Tougher to do this year than last. Many great records in 2011. Two bands cracked the Top Ten for their second year in a row. And not just on my list but many others...hard to do.
This is based, for me, not only on overall quality but listenability - is it good from beginning to end and is it getting a lot of play.
Strong Honourable Mentions (If the list was Top Fifteen):
15. Gregg Allman - Low Country Blues (Blues)
First recording in 14 years. Great blues album.
14. Unpersons - The Pack A.D. (Garage-punk)
Fourth record from Vancouver duo. Getting better each time out.
13. The Bright Lights EP - Gary Clark Jr. (Blues)
I know it's only an EP but it leaves me wondering how good the full release next year will be. Tasty guitar licks.
12. Bon Iver - Bon Iver (Alternative / Indie-Folk)
Solid. But in my opinion it's just lacking in listenability and not worthy of the all the critical hype to crack the Top Ten.
11. Go With Me - Seapony (Indie-Pop / Low-Fi)
Don't know where I found this but it's getting a lot of plays. Female vocals, reminds me of 80s brit-pop. Name...Lame.
10. Within And Without - Washed Out (Chillwave)
Synthy, electronic, easy-listening nonsense. Perhaps, some might say. But it's getting a lot of plays.
9. King Of Limbs - Radiohead (Alternative / Rock)
Not their best work but worth inching into my list.
8. No Time For Dreaming - Charles Bradley & Menahan Street Band (Soul)
Um, listen to it.
7. Morning Comes - Cuff The Duke (Alt-Country / Indie / Rock)
Been following CTD since their first record and they're only getting better. Little less exprimental on this and more traditional alt-country but the musicianship is fantastic.
6. Metals - Feist (Alternative / Folk / Indie)
5. Undun - The Roots (Funk / Hip Hop / Soul)
Bam! Great listen.
4. Bad As Me - Tom Waits (Singer-Songwriter / Experimental)
Really strong record.
3. Circuital - My Morning Jacket (Acoustic / Indie / Rock)
Top to bottom, love listening to this.
2. The Whole Love - Wilco (Acoustic / Alternative / Rock)
Complete toss-up between #1 and #2 this year. This could easily be my number one. Very diverse record with great sound to it. Guitar work is second to none...well, one.
1. El Camino - The Black Keys (Alternative / Blues / Rock)
The hype is now huge for this band but each time out the music is top-drawer. For me just the most listenable record of the year.