Top 10 albums of 2011

Some of us document our lives by the music that surrounds us.

Songs come on the radio that conjure up memories of decades gone by. A band reminds you of the time you saw them in concert. A single song makes you recall a specific person, a date you went on, a night out or a family gathering.

That’s how 2011 was for us.

March was seeing bands such as The Head and the Heart at SXSW that I knew people back at home would love. Then there was that summer day when it seemed everyone wanted to talk about Bon Iver.

2011 was a diverse year with great music from all genres.

10. NOAH AND THE WHALE, “LAST NIGHT ON EARTH”

(Island Mercury)

With this record, Noah And The Whale moved beyond folk to become something more pop and rock — like Coldplay — but with deft lyrics that paint stories — unlike Coldplay. The music of “Tonight’s The Kind Of Night” captures the energy and hope espoused in its lyrics while “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.” is a song that’s at once sad and about heart and leaving behind regrets.

9. JAY-Z AND KANYE WEST, “WATCH THE THRONE”

(Def Jam)

This collaboration could have been disastrous, but it produced, front-to-back, one of the best hip-hop albums in years — as well as a song with maybe the most ridiculous title ever (N***** In Paris). The combination of amazing production — samples of the Will Farrell comedy “Blades Of Glory” as well as Otis Redding are so ridiculous they’re awesome — are coupled with incredible rhymes and tons of boasting. Kanye West and Jay-Z say they’re the illest, um, gentlemen alive on this record. I’d think that was too much if I didn’t think they were right.

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