BLARE’s TOP 50 ALBUMS OF 2011

Fucked Up made a English rock opera come to life, Drake made headlines, James Blake frustrated photographers and Nirvana resurfaced back into everyone’s hearts. It’s safe to say 2011 was a phenomenal year for music with hip-hop and R&B reinventing itself with a youthful demeanor, indie rock dipping its fondness for fuzz in its parents’ vinyl collection and punk sprinting with a cause to search and destroy. From every studio take to EP/split to reissues of classics, we’ve bit the bullet, shuffled the deck a few times, and finally created – our Top 50 Albums of 2011.

(Click the links and artwork to hear album samples courtesy of iTunes)

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BEST REISSUEletliveFake History
HONORABLE MENTIONThe ReatardsTeenage Hate

BEST EPWavvesLife Sux
HONORABLE MENTION – GlassjawColoring Book

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50 Fucked UpDavid Comes To Life
49 Danny Brown - XXX
48 Cage The ElephantThank You Happy Birthday
47 CultsCults
46 WilcoThe Whole Love
45 Dan ManganOh Fortune
44 The KillsBlood Pressures
43 Balance And ComposureSeparation
42 I Am The AvalancheAvalanche United
41 The DecemberistsThe King Is Dead
40 August Burns RedLeveler

39 Manchester OrchestraSimple Math
38 The Swellers - Good For Me
37 Kanye West & Jay-ZWatch The Throne
36 FeistMetals
35 Radiohead - The King Of Limbs
34 Ty SegallGoodbye Bread
33 Foster The People - Torches
32 Touche AmoreParting The Sea Between Brightness And Me
31 Florence + The MachineCeremonials

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30 THE COLOR MORALE // My Devil In Your Eyes

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29 THRICE // Major/Minor

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28 BON IVER // Bon Iver

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27 CHILDISH GAMBINO // Camp

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26 DANCE GAVIN DANCE // Downtown Battle Mountain II

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25 GIRLS // Father, Son, Holy Ghost

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24 PIANOS BECOME THE TEETH // The Long Lack After

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23 FRANK OCEAN // Nostalgia, Ultra

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22 BLINK-182 // Neighborhoods

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21 TENNIS // Cape Dory

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20 MOVING MOUNTAINS // Waves

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19 LYKKE LI // Wounded Rhymes

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18 ARCTIC MONKEYS // Suck It And See

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17 FLEET FOXES // Helplessness Blues

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16 FRANK TURNER // England Keep My Bones

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15 CITY AND COLOUR // Little Hell

On his third album, Dallas Green does much more than tear apart the rustic nature of acoustic rock, opening up the thoughts materializing inside of his head and the emotions that come to light from it, striking a heavy familiar chord.

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14 KURT VILE // Smoke Ring For My Halo

Hanging on to that harsh folk sound that lashes at the past, the future and the present, Philly songwriter Kurt Vile is carving his voice. At times its hazy, warm, even defiant, but every tap of a string has you waiting for the next verse.

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13 YOUNG STATUES // Young Statues

Carmen Cirignano is a simpleton of sorts but his words are openly cutting. Take in the remedy of blissful rock that can’t decide whether to hold hands with alt tones or pop and the record’s honesty won’t fail to find your weak spot.

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12 JESSICA LEA MAYFIELD // Tell Me

Pushed to be blunt and hold a personality that knows no fear on Tell Me, Mayfield stands her ground, letting a delicate voice grow in confidence before it strangles her past and makes alt country a genre to find comfort in.

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11 POLAR BEAR CLUB // Clash Battle Guilt Pride

Stuck in a spot between Silent Majority and Hot Water Music, the New York outfit use blistering rhythms and singer Jimmy Stadt’s voice to stick teenage hate and poetry in a style of brash punk rock that’s contagious as it is sincere.

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10 BASS DRUM OF DEATH // GB City

If Iggy Pop never stopped destroying. If The Black Keys didn’t call themselves brothers. If indie rock never got weird. There’s a lot of ifs but for the duo Bass Drum Of Death, there’s rock n’ roll and a lot of charismatic guitar shredding.

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09 DRAKE // Take Care

Take Care may not have been as explosive as a Chicago rapper’s twisted fantasy, but the hype was a match. It delivered Drake’s emo side, a personal reflection MCs struggle to conceive, and washed us away in a barrage of love, dreams and sadness that dazed everyone since the first single opened a door to his conscious.

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08 THE WONDER YEARS // Suburbia..

From the cathartic opening of Suburbia’s first track, The Wonder Years never cease to grab you by the shirt collar and tell you that despite all the mistakes, wrong paths and torn feelings, pop punk will never ever be dead. It’s still real; it’s living off sweat, determination and self-examination, and to be honest, it’s getting there.

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07 TYLER THE CREATOR // Goblin

Open it up and Goblin isn’t a factory model hip-hop LP. It sinks its teeth in balancing the reality and creativity of a rebellious youth and doesn’t embrace the restrictions of popularity. It’s as weird as the kid in public school that eats glue, and in a similar sense, what he’s getting at is overlooked and not appreciated from his perspective.

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06 THE BLACK KEYS // El Camino

Seven studio albums later and the Ohio duo find themselves digging into early American rock – the type the old folk couldn’t resist – and stain it with furious garage rock riffs that run right back into every nerve in the body.

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05 MANSIONS // Dig Up The Dead

Sometimes it’s easy to forget what it feels like to sit alone with a guitar and string-pulling emotions. On Dig Up The Dead, Christopher Browder reminds us of the raucous moments and the depressing positivity, harkening to the poetic side of 90s’ rock to present one of the most surprising releases of the past few years.

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04 THE WEEKND // House Of Balloons/Thursday/Echoes Of Silence

The impromptu decisions. The regrets. The emotional rollercoasters. The sexual healing. The synthetic healing. The bewilderment. The new found pleasure. The come-down. The Weeknd’s work displays it all; we wish we made it up.

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03 YOUNG THE GIANT // Young The Giant

Going from being an opening slot to a band everyone wants to touch, it’s hard to take in Young The Giant do it through warm mid-tempo melodies and nostalgic memories of irresponsible love. The rich brand of pop rock takes the word “catchy”, entwining it with depth and intimacy to roughly sketch out a complete album that is indeed an actual album and not a completely forced, calculated mixture of fake substance.

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02 LA DISPUTE // Wildlife

We’ve all been told to let it out sometimes but La Dispute’s Jordan Dreyer draped his anguish over an entire album, drawing up all the aspects of a concept record and letting the art behind it cascade into the listener. The progressions are destructively bittersweet, and when the volume is raised, all you can do is sit, listen and stare.

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01 THE DANGEROUS SUMMER // WAR PAINT

The world is desolate. People can be inhuman. And though we hate to admit, sadness is as much of a drug as love is. The Dangerous Summer’s attempt at showing this through an angsty, heartfelt pop punk record works as they’re unafraid to state feeding off courage is a cure and music does mend broken hearts.

3 Comments

  • Teocadista says:

    someone forgot to mention the # 1 album of the year… A Hope For Home – In Abstraction .. that’s the best album I’ve heard in my life, and I mean it.

  • David Cubine says:

    No love for The Human Abstract – Digital Veil? Criminal! That’s the best progressive metal release in I don’t know how long. Great list though.

  • Rob F. says:

    Finally, a list that throws everything into the mix!

    I was growing tired of all those “too cool for school” lists that read exactly the same.

    First list I see where the editors let themselves like noisy music as well — at least publicly.

    Good job, guys!

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