The year 2011 yielded some fantastic album releases, especially in the latter part of it. Coldplay and The Civil Wars both churned out albums that spawned multiple Grammy Award nominations; Amos Lee forever solidified his name in the folk music scene with the release of “Mission Bell;” Mutemath and Maylene and the Sons of Disaster turned up the experimentation and gave us something radically different with their efforts; and veteran rockers Switchfoot showed us that they aren’t going anywhere with the release of their eighth studio album.
Here’s a breakdown of what I believe are the Top 5 Albums of 2011.
5. “The Valley” by Eisley
After a long break, Eisley released their third full length album, “The Valley” in 2011. The four siblings and one cousin from Tyler, TX unveiled a whole crop of beautiful songs to enjoy. Drawing heavily from the inspiration of lost love and hurt, the women of Eisley gave us heartbreaking, but gorgeous stories that only their lovely voices can tell.
Recommended listening: “Smarter,” “Watch it Die” and “I Wish.”
4. “Burlap to Cashmere” by Burlap to Cashmere
Burlap to Cashmere released their first full-length album since 1998. The record is a brilliant collection of Greek-inspired folk songs ranging from the ethereal and beautiful to the gritty and energy-fueled. “Burlap to Cashmere” has a little bit of everything and was a huge stand-out for me in 2011.
Recommended listening: “Build a Wall,” “Love Reclaims the Atmosphere” and “Seasons.
3. “Odd Soul” by Mutemath
Every once in a while an album will come along that just blows you away musically. Mutemath’s latest release, “Odd Soul,” did that to me. The band brought a different sound to the table with undeniable influences from classic rock and soul. The result is a stunning achievement that is catchy, high-energy, and musically outstanding.
Recommended listening: “Blood Pressure,” “Walking Paranoia” and “Quarantine.”
2. “Mission Bell” by Amos Lee
Amos Lee made his debut in 2005, but he wasn’t fully recognized until he released the work of art that is “Mission Bell.” Featuring some of the most soulful and emotional songs he has ever written, Amos delivers wholeheartedly on this record. His passionate voice and brilliant songwriting carries this album full of Americana and folk tracks that are sure to impress anyone.
Recommended listening: “Windows Are Rolled Down,” “Violin” and “Jesus.”
1. “Vice Verses” by Switchfoot
I’ve been listening to Switchfoot for eight years and can confidently say that “Vice Verses” is the band’s best work to date. The group took a risk and challenged themselves, but stayed true to who they are at the core. With “Vice Verses,” Switchfoot gave us their interpretation of hip-hop and pop music while maintaining their gritty rock vibe. “Vice Verses” features some of the edgiest, soul-stirring, and polished songs Jon Foreman and company have produced. That’s why it is my number one album of 2011!
Recommended listening: “The War Inside,” “Restless,” “Vice Verses” and “Where I Belong.”