PopMatters' 75 Best Albums of 2011

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75. My Brightest Diamond - All Things Will Unwind

October 18, 2011
Critic Score
74
10 reviews

It’s a deeply layered record with lots to listen to and appreciate in every sense.

74. Amon Tobin - ISAM

Amon Tobin - ISAM
May 24, 2011
Critic Score
68
8 reviews

73. Zola Jesus - Conatus

October 4, 2011
Critic Score
76
24 reviews

If you had high hopes for Conatus, sing hallelujah as it not only meets expectations, it confidently shrugs and keeps on flying ‘til it’s way outta sight.

71. Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact

May 10, 2011
Critic Score
82
23 reviews

Here they weave together sounds into a seamless patchwork, rich in layers and excitement.

69. Lucinda Williams - Blessed

March 1, 2011
Critic Score
71
11 reviews

Blessed, like Williams’ best efforts, finds the blessings within the blues.

68. Slow Club - Paradise

September 13, 2011
Critic Score
78
13 reviews

It’s a smart heart record that will bring you sunshine and inexplicably make you feel better about yourself.

66. Atlas Sound - Parallax

November 8, 2011
Critic Score
82
26 reviews

Cox has composed his most accessible set of songs to date and offered further proof as to why he’s one of the most important songwriters working today.

65. Mayer Hawthorne - How Do You Do

October 11, 2011
Critic Score
72
9 reviews

How Do You Do is Mayer Hawthorne’s masterpiece to date.

64. Dawes - Nothing Is Wrong

June 7, 2011
Critic Score
73
10 reviews

61. Mastodon - The Hunter

September 27, 2011
Critic Score
79
21 reviews

60. Feist - Metals

October 4, 2011
Critic Score
77
23 reviews

The stylistic explorations on Metals prove that she’s not running out of any ideas, but the moments on the album that most clearly parallel her prior outings aren’t as strong as their predecessors.

59. Bright Eyes - The People's Key

February 15, 2011
Critic Score
67
25 reviews

The end result is a collection of songs that feel solid if nondescript, that drift into the inoffensive dad-rock palette favored by the likes of late-period Wilco.

58. Mogwai - Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

February 15, 2011
Critic Score
75
22 reviews

They’re not workman-like here, but there is something professional, maybe refined, about their sound now.

57. Battles - Gloss Drop

June 7, 2011
Critic Score
78
29 reviews

Gloss Drop is the sound of a band forging its own identity and delivering on the promise initially unveiled on their previous album.

56. Kanye West & Jay-Z - Watch the Throne

August 8, 2011
Critic Score
74
26 reviews

Watch the Throne succeeds in both and in giving us both sides of both artists—the braggadocio and the social consciousness—in nearly equal measure.

55. They Might Be Giants - Join Us

They Might Be Giants - Join Us
July 19, 2011
Critic Score
71
13 reviews

Join Us is just a fun record with no further aspiration than to be party music for geeks.

52. Black Lips - Arabia Mountain

June 7, 2011
Critic Score
77
15 reviews

If you share their general outlook, this album will be one of the best medicines leisure can buy for temporary relief from contemporary life.

50. Wye Oak - Civilian

March 8, 2011
Critic Score
78
17 reviews

Civilian packs a more immediate punch, and hits you with southpaw jabs in the middle of songs, shifting once you’ve bedded down.

49. 40 Watt Sun - Inside Room

40 Watt Sun - Inside Room
July 19, 2011
Critic Score
80
1 review

48. Tim Hecker - Ravedeath, 1972

February 15, 2011
Critic Score
85
15 reviews

Ravedeath, 1972 is so amorphous and ungraspable this way that it ranks as Hecker’s most disorienting record, and therefore, perhaps, his scariest.

47. Drive-By Truckers - Go-Go Boots

February 15, 2011
Critic Score
71
14 reviews

With Hood’s songwriting remaining this solid and the band comfortably settling into a great groove, Go-Go Boots could have been four years in the waiting and still would not have disappointed.

46. Hammers of Misfortune - 17th Street

Hammers of Misfortune - 17th Street
October 24, 2011
Critic Score
82
3 reviews

44. Eleanor Friedberger - Last Summer

July 12, 2011
Critic Score
80
22 reviews

... provides this summer with one of its most satisfying releases.

42. The Horrors - Skying

July 26, 2011
Critic Score
81
27 reviews

Skying is the work of a band that's living up to the hype, just after the fact. And considering the trajectory that Skying shows they're on, maybe the Horrors won't just ultimately match the expectations of them, but maybe top them.

41. Foo Fighters - Wasting Light

April 12, 2011
Critic Score
74
26 reviews

Wasting Light is so consistently good that its minor flaws are subsumed by the sense of goodwill and energy it generates.

40. The War on Drugs - Slave Ambient

August 16, 2011
Critic Score
78
24 reviews

Slave Ambient is a well-crafted and euphoric album, but somehow it doesn’t have much that sticks out.

39. Okkervil River - I Am Very Far

Okkervil River - I Am Very Far
May 10, 2011
Critic Score
77
22 reviews

If I Am Very Far frustrates with its lack of clear intentions, it also fascinates for the same reason.

38. DJ Quik - Book of David

April 19, 2011
Critic Score
77
5 reviews

37. Cults - Cults

June 7, 2011
Critic Score
75
21 reviews

This initial effort is one that shows off strong enough pop chops to win them their fair share of true believers, now and hereafter.

36. Panda Bear - Tomboy

April 12, 2011
Critic Score
79
24 reviews

He seems about half-awake, caught between the haziness of sleep and the defensiveness of waking life.

35. EMA - Past Life Martyred Saints

May 10, 2011
Critic Score
82
23 reviews

EMA’s work is simultaneously some of the most interesting I’ve heard in years, and jaggedly alive, the furthest thing from any sort of academic exercise.

34. Big K.R.I.T. - Return Of 4eva

March 22, 2011
Critic Score
84
8 reviews

He’s a rapper who makes himself feel more essential than his raps, which you can ask anyone in the business is one of the hardest coups to pull.

33. Paul Simon - So Beautiful or So What

April 12, 2011
Critic Score
82
13 reviews

It may be less exuberant and therefore harder to love at first, but it delivers the goods just as surely.

31. The Mountain Goats - All Eternals Deck

March 29, 2011
Critic Score
79
22 reviews

Darnielle seems to be pushing himself here more so than any album since The Sunset Tree.

30. Shabazz Palaces - Black Up

June 28, 2011
Critic Score
85
22 reviews

This is an album with a brilliant sound, one that is as arresting to listen to as it is to puzzle over.

29. Ryan Adams - Ashes & Fire

October 11, 2011
Critic Score
73
24 reviews

A near perfect album by a performer who seems, at least for the time being, to have learned to focus his wide-open talents on one narrow vein of material, and in the process has struck pure gold.

28. TV on the Radio - Nine Types of Light

April 12, 2011
Critic Score
80
26 reviews

Even with these toe-dips in fuzzier, darker grooves, there’s still a sanguine blanket that covers Nine Types of Light.

27. Wilco - The Whole Love

September 27, 2011
Critic Score
80
28 reviews

The Whole Love proves the band is still moving forward, still changing, even if it’s not in the lofty ways we expect it to.

26. Peter Bjorn and John - Gimme Some

Peter Bjorn and John - Gimme Some
March 29, 2011
Critic Score
69
17 reviews

Gimme Some reveals a band that is reinvigorated, one that has remembered what it was like to make music without forcing the issue.

Original Source: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/tools/full/152303
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