Top Ten Albums of 2011 (First Half)

In my “Best Albums of the Year” articles and posts that I’ve put out annually for the better part of two decades, I always end the eligibility period for albums around the end of November, since I think you have to live with an album for a few weeks, at least, before according it any plaudits.

That means that I roll December releases into the following year, and that I do my annual “mid-year report” in June, rather than July. And, holy moly, look at that, where does the time go, here we are, with a “First Half” list of praise-worthy albums due for 2011. Krikey!

As always, these are my opinions only, and they’re based on what I listen to, so you don’t need to lecture me about the lack of third-generation ska-punk groups or Dixieland bands or Indonesian gamelan music or whatever other esoterica you listen to. Please feel free to add your own lists in comments instead, if you’re so inclined to further expand our collective horizons.

From where I sit, I think it’s been a good six months for new music, actually, with some vintage acts and some emerging artists impressing¬† me very deeply, most especially Planningtorock (insane organic electronica) and Krallice (huge orchestral black metal).

Here are the ten albums, then, in alphabetical order by artists’ names, that have moved me the most over the past six months. They’re all worthy of your consideration, hence the links to help you explore them. Get listening!

British Sea Power, Valhalla Dancehall

Gang of Four, Content

I’m From Barcelona, Forever Today

Krallice, Diotima

Melvins, Sugar Daddy Live

Pete & the Pirates, One Thousand Pictures

Planningtorock, W

Sin Fang, Summer Echoes

White Denim, D

Wire, Red Barked Tree

8 thoughts on “Top Ten Albums of 2011 (First Half)

  1. +1 for Krallice…I’d personally like to see a few non-Pitchfork metal records on there though. I also like that White Denim record. Here’s some suggestions for the next half of 2011.

    Loss – Despond
    Primordial – Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand
    Petrychor – Effigies and Epitaphs (available for pay-what-thou-wilt on their bandcamp)
    Dorenreich – Flammentriebe
    40 Watt Sun – The Inside Room

    • Just for the record: not a single album on this list was purchased based on anything read on Pitchfork . . . since I don’t read it . . .

      Thanks, as always, for leads on other good metal! Off to investigate . . .

    • Grabbed the Primordial album (which sounds GREAT on first listen) and the Loss album (which may be a little too quaalude-tempoed for my tastes, but I’ll give it a few more spins to see whether it engages me further or not) . . . 40 Watt Sun is showing up on iTunes as “pending release,” and I’ve got to go find other sources for the other two discs . . .

  2. Wow, you work fast. Thanks for setting the record straight.

    I’m really glad you like the new Primordial. You can trust anything from their back catalog too. To The Nameless Dead is great.

    Sorry if I led you astray on Loss. Doom can be a tough genre. If Loss’s tempo doesn’t do it for you, you might want to skip 40 Watt Sun (but you’d really be missing out – it’s just so incredible and and beautiful and really depressing). It’s the new band of Patrick Walker, the vocalist from Warning. I don’t know if it’s out in the US yet, I know that’s an issue with iTunes sometimes.

    You can DL Petrychor from here: http://petrychor.bandcamp.com/ either for free (legal) or for a donation.

    For more up-tempo stuff, there’s good things happening in death. Namely, Miasmal (ST), Vasaelth (Crypt Born and Tethered to Ruin), Vastum (demo). They’re all kind of crusty, kind of deathy…no click tracks or overcompressed instruments. All very analog. Valborg just put an amazing prog/kraut influenced death album called ‘Barbarian’ I think you’d like.

    • Oh, I wouldn’t consider Loss to be astray . . . it’s got an awesome sound, I just have to be in the mood for things that move at that glacier pace. It will lend itself better to car listening for me, since when I’m at the computer working, I tend to want a bit more action . . . I’ll give the 40 Watt Song disc a listen when it hits as well, and will investigate the others. Thanks again!

    • Downloading Petrychor now (paid $7.99) . . . Primordial is definitely on the Top Ten list at this point for the year. I love the overwrought Celtic angle added to crisp/melodic metal . . .

      Still hoping that the new Napalm Death comes out in 2011 . . . they’re still probably my long-term favorites on the metal front at this point . . .

      • Glad to hear it. Let me know what you think of Petrychor. That’s about $8 more than most people probably paid – good for you. I’m looking forward to the new Napalm Death too; I think it’s still on track for 2011. Did you hear the new Morbid Angel? Lulz

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