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


Tunes From ITunes: Beating The Heat

It’s the dreaded summer swoon when it’s too hot to go outside unless you’re at the pool and all the plant-life around your house is drying up and turning to tumbleweeds (unless you actually water your plants…which we don’t). So what do I like to do? Spend my hard-earned money on music. And I’ve been a very bad boy when it comes to sharing my favorite music. So let’s get to it, shall we?

Teddybears – “Rocket Scientist” (pop/dance)
Funky new track with a serious attitude. Eve guest stars and as the ‘Bears proclaim “Them drum machines ain’t got no soul”…they obviously have tongue planted firmly in cheek. I also downloaded “Cho Cha” which features Cee Lo Green and it also adds a small dose of humor with a cool beat.

Nicole Scherzinger feat. 50 Cent – “Right There” (pop)
I’ve been hearing this one all over the radio and it’s high on the list for “dumbest lyrics of the year” award, however there’s something that I like about it once it gets past that. Catchy hook but beyond that…very sugary with lots of aftertaste.

Evaline – “Beneath The Fire” (rock)
Love me some guitar anthem rock and this band supplies it. Soaring vocals and a dramatic drumbeat, this freebie is in my playlist right now but I doubt it will be there for very long.

Matt Nathanson – “Mercy” (alternative pop)
Catchy tune (and one in a long line with the title “Mercy”) and goes well with sour lemonade.

Ziggy Marley – “Forward To Love” (reggae)
The prodigal son returns with this catchy ditty. Easy on the ears and will go well when you’re hanging by the pool bar.

Florrie – “Begging Me” (dance pop)
This track should be bigger. Don’t know why no one has picked up on this fun pop song but I have yet to hear it on pop radio. The entire EP is good but this is the diamond. Download it now if you like pop music…

Laza Morgan – “This Girl” (pop reggae)
Hmmm…how I ended up downloading this one, I’m not sure but I like the slight reggae beat and the pop sound.

Eddie Vedder – “Longing To Belong” (adult alternative)
EV slows it down to a crawl and breaks out his ukelele for this sweet song. Not much to it but I like it. Of course I’d like just about anything this dude does…

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – “Morning Thought” (alternative)
Slow and methodical, it’s almost hypnotic how this song grabs me. I totally dig it and it reminds me a little of Phish.

Arctic Monkeys – “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Seat” (rock)
Bluesy track with weird lyrics. You’ll either like it or you won’t. I like it…but in small doses.

Coldplay – “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall” (pop)
This band is one of my favorites but they can do better than this track. It’s decidedly average but works for now. But I expect more if they’re getting ready to release a new album!

Joe Bonamassa – “Dust Bowl” (blues)
Originally released back in March, I LOVE this song. Awesome in every way. Download it now! And you might as well just get the entire album cause it’s that good!

Thievery Corporation – “Culture Of Fear” (trip hop)
Although TC isn’t really a rap group, they enlist various artists to work with them for many of their tracks on their new album. The title track is an awesome fusion of jazz and rap with Mr. Lif laying down the rap track. Excellent track!

If only Nicki could have kept the lyrics a little cleaner this would have been the PERFECT summer track in the same vein as Taio Cruz’s “Break Your Heart” from last summer. Nevertheless…it is what it is and I love it. This song just bleeds “summertime pop” and I can’t help but turn it up everytime I hear it!