Chicago Sun-Times released their picks for top 11 Albums of 2011. Including newcomers and industry legends alike, this year’s selections include a wide variety of genres.
Thomas Conner, pop music critic at Chicago Sun-Times published a “Top 11 of ‘11” list, making his picks for the best albums of the year. Touting “three actors, two concept albums, one super-group, two Chicago bands, Beyonce’s ‘4’ and zero Lady Gaga,” Conner’s compilation is trendily obscure, but thankfully, not without a few saving graces.
Conner hails the sounds of “Wild Flag” as bringing back the kick-ass rock and roll attitude of generations past: “rock was once an experience infused with reckless abandon and brazen instrumental performance, fueled by anger but also joy. A potent reminder of the latter emerged this year from an unexpected corner of the feeble old genre.”
The #1 slot goes to all-girl rock quartet, Wild Flag’s self-titled, debut album. I tell you now, and not at the end of the article, because I would hate to build the tension for an unfulfilling climax. I can’t bring myself to call it outwardly “bad”, but it isn’t particularly stunning in any avenue, be it musicianship, songwriting, or flare. Bland, I think, would be a better description.
Conner’s #2 pick, “Mysterious Power”, new album by Ezra Furman & the Harpoons seems to aim for a similarly hip end, and does much better in achieving that goal. Combining a wide range of influences, Ezra Furman & the Harpoons combine upbeat indie-folk with the whimsical voice of their frontman, reminiscent of Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock.
Conner awards #3 goes to Girls album “Father, Son, Holy Ghost”, another less-than-average hip-sensation girl band, #4 to Philadelphia hip-hop legends the Roots’ “undun”, #5 to stadium-packers Wilco for their album “The Whole Love”, and #6 to Beyonce’s album “4”.
The next quality recommendation comes at #7, with the Decemberists’ “The King is Dead”. Connor describes The Decemberists’ new album as: “Drawing from as much rural British folk as Americana, “The King Is Dead” unwinds the band’s lyrical and instrumental talents and is refreshingly straightforward, tuneful and touching.”
The #8 slot is filled by Childish Gambino’s album “Camp”, a comedy hip-hop album, the brainchild of actor Donald Glover (aka Trou from sitcom “Community”). Fleet Foxes’ folk masterpiece, “Helplessness Blues”, is a nice touch at #9.
Ximena Sarinana, girlfriend of Mars Volta guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, holds the #10 spot for her pop album “Ximena Sarinana”.
Toronto punk-rock outfit F-cked Up round out the list at #11 for “David Comes to Life”. An eclectic sound, aggressive and passionate while still remaining upbeat and listenable, F-cked Up accomplishes a truly unique sound that has never been heard before.
Connor lists a few honorable mentions at the end of the article, including tUnE-yArDs loop-saturated, mish-mosh of hoots and hollers “w h o k i l l”, as well as Battles’ post-rock orchestra of intricate polyrhythms and synth sounds, “Gloss Drop”.
All in all, it’s not the worst musical collection in the world. But a few of the odd selections offset the genius of some of the better albums on the list. Thomas Conner and the Chicago Sun-Times, you get a bronze medal.