Here’s my Top 10 records released in 2011 that I truly enjoyed (plus another 50 because they deserve some love too). This year I had over 175 albums to choose from (otherwise known as records that I purchased). I heard plenty more via Spotify and other such services, but if I didn’t go out and get them, they obviously weren’t worthy of my consideration. Live and best of records were not considered.
Here’s the soundtrack to my year (with some video goodness!).
The Top 10
1. (TIE) Miranda Lambert/Pistol Annies – Four the Record & Hell on Heels – OK, I couldn’t decide which one of Miranda’s records released this year that I liked more, so I’m just going to call it a tie. Hell on Heels is a gritty effort from three great country singer/songwriters (Lambert is joined by friends Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley…who both had a number of writing credits on Four the Record as well). Four the Record is classic Miranda. Stylistically, it's her most diverse record. I saw her this summer as she was finishing her Revolution Tour (this also included a short Pistol Annies set) and I’m seeing her again for my birthday later in January.
2. Civil Wars – Barton Hollow – Hard to believe that Taylor Swift’s Twitter feed is responsible for me first hearing about this band (well before Barton Hollow came out). This record is simply stunning. Joy and John Paul’s voices sound so good together. I got to see them twice this year and the live show is unbelievably good.
3. Sunny Sweeney – Concrete - I seriously got Sweenered this year. Went head over heels for Concrete’s lead single, From A Table Away (a love song gone wrong -- from the perspective of the other woman who finds out that her man is going back to his wife).
4. Old 97’s – The Grand Theatre Volume 2 - The Olds have long been a favorite of mine. They are my “go-to” band whenever I need to hear something great.
5. Adele – 21 - This little-known Brit soul singer…LOL. Adele has one of the best voices I’ve ever heard. I’d recommend songs by her, but who are we kidding, y’all know them already.
6. Alison Krauss and Union Station – Paper Airplanes - About three years ago I ordered the double live Alison Krauss and Union Station disc. I’ve pretty much been obsessed with her music since then. Alison possesses one of the most comforting voices I’ve ever heard.
7. Ashton Shepherd – Where Country Grows - A little bit sassy, a little bit homespun, and one of the finest country albums made this year.
8. Chris Connelly – Artificial Madness - I’ve been a fan of Chris since 91. He’s performed on and released some of my favorite industrial records over the years. Whether it be with Ministry, Revolting Cocks, Pigface and his extensive solo catalog, I’ve remained a fan. On Artificial Madness he ditched the acoustic sound of his last few records (which I thought were quite good) and went back to his industrial roots.
9. The Decemberists – The King is Dead – I never get tired of this band. After a couple well-done concept albums, this year they simply put out a record of great songs. Was happy to see them again this summer (which seems to be an every other year event).
10. Christina Perri – Lovestrong - The first time I heard Jar of Hearts I was parking my truck. I sat in my driveway and impatiently waited to hear who sang the song (surprisingly the DJ obliged…doesn’t really happen much anymore does it?). The song still gives me chills and I found the rest of the album to be a great listen.
50 other records that I spent a lot of time enjoying (in no particular order...the numbers are simply proof that I can still count to 60)…
11. Crooked Fingers – Breaks in the Armor
12. Death Cab for Cutie – Codes and Keys
13. Deer Tick – Divine Providence
14. Those Darlins –Screws Get Loose
15. Sarah Jarosz – Follow Me Down
16. Dropkick Murphys – Going Out In Style
17. Wild Flag – Wild Flag
18. Jason Isbell –Here We Rest
19. Jessica Lea Mayfield – Tell Me
20. Lady Antebellum – Own the Night
21. Lori McKenna – Lorraine
22. Lydia Loveless – Indestructible Machine
23. Sierra Hull – Daybreak
24. Mighty Mighty Bosstones – The Magic of Youth
25. Rise Against –Endgame
26. Ryan Adams – Ashes and Fire
27. Sara Evans – Stronger
28. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – Mirror Traffic
29. Tom Waits – Bad As Me
30. CJaye Lerose – Date With The Tub
31. Ida Maria - Katla
32. Vanessa Carlton – Rabbits on the Run
33. If Not For Dreaming – Awake and Asleep
34. Social Distortion – Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes
35. Lenka - Two
36. G Love – Fixing To Die
37. Cass McCombs – Humor Risk
38. Nicole Atkins – Mondo Amore
39. Shelby Lynne – Revelation Road
40. Luke Bryan - Tailgates & Tanlines
41. Foo Fighters - Wasting Light
42. Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost
43. Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
44. Rachael Yamagata - Chesapeake
45. Mike Doughty – Yes and Also Yes
46. New Found Glory - Radiosurgery
47. Brad Paisley – This is Country Music
48. Julie Roberts - Alive
49. Sondre Lerche – Sondre Lerche
50. Blake Shelton – Red River Blue
51. Kelly Clarkson - Stronger
52. Telekinesis - 12 Desperate Straight Lines
53. My Brightest Diamond - All Things Will Unwind
54. Thompson Square - Thompson Square
55. Eric Church - Chief
56. Gillian Welch - The Harrow and the Harvest
57. Real Estate - Days
58. Jolie Holland - Pint of Blood
59. The Joy Formidable - The Big Roar
60. Brantley Gilbert - Halfway to Heaven