Guitar World Staff Picks: Josh Hart's Top 10 Albums of 2011
Is it just me, or is an album's release date becoming less and less relevant?
I'm not just talking about piracy or over-saturation of the market leading to release dates that just don't feel as special -- though even at my relatively young age, I can fondly remember waiting in line at FYE to buy a new album. I'm saying that the way we consume music is changing in such a way that makes when an album came out nearly irrelevant.
Maybe it's the fact that the Internet has made terms like "obscure" obsolete, or how "old" no longer means "out of print," but I kind of dig how all music seems to sort of exist in this weird, atemporal ether of "now." Maybe 2011 is the time David Kusek wrote about in The Future of Music, in which he envisioned "a future in which music will be like water: ubiquitous and free-flowing."
Or maybe I'm just lazy and all that is just an excuse for why I tried to cheat in my choice for No. 1 ...
02. The War on Drugs - Slave Ambient
This was an album I listened to once and then filed away, only to find myself still humming melodies from it weeks later. When I finally revisited it, it stuck with me more than almost any other record this year.
03. Gang of Four - Content
Their first proper studio album in 15 years, the reformed Gang of Four managed to produce their best album since 1981’s Solid Gold. As an added bonus, they were also by far the best live show I've seen all year.
04. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
I'll admit to having been a Noel Gallagher/Oasis skeptic for most of my life, but sometime this year it finally dawned on me: dude can write a song.
06. Wire - Red Barked Tree
Wire will never make another Pink Flag. Once you can get past that, you may realize their recent output has been very high-quality.
05. Cynic - Carbon-Based Anatomy EP
Expect Cynic's next full-length to top a lot of year-end lists when it finally comes out.
08. Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring For My Halo
"Raindrops might fall on my head sometimes, but I don't pay 'em any mind. Then again, I guess it ain't always that way." My lyric of the year.
07. Opeth - Heritage
I start to cringe anytime a band starts referencing ‘70s prog rock when talking about a new album – hey, I love Atomic Rooster as much as the next guy, but it’s 2011 – but Mikael Akerfeldt proved that there are still some new ideas there. And no, I don’t miss the screaming.
10. Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
I'll never read the book, but if the soundtrack's got Trent's name on it, count me in.
09. Radiohead - The King of Limbs
While I'd love for the band to break some new ground again, that doesn't mean TKOL is a bad album, as a lot of reviewers implied.
01. Pink Floyd – Animals (reissue)
Okay, so it's not my real No. 1, but the remastered version of this album sounds fantastic, and I probably spent more time listening to it than anything else this year. In fact, if every year-end list were based on what I had actually listened to the most over a year, Animals would probably be my No. 1 every year.
01. David Bazan – Strange Negotiations
David Bazan is easily one of the best lyricists going today, bar none. After setting the bar extremely high with 2009’s Curse Your Branches, Bazan once again delivers with a moody set of rock tunes that – while not bad in their own right – serve as the perfect vehicles for his words.