Best Albums of 2011 Albums
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Best Albums of 2011

2011's releases easily topped the Best Albums of 2010, but that is faint praise indeed. 2011 was a slightly sub-par year by recent (the last 5 years) standards, but IMHO new rock (and related) music has been ebbing for quite some time (see the best albums of the '00s). Not to be a total downer though - everything in my Top 10 is top-notch, even compared to the respective artists' previous work. Nos 11-20 are also quite solid, though the quality drops for the rest of the list.

Updated in 2012: moved the order around of the Top 5 now that I have some perspective. Giving the nod to The Black Keys - a band that I've been a fan of since their first indie release, but who have really grown and expanded their songwriting depth.
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  1. 1

    El Camino The Black Keys Their best - even better than the excellent "Brothers"

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    #1 on the original list Adele Honestly, at different times any of these top 5 records could be my #1 - and it was nice to ...

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    Mine Is Yours Cold War Kids My go-to 2011 record when I just need an energy boost (sadly, there don't seem to be as many ...

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    #12 on the original list PJ Harvey PJ Harvey's albums tend to each have a unique feel, and while I've always liked her work, the ...

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    #23 on the original list Wilco A fine return to "Ghost Is Born" form. I can't say I've yet listened to this enough ...

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    Iron & Wine A bit of a departure from the previous Iron and Wine releases, it took me a few listens to ...

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    #63 on the original list Bad As Me Tom Waits Like his 1999 Mule Variations (and unlike everything else he has released since then) Bad As ...

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    #35 on the original list My Morning Jacket Another strong MMJ record.

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    Wild Flag Sounded a bit wishy-washy on the first few listens, but has really grown on me since then.

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    Battles Each of their records is a "levelup" - easily the best experimental/(mostly) ...

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    Here We Rest Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit Blows away the Drive-By Truckers 2011 album, which was one of their weakest efforts.

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    #43 on the original list Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds More consistent than any Oasis record since Morning Glory

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    #11 on the original list Fleet Foxes Sounded even better live.

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    Give Till It's Gone Ben Harper I kinda forgot about this record, but it's up there with Ben's better work - first two songs ...

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    Dynamite Steps The Twilight Singers Not their best work, but almost everything Dulli does is at such a high level of quality . . .

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    Dark Hope Renée Fleming Opera singer doing rock songs - and mostly non-obvious ones. Quite cool and unique - seek this ...

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    Low Year after year, Low's songwriting skills slowly creep upward.

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    #42 on the original list Danger Mouse, Daniele Luppi

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    #73 on the original list Fucked Up Need to listen to this more (just don't find myself in the mood for 70 minutes of loud ...

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    Diotima Krallice

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    Gentle Spirit Jonathan Wilson Added late as I didn't hear this until 2012 . . . might climb even higher on the list

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    Mockingbird Time Jayhawks Best thing they've done since . . . well since Olson left the band in '97 or so.

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    #16 on the original list Red Hot Chili Peppers John Frusciante is definitely missed, and I don't hear any outright classics on this, but ...

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    Behemoth

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    #45 on the original list Panda Bear It grew on me (and as an aside, I actually preferred the solo Panda Bear set I saw at the ...

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    TKOL RMX Radiohead 2CDs of "Limbs" remixes by many electronica-folk, about half of which I hadn't even ...

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    Elsie The Horrible Crowes A side project by the Gaslight Anthem guy. If you haven't heard Gaslight Anthem yet, you are ...

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    Constant Future Parts & Labor

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    #5 on the original list Bon Iver Definitely overrated - the amount of attention lavished on Bon Iver this year is yet another ...

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    #37 on the original list Yuck I'm not quite as into this as others seem to be (wish the songs were more consistent), but ...

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    #34 on the original list R.E.M. This, their swan song, is maddeningly inconsistent and not quite as good as their previous ...

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    The Secret Vieux Farka Toure

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    Marble Son Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter I know almost nothing about this woman, and she appears to have put out a bunch of earlier ...

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    #17 on the original list Beastie Boys Far superior to their last album (that rancid turd "For the 5 Boroughs" they put out ...

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    TV on the Radio Unquestionably their weakest work, and lacking in standout tracks. But in a relatively ...

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    Blessed Lucinda Williams More consistent than some of her post-Car Wheels output, though never great.

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    #24 on the original list Paul Simon Some of it blows, but there are about 5 surprisingly great songs (#s 1, 2, 3, 6, 10)

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    #48 on the original list Jane's Addiction Much of this record is mediocre (Navarro truly shot his riff-wad by '90 or so), but Perry ...

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