Joe’s TOP 40 Albums Of 2011

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Ah the obligatory end of the year “best of lists”. Thousands of websites and twitter feeds vying for your attention and forcing their ideas of what the absolute best things were each year and in what order they mattered. It can all be a little overwhelming. That’s why I’m here to saturate the atmosphere even more! I’ve seriously been thinking about this list pretty much every day since January and I haven’t missed a Tuesday at the iTunes store previewing or downloading the latest offerings for your potential listening pleasure. Why? I really have no idea. The year off drinking has left some strange voids that simply must be filled without question. (More on that here if you haven’t been following my time in Sober City)

Now 2011 has truly been an epic year for music (despite what your radio stations may tell you) and I’m here to help guide you to all that is awesome. It hasn’t been easy narrowing things down or putting things in order, and as much as I wanted to pick a “best album of the year”, it didn’t seem right given the relative diversity of the list (my money is on Gaga for the Grammy though), so instead I merged two lists into one making a simple and abundant list of 40 excellent albums. The first 25 on the list (in alphabetical order) are my most liked favorites of the year, the albums that spent the most time in regular rotation on my iPod and continue to take up prime real estate in my ears. The next 15 (also in alphabetical order) are favorites as well but ever so slightly less. They were just too good to completely ignore.

I also included ten honorary shout outs, as well as a small list of albums that felt like they were released this year (See: The Naked And Famous) but were actually officially released in 2010. Also there’s a bunch of great albums that will surely be on every other “best of” list out there that I didn’t include on mine (Fleet Foxes, PJ Harvey, The Decemberists, etc..) because I made sure to pick albums that I actually keep listening to on a regular basis and not just include albums that I think should be included for hipster cred. And finally, to pre-empt any backlash over ADELE only getting an honorable mention, I do agree that “21” is a near perfect album and it deserves all the Grammys it’ll inevitably win but I am in fact not a 20 something year old girl dealing with a recent breakup so I can’t honestly say I loved it as much as a lot of you did. Just keeping it real kids!

So with the obligatory preamble out of the way I finally give you “Joe’s Top 40 Albums of 2011”. Do with it what you will! I will gladly defend any and all picks against your scrutiny. Enjoy!

****UPDATE****
In the spirit of making decisions and picking winners, I’ve highlighted my top 5 albums of the year. Still in alphabetical order but at least I narrowed it down to a top 5. And I don’t want to hear any flack over Lady Gaga. The album is great, deal with it. Happy 2012!!

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JOE’S TOP 40 ALBUMS OF 2011 (in alphabetical order)
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The Antlers – Blown Apart
Black Keys – El Camino
Bombay Bicycle Club – A Different Kind Of Fix
Bon Iver – Bon Iver
Cage The Elephant – Thank You, Happy Birthday
Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto
Civil Wars – Barton Hollow
Fiest – Metals
Florence + The Machine – Ceremonials
Foster The People – Torches
Friendly Fires – Pala
The Head And The Heart – The Head and The Heart
Hey Rosetta! – Seeds
Jay Z and Kanye West – Watch The Throne
The Joy Formidable – Big Roar
The Kills – Blood Pressures
Lady Gaga – Born This Way
M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
Manchester Orchestra – Simple Math
My Morning Jacket – Circuitical
MuteMath – Odd Soul
Radiohead – The King Of Limbs
Red Hot Chili Peppers – I’m With You
Tune-Yards – whokill
Wye Oak – Civilian
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Boy & Bear – Moonfire
City And Color – Little Hell
Dan Mangan – Oh Fortune
Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Givers – In Light
Gotye – Making Mirrors
Imaginary Cities – Temporary Resident
Jane’s Addiction – The Great Escape Artist
Middle Brother – Middle Brother
Pepper Rabbit – Red Velvet Snow Ball
The Pretty Reckless – Light Me Up
The Rural Alberta Advantage – Departing
Sleeper Agent – Celabrasion
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Unknown Mortal Orchestra

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Seriously you guys. Good year for music! And that’s just one random asshole’s opinion on the internet! You’ve got some downloaded to do, but first…there’s more!

10 Honorable Mentions:

ADELE – 21
Arctic Monkeys – Suck It And See
Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee Part Two
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – It’s a Corporate World
Death Cab For Cutie – Codes And Keys
Lonely Island – Turtlenecks and Chains
Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
Portugal. The Man – In The Mountain In The Clouds
The Roots – Undun
The Strokes – Angles

And for all of you not bound by stupid laws of the universe like time, here’s one more list for you:

Ten From ’10: Joe’s Late Bloomers

Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record
Frightened Rabbit – The Winter Of Mixed Drinks
J Roddy Waltson and The Business – J Roddy Waltson and The Business
JEFF The Brotherhood – Heavy Days
Local Natives – Gorilla Manor
The Naked And Famous – Passive Me Aggressive You
Sleigh Bells – Treats
The Tallest Man On Earth – The Wild Hunt
Two Door Cinema Club – Tourist History
Young The Giant – Young The Giant

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OK that’s way more than enough good music to keep you warm through those cold winter nights. Please do your best to legally purchase as much of the music as possible and of course feel free to add any albums you think I missed in the comment section below. Hopefully 2012 will bring us plenty more great albums to love just in time to burn in the apocalyptic hell fire promised by The Mayans. Happy Holidays!

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SOBER CITY – Day 352

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Sober City – December 18th, 2011
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Oh faithful readers, the holiday season is upon us and the spirit of good will and happy times is indeed flowing through my holly red blood, while visions of sugar plums dance in my head like Rockettes at Rockefeller Center. Only they aren’t visions of sugar plums, they’re visions of sweet wines and honey blonde ale and they aren’t dancing, they’re moving hard and fast through my mind like Jack Daniels on a Grey Goose stuffed inside a Wild Turkey. I can smell it. I can see it. I can almost taste it and the best gift I’ll get this Christmas morning is knowing that one week later I’ll be reunited with my trusty loyal liquid companions to seek out adventures only found by sailing to the wetlands with Captain Morgan. It sounds exaggerated but I’d be lying if I said I was any less excited.
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Don’t get me wrong, this experiment has taught me a lot. It taught me about who I am and what I want out of life. It transformed me both physically and mentally and gave me a new perspective on what’s possible. It strengthened my will power and rejuvenated my liver. It helped me progress in ways I never knew I could and stopped me from becoming someone I never wanted to be. And now, I’m ready for a god damn celebratory drink. These past few weeks have unexpectedly been the hardest so far and I’m assuming the last two will be even harder, what with Christmas dinners and reconnecting with old college friends. It’s not like I’ve been overly tempted or anything but I’ve just noticed I’ve been thinking about it a lot more lately and I’ve found myself in situations where I’m finally a little tired of being the only sober one and I really can’t wait to not have to think about it anymore. Two more weeks.
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But what then? What’s next? I spent all year leading up to a moment that’s almost here. What’s the big finale going to entail? Will I still like the taste of alcohol after so long without it? Will I even be physically able to imbibe more than one or two drinks given the dramatic weight loss and new found healthy lifestyle? Will I develop an insatiable blood lust for booze immediately following the countdown and drink myself into an alcoholic coma by 12:30? All shall be revealed soon enough. Until then, the clock is ticking and my eyes are fixed firmly on the prize and that prize is pride. Pride in accomplishing a goal I never thought I’d actually accomplish. Pride in achieving a physical state I’ve never been able to fully achieve. But most importantly, pride in raising that glass again and truly knowing without a shadow of a doubt that I can just as easily choose to put it down. Here’s hoping I never really have to. Merry Christmas! Cheers!

SOBER CITY – Day 335

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Sober City – December 1, 2011
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I want a drink. It’s been almost a year since I had a tasty adult beverage and right now, at this moment I really, really want one. There’s no reason. There’s nothing influencing me or tempting me or driving me to want to get hammered, I just simply and honestly want a drink. This is perfectly fine too because the key word here is “want” and most certainly not “need”. Just one of the many lesson I’ve learned during this long crazy year of self discovery and denial. I don’t need alcohol…I want it.
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Some of you may see this as me missing the point and perhaps even a small failure in some way, after all I’m sure there are more than a few of you reading this who firmly believe alcohol is better left alone completely for someone like me (and in some ways you may be right) but I can’t deny it’s place in my life. It’s part of who I am and how I like to live. It’s not a big part of my life, or a defining aspect of my personality but I do miss it and I am looking forward to having it in my life again for better or for worse. It’s not perfect but it’s absolutely true.
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I’m not without fear though. I fully recognize the danger of welcoming my liquid lover back with too open of arms and letting her erode all the good foundation I’ve laid in my Sober City house. Denying myself something I’ve loved for so long can indeed encourage me to overindulge when given the chance by “making up for lost time” but this is something I am fully aware of and most definitely not about to let happen without a fight. I’ve come too far to throw it all away on a couple blurry benders and migraine mornings . Perspective has been gained and the horses shall be reigned.
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I’ve got one month left, four more weekends, two more holidays and a year worth of self analyzing and personal growth under my belt. I’ve learned immensely, changed incredibly and will carry this achievement with me till the day I die as a constant reminder of the triumph of willpower and the power of choice. All that matters is the moment directly in front of us right now and every second of every day comes with a new moment of now that becomes another opportunity to express who we truly are and who we truly want to be. This time next month I may indeed be hung over from two shots of Jameson and a glass of champagne but then again maybe not. It’s a choice I’ll make when the time comes and as much as I want a drink right now at this moment, a new moment is always right around the corner and I’ll make sure to raise a glass to each one regardless of what’s in my cup. Cheers!