Best of 2011: Top 50 Albums of 2011 As Voted by SSG Music

SSG Music / December 21, 2011

50. Tennis – Cape Dory

Tennis’s Cape Dory is the musical equivalent of a dream sequence in a movie. That is, a dream sequence of a beach party where boy sees girl, they fall in love, their relationship hits a rocky patch, but somehow they end up happy again. Some songs that stand out on this album are “Marathon,” a fast paced song that will get your head bopping and shoulders shaking, classic slow dance song “Pigeon,” playful water fight song “South Carolina,” and hopefully romantic song “Long Boat Pass.” This album is definitely worth a listen, especially if you are headed on a road trip to the beach. – Bertie Magit

49. Boris – Heavy Rocks

The sixteenth release from Boris, Heavy Rocks, is nothing short of a jaw-dropping masterpiece. The Japanese trio has been renowned for their ability to shapeshift in and out of genres like they were trying on clothes, and this album does that so seamlessly that two minutes into the record you’ve already forgotten that you’ve been listening to the same band. Crushing, heavy sludge riffs suddenly succumb to glistening shoegaze pop, and then breakneck distorted crust punk mutates into psychedelic metal, yet none of it sounds clumsy, contrived, or misappropriated. A reconstructive deconstruction of their 2002 album of the same name, this is a retrospective on their 20-year career as much as it is a look into the future of everything music can and should be. – Robert Hanna

48. Fruit Bats – Tripper

Tripper is the fifth full-length release from singer/songwriter and creative mastermind Eric D. Johnson’s Fruit Bats. Recorded in Los Angeles with the help of Vetiver producer Thom Monahan, Tripper represents the band’s most refined sound to date. Being musically hyperactive is something the talented must deal with, and Eric Johnson is certainly no exception. When not working with other bands like Vetiver and The Shins, Eric is working on movie soundtracks (Our Idiot Brother being the latest). That recent soundtrack work inspired him to spend more time in production for this latest album, although it lacks an over-produced sound and should translate well to a live audience. – Kelly Alexander

47. Elite Gymnastics – Ruin

I am in love with the aesthetic of Elite Gymnastics. James Brooks and Josh Clancy’s form of melancholia-inflected, context-drenched dance music is a natural evolution of house music in the internet age. But underneath all the scene-heavy doublespeak and musings on death, there is a love of the cinema of music embedded in this sound. The narrative is made so much clearer when the actors are recast on Ruin 2. The genre changes from action to film noir, but the performances are still impeccable. – Allen Huang

46. Deafheaven – Roads to Judah

2011 seemed to be a big year for metal, especially for metal innovators; a handful of bands set themselves apart from the pack this year by integrating other musical styles in ways not heard before. While San Francisco’s Deafheaven are at first a blast-beat driven black metal outfit, peel away the drumming and terror-screams and what’s left are sounds never before heard. Roads to Judah slips almost seamlessly from melancholic shoegaze and drone to a melodic bombast anchored tightly to singer George Clarke’s aching, isolated lyrics. Though outwardly seeming brief, at only four songs, Deafheaven has charted a map that crosses more territory than most bands see in a career. – Andrew Cassin

45. David Bazan – Strange Negotiations

Strange Negotiations is perfectly imperfect; the raspy and raw vocals of David Bazan get his blunt points across throughout the album. There are no foot-stomping good times hidden in between the album sleeves, but instead introspective lyrics that pack a punch and some contemplative thought. Strange Negotiations is a terrific album for the person who has been questioning a lot in their life, including topics such as personal relationships, corporate greed, and humanity. Bazan is a mastermind at creating awe-inspiring lyrics; he typifies what a true singer/songwriter is capable of and what every new songwriter should strive for. -Lindsey Scully

44. Bombay Bicycle Club – A Different Kind of Fix

As Bombay Bicycle Club’s third full-length album, A Different Kind of Fix follows the London-based band’s acoustic release and is their finest produced album yet. Conceptually this album poetically laces tales of vulnerable heartbreak around colorful compositions with layered vocals. Dream-like synths paired with bold piano make prominent statements throughout A Different Kind of Fix, where lead singer Jack Steadman’s accessible lyrics about lost love are easily relatable. While A Different Kind of Fix dances around these eerily beautiful and melancholy lyrics, the majority of the tempos on this album are bright and positive. A Different Kind of Fix is both a nostalgic album that will pull at your heartstrings and an album that can be enjoyed at each revisiting listen. -Bebe Besch

43. Allen Stone – Allen Stone

MTV’s Buzzworthy just named him one of The Most Criminally Overlooked Artists of 2011, and we’d have to agree. Allen Stone has blown up this year. His self-titled sophomore album dropped on October 4th and instantly made an impression on the charts. The 24-year old Washingtonian has brought back a traditional ‘70s soul sound with his own funky flair. Two words: old soul. Though he flirts with goofy lyrics and taunts his audiences with his signature call and response in concert, he isn’t one to shy away from liberal commentary on the government and society’s issues with their various “Contact High” vices. He’s made his way onto late night television with Conan O’Brian, and we’re sure he’s not going anywhere. -Melissa Daniels

42. WU LYF – Go Tell Fire to the Mountain

Self-proclaimed “heavy pop” band WU LYF introduce us to their unconventional indie rock along, with many questions. Go Tell Fire to the Mountain is WU LYF’s debut record, and though the stylistic instrumental elements are quite simple in execution, their vocals and character are not. Interest aroused initially as WU LYF appeared in the music scene with little to no information accessible about the band – this lack of definition left spectators eager to learn more, and their lyrics follow suit. Many of the songs require research for proper lyrics, while others like “We Bros” juxtapose with ambitious clarity. Group chanting and Ellery Roberts curious slurring vocals have gathered the band much of their attention. As a first offering, Go Tell Fire To The Mountain is one of the most intriguing albums of the year, delivered by one of England’s most entertaining bands to watch. – Bebe Besch

41. Noveller – Glacial Glow

It was a grand ol’ year for Sarah Lipstate, aka Noveller. On top of tearing up the live circuit with the likes of U.S. Girls, Carla Bozulich, and Ben Frost, the mistress of the guitar laid upon us Glacial Glow. No doubt it’s the most direct description of Lipstate’s compositions; they glide upon icy waters, seemingly standing still until big chunks of notes and distortion tumble into the vast ocean. The waves from the crash reverberate before settling down to begin once more. A vicious yet enjoyable cycle. – Justin Spicer

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