Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Top 10 Favorite Albums of 2011

Hello there fellow music lovers. We are closing the chapter of our lives known as 2011 and beginning a new one with 2012. It seems as if everyone comes up with some sort of “Best of” or “Worst” list for the year and yes, I am no exception. Here are my Top 10 Favorite Albums that were released in 2011. It’s not based on popularity or overall sales or any kind of survey. This is just a list of what moved me in 2011 and let me tell you, it was hard narrowing it down to 10.

10. Peter Gabriel – New Blood: This album contains orchestral re-workings of songs spanning Peter’s career. The songs really take on a whole new life with this rich production and help to re-emphasize how prolific of a songwriter Gabriel really is.

9. Five Finger Death Punch – American Capitalist: Ivan and the boys returned with a huge album this year as it entered the Billboard Top 200 in the Top 10. Of course, there with many who cried “sell-out” when this album was released and it appealed to the masses. I think there is still plenty of aggression there on many tracks just like in earlier releases. Maybe it’s the fact that there are two songs that would fall under the “ballad” label. Regardless, these guys have worked very hard to get to the level that they are at right now and deserve the success they are experiencing.

8. The Foo Fighters – Wasting Light: What a huge year for the Foos! A huge album, a successful tour that included playing alongside many of their idols including Alice Cooper, Roger Taylor of Queen, Joan Jett and John Paul Jones, just to name a few. They received 6 Grammy nominations too! Earlier in the year, they were the musical guests on SNL and Dave even appeared in one of their skits.

7. Sixx A.M. – This Is Gonna Hurt: Nikki’s “side project” just seems to keep getting bigger and bigger. The follow-up to the hugely successful Heroin Diaries came blazing out of the starter’s gate and hasn’t slowed up. “Lies of the Beautiful People” was a huge hit and got the fans clamoring for a tour, even though Nikki has stated that the band is not suppose to be a touring band. I guess time will tell!

6. Anthrax – Worship Music: 1/4th of the Big 4 and one of the pioneers of thrash metal who have been an active force in music for almost 30 years. 2011 saw them release what many have called their defining album. Worship Music saw the return of Joey Belladonna and a return to more of their trademark, classic sound. The band sounds fresh and refocused and their album was met with raving reviews from fans and critics alike. They also played 2 US dates with the Big 4 including a show at Yankee Stadium. The band then ventured out on a very successful headlining tour with Testament as support.

5. Shinedown – Somewhere In the Stratosphere: The band released this as a 2CD/DVD combo with one CD/DVD being an all electric show and the other CD/DVD being an all acoustic show. It was also released in a single CD/DVD combo so the customer could choose which show they would rather have. I love both shows, but the acoustic show is just something magical. Lead singer Brent Smith introduces each song and tells the origins of how the song came about. To take these songs and to strip them down acoustically just shows how special these guys truly are. The music is amazing, but this allows the storyteller side of Brent to truly shine.

4. Adele – 21: Although radio overplayed “Rolling in the Deep” to the point of over toleration, I am still a huge fan of this album. I was sold on Adele with her first album 19 and this just made me an even bigger fan. Her cover of the Cure’s “Lovesong” is just incredible. She appeared on the David Letterman show earlier this year and I was totally blown away with how powerful her voice was live. It was a bit alarming when I heard that she was undergoing throat surgery this year. I mean she is just in her twenties and shouldn’t be having such problems at an early age. All that smoking must have really taken its toll on her! She ended the year by releasing a CD/DVD combo Live at the Royal Albert Hall that really showcased just how special this talented singer truly is.

3. Warrant – Rockaholic: The “down boys” returned in a major way with their first album since Born Again in 2006 and with a new vocalist too. Former Lynch Mob vocalist Robert Mason took over vocal duties on this one and it was a great fit for everyone. The album was reminiscent of that old 80s sound, complete with power ballads, but it still managed to sound current. The first single “Life’s a Song” got the attention of quite a few fans, both young and old. The band didn’t commit to a full tour in 2011, but they did play quite a few live dates.

2. Kopek – White Collar Lies: This Irish trio came out of nowhere in 2011 and created a major buzz. Their debut album White Collar Lies is good, ole fashioned rock and roll and blues with catchy riffs and choruses and meaningful lyrics that show this band is far beyond typical or predictable. They released videos for the title track and “Love is Dead” that were soon all over the internet and other video outlets. They secured the opening spot on the Hinder/Saving Abel/My Darkest Days tour early in the year. Even though they played to venues that were only half full at the most given their early slot, they won crowds over on each stop of the tour.

1. Duran Duran – All You Need is Now: The Wild Boys, minus Andy, returned with an album that saw them return to their old school sound thanks to the production efforts of Mark Ronson. He has been a fan of Duran for a very long time and wanted them to record the “Son of Rio”. The album definitely had that classic Duran vibe to it with John Taylor’s trademark bass providing the backbeat and Nick Rhodes’ countless layers of synth melodies. The band released it exclusively on iTunes for a few months before releasing a physical copy to the retail stores and online. The album debuted at number one on the iTunes charts all around the world. The band went out on a successful tour only to be cut short when Simon suffered from a throat ailment. The band later returned to make up the dates that were cancelled. They even performed a highly viewed concert broadcast on VEVO that was directed by the renowned David Lynch. The second single and video released, “Girl Panic”, caused a bit of a media sensation as it starred several iconic female supermodels that each portrayed a different member of the band. The video was even banned in certain markets for being “too sexy” if you can believe that! The guys have proven that they still have plenty of creativity in them after 30 years of creating countless classics.

So, there you have it! My personal Top 10 Favorite Albums of 2011. You may agree with some and you may disagree too. If you haven’t heard any of these, then I encourage you to take a little time out of your busy schedule and stop and listen to them. Who knows, you may actually get turned onto something that at first you thought you would never like. I hope to see you back here in 2012 to see what that year brought us in music!

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