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Favorite Albums of 2011

We did it last year, so lets do it again. This isn’t necessarily a “best of” list, just my personal favorites. Obviously I did not listen to every single album released. If you think I missed something, I would love to hear it.

Here we go (in no particular order):

The Black Keys, El Camino

The Black Keys have certainly done it again. Brothers was easily my favorite album of 2010, and one of the best albums released in the past ten years. El Camino isn’t quite that good, but it’s still pretty great. Most of the albums on this list are mellow. This one is not.

Listen if: You like the Black Keys. At this point you should know what you’re getting from these guys. Hard rocking blues with solid melody and a true sense of momentum. This album may be a little “poppier,” but that’s not always a bad thing.

Don’t listen if: Rock music scares you. You’re one of the 15 people who still argue the Black Keys are just ripping off the White Stripes. I was once one of these people, but gave up on that idea long, long ago.

Best Song: I’m going to go with “Little Black Submarines” here. It starts off slow, but the section beginning around the 2:14 mark is one of the hardest rocking things you’ll here this year outside of some strange death metal song.

Gillian Welch, The Harrow and the Harvest

Harrow and the Harvest is Gillian Welch’s first album since 2003’s Soul Journey. It was worth the wait. If not for the Decemberists below, this would be my favorite album of 2011. Read more…

My Useless Opinion: Ashes and Fire by Ryan Adams

Ashes and Fire by Ryan Adams
Released October 10, 2011

Reason(s) to listen: You know how Ryan Adams seems to release a new album or EP every three months or so and you enjoy them all, but still find yourself wishing that instead of five good albums he would just release one more great one? Well, this is one of the great ones. It’s easily the best since 2007’s Easy Tiger and comes close to the greatness of Jacksonville City Nights, Gold, and dare I say it, Heartbreaker. There’s no “Halloweenhead” type atrocity on this album to pull you out of it (sorry, Easy Tiger). Every song is good, and many are great. “Dirty Rain” and “Invisible Riverside” go above that. This is the most consistently good and well put together album Mr. Adams has put together in a long time.

Reason(s) to ignore: For some reason, there seems to be a large number of people, many of whom like good music, who continue to ignore this guy. Why is this? We’re talking about one of the greatest singer/songwriters alive. Is it because his name reminds you of the guy who sang “Summer of ’69”? It’s not the same guy. This one’s good. Is it because he’s never had a “hit song?” Does anyone other than Lady Gaga and the Black Eyed Peas have “hit songs” anymore? My Morning Jacket has never had a “hit” but it’s cool to like them (and deservedly so because they are amazing). I just don’t get it. Listen to Ryan Adams people.

Oh, this album? I guess I don’t love “Lucky Now” and “Rocks.”

So what are you saying?: I’m saying that you should find a way to listen to this album immediately (Spotify). If you’ve never given him a chance, now is a great jumping on point. Then go listen to Gold and Heartbreaker and Jacksonville City Nights. You’ll realize you’ve been making a mistake all these years and be glad you came around. If you already like the man, you’ll love this album. Simple as that.

Song You Should Know-May 4, 2010

And I’m tired of living in this hotel
Fire and ashes blowin’ cross the sheets
And I’m tired of livin’ on 23rd Street
Strung out like some Christmas lights
Out there in the Chelsea night

Ryan Adams, “Hotel Chelsea Nights”

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