My Top 10 Favorite Albums Of 2011

As much as I hate to admit it…I’m not as into buying albums as I once was. It’s so much easier now with ITunes and other music outlets to simply pick & choose singles and a lot of times I would rather spend a dollar or two on a couple of songs rather than spend $12 on an entire album online. Shopping for music isn’t the same as it was 5 years ago and that is unfortunate. I used to really enjoy shopping for CD’s at the local music shop but those days seem to be gone now. It takes too much time and I haven’t got a few hours to waste going through bargain bins and racks of $20 CDs. So…I am sad to say that I don’t buy as many albums as I used to. But there were a few this year that I made the trip out to the store to get because I wanted the physical copy of it and so…without further adieu…here are my Top 10 favorite albums of 2011!

10. Teddybears – “Devil’s Music”
This Swedish band knows how to make you move your butt. From the opening track, they hit you with techno beats and silly lyrics that are just fun. And with a slew of artists making appearances (from The Flaming Lips to Cee Lo Green), they leave no beat unturned.

Favorite Tracks: Rocket Scientist, Devil’s Music

9. Foo Fighters – “Wasted Light”
From the opening track, David Grohl & company hit you with solid left hooks and slamming guitars and they have made another incredible rock album. It’s almost to the point now where you would think Grohl would phone in an album or two but when it comes to rocking out, there’s no one that can put together the melodies with the metal like the Foo.

Favorite Tracks: Bridge Burning, Rope, These Days

8. Social Distortion – “Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes”
7 years came and went between their 2004 album “Sex, Love and Rock N Roll” and this one but it was worth the wait! With their bluesy rock still as fresh as when they rolled it out of California in 1983, Mike Ness leads the way on this jam packed album. Solid from start to finish, it’s kind of refreshing that my favorite track on the album is actually a slower song.

Favorite Tracks: Bakersfield, California Hustle & Flow, Machine Gun Blues

7. Beastie Boys – “Hot Sauce Committee Part 2”
If ever there needed to be a return to their roots, The Beasties picked the perfect time. After a few overproduced albums and one cancer scare, Committee is a return to the glory days of chest thumpin’ and party bumpin’ of “You Gotta Fight For Your Right (To Party)”. Hooks and wicked beats pepper this album and it’s hard not to get motivated when you got this album boomin’ in your system.

Favorite Tracks: Here’s A Little Something For Ya, Don’t Play no Game I Can’t Win, Make Some Noise

6. Blue October – “Any Man In America”
I don’t know what to say about this album other than it is honest in every way. With his marriage falling apart, lead singer Justin Furstenfeld dove into his art and came out with one of the most curious and angry albums I have ever heard. The key is listening to it in its entirety as it goes from the beginning to the end of the relationship and where it stands, we’re not sure. But it sure is a fascinating journey.

Favorite Tracks: The Honesty, The Follow Through, You Waited Too Long

5. Gotye – “Making Mirrors”
Not gonna lie…I haven’t had this album very long. It came out in August but I just recently discovered it when it appeared on ITunes as a “selection I might like.” And man…I really do! It’s quirky and poppy and has all kinds of loops and whisperings and…well…you get the point. Wally De Backer is a unique talent and this album showcases his ability to find the perfect hook to go with his unique style.

Favorite Tracks: Eyes Wide Open, Save Me, No Easy Way Out, Somebody That I Used To Know

4. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
The half of Oasis that is known for writing the music continues to do so and he does it so well. This album is chock full of soaring guitars, Beatle-esque hooks and the famous Gallagher attitude.With brother Liam leading the charge for the rock band “Beady Eye,” Noel stays true to his roots and puts together a classic that I’ll be listening to for a very long time.

Favorite Tracks: Record Machine, AKA…What A Life, (Stranded On) The Wrong Beach

3. David Nail – “Sound Of A Million Dreams”
If there is one thing I love about country music, it’s that it can be familiar and yet new all at the same time. Taking a page from the Glen Campbell handbook, Nail has that smooth country croon that makes everything he sings about seem like it could be happening at this very moment. It could be love, it could be heartbreak, it could be a fleeting moment in time. But whatever it is, it grabs my attention and I can’t stop listening, wondering what will happen next. This will undoubtedly be one of my favorite country albums of all-time. Granted, only time will tell. But I enjoy ALL of the songs on this album and it’s damn near perfect in it’s pop country way.

Favorite Tracks: She Rides Away, That’s How I’ll Remember You, Let It Rain, I Thought You Knew

2. Black Keys – “El Camino”
There’s not a hotter rock band in the world right now than these guys. Straight outta my neck of the woods (Akron, OH is maybe 2 hours from my hometown), The Keys have won several Grammys and this highly anticipated 7th release was everything I hoped it would be. With fuzzy guitars and thumping drums, this album can only be played loud or it’s just not being played correctly. And the fact that it sounds like it’s straight from a 70’s porn flick gives it all that more street cred.

Favorite Tracks: Lonely Boy, Gold On The Ceiling, Money Maker

1. R.E.M. – “Collapse Into Now”
My world was rocked when one of my favorite bands of all-time called it quits earlier this year…but I totally understand. They’ve been together for almost 30 years and each member has other interests outside of the band so it makes sense. And it is only fitting that they call it a day with this album. Sounding almost like a collection of greatest hits that spanned their careers, this album, the 15th studio album in their collection, is far and away one of their best since drummer Bill Berry left the band in 1997. I am hoping that there are hundreds of new tracks in a vault somewhere that will be released over time however if that’s not the case, then this album is a classic that R.E.M. should be very proud to leave us with.

Favorite Tracks: It Happened Today, Oh My Heart, Discoverer, Mine Smell Like Honey, That Someone Is You, Blue

Advertisements

Tunes From ITunes: April Showers Bring May…Showers?

Waddaya mean we’re rippin’ off “The Lonely Island” guys?!?!

Damn all this rain! All over our country, the weather is keeping us from doing the one thing we ALL enjoy and that is…cruising with our tops down and our music cranked up! If we get any more rain, I might have to attach floaties to my house and hope for the best. Either way…I’m good to go because I got ITunes and it has been SMOKIN’ the last couple of weeks! ALL KINDS of new releases from bands that I love and so…without a care in the world…I present this months mix of GREAT MUSIC!!!! Prepare for a flashback….

Raphael Saadiq – “Heart Attack” (R&B)
Oh yeah…THIS one is gonna be burning up my IPhone for the rest of the summer! Nothing better than classic R&B and Raphael is in a class of his own with this return to that classic retro sound. Go here if you wanna hear it! It’s HAWT!!! To recommend anything less than buying the entire album would not do Raphael’s work justice. Get the entire album…it’s worth it!

Mat Kearney – “Hey Mama” (pop)
Catchy and smooth, kinda like a milkshake at the local ice cream shop.  Got a great hook and Kearney is one of those under-appreciated artists who deserve a big hit!

The Cars – “Free” (rock)
Thankfully, the new Cars album doesn’t suck! It’s actually a very strong return to form for this great alt-rock 80’s band! So with much pleasure I give you MY favorite track off “Move Like This.” Classic Cars and will please all of their fans! If you like this, the lead single, “Sad Song,” is also great and you can also buy “Keep On Knocking” or “It’s Only.” RIP Benjamin Orr…your talents would have made this album even THAT much better…

Jennifer Lopez – “(What Is) Love?” (pop)
You can put it down now…this will be a big hit. Look for it burning up pop radio in 5…4…3…2…1…

The Lonely Island featuring Michael Bolton – “Jack Sparrow” (comedy)
Not only is this a great song with one of the most ridiculous (big, sexy) hooks I have ever heard, it also features a classic 80’s artist making fun of himself. It’s a great return to form for Bolton who could use a little of the limelight and his ability to laugh at himself makes this that much more entertaining! Check it out! You can also get the SNL classic “Motherlover,” “After Party” or “I Just Had Sex!”

Kram – “Satellite” (alternative pop)
Not surprisingly, I get a lot of my music from movies and this track is featured on one of the better movies from last year. If you haven’t seen “Easy A”, you should. It is an homage to the great John Hughes films of the 80’s with more modern music! This is my favorite of the bunch!

Katie Cole – “Gravity” (rock)
Not surprisingly, I get a lot of my music from the boob tube also and this track is featured on the latest Movado watch company commercial. Relatively unknown, Katie Cole reminds me of some of the great female rockers of the 90’s. You can’t get this song on ITunes yet but if you’re on Facebook or Myspace you can download it for free! Go get it and wish her well…she’s got a great future ahead of her!

Dum Dum Girls – “He Gets Me High” (rock)
Speaking of great female rock artists, here’s the latest from this retro rock all-girls band. After last years excellent album, “”I Will Be,” I will listen to anything Dee Dee and the girls pump out and this track is excellent! I’m digging the girl bands right now. When is Metric gonna release a new album??? Oh well…this EP will hold me over…for now.

Beastie Boys – “Here’s A Little Something For Ya” (rap)
O…M…G…This track is TEARING up my CD player in my car!!!! A complete return to form for our favorite New Yorkers and the beat in this one is GUARANTEED to make your ass shake! I’m thinking you’re gonna be hearing this one on the radio (I hope, I hope, I hope…) this summer. It’s just too damn good to NOT listen too! Welcome back Boys! We missed ya! I also downloaded the Santigold featured track, “Don’t Play No Game I Can’t Win” and their pre-released single “Make Some Noise.” All 3 are CLASSICS! Here’s “Make Some Noise”…

Music Soulchild – “Single” (R&B)
Not gonna lie…this track reminds me of something Keith Sweat might have done. Smooth R&B with lyrics that have a little bit of a “grass is always greener” tilt to it. I like it but it doesn’t blow me away. Check it out though!

Other Lives – “Dust Bowl III” (alternative)
Straight from Stillwater, Oklahoma, you can feel the desert heat and the dry wind in your face when this band plays. I got a lot of love for this sound and I totally love this song. I also downloaded “For 12.” Reminds me of Chris Isaak only darker…MUCH darker…

Dredg – “The Thought Of Losing You” (alternative)
Average alt-pop track that gets somewhat repetitive. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it either. But the band sounds tight and I have hopes that maybe I’ll hear something better from them sooner or later.

Raekwon – “Rock ‘N’ Roll” (rap)
This is a slow burn with featured artists Ghostface Killah & Kobe Honeycutt. I dig it but it’s for rap enthusiasts only.

Medina – “Addiction” (dance)
If you like dance tracks by Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga, this will fit in your playlist! I picture this one getting airplay at your local dance club. I like it!

Foo Fighters – “Bridge Burning” (rock)
So the new Foo album is out and I ran out to get it and right out of the gate, the first track is this one. I swear…I couldn’t hear for 2 days after cranking it OUT in my car. Unfortunately, as much as I WANTED to love this entire album, THIS is the best track on it. Great hook, Dave Grohl’s vocals are excellent and everything just works! As for the rest of them album, there’s nothing wrong with it…I guess I just was expecting something fresher. Instead, it’s classic Foo and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But I was hoping for something new, I guess. I dunno. I’m very confused…

Nicki Minaj – “Here I Am” (rap)
Everyone LOVES Nicki and I have to admit, I’m a HUGE fan of hers when she’s a featured artist on other artists’ tracks (see Kanye West’s “Monster” for one of the best raps EVER by a featured artist! She tears it up!), but I can’t really say I love her album “Pink Friday.” That being said, I don’t know that she made the album to cater to a 40-something white male. So what I can say is I really like this track which has a smooth R&B tip and cool piano. Dig it!

Uh…yeeeeah….

SURPRISE SONG OF THE WEEK THAT I THOUGHT I WOULD HATE BUT I DON’T: Lady Gaga – “The Edge Of Glory” (pop/dance)
Okay…here’s the thing…THIS track belongs in an 80’s movie final credits. Think “Footloose” (which is being remade as we speak. Maybe this song will end up on the soundtrack?) with a dance hook. I am gonna go on record as saying this is my…(cough)…favorite…(ack)…Gaga song. It even has a saxophone solo in the middle. It’s like she knew how to finally get to me. I hate you Gagag! But I DO like this song…dammit.

WORST SONG RELEASED IN THE PAST 3 YEARS: Lady Gaga – “Judas” (doesn’t matter. It sucks)
So to counter the surprise that is “The Edge Of Glory” I am back to my bashing of Gagag. This song is easily the WORST in her collection. I don’t know if it’s gonna be released on her to new album or what but whoever decided to release this below average B-side should be smacked in the face with a 2×4.  Not only did they release it just before Easter, but the lyrics and the music are just horrible! The Gaga backlash lasted a second and then the song was gone. Thankfully. But I would love to point out the fact that Madonna released a sex book with her naked throughout most of it earlier in her career so…this is just as bad.