The Best Albums of 2011 | Tastes Like Caramel

Each year seems to have  a theme here (2010 being the year of the weird) and by the looks of this list one might rightfully assume that 2011 was the year of the angst. For me it was a year to rebuild and empower. It was the year of protest: Egyptian protests/revolution, the questionable England riots, Occupy Wall Street. It was a year that many people were without jobs, Amy Winehouse died, an earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, Charlie Sheen and the Kardashians over-saturated the media. It was also the bittersweet year that Osama Bin Laden was killed.

However there was a very present sense of optimism throughout, Britney Spears even got engaged for a third time! 2011 also saw the release of a lot of great albums, and ones that I initially wrote off upon first listen (ie: Florence + The Machine). It was also the year that Spotify came to the US!

Check out the top 15 best albums of 2011 according to yours truly and stream tracks from each album via the Spotify playlist below:

Tastes Like Caramel’s Best Albums of 2011 Sampler.

Agree/disagree with this list? Share your thoughts in the comments below. Previous year-end lists can be seen here.

Number 1

Artist: Cold Cave; Album: Cherish The Light Years

Label: Matador Records

Released: April 5, 2011

Peak on UK Charts: n/a

Peak on US Charts: n/a

Recognition: BBC Music’s Adam Kennedy wrote “From the crashing, urgently dramatic announcing bars of The Great Pan Is Dead, sheens of gothic 1980s veneer actually conceal something much deeper, more uncomfortable. A nocturnal shot of adrenaline to the heart of a paranoid urban dweller, Eisold’s coal-black, almost deadpan delivery booms over synths at times misleadingly bright and airy.”

Stream: Underworld USA

Purchase Cherish The Light Years

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Number 2

Artist: Yuck; Album: Yuck

Label: Fat Possum Records/Mercury Records

Released: February 15, 2011

Peak on UK Charts: n/a

Peak on US Charts: n/a

Recognition: Rolling Stone‘s J. Edward Keyes rated the album 4 out of 5 stars and wrote “The members of Yuck were in diapers when indie rock was exploding in the early Nineties, but from the sound of the London band’s rambunctious debut, someone was slipping import seven-inch singles onto their nursery stereos. …Yuck channel their college-rock jones with skill and charm, balancing in-the-red guitar fuzz with melodic sweetness.”

Stream: Get Away

Purchase Yuck
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Number 3

Artist: Zola Jesus; Album: Conatus

Label: Sacred Bones

Released: October 4, 2011

Peak on UK Charts: n/a

Peak on US Charts: n/a

Recognition: Cheryl Waters of NPR Music wroteConatus finds Nika Danilova, a.k.a. Zola Jesus, pushing the boundaries of her previous work to create an album filled with hauntingly beautiful songs. It also shows her taking a giant leap forward in production, with big arrangements in songs both fierce and fragile — and, for the first time, live string instruments.”

Stream: In Your Nature

Purchase Conatus

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Number 4

Artist: The Horrors; Album: Skying

Label: XL

Released: July 11, 2011

Peak on UK Charts: 5

Peak on US Charts: 97

Recognition: BBC Music‘s Mike Diver wrote, “There’s no fault to be found with Skying – truly, every song here hits its mark… From the most incongruous of beginnings, The Horrors have become national treasures in waiting, and now possess the ability to realise any ambitions”.

Stream: You Said

Purchase Skying
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Number 5

Artist: Florence + The Machine; Album: Ceremonials

Label: Universal Music/Islands Records

Released: October 28, 2011

Peak on UK Charts: 1

Peak on US Charts: 6

Recognition: Q Magazine named Ceremonials the Best Album of 2011.

Stream: Only If For A Night

Purchase Ceremonials

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Number 6

Artist: Lykke Li; Album: Wounded Rhymes

Label: LL/Atlantic Records

Released: February 25, 2011

Peak on UK Charts: 37

Peak on US Charts: 36

Recognition: The Guardian‘s Michael Cragg rated the album 4/5 and wrote “Lyrically, Li flits between aggressor (Get Some’s provocative “I’m your prostitute, you gonna get some”) and victim (all of Sadness Is a Blessing), while the closing Silent My Song features a line that sums up Li’s own approach to songwriting: “You see pain like it is pleasure, like a work of art”. The pain was worth it.”

Stream: Love Out of Lust

Purchase Wounded Rhymes

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Number 7

Artist: Friendly Fires; Album: Pala

Label: XL

Released: May 16, 2011

Peak on UK Charts: 6

Peak on US Charts: 152

Recognition: BBC Music’s Lou Thomas wrote “Friendly Fires have already proved themselves, but this second effort is a mighty step upwards. It is another terrific, clattering celebration of an album that sounds nothing like its peers, but hopefully will be rewarded with sales to dwarf Lady Gaga’s. That may be ridiculously unlikely, but the best thing about Pala is that it leaves you thinking anything might be possible.”

Stream: Pala

Purchase Pala

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Number 8

Artist: Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie Xx; Album: We’re New Here

Label: XL

Released: February 21, 2011

Peak on UK Charts: 33

Peak on US Charts: n/a

Recognition: Ben Ratliff of The New York Times wrote “To its great credit it’s high and low and all over the place. The dislocation works: the record has patience and breadth and almost zero pretension.”

Stream: I’ll Take Care of You

Purchase We’re New Here

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Number 9

Artist: Bjork; Album: Biophilia

Label: One Little Indian/Polydor

Released: October 5, 2011

Peak on UK Charts: 21

Peak on US Charts: 27

Recognition: NME’s Luke Turner rated Biophilia 9/10 and wrote “‘Biophilia’ is like this, a wonderful distillation of ideas, playful and serious, intimate yet the most fantastic journey. It is that rarest of things, a record so particular to Björk’s own artistry that no-one could ever hope to replicate it. In these wide-eyed hymns for a secular, scientific age, Björk Guðmundsdóttir has got the whole world in her lungs.”

Stream: Mutual Core

Purchase Biophilia

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Number 10

Artist: M83; Album: Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

Label: Mute

Released: October 18, 2011

Peak on UK Charts: 44

Peak on US Charts: 15

Recognition: Ian Cohen of Pitchfork rated the album 9.1/10 and wrote “Hurry Up [serves] as a framework to realize the marvelous capability of our dreams and daily lives, should we be open to experiencing it.”

Stream: Midnight City

Purchase Hurry Up We’re Dreaming

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Number 11

Artist: The Rapture; Album: In the Grace of Your Love

Label: DFA/Modular

Released: September 2, 2011

Peak on UK Charts: n/a

Peak on US Charts: n/a

Recognition: Paul Rice of Slant Magazine rated the album 4/5 and wrote “the Rapture has never sounded so confident in what they’re doing. Jenner’s voice lacks the same nervous energy it had on the band’s last two albums; his words are often huge and soaring, as on the chorus of “Sail Away.”

Stream: Come Back To Me

Purchase In the Grace of Your Love

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Number 12

Artist: Active Child; Album: You Are All I See

Label: Vagrant Records

Released: August 23, 2011

Peak on UK Charts: n/a

Peak on US Charts: n/a

Recognition: John Calvert of Drowned in Sound rated the album 9/10 and wrote “Made up of a collection of moments, each one possessed of the purity and sparkle of expensive diamonds, You Are All I See may be slight and one-note, but its one idea is executed to perfection: the idea of perfection itself. “

Stream: You Are All I See

Purchase You Are All I See

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Number 13

Artist: Feist; Album: Metals

Label: Cherrytree/Polydor

Released: October 4, 2011

Peak on UK Charts: 28

Peak on US Charts: 7

Recognition: Entertainment Weekly’s Melissa Maerz graded the album a B+ and wrote “Metals, which borrows from jazz and blues, is an artfully arranged opus with such natural beauty, it should be certified organic.”

Stream: A Commotion

Purchase Metals

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Number 14

Artist: Metronomy; Album: The English Riviera

Label: Because

Released: April 8, 2011

Peak on UK Charts: 28

Peak on US Charts: n/a

Recognition: The album was nominated for the 2011 Mercury Prize. NME‘s Mike Williams rated the album 9/10 and wrote “A fearless progression to make you think again as Joe Mount reimagines both his childhood haunts and his band.”

Stream: We Broke Free

Purchase The English Riviera

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Number 15

Artist: Pictureplane; Album: Thee Physical

Label: Lovepump United

Released: July 18, 2011

Peak on UK Charts: n/a

Peak on US Charts: n/a

Recognition: Larry Fitzmaurice of Pitchfork rated the album 7/10 and wrote “Thee Physical wants to mosh in the punk club as much as it wants to throw on some lip gloss and hit the town.”

Stream: Trancegender

Purchase Thee Physical

21. December 2011 by anthoNYC
Categories: music news | Tags: , | 3 comments