SSv Staff Writers Top 10 albums of 2011

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One of the many things I love about our Stereo Subversion staff is the diversity of our writers. Take this “Best of 2011″ exercise, for example: of the 21 writers who weighed in, over 115 different albums took a spot in someone’s list (not even inclusive of Honorable Mentions). More than the diversity of our staff, that’s a reflection of this superb year in music – a year that we’re thrilled to celebrate by presenting our staff’s picks for this year’s Top 10 albums.

(Note – these are individual picks by our writers. To see SSv’s Collaborative Top 10, where we weighted all these lists together, click here).

Agree or disagree? We’d love to hear from you. I’ll take the first bullet – here’s goes nothing:

Alec Wooden, Reviews Editor
1. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
“With Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, Anthony Gonzalez has outdone an artist I didn’t think he could top — himself. This is a transcendent album.”
2. Gillian Welch – The Harrow and The Harvest
3. Yuck – Yuck
4. The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar
5. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
6. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
7. Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
8. Wye Oak – Civilian
9. Real Estate – Days
10. Chris Thile / Michael Daves – Sleep With One Eye Open
Honorable Mention: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong / Kyle Andrews – Robot Learn Love

Darcy McLaughlin
1. Sloan – The Double Cross
“Even after 20 years together, these Canadian boys can still craft a pop-rock gem”
2. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
3. Matthew Good – Lights of Endangered Species
4. Yuck – Yuck
5. Fucked Up – David Comes To Life
6. Devin Townsend Project – Ghost
7. The Mountain Goats – All Eternals Deck
8. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong
9. Destroyer – Kaputt
10. The Wonder Years – Suburbia
Honorable Mention: Smith Westerns – Dye it Blonde / Cut Copy – Zonoscope

Brian Palmer
1) Brooke Annibale – Silence Worth Breaking
“Masterful lyrics, honey-smoked vocals and unique, memorable acoustic folk-pop arrangements make Annibale’s album 2011’s best.”
2) Switchfoot – Vice Verses
3) Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
4) Heatherlyn - Storydwelling
5) The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow
6) Adele – 21
7) Josh Garrels – Love & War & the Sea in Between
8) Jenny & Tyler – Faint Not
9) Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
10) Mimi Page – A Lullaby for the Lonely EP
Honorable Mention: of Verona – Fall Like Roses EP / Amos Lee – Mission Bell

William Trinity
1. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
“Harvey gave us a beautiful and haunting tribute to her homeland complete with World War II panic.” 
2. Shabazz Palaces – Black Up
3. Chelsea Wolfe – Apokalpsis
4. Jessica Lea Mayfield – Tell Me
5. Other Lives – Tamer Animals
6. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
7. Okkervil River – I Am Very Far
8. The Rosebuds – Loud Planes Fly Low
9. Wye Oak – Civilian
10. EMA – Past Life Martyred Saints
Honorable Mention: Kate Bush – 50 Words For Snow / Jay Z & Kanye West – Watch The Throne

Derek Barber
1. Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
“While so much good music this year could be described as innovative or inspired, few albums other than Lykke Li’s Wounded Rhymes can be described to be as beautiful as it is haunting.”
2. tUnE-yArDs – w h o k i l l
3. Future Islands – On the Water
4. Kurt Vile – Smoke Rings for My Halo
5. Deerhoof – Deerhoof Vs. Evil
6. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – Mirror Traffic
7. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
8. Panda Bear – Tomboy
9. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
10. Tyler, The Creator – Goblin
Honorable mention: Feist – Metals / St. Vincent – Strange Mercy

Fletcher Martin
1. tUnE-yArDs – w h o k i l l
“Creativity, protest and joy set to strong beats and memorable melodies.”
2. Man Man – Life Fantastic
3. St Vincent – Strange Mercy
4. Tv on the Radio – Nine Types of Light
5. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
6. Sloan – The Double Cross
7. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring for My Halo
8. Deerhoof – Deerhoof versus Evil
9. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
10 Wilco – The Whole Love
Honorable Mention: The Decemberists – The King Is Dead / Young Circles – Jungle Habits

Aaron Mannari
1. Adele – 21
“Adele’s 21 is an emotionally charged album filled with soulful, unyielding vocals and beautifully crafted and infective melodies.”
2. Brooke Annibale – Silence Worth Breaking
3. Switchfoot – Vice Verses
4. Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile – The Goat Rodeo Sessions
5. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
6. Company of Thieves – Running From A Gamble
7. of Verona – Fall Like Roses
8. Rise Against – Endgame
9. Evanescence – Evanescence
10. Amos Lee – Mission Bell
Honorable Mention: Downpilot – New Great Lakes / Mat Kearney – Young Love

Daniel Kirschenbaum
1. Wye Oak – Civilian
“This album has a mesmerizing, dusky glow that is expertly and intuitively maintained by singer/guitarist Jenn Wasner’s fluid, visceral guitar work, her honest and achingly melancholic coo, and her natural chemistry with ace multi-instrumentalist Andy Stack. It’s primal, sincere, and beautiful from start to finish.”
2. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
3. Shabazz Palaces – Black Up
4. tUnE-yArDs – w h o k i l l
5. Destroyer – Kaputt
6. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
7. Cass McCombs – Wit’s End
8. The War on Drugs – Slave Ambient
9. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
10. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo
Honorable Mention: Julianna Barwick – The Magic Place / Real Estate – Days

Cy Wood
1. Paul Simon – So Beautiful or So What
“Paul Simon’s So Beautiful or So What is a prime example of what can be actually be accomplished by a successful musician when he doesn’t compromise his love of music. Even after so many years, he can move a crowd to tears with a brand new song.”
2. Tedeschi Trucks Band – Revelator
3. The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow
4. The Strokes – Angles
5. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
6. Jonathan Coulton – Artificial Heart
7. Foster the People – Torches
8. The Cars – Move Like This
9. Pat Metheny – What’s It All About
10. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
Honorable Mention: Chris Thile & Michael Daves – Sleep With One Eye Open / Sherlock’s Daughter

John Taylor
1. Wye Oak – Civilian
“Civilian is able to recall stylistic elements from the 70s, 80s and 90s without ever turning to one specific musical trend for inspiration. Each track feels lived in; timeless.”
2. Ty Segall – Goodbye Bread
3. Destroyer – Kaputt
4. Lupe Fiasco – Lasers
5. Wild Beasts – Smother
6. Paul Simon - So Beautiful or So What
7. Big KRIT – Return of 4eva
8. Main Attrakionz – 808s and Dark Grapes II
9. The Weeknd – House of Balloons
10. Slow Club – Paradise
Honorable mention: Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean / Tim Hecker – Ravedeath 1972

Ed Morales
1. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming 
“Anthony Gonzalez makes a double album and defines what the future of music should be – relentless, beautiful and a constant surprise.”
2. Quiet Company – We Are All Where We Belong
3. Army Navy – The Last Place
4. The Joy Formidable - The Big Roar
5. Wild Beasts – Smother
6. Explosions in the Sky – Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
7. Yuck – Yuck
8. Decemberists – The King is Dead
9. The War on Drugs – Slave Ambient
10. Radiohead – King of Limbs
Honorable mention:  Bon Iver – Bon Iver / R.E.M. – Collapse Into Now

Damien Joyce
1. Jane’s Addiction – em>The Great Escape Artist
“It just gets better with each listen and it is great to have them back.”
2. TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light
3. Wilco – The Whole Love
4. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
5. Cults – Cults
6. Memory Tapes – Player Piano
7. The Dodos – No Color
8. Ganglians – Still Living
9. Hey Rosetta – Seeds
10. Red Hot Chill Peppers – I’m With You
Honorable Mention: Balmorhea – Live at Sint-Elisabethkerk /Wooden Shjips – West

Michael Schiele
1. Balam Acab – Wander / Wonder
“The only record of 2011 I think I’ll still be listening to in five years.”
2. Radiohead – King Of Limbs
3. Sleep ∞ Over – Forever
4. War on Drugs – Slave Ambient
5. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
6.  tUnE-yArDs – w h o k i l l
7. Beirut – The Riptide
8. Jürgen Müller – Science of the Sea
9. Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee Part Two
10. Young Galaxy – Shapeshifting
Honorable Mentions: Sun Araw – Ancient Romans / Oneohtrix Point Never – Replica

Dan MacIntosh
1. Dawes – Nothing is Wrong
“This album grabbed the top spot because “Time Spent in Los Angeles” is one of the best songs about my strange city, and because it may not even be the best song on an extremely fine album.”
2. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
3. Switchfoot – Vice Verses
4. Tom Waits – Bad As Me
5. Adele – 21
6. The Decemberists – The King Is Dead
7. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
8. Dave Alvin – Eleven Eleven
9. The Cars – Move Like This
10. Casting Crowns – Come To The Well
Honorable mention: Family Force 5 – III / Mute Math – Odd Soul

Andrew Palmacci
1. Death Cab For Cutie – Codes and Keys 
“Death Cab is one of the few bands of the indie era who continue to make solid albums each time out—Codes and Keys is slightly more effect-driven while retaining the catchiness of Walla’s riffs and programming and Gibbard’s keyboards and earnest wail.”
2. The Decemberists – The King Is Dead
3. Gillian Welch – The Harrow & The Harvest
4. Adele – 21
5. Malajube – La Caverne
6. Foster The People – Torches
7. Ron Sexsmith – Long Player Late Bloomer
8. Rachael Yamagata – Chesapeake
9. The Strokes – Angles
10. Airborne Toxic Event – All at Once
Honorable Mention: Carter Tanton – Freeclouds / Emilie Simon – The Big Machine

Mark Mansfield
1. Kate Bush – 50 Words for Snow
“50 Words for snow is both Icy and warm, elements of  the past mixed with the originality of today– Kate is a genius with a golden voice.”
2. Wire -Red Barked Tree
3. Panda Bear -Tomboy
4. TVOTR -Nine Types of Light
5. Kate Bush -Directors Cut
6. tUnE-yArDs – w h o k i l l
7. March Fouth – Magnificent Beast
8. Paul Simon – So Beautiful or So What
9. Tinariwen – Tassili
10. Balam Acab – Wander Wonder
Honorable Mention: Seefeel – Seefeel / Book of Mormon Soundtrack

Scott Elingburg
1. Destroyer – Kaputt
“Dan Bejar took a left turn into crystalline pop by channeling the ghost of Bryan Ferry and Todd Rundgren and makes the most intricate, delicate, and hummable records of 2011.  I haven’t stopped listening to it since it came out in January and each listen unveils something entirely new.”
2. The War on Drugs - Slave Ambient
3. Paul Simon – So Beautiful or So What
4. Centro-matic – Candidate Waltz
5. tUnE-yArDs – w h o k i l l
6. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
7. Real Estate – Days
8 The Boxer Rebellion – Cold Still
9. Tim Hecker – Ravedeath, 1972
10. KNESSET – Coming of Age
Honorable Mention: The Decemberists – The King is Dead / Masters of the Hemisphere – Maybe These Are The Breaks

Jonathan Scott
1. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
“Lady Gaga and Katy Perry don’t hold a candle to how M83’s Anthony Gonzalez wielded a saxophone to pop perfection on the pulsating, cinematic “Midnight City,” and the rest of Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming follows suit with lush atmospherics and this nary-a-wrong-note sound that is decidedly ’80s and postmodern at the same time.”
2. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
3. Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
4. Over The Rhine – The Long Surrender
5. Adele – 21 
6. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
7. Vanessa Carlton – Rabbits On The Run
8. The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow
9. Beyoncé – 4
10. Florence + the Machine – Ceremonials
Honorable Mention: James Blake (self titled) / Josh Garrels, Love & War & The Sea In Between

Olivia Snider
1.  PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
“Let England Shake, a beautiful if disturbing discussion of the damages of World War I, might be Harvey’s finest album yet.”
2. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
3. Radiohead – King of Limbs
4.The Decemberists – The King is Dead
5. Cults – Cults
6. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
7. Incubus – If Not Now, When?
8. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
9. Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
10. Adele – 21
Honorable Mention: Frank Turner, England Keep My Bones / Florence & The Machine, Ceremonials

Andrew Neel
1. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
“Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” is an incredible success by M83; it’s personal, unique, fun, and memorable music that actually makes me want to pay for an album in an era where it’s so much faster to get it for free.”
2. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
3. Florence + The Machine – Ceremonials
4. Justice – Audio, Video, Disco
5. Destroyer – Kaputt
6. Goyte – Making Mirrors
7. Foster The People – Torches
8. Adele – 21
9. Lil’ Wayne – Tha Carter IV
10. Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
Honorable Mention: TV on the Radio, Nine Types of Light /  Tyler, The Creator, Goblin

Sam Edgin
1. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
“This sophomore release from every white person’s favorite Kanye collaborator fulfilled the promise of For Emma, Forever Ago and then threw in something new, giving us an often exciting, sometimes emotional, and always pleasing auditory experience.”
2. Blind Pilot – We Are the Tide
3. Josh Garrells – Love and War and the Sea In Between
4. The Decemberists – The King is Dead
5. TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light
6. Radiohead – The King of Limbs
7. Jay-Z and Kanye West – Watch the Throne
8. Florence and the Machine – Ceremonials
9. Gillian Welch – The Harrow and the Harvest
10. Lupe Fiasco – Lasers
Honorable Mention: Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile – The Goat Rodeo Sessions