Be independent, listen to obscure music
With the Grammys right around the corner, it only seems appropriate to compile a "Best Albums of 2011" list. Granted, most of these artists didn't get nominated for anything, but hey, maybe next year.
1. Girls "Father, Son, Holy Ghost"
Chris Owens is at his most vulnerable, admitting that girls don't like his "bony body" or "dirty hair." To compensate, the band plays harder than ever, mastering classic rock with a soft side.
2. The War on Drugs "Slave Ambient"
"Slave Ambient" builds off passive, atmospheric melodies that shape a cohesive and brilliant album.
3. tUnE-yArDs "w h o k i l l"
Merril Garbus revolutionizes the Afro-beat genre, indulging in 42 minutes of frenzied drum loops and pop jargon that were previously only heard in passing (think: "Contra," "Bitte Orca").
4. Youth Lagoon "The Year of Hibernation"
"Who is there to talk to that won't lock me up," Trevor Powers asks in "17." Through the lo-fi haze it's clear that he's reached a catharsis.
5. Fleet Foxes "Helplessness Blues"
Less about the scenery, more about the human condition. Pecknold eases off the water-paint descriptions that dominated the Foxes' self-titled album. Instead, he turns the camera on himself. The result is romantic and endearing.
6. Kurt Vile "Smoke Ring for My Halo"
Vile allows us to eavesdrop on his inner dialogue, only to realize it's not much different from our own
7. EMA "Past Life Martyred Sins"
Raw, real and intimate. Written after the disbandment of Gowns and the end of her relationship with band member Ezra Buchla, "Past Life" is Erica M. Anderson's emotional purge.
8. St. Vincent "Strange Mercy"
"Strange Mercy" is Annie Clark's most approachable record thus far, but don't let that fool you. Somehow she's slipped hooks into her chaotic synth lines; she pairs clean riffs with experimental mayhem. And that guitar solo in "Surgeon" was unbelievable.
9. James Blake "James Blake"
Heralded as one of the founders of post-dubstep, Blake delivers tight, poignant pieces that are lyrically and sonically sound.
10. Bon Iver "Bon Iver"
Bon Iver is the most Grammy-sought name on this list.
The band was nominated for "Record of the Year," "Song of the Year," "Best New Artist" and "Best Alternative Music Album." Tune in Feb. 12 to see if he wins any of these awards.
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