Best Albums of 2011

Legitimately creepy, emotionally claustrophobic, uplifting.

Some people think anything in a minor key is ‘dark’ – Austra is peppy and upbeat, a bit dramatic, but fundamentally happy dance music.

Mangled slow jams remade into stately chamber music.

Looped and layered choral voice-scapes.  Cleaner production than her earlier stuff brings this into Brian Eno territory: background music you can also pay full attention to.

Exuberant, simple, frustrated bedroom punk.  Reminds me why I started writing songs and playing guitar.

Think early Weezer.  Smile.

Graham Smith’s songwriting is always top-notch, but this is the strongest set in years, with driving guitars and an urgent energy.  “Let’s put the ‘hot O my’ back in our dichotomy.”

  • Oneohtrix Point Never – Replica

Headphones, 3am, lights off.

  • Peaking Lights – 936

Hazy, mellow summertime beats.

Reverby lo-fi jam-band with folsky harmonies… is the Velvet Underground ever out of style?

Polmo Polpo producer takes on hi-fi space psych.  I can listen to “Wolfman” on repeat all day.

Another electronic act turned live, with mind-blowing results.  Best sound aesthetic of the year, hands down.

The converse of the Austra argument:  transcribe these songs and you’ll find cheerful major-key rock; listen and you’ll feel fuzzy & out of sorts, like fluorescent-lit shoe shopping with a hangover.

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