The Best 20 Albums of 2011 (and they are all available on Vinyl)

There was a lot of great music released in 2011, and a ton on vinyl as the kids of today are learning to enjoy the warmth and expansive sound of a record while holding the cover reading the lyrics or liner notes. This makes the world a better place.

It was close to a perfect year in music, unfortunately the Strokes releasing another crap album brought down the year, you see if we have endure all of the hype regarding a record as bad as Angles, we have to add up all of that hype and reverse it for the weighted average of the year’s releases…overall this year on a scale of 100 would have been an 97, but when you factor in the Strokes album as 65 separate “0′s” it drops the overall year to a barely passing 66..

but anyway let’s move on with the top 20 albums, all should be listened to on vinyl as all are available that way, and they had to be on vinyl to make the list… no compilations or live albums are included in this.

and much to the dismay of the people who run my website, i’ve decided to list them all in one post as opposed to that aggravating “page view generating tactic” of making you go page to page to see each title. I respect you all too much to do that…to make my web people happy direct 19 people to this list and it will accomplish their desired result.

If you don’t have these albums go to your local record store and buy them on Vinyl, sit down with a loved one, crack open your favorite beverage and drop the needle and enjoy…

20. Cage the Elephant Thank You Happy Birthday
Well, maybe Bowling Green, Kentucky is the next Minneapolis or Seattle. This was not as great as their debut album but still merits the top 20 of the year. Their next album will be one of the most antipicated releases in recent years, when it’s coming, who knows, but in a wide open american young rock field, can Cage take charge? We shall see
My Favorite Tracks:
Aberdeen,
Shake me Down,
Japanese Buffalo,
Right before my Eyes

19. The Joy Formidable The Big Roar
Two Words: Ritzy Bryan
My Favorite Tracks:
Whirring,
Austere,
I don’t want to see you like this,
Cradle

18. Lucinda Williams Blessed
Preconceived notions are a dangerous thing when it comes to music, Lucinda Williams is a rare exception, you expect it to be great and it is. One of the best songwriters today and another solid effort.
My Favorite Tracks:
Buttercup,
Convince me,
Sweet Love,
Ugly Truth

17. REM Collapse into Now
Who knew that this solid effort would be arguably America’s all time greatest band’s last album, but it was as they broke up later in the year for good.
My Favorite Tracks:
Alligator_Aviator_Autopilot_Antimatter,
It Happened Today, Me,
Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and I,
Discoverer

16. Smith Westerns Dye it Blonde
The first of two Chicago bands on this list. I thought their debut album tried too hard to be something, but not anything, a weird dicotomy. This album was more focused more polished and like Cage the Elephant as mentioned earlier, all eyes and ears are waiting for the pivotal 3rd album, while we wait we can enjoy this one.
My Favorite Tracks:
All Die Young,
Only One,
Weekend,
End of the Night

15. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart Belong
Fuzzy and plush indie pop from Brooklyn and NYC with some high octane production from Flood, makes this more accessible then their debut album and a lot more fun.
My Favorite Tracks:
Heaven’s gonna happen now,
Heart in your heartbreak,
My terrible friend,
Belong

14. Adele 21
You heard her voice on her debut album 19 and you just hoped it would be something special for a long time, when 21 came out I was floored as were most people, unfortunately it doesn’t seem as if she’s ever going to sustain doing tours, but as long as she can release records like this one, we’ll be ok with that.
My Favorite Tracks:
Rolling in the Deep
Someone like you
Lovesong
Set Fire to the Rain


13. Dropkick Murphys Going out in Style

Irish Punk from Boston. The Dropkicks deliver what may be their best album yet and it doesn’t hurt when the Boss sits in for rollicking version of an Irish Standard.
My Favorite Tracks:
Memorial Day
Peg O’ my Heart (with Springsteen)
Broken Hynms
Take ‘em down


12. Nicole Atkins
Mondo Amore
The siren of the Jersey Shore music scene. Maybe it’s something in the water down the shore, as it seems that when an Jersey shore artist goes through hard times, the musical result delivers. and thensome. The hell with the boyfriend, the hell with the major label, let’s get it on. This album blows away her debut, and all eyes and ears are anticipating the all important third album, but for now let’s savor this one.
My Favorite Tracks:
You Come to Me
Cry Cry Cry
You were the Devil
The Tower

11. Eddie Vedder Ukekele Songs
Just when i thought a Don Ho album would always be the best ukekele album, Eddie Vedder snatches it away. One of the most enduring things about Eddie is that he has no boundaries, no limitations, no fears, and the results are always great, but an album of songs on Ukekele? Opening with a redone Pearl Jam song and closing with a song made famous in the Ukelele scene from THE JERK, this is an enjoyable album.
My Favorite Tracks:
Can’t Keep
Satellite
You’re True
Tonight you Belong to Me

10. Ryan Adams Ashes & Fire
So much for retirement. Ryan comes back and comes back strong. I don’t think anyone believed Ryan would never make music again, but i didn’t expect something this soon. I’m not complaining there can never be enough Ryan Adams music.
My Favorite Tracks:
Lucky Now
Save Me
Dirty Rain
Chains of Love

9. Emily’s Army Don’t be a Dick
A group of Teenagers from the Bay Area playing Punk Music, that always works for me. Even though my favorite song from this album is kinda sorta anti-radio, i still was more than happy to be the first to play it on the radio, that’s the beauty of a free form radio show, no rules.
My Favorite Tracks:
Broadcast This
Loch Lomond
Ho-lloween
West Coast

8. Garland Jeffreys The King of In Between
One of NYC’s all time great storytellers bestows upon us a modern local classic with vivid imagery of the Brooklyn where he grew up.
My Favorite Tracks:
Roller Coaster Town
Coney Island Winter
If John Lee Hooker calls me
I’m alive

7. WILCO The Whole Love
They just keep getting better and better and if they string a few more albums together like this and hit double digit releases, do they become not only shoo-in for the rock hall of fame (which i’m not sure is even an honor considering how they ruined it) they enter the discussion of being perhaps being America’s best band.
My Favorite Tracks:
I Might
Whole Love
Black Moon
Capitol City

6.Foo Fighters Wasting Light
All analog, loud as hell and one of the best marketing campaigns to promote an album in recent years. Unlike label mates, The Strokes, the Foos actually have something worth listening to after the marketing push is over.
My Favorite Tracks:
Arlandria
I Should have Known
Walk
These Days

5.Wyldlife Self-Titled
The best power punk band to come out of NYC in the last 20 years. Their debut does everything a debut album is supposed to do: Tell you who they are, what they do and leave you wanting more. I expect huge things from this band and you will too.
My Favorite Tracks:
S.W.A.K
Sidewalk Queen
City Of Inbreds
Seven

4. John Wesley Harding The Sound of his own Voice
If there were any justice in the world, John Wesley Harding would be an arena act, playing 3 hour sets every night weaving in and out of his catalogue of fantastic songs and you wouldn’t be able to escape him on multiple formats on your radio. Unfortunately we live in a world where the Strokes still get magazine covers and SNL appearances with lackluster efforts. It’s probably too much to expect Wes to top his 1st 3 albums which all belong in any discussion of best albums of the 90′s, but this one is damn good and damn close to it.
My Favorite Tracks:
There’s a Starbucks where the Starbucks used to be
Gentleman Caller
Captain Courageous (on Disko Island)
The Examiners

3. Girl in a Coma Exits and All the Rest
One of the coolest things is to watch the growth of a band you’ve listened to for awhile, after a brilliant covers album, Girl in a Coma returns with their best album yet. Smart is by far the best and most accessible song they’ve ever done
My Favorite Tracks:
Smart
One Eyed Fool
Adjust
Control

2. Black Keys El Camino
The Black Keys seventh album came out with much fanfare on the heels of the success of Brothers, and El Camino has surpassed it, a little harder, a little faster and a bit more melodic than previous efforts. We are now witnessing a band with a nice body of work establish themselves as an innovative force of the US music scene. And their stance on streaming is refreshing and hopefully others will follow suit. It’s very welcome and much needed.
My Favorite Tracks:
Run Right Back
Lonely Boy
Gold on the Ceiling
Stop Stop

1. Social Distortion Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes
This was one of the first albums I had purchased in 2011, as it was released in mid January, and it hasn’t been far from my turntable since. It’s been a go to album for me, and i feel it’s not only Social D’s best album, it’s the best album of the year. There’s the sound we’ve come to expect from Social D, and then they throw a curve at you. Mike Ness is always in great voice and the songwriting is up a notch too. The production is by far the best ever on a Social D album. It’s the best album of the year.
My Favorite Tracks:
Gimme the Sweet and Lowdown
Can’t Take it with you
Far side of Nowhere
I won’t run no more (vinyl only bonus track)

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R.E.M. To Release Greatest Hits Set This November

The recently-disbanded R.E.M. are going out on top and on their own terms, the icing on the cake being a career-spanning Greatest Hits set titled Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage: 1982-2011.

According to Pitchfork:

Part Lies will made up of 40 tracks on two discs, collecting tracks from the band’s releases on both IRS Records and Warner Bros. Records. It will include three tracks recorded after the release of their last album, Collapse Into Now: “A Month of Saturdays”, “We All Go Back to Where We Belong” and “Hallelujah”. They were recorded this summer in Athens, Georgia with Accelerate/Collapse Into Now producer Jacknife Lee.

The compilation will be released November 15th through Warner Bros. The complete tracklist is below:

Disc 1:

01 Gardening at Night
02 Radio Free Europe
03 Talk About the Passion
04 Sitting Still
05 So. Central Rain
06 (Don’t Go Back to) Rockville
07 Driver 8
08 Life and How to Live It
09 Begin the Begin
10 Fall on Me
11 Finest Worksong
12 Its the End of the World as We Know it (and I Feel Fine)
13 The One I Love
14 Stand
15 Pop Song 89
16 Get Up
17 Orange Crush
18 Losing My Religion
19 Country Feedback
20 Shiny Happy People

Disc 2

01 The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite
02 Everybody Hurts
03 Man on the Moon
04 Nightswimming
05 Whats the Frequency, Kenneth?
06 New Test Leper
07 Electrolite
08 At My Most Beautiful
09 The Great Beyond
10 Imitation of Life
11 Bad Day
12 Leaving New York
13 Living Well Is the Best Revenge
14 Supernatural Superserious
15 Überlin
16 Oh My Heart
17 Alligator_Aviator_Autopilot_Antimatter
18 A Month of Saturdays
19 We All Go Back to Where We Belong
20 Hallelujah

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ac0oaXhz1u8]

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Should Eminem be uspet he hasn’t won an Album of the Year Grammy?

There’s been some reports that Eminem is a little pissed that he didn’t win the album of the year. He supposedly also feels slighted by the Grammy people because he feels he did them a favor by performing. He expected he would win or maybe it was implied or they hinted he would.

I really hope he doesn’t feel that way, I mean the Grammys in essence are a joke, there’s a bazillion releases a year, a bazillion genres and to have supposed unbiased “industry” people vote on the best, is well, not going to get the best or correct result anyway.

There’s politics and agendas on all fronts, including the jackass head of the Grammys (oops I guess I’ll never get to present an award or host now) with his subtle dissing of radio while praising internet radio and satellite. Hey jackass, who looks like the father on family ties, we’re all waiting close to a decade now for the artist, band or song that broke out because of a streaming site or satellite. Oh yeah there hasn’t been one, so shut up.

Back to the album of the year and Eminem, he’s had three album of the year nominations and lost all three, but did he deserve to win any of them? That’s debatable, especially this year when he lost to Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs, which I believe to be a better album than his Recovery.

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Lead Single off an artist’s 4th album..

The Strokes just released the lead single off their upcoming album Angles, the fourth album from a band I’m not a big of fan of (I will fully explain why in a blog next month). Usually the third album is the make or break album for a band, and the fourth is one that solidifies their standing.  The Strokes third album was not as good as their second which was nowhere as good as their first, so in essence this album becomes both a comeback album as well as a make or break album to establish if they have any relevance 10 years down the road. Based on listening to the first single, “Under Cover of Darkness”, it seems like they will fade off into the sunset.

I’ve taken the lead single off of a  few major bands fourth albums as a comparison, and there’s only a few exceptions where a weak lead single off a fourth album hasn’t hurt the band, but please note in those cases, those bands had a monster third album, which the Strokes did not…

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Can an Artist release too much music?

I started thinking about this when Social Distortion’s spectacular new album, “Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes” came out, it’s Social D’s 7th album in close to 30 years, which is not a lot of product across 3 decades.

In comparison here’s some of the major rock artists and their output of albums and the span of years:

Beatles 12 studio albums in 8 years, plus endless compilations
Bob Dylan 34 studio albums in 49 years, and countless live albums and outtake albums
Rolling Stones 24 Studio albums in 41 years and countless complilations and live albums
Led Zeppelin 9 studio albums in 13 years plus some compilations and live albums
Pink Floyd 14 studio albums in 27 years
Bruce Springsteen 17 studio albums in 38 years plus a handful of live and outtake albums
Tom Petty 15 studio albums in 34 years plus an outtake box set and a few live albums
John Mellencamp 21 studio albums in 34 years
U2 12 albums in 30 years, plus a handful of live albums
REM 16 studio albums in 28 years plus a handful of live and compilation albums
Smiths 4 studio albums in 3 years
Replacements 7 studio albums in 9 years
Pearl Jam 9 studio albums in 20 years and hundreds of live albums
Green Day 8 studio albums in 20 years, a few live ones, and some side projects

If you notice on this list, with the exception of 5 of these acts that are no longer together for various reasons (beatles, zep, floyd, smiths, replacements) The remaining acts are on the touring circuit; but do we as fans of these artists really get representation of the artists full catalog? Or due to sheer volume of material, coupled with setlists that may not vary that much show to show or tour to tour, are we not getting our money’s worth if we support a band on each tour?

It becomes an interesting question as record sales continue to slide and the live concert business takes a hit. Take someone like Bob Dylan, he plays 100 shows a year every year and has well over 500 songs, yet he plays 20 or so a night, but in most cases half are the same as the last tour…or the Stones, as great as Exile is as an album, are there always going to be tracks that will never be heard live?

And are the endless releases and rereleases ultimately the thing that are killing sales? Does each rerelease take away from a sale of a new artist or even that artist’s new material? And does there become a point where you just stop buying? I mean it’s almost impossible to collect Bob Dylan at this point, and don’t get me started on Elvis Costello, there’s like 8 different releases with different bonus tracks of his best albums. Does anyone have any time to absorb and enjoy all of it. And does that come into play when artists do their set lists?

Pearl Jam and Springsteen and sometimes U2 always pretty much play the new album complete within that album’s tour and then sprinkle tracks from it on later tours…other acts not so much, and there’s a few ways to look at that, while people that see Bruce and Pearl Jam might not care about the setlists in terms of hits or popular songs, (I once brought a girl to a Bruce show and afterwards she said she knew 2 songs of the 30 he played and still thought it was the best show she had ever seen) fans of other bands may want to hear the hits over and over again, or at least the artists believe that…

Could Green Day do a show without “Longview”? Based on their rabid fanbase, i believe so, but they play close to 3 hours and do 30 songs so its tough to complain if a song is always on a setlist. Can the Stones get by without “Jumpin Jack Flash”? Yes, I believe they can, but when you charge $400 a ticket, I guess they feel they need to do that every night. Petty without “Running Down a Dream”? Definitely, but Petty has become lazy, despite the wealth of material he has, he’s fallen into a predictable trap and seems like he’s going through the motions on tour. If there was ever an artist at this point to build a show around a complete album, Petty is a top candidate.

I’m not sure there’s a correct answer, but as the traditional music industry is continuing to slide, first the sales crashed down, now the concert business is struggling, can any of it be saved? Is it worth saving? And how does it get saved? Maybe next week’s blog will discuss that. Remember to listen to Anything Anything Sunday nights 9pm at www.1019rxp.com

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