Well, it’s that time of the year again where everybody and they mamas drop a list of their favorite albums that came out this past year. I was actually pretty close to not putting together a list, but was persuaded to in the end. For the last few years we’ve taken a different approach where we’ve reached out to different groups of people in the music industry. This year though, I thought it would be best to keep shit simple and just publish the Killahbeez & SpeakerBoxxx staff list. With each list, each writer has shared their thoughts. So with that have a read below and let us know if you agree / disagree with our lists.
DT | twitter: @david_thai
I felt like this year in general was quite good for music and had a hard time whittling my list down to ten, but in the end I went with the albums that I felt really just spoke to my mind frame this past year. M83’s album was a no-brainer at the number 1 spot, it’s one of the most complete pieces from beginning to end and when I first heard the album (August / September when it first leaked) it blew my mind and upon repeat listens, I would consistently be transported to another world. Cheesy, I know, but fuck, I love this album because of it. I actually felt that way with The Weeknd’s House of Balloons as well. That album also somewhat redefined what RnB to me is, we’re so use to hearing the high-energy, dance-pop RnB bullshit, that we sometimes forget how grown and sexy shit SHOULD really be and The Weeknd’s album did just that.
A surprise favorite of mine on the list is Coeur de Pirate’s Blonde. I don’t speak a word of French, yet I loved listening to her album, it was just quite simply beautiful. Also her cover of The Weeknd’s “Wicked Games” won me over big time. To be totally honest I feel like the final 3 spots could easily replaced with other albums, I kept flip-flopping. Other albums I considered were Danny Brown, The Roots, The Black Keys amongst others.
1. M83 Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
2. The Weeknd House of Balloons
3. Holy Ghost! Holy Ghost!
4. Lykke Li Wounded Rhymes
5. Toro Y Moi Underneath The Pine
6. Coeur de Pirate Blonde
7. Washed Out Within and Without
8. Charles Bradley No Time for Dreaming
9. Tiger & Woods Through The Green
10. Real Estate Days
Michelle | twitter: @michdas
For me, music in 2011 was all about anticipation and satisfaction. Many of the artists on my top-10 list were out to prove themselves a second time around after releasing incredible debut albums a year or two before. Lykke Li dropped Wounded Rhymes early on in the year. This hotly-anticipated 10-track follow-up to 2008’s Youth Novels not only had her explore deeper and darker territories, but songs like dance track “I Follow Rivers” and the 50s-sounding “Sadness is a Blessing” also showed her maturity as an artist. In late Spring, Seattle folk-rockers Fleet Foxes released Helplessness Blues, the three-year-in-the-making follow-up to the sextet’s self-titled debut. I remember hearing frontman Robin Pecknold’s soothing tenor-range vocals sing the opening lines to the titular song for the first time, and the gradual build up to the full spectrum of vocal harmonies and instruments at the end. Needless to say, it was a pretty emotional moment as I sat there, jaw-dropped in awe. The same feelings resurfaced upon listening to album opener “Montezuma”, followed by the near-50-minutes of musical storytelling that go on after it, thereby firmly cementing the album into the number-one spot on my top-10 list. Other albums that made the cut? I don’t think anyone’s surprised to see Florence and the Machine’s very haunting follow-up to 2009’s powerful Lungs. I also don’t think anyone doubted that Jay-Z and Kanye West would be able to knock one out of the park with their collaborative release. Newbie James Blake’s experimental, syncopated, dissonant version of pop-rock was something to be marveled at, and it’s not mere consequence that The Weeknd made r&b-heads take note all the way up in Canada with his self-released House of Balloons. Check back in another two or three years, and you shouldn’t be surprised to see these same artists make the cut on top-10 lists again.
1. Fleet Foxes Helplessness Blues
2. Florence and the Machine Ceremonials
3. James Blake James Blake
4. Lykke Li Wounded Rhymes
5. Beirut The Rip Tide
6. The Weeknd House of Balloons
7. Jay-Z and Kanye West Watch the Throne
8. M83 Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
9. Bon Iver Bon Iver
10. TV on the Radio Nine Types of Light
Nicole | twitter: @tokyo_to
It’s that time of year again when we’re all compiling of ‘Best Of’ lists, pondering what albums ruled our 2011. For me, there were some clear favourites, so it made choosing my top ten albums just a wee bit easier than previous years. The majority of albums on my list are ones that really stood out to me throughout my first listens like Lykke Li’s Wounded Rhymes and Florence and the Machine’s Ceremonials. Other albums, like Girls’ Father, Son, Holy Ghost, were more of the ‘grower’ type. They’re all great albums and judging by the number of plays, I’d say that my iTunes would agree as well. 2011 was a great year in terms of awesome album releases so I can’t wait to see how 2012 tops this year.
1. Lykke Li Wounded Rhymes
2. Bon Iver Bon Iver
3. The Black Keys El Camino
4. Florence and the Machine Ceremonials
5. James Blake James Blake
6. Real Estate Days
7. Starfucker Reptilians
8. Youth Lagoon The Year of Hibernation
9. Oh Land Oh Land
10. Girls Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Diverse list? I know. That’s how I roll. First, these favourites are in no particular order. Second, I think it’s safe to say that the first eight albums on my list are relatively obvious choices (or so I hope). You might, however, question my last two choices. Pitbull: BIG closet latin/reggaeton lover right here. Andrea Bocelli: Amazing. If you can believe it, I love opera and recently flew to Vegas to see Bocelli in concert. Although I love all the albums on my list, the ones I play the most as background, work, cooking, etc., music, are Radiohead and Cut Copy.
1. The Weeknd House of Balloons
2. Adele 21
3. Kings of Leon Come Around Sundown
4. Drake Take Care
5. Radiohead The King of Limbs
6. Cut Copy Zonoscope
7. Lykke Li Wounded Rhymes
8. Lupe Fiasco Lasers
9. Pitbull Planet Pit
10. Andrea Bocelli Concerto: One Night In Central Park
Van | twitter: @meeesterVan
Following last year’s trend, I’ve listed several of my favorite mixes and threw in a compilation and one album. Going off a tangent, I also favored a soundtrack this year. In the sub-genres of nu-disco and cosmic balearic, I felt any Mighty Mouse or Magician Mix would do. But every subsequent charts mix (by both artists) just seems to gets better and better. Both are excellent selectors as well as producers. The only album in the list by Holy Ghost really resonated well with me after witnessing their live performance this past Thanksgiving. The live mixes by Robert Owens, The Revenge and Light Spectrum mix were a result of Soundcloud surfing and I have to say nothing beats hearing the creativity that comes out of a live mix or discovering a new talent. Meanwhile, the gentlemen of Kitsune Maison deliver another banger of a compilation. I honestly look to their annual compilations to discover new talent. With the Shame soundtrack, the result of adding to this list stemmed from having heard Harry Escott’s score in the trailer and seeing the movie poster not too long after at the Sunshine Theater. Next thing you know, I’ve committed myself to an iTunes purchase.
1. Seekae Exclusive Mix for Dazed Digital
2. Kitsune Maison Compilation 12: The Good Fun Issue.
3. Robert Owens Live at The Nest
4. Mighty Mouse December 2011 Mixtape
5. Light Spectrum November Mix
6. Holy Ghost “Holy Ghost!”
7. The Revenge – Red Bull Music Academy Mix
8. The Magician – Magic Tape Seventeen
9. We Love Music – Tensnake
10. Shame Soundtrack