Radiohead and Kate Bush top our list of 2011 albums. Argue away.
6/11Anna Calvi album cover
7/11Chris Connelly, Artifical Madness album cover
8/11Earth; Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I album cover
9/11Liturgy, Aesthetica album cover
10/11My Morning Jacket, Circuital album cover
11/11Tune-Yards, w h o k i l l album cover
This year, I let statistics do the ranking. The records are in order of the play counts in my iTunes. That way, the results could even surprise me. —Brent DiCrescenzo
43The King of Limbs Radiohead The proggy Brits are slowly growing more erotic, building looping, Afrocentric grooves in their nerdy, gushily emotive way.
39Angles The Strokes The Strokes’ “Under Cover of Darkness” and “Life Is Simple in the Moonlight” got the most plays of any individual songs.
29Hot Sauce Committee Part Two Beastie Boys The grizzled trio jumped back on track with gastronomical couplets and chic ray-gun electronics.
19Wounded Rhymes Lykke Li In a year in which pop sounded more artificial than ever, I grasped onto the singercentric. Like the next two LPs, this spacious record focused on the voice.
18Biophilia Björk I’m a science nerd, and she plays a bass line on a Tesla coil. Sparse and spine-tingling, but as warming as wool.
154 Beyoncé Months late, this clicked; the greatest display of the human throat outside of opera. At first, it seemed mellow and restrained, but it puts B up front. Bucking all trends, here is a subtle pop album.
11Nine Types of Light TV on the Radio The more confident and accessible (gasp!) TVOTR gets, the more I get the hype.
10The Big Roar The Joy Formidable Cuisinart guitars and buttercream melodies. The closest thing to Siamese Dream in two decades.
10undun The Roots Just out and catching up fast. At 30 minutes, it’s concise, which helps. Like a rap album from 1976, it has fantastic funk snap, despite some dodgy metaphors from Black Thought.
9Hotel Shampoo Gruff Rhys Lush pop and the smartest lyrics of the year.
Hard to say how many times I’ve listened to the following albums, but suffice to say I’d probably have driven my cubemates crazy were I not wearing headphones.—Areif Sless-Kitain
150 Words for Snow Kate Bush England’s reigning art-rock queen returns with the perfect winter album, composed of seven frostbitten odes to the season. That season just so happens to include a yeti sighting and a snowman lover. Even a duet with Elton John can’t keep this off the top of my list.
2Artificial Madness Chris Connelly Chicago’s favorite Revolting Cock delivers and then some, his Bowie-esque bark an elegant counterpoint to the enraged guitars captured on this technophobic tour de force, his most aggressive dispatch in years.
3w h o k i l l Tune-Yards Exotically warped art-hop from a former puppeteer with a voice like a police siren, who’s adept at inhabiting more voices than Sybil.
4Circuital My Morning Jacket Lollapalooza’s underdog headliner gave us some of the year’s best songs. Case in point, a sea of concertgoers singing “Holdin on to Black Metal.”
5Aesthethica Liturgy Speaking of black metal, the singer of this NYC quartet of post-headbangers went so far as to write a treatise on the genre. Possibly Thrill Jockey’s most punishing release ever.
6Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I Earth Dylan Carlson continues his slow-motion descent into Americana’s dark abyss. With the tremolo turned up, Carlson lets the sustain say all there is to say.
7The Harrow & The Harvest Gillian Welch Welch and David Rawlings are the music world’s closest thing to a real-life American Gothic, pressing their latest country-folk bloom into dried flowers so they’ll last longer.
8The Light of the Sun Jill Scott After gaining a son and losing a husband, the Philly diva reminds us that heartbreak makes great R&B, and that neosoul isn’t such a dirty word.
9Anna Calvi Anna Calvi The PJ Harvey record that people really wanted, smothered in red lipstick and draped in a matador’s cape.
10The Golden Age of Apocalypse Thundercat A fascinating (if scattered) Flying Lotus–produced solo bow from a bassist who’s played with everyone from Erykah Badu to Suicidal Tendencies. Imagine the sound of a Thundercat cruising through the galaxy on his space yacht circa 1975. Hoooo!