Around this time each year we have the ask, has the whole world gone list crazy? And yes, we have, and ours go to eleven. Which is just the right number to properly highlight our true favorite albums (and let our 37th, 62nd, 88th, etc picks remain an irrelevant mystery). In other words, this was tailored down to what we really loved, and in an overflowing year like 2011, that was a challenge. So please, sit back, cue up the linked-out streams, and enjoy / judge / compare this list to your own.
[Badge num="11" class="eleven"/] [BoxTitle]St. Vincent: Strange Mercy[/BoxTitle] [MusicVideos]http://heavy.com/music/music-video/indie-music-videos/2011/08/st-vincent-cruel/[/MusicVideos] [Spotify target="blank"]http://open.spotify.com/album/1Lci4bx7JIuCC8pnBNX7ds[/Spotify] [BuyNow]http://www.amazon.com/Strange-Mercy-St-Vincent/dp/B005775O5M/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1315841691&sr=1-1[/BuyNow]
Strange Mercy was not a relaxing listen or go-to playlist for a drift elsewhere. Taking it at a low-focused surface value, on sounds alone, it could be playful, whimsical, and exceptionally jagged. Go at it a bit more engaged and that’s when the slightly deranged psyche of Annie Lennox would reveal itself, speaking of sophisticated role-play, violence, and the anxious drag of getting older. That light / dark duality has become her specialty over three albums, and it came to perfection on Strange Mercy. Add that dynamic (and the always adorable factor) with the fact that she’s also established herself as one of the most inventive guitarists around, and it’s kind of like, not even fair.
[Badge num="10" class="eleven"/] [BoxTitle]Destroyer: Kaputt[/BoxTitle] [MusicVideo]http://youtu.be/Pf-ONpLXzGs[/MusicVideo] [Spotify target="blank"]http://open.spotify.com/album/4WtvNVR7QeHUZGtHth9zND[/Spotify] [BuyNow]http://www.amazon.com/Kaputt-Destroyer/dp/B004DY4Z6O/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1323899055&sr=1-1[/BuyNow]
While Destroyer albums are known for complexity, genre-freedom and a heavy-handed flair, Kaputt easily classified as Dan Bejar’s most indulgent move to date. And perhaps even more alarming and fantastic than the album’s direction itself is the sheer quality of its production. Painting a luxurious, soft rock realm with glassy synthlines, smooth disco bass, and an unlimited supply of jazz-y brass—not to mention singing from the perspective of the world’s most interesting man—Bejar went all in on a concept and left the table with the whole stack.
[Badge num="9" class="eleven"/] [BoxTitle]Pictureplane: Thee Physical[/BoxTitle] [MusicVideo]http://youtu.be/ErLrK2_np4I[/MusicVideo] [Spotify target="blank"]http://open.spotify.com/album/3imyhZIl0wMM8C7FBawtAv[/Spotify] [BuyNow]http://www.amazon.com/Thee-Physical-Pictureplane/dp/B0052EV8HI/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1323899005&sr=1-1[/BuyNow]
Simply put, Denver’s Travis Egedy created a new dimension with Thee Physical. One essentially defined by its sound, and its philosophy. And while the latter element, charged with notions of a new, post-physical reality, was uniquely enthralling (complete with manifesto), it remained an optional invitation; these were downright jams on their own, dark and danceable, fusing goth, radio pop, industrial and late 80s acid house in ways never quite heard before. That’s what made it a great listen, but indeed what made it a great record is how those two forces came together, once you actually slipped its concepts under your tongue for a trip through his trance-gender utopia.