Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sean's Top 10 Albums of 2011

10 | Giraffes? Giraffes! - Pink Magick
The demented and chaotic nature of Giraffes? Giraffes! third full length, Ping Magick, is accurately described in just about everything concerning the album except for the music. everything from the absurd track titles to the pretty pink and green explosion of an album cover captures everything that Pink Magick is all about. The band consists of nothing but a guitarist and a drummer, but the monstrosity of tracks such as "DRGNFKR" sounds like something that could not have been done by two musicians alone. Pick Magick is an extraordinary accomplishment for math rock and is easily one of the finest works to come out of this year.

09 | Panda Bear - Tomboy
With the release of Noah Lennox's sohpomore solo LP Person Pitch and Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion (possibly the greatest album to be released in the past five years), Lennox (or any member of Animal Collective) had a lot to live up to. Tomboy, although being a big leap from Person Pitch, is the most notable output from any of Animal Collective's members since the release of Merriweather Post Pavilion. Tomboy still retained a lot of the hazy, Beach Boys-esque musicianship of his previous work, but added an almost more sinister sound to it, most notably on tracks such as "Alsatian Darn". Although it may not have topped the brilliance of Person Pitch, Tomboy is definitely a very valiant effort.

08 | The Front Bottoms - The Front Bottoms 
The Front Bottoms' self titled debut opens with the line "Please fall asleep so I can take pictures of you and hang them in my room, so when I wake up I feel like everything's alright." The Front Bottoms sing nothing but pure honesty (to the point of sounding creepy, as displayed), on themes such as heartbreak and alienation. Their lyricism on their self titled is what makes it so excellent and easy to relate to. They sing the things that we are too ashamed to sing with pride, over ten of the catchiest pop-punk songs that 2011 has seen.

07 | Starfucker - Reptilians
Reptilians, released in March of this year, often felt like one of those albums that kind of faded as the year went on and as I gained more interest in other releases. When I felt like this I would listen to it and conclude that it really had lost its charm. But then when I'd listen again it would immediately regrow on me. Although I would feel like it isn't as good as I thought, the insane catchiness of songs such as "Born" and "Death as a Fetish" always brought me back. Reptilians is a unique synth pop album that will become something different on every listen, and is always exciting.

06 | Mogwai - Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
I'm not gonna start pretending like I know anything about post-rock, but I think I am justified in saying that Mogwai's latest effort is a damn good one. In a genre that is known for being strenuous and difficult to digest, Mogwai made post-rock catchy, exhilirating, and accessible. Songs such as "Mexican Grand Prix" and "George Square Thatcher Death Party" keep the classic formula intact, but without the difficult crescendos and without making anything too overdramatic. 

05 | Thursday - No Devolución
Thursday is one of those bands that I usually associate with a past version of myself. Circa five or six years ago I would worship Full Collapse and A City By The Light Divided. I didn't do very well with keeping up with the band after that point in my life, and with the release of No Devolución, I was absolutely blown away. Thursday created what sounds like a post-hardcore Loveless (except it sounds white instead of pink), most evident on "No Answers", where Geoff Rickly's voice is drenched in an eerie reverb while a distorted guitar screams over a fiery synth line. In topping Full Collapse, it only makes sense that Thursday should break up, but we could only hope that the band could continue to do great things in this direction.

04 | Bon Iver - Bon Iver, Bon Iver
I don't think many people knew what to expect for a new Bon Iver album. I guess I sort of expected something along the lines of his debut, except probably a lot shinier. I definitely didn't expect the earthmoving conclusion to "Perth". I didn't expect the Phil Collins-esque "Calgary". And I definitely didn't expect the 80's soundtrack to heaven, "Beth/Rest". But most of all, I did not expect it to be anywhere as good as it is. And I definitely didn't expect it to surpass his first album. (which it did).

03 | Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
I tend to get overly philosophical when thinking about things. I think of things that sound like something one of my friends would say while watching a Carl Sagan documentary high. So when I first heard the first single off of Helplessness Blues of the same title, I had one of those "what is life" moments. The songs sings of just being another brick in the wall with a whimsical uncertainty for the future. And that's really what Helplessness Blues is about, really. The album is a folky roller coaster of emotions, going from the joyous "Lorelai" to much darker on tracks like "The Shrine/An Argument". Helplessness Blues is one of those rare albums that actually make you think.  

02 | Youth Lagoon - The Year of Hibernation
Although it may not be anything new as far as themes go, Youth Lagoon's debut album screams of nostalgia. Quoting things your mother told you at 17, recalling your dreams when you were 9,  it all just falls in place. But The Year of Hibernation is one of those nostalgic albums that doesn't make you want to go back to certain times, but makes you appreciate them. It makes me happy that things in my past happened and grateful for them, rather than making me miss them, and be grateful for the future. As Trevor Powers told me when I was 17, "don't stop imagining, the day that you do is the day that you die."

01 | M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming. 
I don't know how many times I've said it, but I can't express how upset I am with myself for ever believing that Anthony Gonzales' epic arena-rock double album would flop. I couldn't imagine what M83 would be like without the shoegazy pop of tracks such as "We Own The Sky" or "Kim and Jessie". But somehow, Gonzales pulled through and released the best album of his career. Hurry Up, We're Dreaming. is probably the most interactive album I have ever heard. It is interactive in the way that it is open entirely to your own interpretation. Why do you think none of the lyrics make sense? Is "Midnight City" really just about standing on a curb waiting for a taxi? Is "Reunion" really just about making out with a girl in your backseat? The world may never know. Gonzales left us this album for our imaginations and our dreams to get lost in, a musical playground of magic frogs and actors/actresses and kings that seems so huge that it's difficult to mentally find your way back. But really, why would you want to?

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