Top Albums of 2011: Top Ten

10James Blake: James Blake

Total Votes: 6; Highest Ranking: #1

Choice comment: As strange and experimental as Blake’s heavy vocal modulation might sound at the first listen, he’s no radical. Christopher T

09The War on Drugs: Slave Ambient

Total Votes: 5; Highest Ranking: #2

Choice comment: Seemingly one long song that somehow really works.Ryan M

08M83: Hurry Up We’re Dreaming

Total Votes: 7; Highest Ranking: #1

Choice comment: There’s so much potential for this album to completely collapse after the first two songs.Greg W

Cut it in half, and it’s twice the albumDavid Goldfarb

07St. Vincent: Strange Mercy

Total Votes: 6; Highest Ranking: #1

Choice comment: St. Vincent albums have always sounded very anti-septic in the past, like music a serial killer would play for you as you’re strapped to a table, helpless. This album doesn’t sound that way, and it is, as a result, her best album by a mile.Phil M

06Jay-Z / Kanye West: Watch the Throne

Total Votes: 9; Highest Ranking: #1

Choice comment: you just need to listen to this album like 100 more times, goldfarbLauren S

Absolutely not. – goldfarb

05TunE-yArDs: w h o k i l l

Total Votes: 10; Highest Ranking: #1

Choice comment: Unruly, cacophonic energy saturates all the best tracks of w h o k i l l.Christopher T

04Girls: Father, Son, Holy Ghost

Total Votes: 9; Highest Ranking: #2

Choice comment: Best album ever by a former cult member?Mike I [Only if you don’t include The Beach Boys. -Ed]

03Kurt Vile: Smoke Ring for My Halo

Total Votes: 6; Highest Ranking: #1

Choice comment: The album just has a sound that I kept coming back to this year, again and again. The acoustic guitars, squeaking with chord changes, the gentle percussion – shakers are especially prominent throughout the record – the drum machines, strings, and other keyboard sounds, were recorded and layered so well, creating a compelling, comfortable, vaguely familiar sonic backdrop.Billy L

But for those of who keep our ears to Philly’s music scene, this was like getting the Christmas present you’ve been asking for five years straight.David Goldfarb

02Bon Iver : Bon Iver

Total Votes: 10; Highest Ranking: #1

Choice comment: That cheesy synth track? El Beardo is FUCKING with you.Drew L

Really good album that it was hard for me to love. Sad Cabin Justin Vernon > Hanging out with Kanye Justin Vernon.Kenny Pop Pop

The first time I heard this album, I wasn’t sure that I liked it, but then I found myself sitting at my computer after school and listening to it over and over again.Aaron G

01PJ Harvey: Let England Shake

Total Votes: 13; Highest Ranking: #1

Choice comment: She plays saxophone like David Bowie, she footnotes her songs with anachronistic references, she sings with a falsetto that makes no sense. It’s haunting, it’s gory, it’s weirdly patriotic—it’s a World War I punk record.Phil M

An epic, nostalgic, and dark tour of Britain’s wars, her empire, and her rolling hills. Drew L

What can I say? I’m a sucker for ambitious WWI concept albums. Mike I

As an American, I find British notions of Empire old-timey and quaint like cottages and scones, but I still like this an awful lot.
Christopher T

Or I could just say this: after I finished that second listen, I stared into space for the next fifteen minutes, trying to understand what I’d just heard. Frightened.David Goldfarb