the Floodplain (sadly, I think most of his best ideas happened about a decade ago)
  9. Brian Eno - Drums between the Bells (I might/should catch a lot of flack for this one. but yeah, i didn’t like it)

Releases I wanted to hear but haven’t had a chance yet

  1. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
  2. Merzbow - Kamadhenu
  3. Merzbow - ZaRa
  4. Wilco - The Whole Love
  5. Heinali - 67 Breaths
  6. Real Estate - Days
  7. Hauschka - Salon des Amateurs
  8. Loscil - Coast / Range / Arc
  9. Feist - Metals

Footnote: This is kind of self-deprecation; I would describe myself a little like this person. haha!

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