Roose’s Top 10 Albums From 2011

This year in music was incredibly interesting to say the least.

Some big bands made their return to the studio, others made their debuts while some lesser-known acts broke through the scene to become major successes.

The top 10 list you’re about to see is guaranteed to go to go against the grain. No Adele, no Kanye and no Taylor Swift will come close to this list.

Instead, some main stream and mostly Indie will crack my top 10 favorite albums of 2011.

There is no way to really label this list. I can’t call it the “Top 10 of 2011” because I simply don’t listen to rap. I can’t call it the “Top 10 albums to fall under the radar” or the “Top 10 Indie” because those would simply not be true.

But I’m going to call it the top 10 anyway because it’s my blog and my list, dammit!

So without further adue, here is my list of favorite albums that will certainly piss off some while exposing others to fantastic music:

10) Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings – Soul Time!
Release Date: November 1
First Single: “I’m Not Gonna Cry”
Best Song: “Genuine”

Interesting enough, this album has been on my iPod the shortest amount of time compared to the rest of the Top 10. But that’s a testament on how good this album really was.

Sharon Jones’ voice is powerful and her band behind her is even more powerful. It will grow on me even more the more times I give it a listen heading into next year.

9) Mutemath – Odd Soul
Release Date: October 4
First Single: “Odd Soul”
Best Song: “Allies”

Not many albums this year hit me like “Odd Soul” did. My first listen of this band come on Jay Leno when they performed “Blood Pressure” and I became quickly curious in checking out this album.

I can easily say that the album packs a bigger punch than most this year. Songs such as “Blood Pressure,” “Odd Soul” and “Allies” really speak for themselves in terms of power. The drumming on “Allies” is straight of a Led Zeppelin song, something that will definitely appeal to the bangers out there.

8) Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
Release Date: May 3
First Single: “Helplessness Blues”
Best Song: “Helplessness Blues”

Just because the single is the best song on this album doesn’t mean the album was a clunker.

Fleet Foxes’ second album trumps their first effort with such flying colors. The tones, the drive and the emotion all play important roles in making this one of the best folk albums of 2011.

Songs like “Battery Kinzie,” “Beduin Dress” and “Montezuma” stand out the most. Definitely a must listen if you’re looking to get into this genre of music.

7) The Roots – Undun
Release Date: December 6
First Single: “Make My (feat. Big K.R.I.T. & Dice Raw)”
Best Song: “One Time (feat. Phonte & Dice Raw)”

This is the only rap album worth listening to this year in my opinion. Is it the wrong opinion? Probably. But it’s also my iPod and this is my post.

Anyway, the Philly group may have actually created their best masterpiece yet. “Undun” is such a beautiful, smart album from start to finish.

Granted the album took time to really sink in after a few listens, it’s the fact it only gets better to the listener’s ear that makes it a very good album that stands above the rest. There is nothing tired or overdone about this album and that’s why it made this list.

6) The Decemberists – The King Is Dead
Release Date: January 14
First Single: “Down By the Water”
Best Song: “January Hymn”

The fact this album lasted in my top 10 for 12 months is amazing. Music tends to have a “flavor of the week” trend for a lot of listeners. The fact this album lasted almost the whole year in my car stereo definitely speaks volumes.

The Decemberists have quickly turned into one of my favorite bands of all time and easily my favorite folk band (they were the band that got me into this genre). Though this album isn’t their best work, it proves that they can create a listener-friendly album that gathers new listeners and still keep true to their incredible song-writing abilities.

This would have been higher up on the list but you’ll see the top five and understand what happened.

5) Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
Release Date: April 12
First Single: “Rope”
Best Song: “Walk”

“Wasting Light” is exactly what the Foo Fighters longest and loyal fans have been waiting for. It’s an album that taps into the roots of Foo Fighters that made them such a driving force in the late 90’s and early 00’s as well bringing about newer and fresher ideas.

We all know how incredible of a musician and writer Dave Grohl is. His stage performances are always top notch and he once again found a way to translate his live personality into a studio album setting.

“Rope,” “White Limo” and “Walk” all help make this album Foo’s best effort since “One By One” (2000).

4) G. Love – Fixin’ to Die
Release Date: February 22
First Single: “Fixin’ to Die”
Best Song: “Milk and Cereal”

You’ll start to notice a trend in my list. Every album in the top seven is at least the fifth effort by that group, which proves how I have come to favor albums with an established history.

G. Love’s work is no different.

Maturing from the college frat house music, G. Love creates an album purely for the love of music — or his favorite style of music: back road blues. G. Love is joined in the studio by the Avett Brothers and the two combine to  make some sweet sweet music.

Covers on the album include the Paul Simon classic “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” and Bukka White’s “Fixin’ to Die” as well as some originals such as “Milk & Sugar” and “Just Fine.”

3) Red Hot Chili Peppers – I’m With You
Release Date: September 14
First Single: “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie”
Best Song: “Police Station”

This was probably my most highly anticipated album of the year. When I heard RHCP was back in the studio, I nearly lost my mind.

New guitarist Josh Klinghoffer quickly warmed his way into the hearts of the diehard fans. His interpretations and style, though different from John Frusciante, blended perfectly with the rest of the band. In fact, his style gave the Peppers a fresher sound, allowing them to be the same band they always have been without sounding redundant and boring like in much of “Stadium Arcadium.”

Top songs include “Brendan’s Death Song,” “Did I Let You Know” and “Police Station.” Also, two stand out piano tunes include “Happiness Loves Company” and “Even You Brutus,” both which anyone can call in love with despite not sounding like your typical RHCP song.

2) The Black Keys – El Camino
Release Date: December 6
First Single: “Lonely Boy”
Best Song: “Little Black Submarines”

It took the Black Keys six albums to break into relevance and it took until their seventh to make an impact on the music world. With “El Camino,” there is no looking back for the rock duet.

This album rocked straight through from start to finish. “Lonely Boy,” “Gold On the Ceiling” and “Run Right Back” drive this album mercilessly.

“Little Black Submarines” may be the best song of the album with its uncharacteristic quiet and folky sound before an unpredictable shot back into the Black Keys reality of hard rock.

1) Warren Haynes – Man in Motion
Release Date: May 10
First Single: “Man In Motion”
Best Song: “Save Me”

Why is this album my number one of 2011? Because Warren Haynes can speak to someone like very few artists can. Whether it’s the way he speaks through his guitar, that rich and soulful voice of his or the band he used to back him up, Haynes touches your hear like very few can.

There is something about this album that makes it more special than anything I heard all year. It could be the energy he brings in “Rivers Gonna Rise,” “Sick of My Shadow” and “Man In Motion.” It could be what the band does during “Hattiesburg Hustle” and “A Friend to You.”  It could be the fact they complete all their songs with jams rather than use a cheesy radio-friendly fade out.

But no, to me, it’s how the album ends that really gets to me. “Save Me” is one of the most amazing things to ever leave Haynes’ heart and into our ears. And ironically enough, it barely features any of Haynes signature guitar work, instead allowing him to focus on nothing but the soul in his voice.

“Man In Motion” is the best album of 2011.


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