Best Albums of 2011 (Braden’s List)

By Braden Lammers

1. The Kills “Blood Pressures”

My album of the year comes from The Kills. The duo of Alison Mosshart (also of The Dead Weather) and Jamie Hince blends hypnotic, crunching layers of sound with Mosshart’s foreboding voice. So often featured in the duo’s tracks is a slow burn that constantly builds tension, but rarely reaches the cathartic crescendo. Built on traditional blues framing, with a little punk influence, the band’s sound on the album is never contrived, stripped-down to the basics and is still able to grab the listener without having to whip the tempo into a frenzied pace. The music is wonderfully matched by forlorn lyrics which highlights subject matter one could only assume is a bit of personal revelation. One of the best examples of the blending is in the track “Pots and Pans” where Mosshart sings, “I can’t find enough pots and pans let alone knives in my kitchen/ to keep you cookin’, to keep you cookin’/ … Ain’t enough salt in the ocean that cares enough to keep you floating/ there ain’t a drop left in my tank to move, move, move your dead weight.” The Kills fourth album is their best yet, and offers up a mesmerizing, dark delight.

2. The Head and the Heart “The Head and the Heart”

Though it may be cheating a bit The Head and the Heart’s self-titled album, which was self-released in 2010, was re-released in 2011 when the band signed with Sub-Pop. It earned the number two slot on my best of the year list. The Washington-based folk band delivers a consistent and wonderfully harmonized performance throughout the albums 10 tracks.

 

3. The Twilight Singers “Dynamite Steps”

Greg Dulli, the former frontman for The Afghan Whigs, formed The Twilight Singers as a side project in the late-90’s, but it eventually became his full-time gig. Dulli, along with a host of talented and popular musicians in their own right, offers an outstanding effort in the band’s fifth album. It is evident the driving force behind the band is still Dulli, who brings the dark recesses of his mind and soul to the table. His lyrical maelstrom is wonderfully backed by the consistent and beautiful play of the cadre of musicians collaborating with him. Dulli is almost always a critical darling, but plays to a smaller audience than is deserved.

4. The Black Keys “El Camino”

Released late in the year, the blues-rock duos seventh full-length album has already garnered considerable buzz. The album is another solid blues-based release from the Keys, with a more energetic pacing and a touch of nostalgia. The concern for “El Camino” is that it gets too much exposure and you get sick of it.

 

5. We Were Promised Jetpacks “In the Pit of the Stomach”

“If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap.” Well, they’re Scottish. We Were Promised Jetpacks sophomore effort shows that there is promise for this emerging band. A rock band with a clear punk influence put out a solid all-around album with driving beats and big guitars.

Honorable mention: The Seedy Seeds “Verb Noun” The Cincinnati-based trio seamlessly combines an odd mix of folk and electronica; The Fling “When the Madhouses Appear” A harmonizing, retro, folk group with a solid blues-rock foundation turns in an great performance in its first full-length album.

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About hoosierhits
The music blog of the News and Tribune, Jeffersonville & New Albany, Ind.

One Response to Best Albums of 2011 (Braden’s List)

  1. Pingback: The Head and The Heart Daily Dec. 28, 2011

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