30. Pure X -"Pleasure"
29. Sam Yahel - "From Sun to Sun"
28. The Dodos - "No Color"
27. Joe Bonamassa - "Dust Bowl"
26. A$AP Rocky - "LiveLoveA$AP"
25. Craft Spells - "Idle Labor"
24. As I Lay Dying - "Decas"
23. Fleet Foxes - "Helplessness Blues"
22. Dirty Beaches - "Badlands"
21. Bright Eyes - "The People’s Key"
20. The Physics - "Love is a Business"
19. Kurt Vile - "Smoke Ring for My Halo"
18. Trivium - "In Waves"
17. St. Vincent - "Strange Mercy"
16. Blue Scholars - "Cinemetropolis"
15. Gem Club - "Breakers"
14. Atlas Sound - "Parallax"
13. Doomtree - "No Kings"
12. Julian Lynch - "Terra"
11. Winds of Plague - "Against the World"
10. Washed Out - "Within and Without"
- On "Within and Without," Ernest Greene's first full-length release as Washed
Out, the solo artist teamed with producer Ben Allen (Gnarls Barkley, Animal
Collective, Matt & Kim). The result was an impeccable album full of summertime
jams that will make anyone who thinks chillwave as a genre is dead
reconsider their stance. (Kelsie B.)
09. Coma Cinema - "Blue Suicide"
- Mat Cothran’s third album is simply one of the best things I’ve ever had
the pleasure of listening to. Simultaneously depressing and uplifting, "Blue Suicide"
paints a beautiful picture with the most conventional song structures and
instruments. It’s rare that simplicity can be so affecting, but Coma Cinema
somehow finds a way to peer deep into one’s soul upon each listen. (Adam W.)
08. Sam Lachow - "Brand New Bike"
- Talented 206 and New York native Sam Lachow dropped his debut solo LP this past
summer. It wasn’t just any normal debut album; this LP is in a league of its
own and well deserves ones of the best albums of the year. All production was
created from scratch to Sam’s vision with live instrumentation and he linked it
with some of Seattle’s and New York’s best young talent to bring together an
incredible collection of songs. Also, Sam is very fond of WSU and KZUU as he
did one of our best live interviews earlier this fall. (Bryce P.)
07. Panda Bear - "Tomboy"
- Noah Lennox crafted a collection of songs that deviated from his past musical
ventures with Animal Collective, pioneering an atmosphere of unconventional
sound while still being oddly familiar to the listener. Each track is layered
with underlying melodies and rhythms that indulge the audience with a new
discovery every listen. The album title, "Tomboy," expresses a sense of internal
struggle, one that captures each track trying to find its own identity. It’s an
attention-demanding collection of experimental pop songs. (Brennan P.)
06. James Blake - "James Blake"
- U.K. experimentalist James Blake had an incredible amount of hype to live up
to in 2011, being touted as one of England’s most promising young musicians.
His self-titled debut album delivers on all fronts, combining his past work as a
dubstep producer with his current fascination with singer-songwriters like Leslie
Feist. It sounds like an odd pairing, but Blake ends up creating one of the most
fresh and endlessly enjoyable albums of the year. (Adam W.)
05. Protest the Hero - "Scurrilous"
- With each album, Protest the Hero pushes the limit of what they can do for
the genre of metal by trying to redefine it with shear musical genius. The fact
that they have an amazing singer with the vocal range of Freddie Mercury
and humor of old-school Blink-182 is never dampened but raised up with the
incredible chops of the rest of the band. That’s what is great about Protest the
Hero; you hear every bit of energy they put into their work and you are drawn in
like a weak swimmer in a rip tide. (Kyle M.)
04. Youth Lagoon - "The Year of Hibernation"
- Boise, Idaho, resident (and poster child) Trevor Powers'debut LP "The Year of
Hibernation" is bedroom pop at its best – stripped down instrumentation,
hazy and anxiety-ridden production and relatable lyrics about coming-of-
age experiences that could happen to anyone. Where Powers truly excels is
monstrous and emotional breakdowns that tug at your heart, such as in tracks
like "Montana," "17" and "July". (Kelsie B.)
03. Shabazz Palaces - "Black Up"
- While time passes, some albums pop up that can effectively press the pause
button on our lives and allow us to let go of the material world. "Black Up" is the
sunlight of hip-hop. It makes you want to be soaking up all of the silky rhythms
while enjoying Ishmael Butler's unique flow, and if you're not, you're probably
suffering from some sort of vitamin deficiency. Simply put, "Black Up" redefines
hip-hop. This album is mean, but that's only if you know what I mean. (Kyle S.)
02. Balam Acab - "Wander / Wonder"
- Too-young-to-drink producer Alec Koone drew influences from'60s psychedelic
folk, electronic ambient music, hip-hop and the living world to create an entirely
new genre with his debut LP, "Wander / Wonder." Throughout the album, Koone
utilized chopped-and-pitched vocal samples with watery sounds doubling as percussion and atmosphere. Absolutely one of the year's best, most original
and critically underrated releases. (Kelsie B.)
01. Real Estate - "Days"
- Real Estate’s sophomore album "Days" is a career-defining record, one that
pushes this New Jersey band beyond the borders of their surf rock roots and
into the history books. All the components from their 2009 debut are still here:
gorgeous melodies, sickeningly catchy guitar work and nostalgic lyrics. The
only difference is that everything is done so much better. It’s really astounding
how the increased production value makes these songs shine. “Municipality”
is the highlight here, containing the pure essence of what makes this album so
great. Real Estate are a band who have the potential to define the next decade
of rock music. (Adam W.)