My top 5 albums of 2011

MusicWhen it comes to music I tend to get hooked on one artist/group for a while and find it hard to break away from those albums. Here is my list of my top 5 most played albums for 2011:

5. Lupe Fiasco – Lasers

Lupe Fiasco - Lasers After the success of his last album The Cool I couldn’t wait for Lupe to put out his next. It was a long wait but Lasers did not disappoint.

There are so many great tracks on this album, but if I had to pick three favourites I’d have to go with: Words I Never Said feat. Skylar Grey, I Don’t Wanna Care Right Now feat. MDMA, and All Black Everything.

Here’s the video for Words I Never Said feat. Skylar Grey:

4. Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch The Throne

Jay-Z & Kanye West - Watch The ThroneOf all the concerts that I’ve missed, this is the one I wish I had gone to most. When the album first came out I wasn’t a huge fan of it, but it grew on me over time.

For a while it was on constant repeat on my phone and out of the great selection of tracks my top three would have to be: No Church in the Wild, N—-s in Paris, and Gotta Have It.

Here’s the video for the first single from the album, Otis:

3. The Black Keys – El Camino

The Black Keys - El CaminoEl Camino came out later in the year, and by that time I was still overplaying their last album Brothers, so I was fairly certain they’d make into my top 5 list.

Within a couple hours of listening, I was hooked. Some of my favourites are: Lonely Boy, Dead and Gone, and though the chorus sounds a lot like a track from Metric, Nova Baby.

Here’s the video for Lonely Boy:

2. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted FantasyKanye always seems to put out a good album so I had no doubt this one would be any different, and of course I wasn’t wrong.

The best three tracks off the album in my humble opinion are: Monster (thanks to Nikki Minaj), Runaway feat. Pusha T, and Gorgeous feat. Kid Cudi & Raekwon.

Here’s the video for Runaway:

1. The Strokes – Angles

The Strokes - Angles I was never really a big enough fan of The Strokes to listen to their albums, but I really liked the first single from this one so I decided to give them a listen. After it was released in March, I kept it on replay for quite a while and ended coming back to it when not listening to the albums above.

Here’s the video for Under the Cover of Darkness:

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The best of 2010: Music

I am a huge fan of music. Yes it may be mainstream, and not indie enough for you hipsters out there, but it’s what I enjoy. What are your top albums of the year? Did any of mine make your list? I’m always open to listening to new artists so please share!

5. Shad – TSOL

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of London, Ontario born rapper Shad by now – if not, check out his first video “The Old Prince Still Lives At Home” and that should jog your memory.

I’ve been looking forward to TSOL for quite a while now, especially after the first single “Yaa I Get It” was released. The album is a lot more polished than his previous work, and quite a few tracks are catchy and single-worthy to me. Shad has a ton of skill and is one of those true stars that’s flying under the radar. It’s only a matter of time before an American label recognizes him and puts him on front stage like he deserves.

4. Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown

Ever since I started listening to Kings of Leon a year or two ago, they’ve quickly shot to the top of my favourite bands list. It’s great rock music, with that southern spirit that is too hard to not enjoy.

Come Around Sundown started off a bit slow for me. It took a few listens before I could really get into this one, but then it felt like I’d been listening to it for years. I’ve even wondered if I had put on one of their old albums by mistake a couple of times.

Overall the album is a continuation of what they did on the Only By The Night album, so there isn’t nothing new there.. but hey, why mess with a good thing?

3. Broken Bells – (Self Titled)

I’m not really sure what got me listening to Broken Bells, but I’m happy I decided to give them a chance. Consisting of James Mercer (The Shins) and Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley), the two come together to create a great combination of vocals and sounds. The album is great for long drives or lazy Sundays, and best of all a few of the songs are catchy so you’ll be humming them all day.

Here’s, The Ghost Inside, which is a great track from the duo. It also features Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks, so obviously it’s  a hit with me 🙂

2. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

This is an album I never would’ve expected to see anywhere near my top 5 list, but here it is. Arcade Fire is a band I’ve long considered to be overhyped. Yes their music is good, but the adoration it receives from many kind of turns me off.

I decided to let all bias go and test out the album. It took quite a few listens, but it eventually started growing on me. Next thing I knew, I was listening to it pretty much non stop on the subway ride into work for 2 or 3 weeks, which with all the music on my iPod is quite the feat.

If you’re not a big fan of Arcade Fire, give this album a try; I promise you’ll at the very least like it. This one is the most deserving to be on my list because as I said, I wasn’t their biggest fan before hand.

Here’s The Suburbs video which is of course the title track, and also a great one:

1. Vampire Weekend – Contra

Definitely not a conventional sound that everyone will like, Contra by Vampire Weekend has been sold for the longest out of this top 5 group (January), but still manages to keep me coming back. Last year I wish I’d put Dragonette’s Fixin’ To Thrill at the top of my list, because it was one of those albums that did the same, so I wasn’t about to miss the opportunity this year (not to say Franz Ferdinand was any less deserving of the #1 spot).

Back in March I wrote a post breaking down the album fairly well so please check it out: My Musical Fix: Vampire Weekend

NEW VIDEO: Kings of Leon – Radioactive

I’ve been hearing about Kings of Leon working on their new album but now that I know “Come Around Sundown” is coming out October 19, I can’t wait. I think next to Metric (side post: when are THEY coming out with another album? Jeez..), these guys are probably my favourite band.

Anyway, back to the video: I love this track! It’s a catchy tune with that typical Caleb Followill raspiness that is the Kings of Leon sound. The song (and video) has that southern American feel to it; I guess the guys wanted to head back to their roots, which are showing a lot. In an MTV article, drummer Nathan Followill is quoted saying the type of music was what they grew up with.

“Gospel music was a big part of us growing up,” the drummer said, “so to be able to come back and revisit that part of our lives at this stage in our lives is a very special thing.”

It’s good to see the band taking a fresh approach to their music. I’m excited for the upcoming one and will definitely be keeping an eye out for it. What do you think of the “Radioactive”?

My musical addiction: B.O.B

Artist: Bobby Simmons

Album: The Adventures of Bobby Ray

Release Date: April 27, 2010

Up until about two weeks ago I had no clue who this guy was, until after I saw he sampled a Vampire Weekend song. I decided to check out the track and liked it.

The album has a few great tracks on it and features the likes of Hayley Williams (Paramore), Lupe Fiasco, T.I., Eminem, etc. So for an artist I’d never heard of he had some good backing and production on this album. It likely won’t be an album I’ll want to listen to a year or two down the road, but for now it’s catchy and has quite a few single-worthy tracks on it. One of them is Airplanes, part II featuring Hayley Williams & Eminem. The Eminem part really made the song for me, which was and still is a bit of a shock, since I’d grown quite sick of him over the years.

This is a fun summer album that if you’re into the top 40 kind of music, you’ll probably enjoy. If you’re more “indy” then this isn’t one for you. Here’s the first single off of the album called Nothin’ on you. It’s a great, catchy track as well. Enjoy!

My Musical Fix: Vampire Weekend

Artist: Vampire Weekend

Album: Contra

Release Date: January 12, 2010

For a couple months now Vampire Weekend‘s follow up release to their self-titled album has been a constant on my iPod Touch. Contra has been billed as a West Coast album by an East Coast band (cant find article) and after a while I began to understand. It’s the perfect album to listen to for a pick-me-up, when it’s cloudy or anytime in the morning when you need to get going.

The first song, Horchata, can be a bit of a weird one if you’re listening for the first time, but once the song picks up its somewhat weirdly placed vocals seem perfectly in sync with the background music. Moving on to song two, White Sky, we get a much more catchy tune. Listening on a crowded bus or subway can be a bit weird once the loud vocals kick in, but if you adjust your volume or just don’t care, then you can get over it.

I enjoy the ENTIRE album front-to-back but Holiday is the first song that really gets me into it. It’s a fast paced, upbeat song and it just seems to make everything right again. California English has a great start with its vocal effects. It’s another fast-paced song that keeps the tempo of Holiday and another you’ll want to listen to over and over again. Taxi Cab and Run slow the album down a notch, but it comes back with Cousins, which is the fastest song on the album (and even faster on the radio).

Giving Up the Gun is a great song to sing along to with slower vocals but a energetic tempo. The video (below) goes perfectly with it and has a surprising amount of cameos in it to boot. Diplomat’s Son is an awesome song, simply because it has M.I.A. as the background beat for the first part; it has a bit of an electric-reggae feel and to me is the song that has the best west-coast feel on the album. Ending with Contra the album goes out on a slow, relaxed note; almost like a sunset on a summer’s day (cheesy?).

What are your thoughts on the album?

(w00t this is my 50th post!)

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