Music bloggers love lists and regrettably, I’m not different. So to give the year some closure, it’s only right if I list off my favourite musical moments of the calendar year. I’ll start off with my 15 Favourite Albums of 2011 and then in a couple days time I’ll put up my 25 Favourite Songs of 2011. Just to reiterate, this is merely my humble opinion; nothing more, nothing less. I’ve only got one set of ears and simply can’t listen to all the excellent music to justify any hyperbolic claims. The over-saturation of the online musical scene makes it tough to keep track but I do my best to pick out the gems amongst the rough. So without further ado, Eclectic Eavesdroppings fifteen favourite albums:
15. Mayer Hawthorne: How Do You Do
The smooth and soulful crooner from Detroit has the magic Motown recipe. On his second album, he successfully brings back that 1970’s R&B nostalgia with a series of retro classics. Not bad for a white guy.
Mayer Hawthorne: Henny & Ginger Ale
14. ASAP Rocky: LiveLoveA$AP
This latest internet rap sensation out of NY can back up the hype with a perfect blend of effortless style and southern lyricism. His much anticipated mixtape didn’t disappoint and sets the scene for the full debut next year.
ASAP Rocky: Out Of This World
13. Raphael Saadiq: Stone Rollin
Rolling back the years in his swagged out manner, this latest collection of soulful reinventions is slightly more eclectic. He may have been born in the wrong era but the musical quality and variety is undeniably excellent.
Raphael Saadiq: Just Don’t
12. Florence & the Machine: Ceremonials
Topping her debut was never a feasible possibility but Florence Welch does incredibly well with this second effort. Booming vocals, dark undertones and catchy choruses are all in place for mass appeal.
Florence & the Machine: All This and Heaven Too
11. Arctic Monkeys: Suck It And See
The British foursome’s style is still in tact but they managed to find the right combination between rock-n-roll numbers and guitar pop melodies on this fourth album. All the funner for it.
Arctic Monkeys: Piledriver Waltz
10. Frank Ocean: Nostalgia/ULTRA
The most refreshing new R&B star in the game announced himself via a free mixtape. It’s sample heavy but acts as a platform for his silky smooth vocals which are both sensitive and heartfelt. Watch this space next year.
Frank Ocean: Stawberry Swing
9. Adele: 21
The worldwide best selling record also turns out to be pretty good. Shock horror. The London songstress dominated the pop scene this year with her incredible mix of sincere songwriting, crashing choruses and delicate vocals.
Adele: Rolling In The Deep
8. Foster The People: Torches
These californians may lack musical depth but more than make up for it in catchiness. The numerous singles are undeniably brilliant pop/rock that acted as the soundtrack to many of my summer adventures.
Foster The People: Houdini
7. Smith Westerns: Dye It Blonde
Four young and reckless romantics from Chicago teamed up to make a flawless album of fuzzy pop/rock. It strikes the perfect balance between rock-out guitar moments and subtle pop melodies.
Smith Westerns: Dance Away
6. Theophilus London: Timez Are Weird These Days
The most stylish man in the game and a personal favourite of mine finally let loose his debut album after a string of exceptional mixtapes. There were some wonderful moments as it seamlessly morphed the worlds of hip-hop and pop.
Theophilus London: I Stand Alone
5. Jay-Z & Kanye West: Watch The Throne
Two of the best rappers alive teamed up for joint album of bombastic proportions this year. Expectations were sky-high but the quality is apparent as the superstars trade verses about wealth, power and success.
Jay-Z & Kanye West: No Church In The Wild
4. The Weeknd: House of Ballons
Out of nowhere, this mysterious Toronto singer popped up with his own distinct brand of avant-garde R&B. The mixtape is destructively dark, full of self-loathing and sexual undertones…yet it’s intoxicatingly awesome. I can’t wait to hear the next installment in the series.
The Weeknd: High For This
3. J. Cole: Cole World
This South Carolina rapper has been bubbling round the surface for a while and on his debut he struck gold by discovering the middle-ground between accesible commercialism and skilled lyricism. Wise beyond his years, this man is in it for the long run. Keep an ear out for him.
J. Cole: Lost Ones
2. Bon Iver: Bon Iver
Having become the mainstreams favourite indie artist, there was even more pressure on to deliver second time round. Fortunately the sophomore lives up to ‘For Emma, Forrver Ago’ and even manages to expand his beautiful musical range. A top effort.
Bon Iver: Holocene
1. Drake: Take Care
This second album from the Canadian rapper/singer displays great beat selection, improved song-writing skills and a range of emotions varying from boastful arrogance to brutal honesty to lonely self-pity. What’s apparent, is that he approached the album with a clear vision that rings true throughout the seventeen tracks. Instead of taking the easy mainstream radio route, he toned his game and focussed on genuine artistry. Drake, Eclectic Eavesdroppings salutes you and your Record of the Year.
Drake: Take Care feat. Rihanna
There have been so many great albums this year that I’ve enjoyed and others that I sadly wasn’t able to get round to. Honourable mentions go out to Wild Beasts, The Antlers, Cults, Cut Copy, Lil Wayne and Kendrick Lamar who all released great LPs that just missed the cut.