|There is one constant for 2011, though: In a year as tumultuous as this one, it’s hard not to lose yourself in music as an escape from the depressing headlines hitting the news every day. Who doesn’t want to just throw on some Adele while stuck in traffic and belt out a very off-key rendition of “Someone Like You”? That’s the great thing about music this year. There has been such a wide variety of releases that no matter how your day has gone, you can find something that can dramatically alter your state of mind.So when reading this list, there are certain things to keep in mind. This is not your typical album list. Anyone can look at the Billboard 200 list, pick out the bestsellers and declare them the best albums of the year. Or you can go to metacritic.com, pick the 10 albums with the highest marks, and declare those the best albums. This list, however, looks at what 2011 meant to people and what music reflects that — the best albums to encapsulate the year.
You’ll find no countdowns to number one here. It’s just a list, in no particular order, of 10 great albums, the 10 albums that were so good they deserve to be remembered for years to come. The 10 albums that in some way shaped or made even a slight impact on this year, ones that people will remember when they’re trying to get a feel for 2011 — though to be honest, will anyone really be going out of their way to relive this year?
Without further ado, Egypt Today proudly brings to you the must-have albums of 2011.
JAMIE XX AND GIL SCOTT HERON
We’re New Here
Jamie xx of The xx remixed the late Gil Scott Heron’s last album I’m New Here right before the soul and jazz musician passed away, and the result was one of the most sonically pleasing albums of the year. This album sound constantly changes but one thing stays the same: Heron’s great lyrics and spoken word pieces. This isn’t an album, it’s an experience.
House of Balloons
This was released for free online and brought back R&B to its true and pure form of Rhythm and Blues, not the watered-down mush we are served on the radio.
Bad As me
Every time Tom Waits releases an album it’s an event. As always, Waits’ raspy voice is haunting and the music ranges from upbeat swing to incredibly dark blues. Let’s just hope Scarlett Johansson doesn’t ruin this album with horrible covers.
This album is so simple, so stripped down, so bare, it really is proof that music doesn’t have to be complicated to be good. This is the best release of the indie scene in 2011.
If anyone does not know who Adele is by now, they really must be living under a rock.
No one has ruled the charts the way the sultry songstress has this year. Her album, which comprises one heartbreaking ballad after another, is flawless. So for anyone in need of a good cry, grab some ice cream, slip on those pajamas and throw on this album.
Hot Sauce Committee Part Two
Before Eminem, there were the Beastie Boys. The best white rappers are back and, like it or not, they are as infectious as ever. The always entertaining, sharp-as-a-knife trio brought us this album and along with it a 20-minute star-studded short film that reclaims their crown as the Music Video Kings.
JAY-Z & KANYE WEST
Watch The Throne
Sure it’s not the best album of the year and some songs on the album miss their mark, but it would be foolish not to mention this collaboration between two of this decade’s hip-hop greats. The album’s high notes are “Paris,” “A New Day” and “Otis.”
Drake’s second album brings back memories of the mixtape that gained him notoriety and made him one of the most sought-after acts of 2009. This release gives a glimpse into the rapper’s life, and, frankly, it’s quite a view.
TV ON THE RADIO
Nine Types of Light
The Brooklyn-based art-rockers released another great addition to their near-perfect discography. The video for “Will Do” is one of the most stunning videos released this year. It’s beautifully shot and, like this album, is just so easy to get lost in.
This free release isn’t exactly a full album seeing as it is only five songs, but it is the best five-song release of the year. It is incredibly addictive and the production work alone is impeccable. This is a must listen for any rap fan.