Category Archives: Best of 2011

#20: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – It's a Corporate World

You can tell by their name alone that Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. isn’t an act to be taken too seriously. They obviously don’t take themselves as such.

However, once you look passed their name, you will find some of the most polished and solid indie rock music of the year. Their sound is completely original, but it is reminiscent of the likes of the Fleet Foxes, mixed with a little bit of Turin Brakes. No matter what sort of blend you can come up with on your own for their sound, there is no arguing that it is wonderful to listen to.

I look forward to seeing what DEJJ do next. I hear that they are incredible live so I certainly hope they are able to make it to South Florida in the very near future.

Here is the official music video for their single, “Simple Girl.”

This album is available for purchase on Amazon.com here.

#21: The War on Drugs – Slave Ambient

It’s hard to find good rock-n-roll music today. I’m glad I found War on Drugs to combat that notion.

Reminiscent of the likes of Tom Petty, the group gives a classic rock sound on Slave Ambient, that almost sounds like it was recorded in the 1980s. It’s catchy, well-written, and most importantly, very charming to listen to.

Here is a video of the single “Come To the City.”

The War on Drugs – “Come to the City” (Official Music Video) from Urban Outfitters on Vimeo.

If you’d like to find out more about this album, check it out on Amazon.

#22: Young the Giant – Young the Giant

I first found out about and fell in love with Young the Giant in mid-2010. I was first exposed to the song “I Got” randomly. It has stayed on my repeatable music chart ever since.

Young the Giant deserves credit for being one of the few alternative rock/pop groups to break into the scene in the last few years. Today, the music industry hates pop/rock acts, and YTG have somehow defied all odds this year. They were even highlighted during MTV’s Video Music Awards this year.

As a whole, the album is good but there is definite room for improvement here. Honestly, these guys barely made this countdown and it’s all thanks to the fact that I have always had a bias toward promising new alternative rock acts. It’s my musical achilles heel.

If you’re interested in this album, check it out on Amazon.

23: Mayer Hawthorne – How Do You Do

Amazon describes this album as “retro soul.” It’s grooving. It’s funky. And no matter what, it’s impossible to stand still listening to it.

How Do You Do is Mayer’s second effort and it’s the release that just might elevate his career. The album just came out in October, yet he is already receiving a great deal of critical praise for it. We’ll see how far it takes him.

Here’s the video for his single, “The Walk.”

If you’d like to pick up this album, check it out on Amazon.

#24: Lady Gaga – Born This Way

Before you go on and judge me for including one of the world’s most famous and mainstream artists on a countdown that is mostly dominated by actual good music that is harder to find, allow me to explain why Lady Gaga’s Born This Way made the cut.

First of all, if none of her songs ever hit radio, she would be one of the “coolest” artists to be a fan of. She’s super weird; very mysterious; passionate; loves her fan; and puts on an incredible live performance. Put all of those together (and the quality of music) and you have yourself a truly one-of-a-kind artist.

The truth is that her popularity is obviously justified. She’s great at what she does and there is no denying it. She’s still SO early in her musical career, yet I can already tell that she will be known in history as one of the most game-changing artists ever.

Born This Way is a well-produced album that features a lot of Gaga’s loved diversity. The songs are meaningful, they’re fun, and most importantly to her, they’re infectious.

As an example, the video below is for the song “You and I.” I personally think it’s one of the best all-around songs of the year. And it wasn’t even her first single.

To purchase this album, head on over to Amazon.

#25: Childish Gambino – Camp

Donald Glover seems to be blessed with the gift of having very good timing. A week ago, he, also known under the rap moniker of Childish Gambino, was securely placed on the countdown as merely an “honorable mention.” However, like he always seems to do, he presented himself with a major impact on his recent Comedy Central stand-up special just as I was finalizing this countdown. While he doesn’t rap in his stand-up, his confidence and presentation made me give his latest hip-hop album, Camp, one more listen.

Instantly, I heard the album in a much different light. His clever lines were even smarter this time around and his stories were even more relatable. Perhaps this is just a prime example of simply “liking someone,” but based on the critic reviews the album is currently receiving, I’m not alone in my admiration for this album.

There’s no denying the influence of Kanye West on this album. In fact, there is evidence of a great deal of hip-hop influences. But that’s what makes the CD so good. It’s entertaining all the way through and it’s versatility and accessibility make it worthwhile for any and everybody to listen to.

Below is a video of the song “Heartbeat.”

If you are interested in purchasing this album, you can find it on Amazon.

The 25 Days of Music Countdown 2011

It’s that time of year again. Already. Where did 2011 go?

In honor of the 25 Days of Christmas, we will be launching our very own “25 Days of Music” countdown on Thursday, December 1st.

Everyday throughout December, we will unveil one of the best new albums in the list of 25.

That’s the 25 best albums of the year according to yours truly. We’ll start at 25 and end on Christmas Day by announcing the best album of the year.

This is my fifth year doing the “25 Days of Music” countdown. I’ll leave links to years’ past below, as well as the best ways to follow the countdown.

You can subscribe to this blog via RSS.

Or, follow me on Twitter.

Check out the countdown feed from previous years:

2007

2008

2009

2010

See you back here on Thursday!