There were hundreds of albums released in 2011, and followers of musicscramble would have read some of our reviews as they release through the year. However, looking back over 2011 and despite many top bands returning with album releases it felt like there was a somewhat of a ‘stunning album drought’.
Unlike previous years it was a little easier to make a Top Ten albums list for 2011, but culling the list of strong albums down to ten was still difficult – just easier than previous years. Without further comment here is my list.
10 Evanescence – Evanescence
I admit, it surprised me! Amy Lee is back with a new band who are firing on all cylinders, arriving on the scene with something to prove and an album worthy of really listening to. Sure, it’s still pseudo-Scandinavian Gothic Rock, and there is no shortage of crystal-shattering high notes and ballads, but Evanescence the album is worth the effort to listen to.
9 Jane’s Addiction – The Great Escape Artist
Another band returning to the fray after an absence and slight line-up change is Jane’s Addiction. The Great Escape Artist is a strong rock album, and much less psychedlic and funk-tinged than their classic years. But it is no less necessary. What we have here is an album – with guest appearances from the likes of Duff McKagan (who co-wrote three songs) – which is mature, considered and relaxed. I love Jane’s Addiction and when I first heard it I was surprised; it sounded like them but it also didn’t. Much less erratic, The Great Escape Artist is a great album for a band entering a new phase in their career.
8 Megadeth – Th1rt3en
Megadeth have released a new album almost every 18 months for the past four and a half years. Th1rt3en is the first to feature founding member, bassist Dave Ellefson since Rust In Peace. The album is superb, and I am sure Dave was a major factor in that. I really liked 2007’s United Abominations, really disliked follow-up Endgame and am starting to love Th1rt3en. In my view, United Abominations was a myriad in great ideas and great melody and OK songs, wheras Endgame was an exercise in playing as fast as possible. Th1rt3en takes both elements of these albums, sprinkles in some Dave Ellefson and magic and frankly stands up as the true successor to Rust In Peace. High praise indeed.
7 Red Hot Chili Peppers – I’m With You
Their first album in 6 years, and also the first with new guitarist Josh. Things could have went either way here in my view, but thankfully the cards fell in a positive direction. It is not a stunning album by past glories, but it is a damned impressive album with a slight change in direction, no doubt forced by the departure of John Frusciante. However in their third decade the Red Hot Chili Peppers are still producing quality output as I’m With You proves.
6 Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
I have a love/hate relationship with Foo Fighters. I disliked them for a very long time, or at least believed I did. In truth Foo Fighters are an awesome live band, whose albums never quite stood up to the live show. Add to that, the strength of their singles and a few albums tracks standing head and shoulders above the rest of the album, and until now I couldn’t listen to a whole Foo Fighters album; though the came close with In Your Honor. Wasting Light is the album I have been waiting for them to release – the whole album is crafted genius and captures all essence of the band.
5 Duff McKagan’s Loaded – The Taking
It should be said that this was the first Loaded album which really hit a chord with me. It is worthy of its position here and could have been higher if the competition for the top spots weren’t so strong. As my review back in June shows, The Taking clearly puts Duff McKagan on an equal pegging with the (arguably) more famous members of Guns N’ Roses, past and present.
4 Noel Gallagher – High Flying Birds
It took two years since the demise of Oasis for Noel to release this album, and frankly it was worth the wait. In fact, as I said in the full review, this album is better than much of the later Oasis releases; not that those releases were poor, more so that this album is of such quality. A mix of full band-style rock songs and more laid-back classic Noel acoustic tracks this is a strong release which proves who the talent in Oasis really was (as if it should be in doubt).
3 In Flames – The Sounds of a Playground Fading
In Flames have been around since 1990 and criminally I didn’t know them until becoming acquainted with their live show at Sonisphere UK in the summer. After that show I picked up this, their ninth album which had just been released. It is an epic album with some very heavy moments, and beautifully light melodies. In Flames bring the dark with the light, the power and aggression yet stay away from falling into the trap of really heavy and really guttural screaming vocals for the hell of it. Over the year In Flames have proven to be my favourite discovery.
2 Radiohead – King of Limbs
When Radiohead released King of Limbs, I was so disappointed by it, as this review will attest. However, in true Radiohead form the album is an absolute grower. Although it is only 8 tracks in length what we have is eight perfectly honed tracks creating a soundscape worth revisiting. It’s not their best album, but it is clear that Radiohead are by no means drying up. Expect more greatness.
1 Subways – Money and Celebrity
Paul reviewed this album for the site and at the time he suggested it was “a cool record that greatly compliments the nice sunny day”. He was completely right, and thought there is no technical genius, no groundbreaking territory, surprisingly for me the album seems to have lodged into my brain and has become the go to album of choice for the best part of the year since its release.
With a less guitar-heavy production than previous effort All Or Nothing, Money and Celebrity sounds much more the successor the Young For Eternity. Punky, catchy, rocking, light-hearted and fun, it’s proven to be a pleasure to put this on again and again all summer and far far into the winter!