With 2011 coming to an end, you should prepare to be flooded with countdowns from the year’s top movies to the top music videos. Yes, some of these lists are entirely trivial, but they are also short and sweet and sum up a year in less than five minutes. A trivial list in this context would be the top ten reality stars, which is a completely unnecessary countdown since a Kardashian is at every number. You, Shockya readers, deserve an unpredictable list that can benefit you, not make you wish you could be famous for doing absolutely nothing. So, open up your iTunes and get ready to purchase the Top Ten Albums of 2011.
1. The Pretty Reckless “Light Me Up”
Taylor Momsen is the 21st Century’s Courtney Love. The “Gossip Girl” star has gotten a considerable amount of disapproval for her lack of attire this year, but these fashion critiques clearly didn’t listen to The Pretty Reckless debut album, “Light Me Up”, which dropped in the U.S. on February 8th 2011 via Interscope Records. If you sing a song titled, “Make Me Wanna Die”, it is probably best you avoid Lilly Pulitzer-esque clothing. So, Ms. Momsen keep rocking the corsets and fishnets because they complement your grungy vocals perfectly.
Back to what matters, The Pretty Reckless music. The 11 track album has got the best elements of 90s grunge from the non-imposing melodic instrumentals to the mysterious lyrical arrangements. Each song is a hit within itself, but the standout of the album is “You”. The slower-paced song strips down Momsen’s vocals and unveils the vulnerability within her, much like that of the grunge God, Kurt Cobain. Momsen should never go back to pretending to be from the Upper East Side. The Pretty Reckless is the band for you to keep your eyes on in 2012.
2. Dynasty Electric “Golden Arrows”
2011 not only brought you a new Courtney Love to constantly condemn, but the year also gave you electronic music that isn’t annoyingly repetitive. You can thank Dynasty Electric for that. Consisting of multi-instrumentalist, Seth Misterka, and vocalist, Jenny Electrik, Dynasty Electric has a sound that infuses a techno foundation tempo with psychedelic touches. Sprinkling these quirky elements over electronica songs keeps the tracks vivacious and positively complex. One play through “Golden Arrows” does not give the album enough justice. With each replay, you will discover a synthesized beat you never heard before. Dynasty Electric, you have shown the anti-electronica listeners that techno music is far from brainless and will not be a fading genre, like disco music.
3. AWOLNATION “Megalithic Symphony”
Aaron Bruno of AWOLNATION has also devalued the brainless comments once addressed to electronic music. AWOL’s debut album, “Megalithic Symphony”, which dropped March 15th via Red Bull Records, consists of 15 tracks soaked in originality. Bruno takes the best of both worlds with this solo project. You have the upbeat and intricate tempo of the techo world and the aggressive and prideful vocals of the rock word. With these alluring aspects, he can do no wrong. Also, Hats off to Mr. Bruno for his witty and imaginative music videos for “Sail”, “Burn It Down” and “Not Your Fault”. AWOLNATION treats its music with care and you, Shockya readers, should be very appreciative of that.
4. Soundtrack to “Like Crazy”
A love story must have a gripping soundtrack that is able to strengthen the emotions conveyed by the actors. So, Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin send your regards to Dustin O’Halloran, Paul Simon, The Mary Onettes, Figurine, Fool’s Gold, M83, Stars, Asobi Seksu and Radio Depot for making “Like Crazy” the most heartfelt tale of the year. What could be more fitting than placing Paul Simon’s “Crazy Love, Vol. II” in the soundtrack lineup? The genius lyricist more than deserves the praise he receives in the film. Stars’ “Dead Hearts” is another favorite with its dialogue vocals that ooze with the optimism you feel when your soul has recognized its counterpart in another. Yes, that line is stolen from “Wedding Crashers”, but listen to “Dead Hearts” and you’ll understand the piracy.
5. Nirvana “Nevermind” (20th Anniversary Remastered Edition)
Is it really necessary to describe this reasoning? Twenty years later and “Nevermind” still is as groundbreaking as ever. Note that Nirvana paved the grunge way for The Pretty Reckless to hit number one on the Top Ten Albums of 2011. So, you can probably place this album at number one, if you like. Sorry Taylor Momsen, but Kurt Cobain permanently earned his throne.
6. Jane’s Addiction “The Great Escape Artist”
October 18th, 2011 is a date that will be difficult to forget. On this day, Jane’s Addiction released “The Great Escape Artist”, which is the outfit’s fourth studio album. The eight-year wait was extremely long, but the 10 track album made it worth it. Yes, it is quite evident that the founding fathers of alternative rock have evolved their sound since the “Nothing’s Shocking” days, but after more than two decades Jane’s Addiction should morph in some way. The sound quality of “The Great Escape Artist” is impeccable and Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro and Stephen Perkins used these technological advancements to their advantage by creating tracks that radiate their iconic “trippy” melodic sound with a slicker flow. To those music critics who gave “The Great Escape Artist” a dismal rating because the group made a “cop out” album, you are probably in dire need of redirecting your 80s spandex wardrobe along with your music tastes.
7. Jim Bianco “Loudmouth”
Joe Cocker is one of the best vocalists of all time, but don’t worry, Perry Farrell, you are close behind. Partial to raspy vocals, it is no surprise that Jim Bianco’s “Loudmouth” made the cut. The musician, producer and singer-songwriter released his third full-length album on April 5th via Steady Records. You could “classify” Bianco as an indie alternative rock artist, but “Loudmouth” has an endless amount of layers that illuminates hints of blue-eyed soul and country. Overall, “Loudmouth” has got that gritty Cocker charm.
8. Mad Planet “Gliese 581g”
This post is titled the Top 10 Albums of 2011, but Mad Planet’s EP, “Gliese 581g” is so delightfully “weird” that the four tracks are simply enough to place the EP on the list. Consisting of bassist and vocalist, Cooper Gillespie and drummer, keyboardist and guitarist, Greg Gordon, Mad Planet creates songs that are not hindered by the rules that make radio hits. “Gliese 581g”, which dropped on February 22, 2011, defines how music can cause you to escape with its haunting vocals and mystifying melodies that make The Cranberries ethereal sound appear “normal”.
9. Asobi Seksu “Fluorescence”
Asobi Seksu is not shy to this countdown. The duo, which includes vocalist and keyboardist, Yuki Chikudate and guitarist and vocalist, James Hanna, are also situated at number four with their song, “Thursday” on the “Like Crazy” soundtrack. The indie-pop and shoegaze influenced band dropped “Fluorescence” on February 14th, 2011. The 14-track album can be best described as beautiful with a capital B due to Chikudate’s delicate and eerie vocals placed beside an unearthly spiritual tempo. The lyrics are not clear at times, but the exquisiteness of “Fluorescence” is far from superficial and can only be felt when not followed from word to word, but rather from one odd beat to the next.
10. Ellie Goulding “Lights”
Strongly rounding out the Top Ten Albums of 2011 is Ellie Goulding’s “Lights”, which dropped in the U.S. on March 8th, 2011 via Polydor Ltd. The British singer-songwriter’s pleasantly airy vocals exude a teenage innocence vibe that can make any broodingly lyrical track a bit more uplifting.
And there you have it, the Top Ten Albums of 2011. Congratulations to all those selected and to those who didn’t grace the Shockya list, remember the music possibilities in 2012 are endless. So, you better bring it!
by Lonnie Nemiroff