RB’s “Best of 2011” Staff Picks #5 – Best Album of 2011!
Today is our 5th and final installment of RB’s “Best of 2011” Staff Picks – Best Album of 2011! This is the grandaddy of all the awards. There is a tremendous amount of time and effort that goes into making a complete album, especially one that excels from start to finish. Every band strives to make that perfect album, and it is that transcendent pursuit that pushes the artist to their creative limits. 2011 has seen the release of so many amazing albums that it is difficult to choose only one…but that’s what we asked our staff to do! Check out our staff picks for “Best Album of 2011” after the jump!
RB Staff Picks #3 – Best New Band of 2011
1. Ronnie: Black Box Revelation – My Perception
The album hasn’t even officially been released in the United States yet, and won’t be until sometime in 2012. But if you got your hands on the UK release this October, you know just how good this bad boy is. The Belgium duo’s third album puts it all together. Raw and catchy garage rock with the production level to make it polished enough for the world’s ears. And guess who was behind it all- producer of the year (ya, I just gave that award out) Alain Johannes. I’m not sure how Black Box Revelation got in touch with Alain, but whoever guided em’ that way had it right on. Garage rock can easily get stuck in distortion and lo-fi production, but Alain was able to expand their range with new sounds and techniques, to make an album that screams for attention in all genres of rock music. “Madhouse” opens with an Iggy Pop inspired vibe and gets the album going. “Rattle My Heart” is your classic European style sing along- Razorlight put through the grinder, chewed up, and spit out with some intensity. “Shadowman” has the haunting backing vocals found on Queens of the Stone Age cuts, with a bass line driving like a BRMC song with a chorus that fits the mold as well. Check out “2 Young Boys” to get a feel for exactly what Black Box Revelation can do with their sound under the right direction. I just mentioned four of my favorite artists when describing four songs off the album- that’s a very good thing. Especially since there is not “skipper” out of the 11 songs on the album. The best part about it, Jan Paternoster’s unique vocals make everything seem fresh and exciting. When this album is released next year in the US, Black Box Revelation will be lighting up the blogs, music venues, and ears of everyone here. They are coming, and My Perception is going to be their battle songs. Don’t wait, get this excellent album now.
2. Ryan: Mastodon – The Hunter
“Mastodon’s 5th album The Hunter is a metal album for the people!” It is a truly complete album that took an extremely talented band known for their elaborate metal riffs and unconventional album structures and made them accessible to the world. Mastodon has refused to be limited to any one music genre and that “dare to be great” attitude led them to team up for this album with producer Mike Elizondo who is best known for his work with hip-hop artists like 50 Cent, Eminem, and Jay-Z as well as other notably non-metal artists such as Alanis Morissette, Nelly Furtado, and Fiona Apple. The result? A full 13 track album that is extremely strong all the way through. It is highlighted by hard-hitting singles like “Curl of the Burl”, “Blasteroid”, and “Stargasm” which are dominated by the classic metal-driven Mastodon riffs. The band’s diversity also shows with beautiful tracks such as “The Hunter” and “The Sparrow.” This is the best album of the year not only because it is such an amazing album, and it is truly epic, but also because it is a huge leap forward for an already great band. This album will be the band’s calling card for many years to come.
Honorable Mention (almost a tie): Jane’s Addiction – The Great Escape Artist
3. Andrew: Jane’s Addiction – The Great Escape Artist
I know everybody else has been dancing around it, trying to pick something more unique, but sometimes the obvious choice is the best choice. THIS ALBUM KILLS IT! I’ve listened to this album all the way through at least 50 times, and I still don’t skip any songs. “Curiosity Kills” and “Irresistible Force” get you hooked, and just when you think it’s all downhill from there, “Splash a Little Water On It” ends up stealing the show. I’ve always been a fan of JA, and Perry Farrell and Dave Navarro together have always made for a memorable live show, but I wasn’t sure if their sound would translate over time like it has. This album has created a whole new generation of JA fans, and for good reason. Plus, it’s so refreshing not to have to be disappointed by another legendary group releasing a subpar album.
4. Tiffany: The Black Keys – El Camino
Yup. I’m going to be that Oscar-syndrome person who names something that was just released as best of the year. Call it recency effect, I call it a great album. Admittedly, I didn’t love El Camino the first listen through, but now that I am on listen fifteen, I find myself loving each song more and more. Yes, it’s much more produced and radio-friendly than The Black Keys’ first three full-lengths, but the core gritty sound is still present. They’ve mastered the bluesy rock sound I love, and Danger Mouse put a great radio-friendly production on the album. Listen, I’m a fan of when bands gain traction and can make money doing what they love. I am particularly a fan when the fame doesn’t completely dissolve the core sound that I’ve come to love about a band. El Camino is a perfect package of when a band goes big, and does it right.
5. Shawn: The War on Drugs – Slave Ambient
I know that like half of my articles are on these guys but they’re amazing. If I could I’d put them down in every single category but I will restrain myself and add some variety. This album blows my mind on so many levels. Not only because of the resemblance to classic Dylan, Springsteen and Petty but also because of the use of big organ sounds, trance inducing guitars, awesome lyrics and overall songwriting. Slave Ambient will go down as one of the most eclectic independently produced albums ever.
6. Stephanie: Young the Giant – Self-Titled
I’ll throw my vote in with the eponymous album from my Most Exciting New Act: Young the Giant. Their debut album is quietly compelling. These tracks get me through my days without pissing off the bosses.
RB would like to thank our staff for their tireless efforts this year listening to all of that (mostly) great music and sharing their thoughts and insights with the world. We would also like to thank all of the bands that make the music, you are why we are here! Keep sending us your music and we will keep listening to it and sharing it.