Top 5 Albums of 2011


By: Dargan Thompson, Assistant Features Editor


All in all, 2011 was a good year for music — except for the emergence of Rebecca Black, but let’s not talk about that. With plenty of solid albums to choose from, it’s hard to narrow it down to just five, but here’s what I came up with:

Foster the People – “Torches”
If you turned on the radio at all this summer or fall, chances are you found yourself whistling along with “Pumped up Kicks.” Foster the People’s music is appealing simply because it is so fun. The LA trio created an album full of indie pop that just makes you want to move. They had everyone saying, “Wait, this song is about a school shooting … but I like it!”

Fleet Foxes – “Helplessness Blues”
Fleet Foxes’ 2008 debut album was a hard act to follow, but the band managed to live up to, and maybe even exceed, fans’ expectations with its eagerly awaited second album. “Helplessness Blues” gives more of the tight harmonies and instrumentals Fleet Foxes fans love, while the lyrics explore deeper issues, such as figuring out one’s place in the world. The tracks flow easily, lending to the value of the album as a complete work, but also allowing individual songs to stand alone. It’s an album you can listen to over and over and enjoy more every time you replay it.

The Civil Wars – “Barton Hollow”
The Civil Wars, consisting of singer-songwriters John Paul White and Joy Williams, got its big break in 2011 with this well-crafted album. Categorized as folk or alternative country, White and Williams simply have gorgeous voices that make their music largely defy a single genre. The duo’s intertwined vocals craft harmonies so beautiful and natural that they need no more than simple guitar riffs for background. Their songs deal with the complexities and pain of love, sometimes soft and sweet, sometimes heartbreaking. And the pair also show their voices can pack a punch with the title song, “Barton Hollow.”

Bon Iver – “Bon Iver”
Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon caught listeners’ attention with his unique falsetto on his first album, “For Emma, Forever Ago.” His sophomore album has a different sound, bringing in more layers of background instrumentals, but Vernon’s voice maintains the same sort of ethereal beauty that makes you just want to sit still and listen. Listeners may not always be able to understand the exact lyrics, but Bon Iver’s music is about much more than the words. It leaves impressions with the changing tempo, the instrumental buildups and the rise and fall of Vernon’s voice.

Adele – “21”
When it comes to pure talent in vocals, you can’t beat Adele. The young Brit didn’t need crazy costumes or dance beats to be the queen of the music charts in 2011. Adele’s songs have a sort of soul and rawness that is rare in the world of pop music. Her amazing set of pipes along with her passion and sassy lyrics make her songs irresistible. Plus, who can refrain from turning up the radio and singing along as loudly as possible every time “Rolling in the Deep” or “Someone Like You” comes on?

Email Dargan Thompson at [email protected]