You Ain’t No Picasso’s Favorite Albums of 2011
December 19th, 2011 by Matt
#30: Fishboy – Classic Creeps
MP3: Fishboy – Aaron the Afterthought Astronaut
I don’t know which I find more impressive: that this album effortlessly weaves witticisms through incredible melody or that the entire album tells a complexly involved story. It’s easy to be dismissive of some pop records, but labels like “simplistic” just don’t stick to this record.
#29: Charlotte Gainsbourg – Stage Whisper
I can’t remember the last time I was this enthralled by a live album. Additionally I find myself constantly being surprised that she sounds this good and this complete during a live show. Add her to my list of bands to see as soon as possible.
#28: Cage the Elephant – Thank You Happy Birthday
I’m as surprised as you are that I loved this record. I wasn’t overly hot on Cage the Elephant’s debut, but this one won me over. At its heart, it’s got the best of the 80s and 90. There’s Nirvana and Pixies all through this beast.
#27: Sleeper Agent – Celabrasion
MP3: Sleeper Agent – Get It Daddy
This record gives me a good hope for the future. For many of you, Sleeper Agent might be known as a one-hit wonder in your group of friends — “Get It Daddy” was a great track, after all — but it’s only slightly better than the rest of the songs on this record. Check out the entire thing and I’m sure you’ll love it.
#26: Cass McCombs – Wit’s End
MP3: Cass McCombs – County Line
Cass McCombs’ Wit’s End makes me wish I did more brooding. At the very least I could be a little more melancholy. This record’s just too serious and contemplative for my life. If the blame lies anywhere for this record not being higher on the list, it lies with me for not bringing more emotional baggage to the table when I began listening to it.
#25: Smith Westerns – Dye It Blonde
Some people see the phrase “Dye It Blonde sounds exactly like a T Rex record” as a bad thing. I see it as a good thing, provided that they’re expanding upon their inspiration. Smith Westerns expand upon the Marc Bolan formula and everyone comes out a winner.
Read the rest after the break
#24: Wild Flag – Wild Flag
MP3: Wild Flag – Racehorse
I was the sleepiest person on this Wild Flag record. Funny that in 2011, that means “I listened to this the week after it came out.” Still, it grabbed me with an attraction I’d never really felt to any of the groups whose members reformed into this band. Excellent work. May they have many more albums together.
#23: Idiot Glee – Paddywhack
MP3: Idiot Glee – Trouble at the Dancehall
What a record. Honestly if I hadn’t heard this album get pieced together for over a year I’d probably have ranked this close to the top ten. It’s a great work that melds the best of sampling with a strong vocal power.
#22: Deerhoof – Deerhoof vs Evil
I’ve been overly tough on the last two Deerhoof records, but only in the way that a huge fan can be. And like Offend Maggie, this one and I had our ups and downs. It wasn’t until I saw Deerhoof play live in Cincinnati that a lot of the songs really clicked for me. It’s been shooting up in my playlist ever since that show.
#21: Battles – Gloss Drop
In a list of “Albums I Overplayed in 2011,” this would be pretty near the top. I suppose it doesn’t help matter that this was one of the albums everyone at my work (CD Central, a record store in Lexington) could agree upon. It’s a great record, though, and there’s nothing I can do to ruin that.
#20: The Weeknd – House of Balloons
MP3: The Weeknd – High for This
I felt like a poseur for about the first three days I listened to House of Balloons. After that I realized that the album was just unassailably awesome and anyone who let image or any unsubstantial details trip them up on that fact is a fool. It’s sexy music that’ll make you feel dirty (and no, not always in a good way).
#19: The Decemberists – The King Is Dead
Finally, my Decemberists are back. The Decemberists have been pretty snoozeworthy for a couple albums. Honestly I could take or leave most every song since Picaresque. But this record puts them squarely back on my good side. It’s got a bunch of great tracks and a style that really suits the group.
#18: They Might Be Giants – Join Us
At first I was just into Join Us for “Can’t Keep Johnny Down” and “Cloisonné.” But after playing the album a few times at work, I realized that there’s really not a bad track on this album. Then I spent a few days listening to this in my headphones while I cooked and I realized this is the best They Might Be Giants record in about 15 years.
#17: Yellow Ostrich – The Mistress
MP3: Yellow Ostrich – WHALE
I don’t want to pin too much of my hopes on Yellow Ostrich, but I’ve got high hopes for their future. This record has mastered and expanded upon everything that indie pop is at this point.
#16: Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Unknown Mortal Orchestra
MP3: Unknown Mortal Orchestra – How Can You Luv Me
This record blends together so many things I love: psychedelic pop, R&B melodies and production that one-ups Ariel Pink. It’s an incredible work that’s
#15: Peter, Bjorn and John – Gimme Some
I wasn’t really in denial about being a Peter, Bjorn and John fan, but it wasn’t until Gimme Some that I really understood how deep my fandom went. If you wrote PB&J off as a one-hit wonder after “Young Folks,” slap yourself for about five minutes and then go pick this record up.
#14: Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
Here’s another record that I just about spun to death in 2011. This record is such a diverse collection of his from Lykke Li that I don’t know where to start raving.
#13: Black Keys – El Camino
In just a few short years the Black Keys went from underdog favorites to the most reliable group in rock ‘n roll. El Camino comes just a year after Brothers and while it might suffer a bit in comparison to its preceding album, it’s a great record when compared to nearly everything else that came out this year.
#12: COOLRUNNINGS – Dracula Is Only The Beginning
MP3: COOLRUNNINGS – Chorus
The two groups that came from nowhere to knock my socks off in 2011 were Oregon Bike Trails (who only released a 7″ single this year) and COOLRUNNINGS. This record could so easily be a scatterbrained mess, but it works in such a way that it’s one of the most unique things I’ve heard all year. I want this group to be incredibly famous so I can hear “Chorus” and “Brunettes” unplanned on the radio.
#11: tUnE-yArDs – W H O K I L L
MP3: tUnE-yArDs – Gangsta
The skill and songwriting on display in W H O K I L L is enough to make masters of at least three genres envious. I’d say that I’m hoping Merrill does some collaborative work with other like-minded musicians soon, but really I’m just hoping for a follow-up to this great record!
#10: Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee pt 2
I love the Beastie Boys, but I do have to say that the production on Hot Sauce Committee pt 2 is the only reason the album ranked this high. Their lyrics and delivery are sloppy at times, but I can’t act like this isn’t a great record in spite of that. It’s been a long time coming, but it was worth the wait.
#9: Little Scream – Golden Record
MP3: Little Scream – Cannons
When I saw Little Scream at MusicNOW in Cincinnati I knew zip-zero about her. At the end of her set I was one of her biggest fans. These songs are just huge. They’re dynamic, heartfelt and memorable. I can’t count the number of times I wanted to throw this album at people shopping aimlessly in the record store.
#8: Cults – Cults
Here’s the long-awaited album that we were all clamoring for in spring of 2010. If your interest in Cults didn’t reach oversaturation, you’re probably proclaiming its greatness right here with me. Its only drawback is that all the songs we heard last year are pretty much the best ones on this record.
#7: Portugal. the Man – In the Mountain In the Cloud
I promise here and now to not be let down if Portugal. The Man can’t keep to this one-amazing-album-per-year schedule they’ve got going. But while it’s ongoing, I can’t help but love what they’ve got going on.
#6: Patton Oswalt – Finest Hour
Great record by one of the finest comedy minds of our generation. Pick it up.
#5: Louis CK – Hilarious
The best comedy record I’ve heard in a long while. At the risk of earning Louis’ wrath, this album is hilarious.
#4: St Vincent – Strange Mercy
MP3: St Vincent – Cruel
If you made a checklist of what skills you need to make a great record, you’d have a list of areas in which Annie Clark is qualified to teach masters-level courses. There’s more talent in her small frame than in most five-piece bands.
#3: Mister Heavenly – Out of Love
MP3: Mister Heavenly – Bronx Sniper
This is one of those rare moments in which the supergroup is as good (if not better, in the case of 2011) than its parts. The range and depth of this record is impressive, considering it’s a side project for everyone in it.
#2: Handsome Furs – Sound Kapital
MP3: Handsome Furs – No Feelings
I cannot believe how much I like this record. It’s so unlike everything else I listened to this year, but it’s an undeniably great album. This is probably the only dance album I heard all year that had a brain to it.
#1. My Morning Jacket – Circuital
The only person who’ll be surprised that My Morning Jacket’s Circuital is my top pick of the year is myself the day I first heard it. I liked it, but I didn’t love it until about a week later. Now I’ve spun the album dozens of times and can’t imagine the year without it. MMJ got famous for blazing rock tracks and reverb-filled slow burners. Circuital confused me for a minute because it wasn’t overall a progression in either direction. Rather than try to outdo themselves (and really, who wants to try and top “One Big Holiday”), the group progressed into several directions that suited them in different ways. “Victory Dance” and “Holdin On To Black Metal” specifically stand out as tracks that I didn’t even know their catalogue was missing until the second I heard them.
You Ain’t No Picasso’s favorite albums of 2011
My Morning Jacket – Circuital
Handsome Furs – Sound Kapital
Mister Heavenly – Out of Love
St Vincent – Strange Mercy
Louis CK – Hilarious
Patton Oswalt – Finest Hour
Portugal. The Man – In the Mountain In the Cloud
Cults – s/t
Little Scream – Golden Record
Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee pt 2
tUnE-yArDs – W H O K I L L
COOLRUNNINGS – Dracula Is Only The Beginning
Black Keys – El Camino
Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
Peter Bjorn and John – Gimme Some
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – s/t
Yellow Ostrich – WHALE
They Might Be Giants – Join Us
The Decemberists – The King is Dead
The Weeknd – House of Balloons
Battles – Gloss Drop
Deerhoof – Deerhoof vs Evil
Idiot Glee – Paddywhack
Wild Flag – s/t
Smith Westerns – Dye It Blonde
Cass McCombs – Wit’s End
Sleeper Agent – Celabrasion
Cage the Elephant – Thank You Happy Birthday
Charlotte Gainsbourg – Stage Whisper
Fishboy – Classic Creeps
Tags: Battles·Beastie Boys·Black Keys·Cage the Elephant·Cass McCombs·Charlotte Gainsbourg·COOLRUNNINGS·cults·Decemberists·Deerhoof·Fishboy·Handsome Furs·Idiot Glee·Little Scream·Louis CK·Lykke Li·Mister Heavenly·mp3·My Morning Jacket·Patton Oswalt·Peter Bjorn and John·Portugal the Man·Sleeper Agent·Smith Westerns·St Vincent·They Might Be Giants·Tune-Yards·Unknown Mortal Orchestra·Weeknd·Wild Flag·Yellow Ostrich