Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Vince's Best of 2011: The Year of the 'Indie-Overground'

2011 could very easily be hailed as the year of 'indie-overground' take over. With artists such as Bon Iver, Lana Del Rey, Adele, Foster the People, The Decembrists, My Morning Jacket, Cults, and James Blake gracing top spots on many a best of list, it is clear there is a seismic shift occurring amongst the indie-music zeitgeist. Let me preface my next comment by clearly stating that all of the aforementioned artists are truly talented and could have very well made the best records of 2011. However, the ease at which popularity befell this group of artists is not to be overlooked as they toed the line between indie and mainstream.

Arguments befuddle our industry over what is 'cool' and what is mainstream on a daily basis; the above artists (and many more) that can be labeled part of the 'indie-overground,' have found success in being the IT indie artist. They are what popular opinion has deemed worthy of 'cool' and somehow, though contradictory at times, devoid of the 'major label machine.' Words such as 'organic,' and 'grassroots' are slung back and forth amongst avid consumers describing the ways in which this music is selling. Does grassroots simply mean someone telling another person a record or artist is cool? What about the music? What about the album as a whole? The lyrics? The album art? Aren't we all here because of the music? Adele, the music has always been there, but people just started paying attention.

Since Arcade Fire's massive Grammy win last year, coupled with the continued successes of bands like Mumford & Sons and Adele, the music world was already looking ahead to find their 2011 indie-music darlings. Accolades abound, it is clear they have found this in Adele and Bon Iver. And before Arcade Fire, it was Vampire Weekend and MGMT. Without belaboring the point and to get to the crux of my statement, there was, as there always is, a multitude of fantastic records released this year that fell to the shadow of these musical behemoths, hidden behind labels of 'cool'.  I hope to have done at least some of these artists justice, by including them in my year end list.

Check out my top 25 records of 2011 after the jump.

Vince's Top 25 Albums of 2011:

  1. Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes
  2. tUne-yArDs - w h o k i l l
  3. Youth Lagoon - The Year of Hibernation
  4. The Naked and Famous - Passive Me, Agressive You
  5. Drive By Truckers - Go-Go-Boots
  6. M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
  7. Foo Fighters -  Wasting Light
  8. Cut Copy Zonoscope
  9. Wild Flag - Wild Flag
  10. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
  11. White Denim - D
  12. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Belong
  13. The Kills - Blood Pressures
  14. Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact
  15. Middle Brother Middle Brother
  16. The Vaccines - What Did You Expect From the Vaccines?
  17. Yuck - Yuck
  18. Dominant Legs - Invitation
  19. Holy Ghost! - Holy Ghost!
  20. Blitzen Trapper American Goldwing
  21. Black Lips - Arabia Mountain
  22. Star Slinger Rogue Cho Pa
  23. Tennis - Cape Dory
  24. Bibio - Mind Bokeh
  25. K.Flay - I Stopped Caring in '96 EPs
Honorable Mention:
Adele - 21
The Rural Alberta Advantage - The Departed
Black Keys El Camino
Ryan Adams - Ashes and Fire
Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Laura Marling A Creature I Don't Know
St. Vincent - Strange Mercy
Cass McCombs - Wit's End
Feist Metals
Rubik - Solar

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