Top 10 Albums of 2011
Here is my list of my favorite albums released in 2011. I hope you enjoy these albums as much as I have. Please support independent artists & buy these albums!
1) Akara • Extradimensional Ethnography
Akara’s debut album is my favorite of 2011; its cinematic, orchestral, transcendental downtempo electronica breaks genres and creates its own world – unlike anything I’ve heard before. As an artistic statement, the album is completely cohesive and creates a cinematic sonic realm that is at once both totally unique & yet soulfully familiar. I urge you to take a listen to this amazing work of art! My favorite live music performance this year was seeing Akara perform at Beloved festival; it was pure magic. Check out this interview with Joshua Penman!
Find it Here: http://akaraproject.com/
2) Bluetech • Rainforest Reverberations
I’ve been an ecstatically obsessed fan of Bluetech since 2005, and every album he’s put out has been pretty much amazing. His latest release, Rainforest Reverberations, showcases some of my favorite tracks of his yet, and he co-created several tracks with other producers including Kilowatts & Kalya Scintilla, and featured the voices of both Eve LadyApples & Katrina Blackstone. Personally, I’m completely obsessed with the tracks 667 & Emerald Epiphytes, and I adore the poetic invocations of LadyApples that begin & complete the album. Additionally, this album is part of the Critical Beats series, so proceeds of this album go towards supporting the Amazon Rainforest.
3) Lady Gaga • Born This Way
The current Queen of Pop has obviously completely won my heart, and her latest album – Born This Way – is her best album to date (and hopefully a sign of her future artistic direction). This is what pop should be: emotional, inspiring, soul-stirring, ecstatic, liberatory, freakish, sexy & booty shaking. The electronic production work for every song is produced & mastered to perfection. Gaga’s videos for Born This Way have been among her best too, with the video for Marry the Night taking the cake for her most epic & powerful music video to date. Even if you don’t get pop music, or have some sort of judgment against Gaga due to your superficial understanding of her, there is no arguing that she is the planet’s current reigning princess of pop. Her music is laden with so many deeply infectious grooves, it’s a pity you’re not loving on Gaga. Have an open mind and step into her Electric Chapel.
Find it Here: Lady Gaga – Born This Way @ Amazon.com
4) Ishq • And Awake
Ahhhh, finally! The follow-up to the most mesmerizing ambient downtempo album ever, Orchid, put out by UK artist Ishq. The new album, And Awake, is similarly transcendental, but takes us to a new plane – possibly even more expansive and nectarlicious than its predecessor. The ocean of sonic expanse is euphoric, blissful, heart-opening and deeply relaxing. An amazing, celestial listen. Dive in!
Find it Here: http://interchill.bandcamp.com/releases
5) PJ Harvey • Let England Shake
As a long time PJ Harvey fan, I was really excited to discover Harvey’s latest album, Let England Shake. It really is her best album in 10 years, and marks a significantly new direction for Ms. Polly Jean. This album is possibly her most emotionally raw, her highest vibe, her most transcendental. I immediately fell in love with this album and put it on repeated listens for weeks. Her vocal styling and her songwriting have dramatically evolved from the years of Dry & To Bring You My Love – and Let England Shake is among her finest albums to date.
Find it Here: PJ Harvey – Let England Shake @ Amazon.com
6) Kaminanda • Year of the Golden Tiger
Ummmmm, can we say Holy Shit, this wins the sexiest electronica album of the year award? Stephen Kaminanda won my heart & my bootay this year at Beloved, and this album is really juicy. I’ve listened to this on repeat for months and only grown more comfortable with the sick polyrhythms and layers of psychedelica. This is music to listen to if you want to float into the ethers of mind-blown ecstasy, which apparently I want to float there all the time!!! Funky, sexy, hot.
8 ) Kyrstyn Pixton • Embyrs
I randomly met Kyrstyn Pixton in 2002 in Ann Arbor, MI – she was just dropping out of the U of M’s music program and preparing to migrate to Portland, OR. Little did I know that over the years I would run into her hither & thither all around Portland, in different circles & parties. But nothing prepared me for what I witnessed when I saw her perform at Emrg’n’See in 2009 with a keyboard, a looping pedal and an amp on a wheelbarrow. She fucking blew my mind. Kyrstyn is one of the most creative vocalists & innovative pop-electronica artists on the West Coast scene currently. Her debut album, Embyrs, is truly beautiful and features some great collaborations with Auditory Canvas, Lynx, & Eve LadyApples. She is an honest & emotional songwriter, a soulfully luminous vocalist, and a really great live performer. She is up & coming, and I swear she will get BIG. Pay attention now, you’ll be stoked to say you knew her when.
Find it Here: http://kyrstynsong.com/
9) Deya Dova • Remixed
Futuristic Tribal Electronic Dance Music infused with Primordial Ecstatic Chant; perfect for the Dance Dlub or an underground Electronic Rave. This album features the voice of Deya Dova, with her unique celestial tribal polyrhythmic style. Her 2009 album, Burst, has been remixed by a handfull of amazing electronic producers including: Kalya Scintilla, Adham Shaikh, Desert Dwellers, An-ten-nae, & Juno Reactor. This is an album to break out if you want to crack open your Booty Chakra and Bust a move!
Find it Here: http://music.deyadova.com/
9) Azam Ali • From Night to the Edge of Day
Azam Ali has been one of my favorite vocalists for years, and I pretty much own every album she’s released since Vas. Azam’s latest album is perhaps her most meditative to date. Her signature modern Persian fusion album is showcased her in an otherworldly ambient form that is both sedating & uplifting. As a vocalist, she is one of my highest inspirations.
Find it Here: Azam Ali – From Night to the Edge of Day @ Amazon.com
10) Rafe Pearlman • Random Cuts, Unfinished Demos
Possibly one of the most transcendental live music moments of my last year was the first five minutes of Rafe Pearlman’s set at Beloved Festival this summer. His soaring, sweepingly cinematic voice eclipsed everything all at once. Nearly everyone had to drop what they were doing to come sit down and listen to this vocalist explode his visionary soundscapes across the airwaves. We sat there with our jaws dropped and hearts melting. His bandcamp release of “Random Cuts & Unfinished Demos” isn’t a coherent album, but there are some sincerely magical gems & exquisite songs worth melting to – and his voice reminds me of Antony & the Johnsons. Listen to “Morninglight”, “Fly My Sadness” & “Aramaic Prayer”. Looking forward to his new album due out next year.
Find it Here: http://music.rafepearlman.com/