Monday, December 19, 2011

Meet Me In the Bathroom Stall: The Best Albums and Songs of 2011

The 25 Best Albums of 2011
I'd like to think that hip hop and jazz dominated my listening time in 2011 because that's where the most compelling and artistically relevant developments were taking place. I could easily list 25 interesting albums from each genre. Black Up would rate highly on both tallies. And The Race Riot Suite may very well be the Mingus Ah Um of our time.

I reluctantly hopped off the metal bandwagon in 2011. The happy medium between blissful stupidity and self-conscious theorizing became too difficult for me to locate. The post-Husker Du album David Comes To Life rescued me.

And before you ask, I have nothing against the Wilcos and Fleet Foxes of the world. I still like that stuff. If I'm going to listen to the same-old same-old, however, I prefer that it come in the form of R&B from the likes of Jill Scott and Kindred the Family Soul.

I don't expect to see There Are Rules listed elsewhere. While most people panned the album, it's hit me just as powerfully as if I had commissioned TGUK to create an angry album for a music-obsessed Midwestern guy in his forties who refuses to let go of the things he loves.

1. Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey- The Race Riot Suite

2. F*cked Up- David Comes To Life

3. Joe Lovano & Us 5- Bird Songs

4. Shabazz Palaces- Black Up

5. Tech N9ne- All 6's and 7's

6. Bill Frisell & Vinicius Cantuaria- Lagrimas Mexicanas

7. Lil Wayne- Tha Carter IV

8. Ambrose Akinmusire- When the Heart Emerges Glistening

9. Jill Scott- The Light of the Sun

10. The Get Up Kids- There Are Rules

11. Raphael Saadiq- Stone Rollin'
12. Danny Brown- XXX
13. David Binney- Graylen Epicenter
14. Bon Iver- Bon Iver
15. Hospital Ships- Lonely Twin
16. James Farm- James Farm
17. Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat- Everything's Getting Older
18. Mac Lethal- North Korean BBQ
19. Death Grips- Exmilitary
20. Orrin Evans- Captain Black Big Band
21. The Go! Team- Rolling Blackouts
22. My Morning Jacket- Circuital
23. Rev. John Wilkins- God Is Right On Time
24. Opeth- Heritage
25. The Wilders- The Wilders

The 25 Best Songs of 2011
The radio is one of the few things that still works in my 17-year-old car. The majority of these songs served as my favorite driving companions in 2011.

1. Tyler, the Creator- "Yonkers"

2. Kelly Rowland- "Motivation"

3. Jay-Z and Kanye West- "N- in Paris"

4. Ha Ha Tonka- "Usual Suspects"

5. Ledisi- "Pieces of Me"

6. Lil Wayne- "6 Foot 7 Foot"

7. ASAP Rocky- "Purple Swag"

8. Seether- "Country Song"

9. Pistol Annies- "Hell on Heels"

10. Jason Aldean- "Dirt Road Anthem"

11. Deathgrips- "Guillotine"
12. Avery Sunshine- "Ugly Part of Me"
13. Manchester Orchestra- "Simple Math"
14. Miranda Lambert- "Baggage Claim"
15. M83- "Midnight City"
16. R. Kelly- "Number One Hit"
17. Tuneyards- "Bizness"
18. Jose James- "Trouble"
19. Vybz Kartel featuring Sheba- "You & Him Deh"
20. Eric Church- "Put a Drink In My Hand"
21. Rihanna- "We Found Love"
22. Mary Mary- "Walking"
23. Spoek Mathambo- "Control"
24. Meek Mill- "Tupac Back"
25. DJ Khaled- "I'm On One"

I conducted similar recaps for 2010, 2009, 2007 and 2006. My favorite live performances of 2011 are listed here.

(Original image of Pat Green by There Stands the Glass.)

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