Wednesday, December 21, 2011

YPOIW TOP 25 ALBUMS OF 2011: 15-11

With 2011 coming to a close, YPOIW would like to take the week to showcase our favorite releases of the year. Monday through Friday will be a countdown of our top 25 favorite albums of 2011, starting with spots #25-21 on Monday and continuing until the final #5-1 on Friday. This weekend, we'll also be taking a look at some albums that we feel deserve an honorable mention but didn't quite make it on our list. Thanks for reading, and most importantly, enjoy!

15. Radiohead - The King Of Limbs 
The one definitive thing you can say about Radiohead is that they refuse to stand still. Since they began releasing albums in the 90’s, each album has had it’s own distinct feel, and The King Of Limbs is no different. While this album does feel rigid at times because of the heavy use of loops, there is enough going on sonically to keep my interest even after many repeated listens. It actually took me a lot of time with this album to explore all of the different nooks of every song; this album is a lot more of a grower than it is a shower. After a few of the more rigid songs on the first half of the album, the last half lends itself to some beautiful ballads. "Codex" is a song that devastates me emotionally just as much as any other Radiohead song has in the past, and "Give Up The Ghost" really showcases that Thom Yorke hasn’t lost his touch. Even though this album only clocks in at 38 minutes, it doesn’t feel at all incomplete to me. I think it’s actually impressive when a band can get all of their ideas out on an album and still keep it brief. So even though The King Of Limbs may not quite stack up to other Radiohead albums, this is still an impressive album from a band that never ceases to impress me with their constant evolution. I’m really excited to see what they’ll come up with next. -Mark Gillis


14. Fucked Up - David Comes To Life
I went into 2011 as what I would call a casual fan of Fucked Up. I loved The Chemistry of Common Life  for the most part, but not enough to become a certified "hardcore" fan of the band. I went into David Comes to Life without extremely high expectations and came away not only impressed, but astounded. What I heard was impossible - A 78 minute post-hardcore concept album that didn't overstay its welcome. There's not a lot of variation here, and the narrative is convoluted and difficult to understand at first, but every minute I put into listening to this album made me love it even more. I found myself sympathizing with David and putting in the effort to comprehend every screamed lyric like I never have before. Musically, this album isn't anywhere near as vicious as most of their hardcore brethren, which is what gives it the appeal to make a list like this. Fucked Up are using choruses and chord progressions that wouldn't sound out of place on a Modest Mouse record. In fact, they made every effort to clean and refine their sound for a larger audience, except for one: Damian Abraham unleashes the vocal beast on this album. For my money, he's the best singer and frontman in hardcore today. This is an album that has that hardcore edge but still managed to bring it to a wider audience... me. -Kyle Shoemaker


13. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
Hype is a bitch. Justin Vernon had to have figured this out after the release of his debut album under his Bon Iver moniker, For Emma, Forever Ago. Everyone knew him as that mountain man, who stays in cabins pouting about ex-girlfriends. He had immense expectations put on his second album, and to many casual music-fans and indie-scenesters, Bon Iver’s second outing is 80s-revival trash. To many of his older fans, he has lost. Well, his emotive folk style gave him the fame and notoriety to develop a passionate cult following as well as the chance to work with hip hop mega-icon Kanye West. Also, he was able to make a record on his own terms, without the baggage of his own sadness, and while many people may hate Bon Iver’s latest direction, he has made the album he wants to make. If you ask me, and most of the rest of us here at YPOIW (obviously) Bon Iver’s second album is a testament to making music on your own terms. “Perth” starts off the record with one of the most impressive opening tracks of the year, with marching drums and a heavy-metal double bass pedal accenting Vernon’s falsetto and soft guitar playing and a Colin Stetson-featured horn section. “Holocene” is the emotive track that those who fell in love with Vernon’s voice and somberness still defend, regardless of how they feel about the rest of the album. “Calgary” is the forward-churning 80s-revival pop that this album will be known for, for better or for worse. The climax of this song hits subtly but powerfully. And then there is “Beth / Rest”, which has its place as 2011’s most divisive track. For the courage of releasing a song featuring Bruce Hornsby-esque keys, 80s hair band guitar solos, smooth saxophone (Stetson again), and slide guitar, this song is an important feature to an album full of them. Working like a trek through the world’s side streets, featuring forgotten music and forgotten towns that may or may not exist, the album has a form that fits its function. While not everyone has to be a Bon Iver fan, whether of the artist of his newest album, they have to respect that he truly did make the album he set out to make. That is something that many artists can only dream of accomplishing. -TJ Duane


12. Colin Stetson - New History Warfare Volume II: Judges
I'm glad to have the opportunity to write about this particular album because it's my number one for the year. A lot of people focused on the production of the album, which is understandable; the production is facsinating. Stetson is playing live (no loops or overdubs), with over a dozen mics on his monsterous bass sax at once. He mimics percussion by banging on the sax, and even sings while playing. The making of the album is notable, no doubt. But the content inside is truly solid music. It sticks in your head, and digs out a great midpoint between simple yet melodic semi-jazz, and all-out furious noise music. That midpoint works well, and I'm a complete sucker for it (as evidenced by it's place on my list). -Austin Kirley


11. Destroyer - Kaputt
Dan Bejar, of The New Pornographers fame, has had an interesting solo career. Not only have his solo records developed as his career has worn on, his notoriety has as well. With Avant Garde articles in The New Yorker and a number two spot on Pitchfork’s year-end list, Bejar’s Destroyer project has reached new heights. The indie fame is not surprising considering the musicality and poetry on Kaputt, the 2011 addition to the Destroyer discography. On said record, Bejar reaches new heights by off-handedly delivering some of the best lines of his career (“Wasting your days / Chasing some girls / Alright. . . chasing cocaine through the back doors of the world all night” on the title track) alongside some of the most shockingly smooth 80s tones he’s ever thought to produce. There are questions of earnestness with Kaputt, but to question whether Bejar is serious and means what he says and does is exactly the point. The saxophone on “Suicide Demo for Kara Walker” is a moment where the listener goes, “What the. . .” but it works. It works because of the fantastic repetition of fun, danceable drums and bass lines and guitar chimes. However, when all is said and done, the musicality of the saxophone shouldn’t be called into question, though, because the solos that end “Suicide Demo. . .” contain no cheese and are all set to impress, a moment of relative exuberance for a record that so often comes off as ironically lax. The album’s mood, for the most part, works because Bejar’s intentions are hidden behind an atmosphere as hazy as the music they exist within, never showing themselves—not even once. “Bay of Pigs”, a track from 2009, is the album’s highlight, containing the album’s best melodies, the album’s greatest track-length, and the most stream-of-conscious Bejar has ever attempted, all to incredible success. This ultimate track is the crowning achievement of Bejar and Destroyer’s career arc. -TJ Duane

prev (20-16)_________________________________________next (10-6)

No comments:

Post a Comment