2011 Album Capsules (with Twitter Restricted Length)

Allah-Las - Catamaran / Long Journey (2011): 78.
Two terrific surf/garage nuggets from one of the best local bands going right now. Can't wait for more.

Alvarius B - Baroque Primitiva (2011): 77.
Lo-fi, spare arrangements of Ennio Morricone & Brian Wilson. Lovely stuff. Best cover art of 2011

Atlas Sound - Parallax (2011): 73.
Not quite up to the freakishly high standards of Bradford Cox's recent output. I guess he's human.

The Babies - S/T (2011): 80.
This doesn't flow together as well as I wish it would but there isn't a loser in the bunch and it's crazy addictive.

The Babies - Here Comes Trouble / My Tears (2011): 72. "My Tears" is kind of a throwaway but "Here Comes Trouble" is a great pop nugget.

Baby Teeth - Boss (2011): 42. The promise of their 2007 LP THE SIMP continues to be unrealized by this empty, tossed-off writing exercise.

Beach Fossils - What a Pleasure EP (2011): 73. An improvement over their good but forgettable debut LP, with stronger sequencing & control of tone.

The Beets - Stay Home (2011): 67. "Just a Whim" is highlight on this very lo-fi collection of fragments that recalls early Guided by Voices.

Black Lips - Arabia Mountain (2011): 70.
Not as glossy as Ronson's name would suggest; pretty sure the money went to coke & random horns.

James Blake - S/T (2011): 68.
Blue-eyed soul dressed up as twitchy dubstep which creates some odd tension that's equally irritating & compelling.

Blouse - Into Black / Firestarter (2011): 71.
A side is especially strong. Another notable dream pop artist in rich Captured Tracks stable.

Bon Iver - Bon Iver, Bon Iver (2011): 79.
Side A is masterful with an expansive, dynamic sound similar to late Talk Talk. B flirts with lesser 80s.

Charles Bradley - No Time for Dreaming (2011): 74.
Very solid retro-soul LP with great gritty vocals & strong groves by Menehan Street Band.

Braids - Native Speaker (2011): 74.
Very nice atmospheric textures with hypnotic blips and bleeps that somehow feel warm & non-mechanical.

Mikal Cronin - S/T (2011): 80.
A great solo debut for Cronin but you can feel Ty Segall's looming large like Bowie did on 70s Reed & Pop.

Mikal Cronin - Tide / You Gotta Have Someone (2011): 78.
One of the most exciting emerging artists in 2011. B-side is a delicious pop nugget

Cults - S/T (2011): 74.
A girl pop party attended by the Manson family; darkness seeping into music via lyrics, ambient noise & cult voice samples.

Cut Copy - Zonoscope (2011): 58.
A serviceable dance/synth pop LP with plenty of hooks but the beats are not compelling and neither are the lyrics.

The Decemberists - The King is Dead (2011): 45.
This reactionary follow-up to ambitious failure is a much less ambitious failure. No signs of life.

Deerhoof - Deerhoof vs. Evil (2011): 55. Never been a fan. Feels like there are about 200 ideas per song, I wish they'd stick with the good ones.

Destroyer - Kaputt (2011): 87.
Bejar's best work in years. Spaced-out sophistipop arrangements shouldn't be this sexy. Melodies develop and evolve.

Dick Diver - New Start Again (2011): 78. Warm & soft guitar rock in the vein of Television's ADVENTURE & countless great 90s Matador bands.

Dirty Beaches - Badlands (2011): 73.
Psychobilly meets No Wave makes for a very stark, dangerous vision. Lo-fi recording brings out lovely textures

Dodos - No Color (2011): 74. Not a return to VISITER levels of invention but I'm glad they returned to that original recipe with minor evolution.

Dum Dum Girls - He Gets Me High EP (2011): 65. Four obsessive love songs performed at a relaxed pace. Hopefully not a permanent departure.

EMA - Past Life Martyred Saints (2011): 68. Very noisy folk music with heart on sleeve emotionalism; lyrics not quite up to snuff.

Feist - Metals (2011): 57. The occasional eccentric flourish or unexpected arrangement help keep this from being completely underwhelming.

FIDLAR - DIYDUI EP (2011): 75. A brash, raucous 8 minutes of punk with killer pop hooks. WAKE. BAKE. SKATE. Indeed.

Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues (2011): 56. This generation's CSN. Innocuous, pretty harmonies in service of mostly pedestrian lyrics. Yawn.

Eleanor Friedberger - Last Summer (2011): 80. An open & completely engaging pop album works with a variety of sounds without feeling shifty.

Matthew Friedberger - Napoléonette (2011): 71. MF obstructed down to just piano & vocal is actually very revealing look into his manic processes.

Matthew Friedberger - Meet Me in Miramas (2011): 73. Some of MF's longest compositions with innovative guitar use to provide percussive spine.

Future Islands - Before the Bridge / Find Love (2011): 73. Both songs are very strong and add to my strong anticipation for the upcoming LP.

Future Islands - On the Water (2011): 74. High point is "Give Us the Wind" which is also the least thematically reminiscent of previous LP.

Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost (2011): 64. I really like the first side and the second side is not bad, I never want to listen past that.

PJ Harvey - Let England Shake (2011): 75. Harvey's best work in over a decade but I still miss the fiery passion of her 90s work.

Gary Higgins - A Dream A While Back EP (2011): 76.
Most of these intimate & intense songs would sound at home on Higgins' wonderful RED HASH.

Human Eye - They Came from the Sky (2011): 66.
Proggy sci-fi concept with thick garage acid delivery & incredibly heavy guitar fuzz.

Hunx and His Punx - Too Young to Be in Love (2011): 70.
The girl group back-up singers sell the joke but it's not as funny as it was on GAY SINGLES

Iceage - New Brigade (2011): 78.
Brash & exciting post-punk album with great flow & lean running time. "Broken Bone" is quite the punk anthem.

Jeremy Jay - Dream Diary (2011): 69.
Return to SLOW DANCE aesthetic but with better integrated synths evoking cool, nighttime atmosphere.

Jeff the Brotherhood - We Are the Champions (2011): 84.
Refreshingly straight-forward rock LP with crunchy riffs & plentiful hooks. Essential.

La Sera - S/T (2011): 68.
A sugary ode to Sarah Records that could use a savory element like edgy lyrics or sardonic humor to really set this off.

Les Demoniaques - Teenage Lust (2011): 73. Please let this develops into a full project of sexy & menacing covers from Dee Dee & Tamaryn.

Man Man - Life Fantastic (2011): 74.
Grotesque violent imagery coupled with sexual impotence makes for a twisted, nightmarish carnival ride.

J Mascis - Several Shades of Why (2011): 79. A very full sounding acoustic LP with songs every bit as good as they were on FARM, just a lot quieter

John Maus - We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves (2011): 81.
Possibly the best synth pop album since POWER, CORRUPTION & LIES.

Mister Heavenly - Out of Love (2011): 75. More cohesive than the typical supergroup project with each player balancing out others.

Thurston Moore - Demolished Thoughts (2011): 74.
A lovely acoustic album that's not really a huge departure from recent Sonic Youth.

The Mountain Goats - All Eternals Deck (2011): 63. Not previously a fan. "Damn These Vampires" is making me reconsider my distaste for delivery.

Marissa Nadler - Marissa Nadler (2011): 69. A confident step in a new direction but I miss the haunted, spooky quality of previous LP.

Thee Oh Sees - Castlemania (2011): 71. A departure into lighter, sunshine pop territory is slightly unfocused but sporadically brilliant.

Thee Oh Sees / Total Control - Tour Split EP (2011): 80. Essential for fans of either band and heavenly if you're a fan of both (as I am).

Thee Oh Sees - Carrion Crawler/The Dream EP (2011): 82. Captures the jammy, intense energy of their live performances. Their best LP to date

Panda Bear - Tomboy (2011): 78. A slight disappointment given how much I love PERSON PITCH but still hypnotic, ethereal & occasionally brilliant.

Pangea - Living Dummy (2011): 79. Garage punk with Gordon Gano-esque vocals & tremendously catchy pop hooks. It's difficult not to scream along.

Peaking Lights - 936 (2011): 83. Drugs aren't required to trip out to this unique blend of psychedelic guitars, dub effects & ingenious lo-fi.

Ponytail - Do Whatever You Want All the Time (2011): 64.
Clearly a band that's still evolving but this LP just isn't as fun as ICE CREAM SPIRITUAL.

Puro Instinct - Headbangers in Ecstasy (2011): 76.
Like KAPUTT, this LP is primarily interested in making cheesy shit from the 80s sound awesome.

Radiohead - The King of Limbs (2011): 72.
The first signs of fatigue. Yorke's work feels unchallenged by his bandmates. Greenwood curiously absent.

Royal Headache - S/T (2011): 82.
Great Aussie debut blends garage, soul & power pop into something fresh and utterly addictive. Essential.

The Rural Alberta Advantage - Departing (2011): 63.
The rough edges of the debut have been sanded down & the result is a much less interesting LP.

Ty Segall - Goodbye Bread (2011): 85. Very cohesive considering how many genres it touches. Less showy than MELTED but much better overall.

Ty Segall - Spiders 7" (2011) 77.
A well deserved victory lap with distorted, heavy guitar & a roaring cover of Groundhogs' "Cherry Red."

Smith Westerns - Dye it Blonde (2011): 78.
Evokes glam mostly in Chris Coady's production while the songwriting is unadulterated power pop syrup.

The Soft Moon - Total Decay EP (2011): 76. Very strong follow-up to last year's terrific debut LP with more dark, atmospheric post punk.

Tapes 'n Tapes - Outside (2011): 60.
This unremarkable third LP is the slump that sophomore album WALK IT OFF was wrongly accused of being.

Tennis - Cape Dory (2011): 62. Another lo-fi, sun-drenched girl pop group with sweet melodies. Doesn't seem to have much to offer besides sugar.

Timber Timbre - Creep On Creepin' On (2011): 77. A 50s pop sensibility underscores all the dark atmosphere & odd arrangements. A grower.

Total Control - Henge Beat (2011): 83. Hits nearly every mutation of the post-punk genre but still a tonally coherent & compelling LP.

Thee Oh Sees / Total Control - Tour Split EP (2011): 80. Essential for fans of either band and heavenly if you're a fan of both (as I am).

tUnE-yArDs - W H O K I L L (2011): 61. A hyperactive child with idiot-savant tendencies; I want to sit her down and take half her crayons away.

Various Artists - Under the Covers Vol. 2: 72.
Very well curated collection of The Nerves covers from mostly terrific up-and-coming bands.

Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring for My Halo (2011): 77. Very direct and unwavering style initially threw me off but I've warmed to the delicate simplicity.

Kurt Vile - So Outta Reach EP (2011): 69.
These seem like SMOKE RINGS sessions rejects; all of them solid but none of them worthy of that LP

Vivian Girls - Share the Joy (2011): 67.
Totally solid and nicely varied but seems a little lacking when compared to the Vivian Girls side projects

Nick Waterhouse - Is That Clear / I Can Only Give You Everything 7" (2011): 75.
Delicious R&B revival. Waterhouse should record everyone.

White Fence - Is Growing Faith (2011): 70.
More lo-fi tape distortions but this time they start to detract a little from the strong melody & energy.

Wild Flag - Glass Tambourine / Future Crimes (2011): 69. Both tracks are strong enough to make me forget how much I miss Sleater-Kinney.

Jamie Woon - Mirrorwriting (2011): 69. So smooth it occasionally flirts with boring but preferable to James Blake's glitchier take on soul.

Wye Oak - Civilian (2011): 71. Production (by the band) is too clean for my liking but the drums are appropriately muscular & songs are strong.

Youth Lagoon - The Year of Hibernation (2011): 70. Fragile & earnest as a emo youtube confessional but it's effective & uniquely contemporary.

Yuck - S/T (2011): 72. Probably would have seemed generic in the early 90s Alt Rock scene but now seems like a refreshing nostalgia trip.