Best on the Year 2011: Albums.

This year, I started incorporating bow ties into my daily attire. Every track on my albums list this year goes well with a bow tie, be it clip on or silk, crushed velvet or plaid. The tracks have everything you want in a bow tie: a bit uptight at times, sometimes soft, easily adjusted with fingers to exude swagger. (tilt, tilt, rest.)

Swag on, kids. There’s 20, in particular order, even if I hate all that.

20. Zola Jesus, Conatus (Sacred Bones)

From Russia, with love. Listen: “Seekir”

19. Ginola/Turning Down Sex, Split Cassette (Quarter Inch Collective)

Limited edition, living room recorded, the noisiest mother fucking thing I’ve heard in ages, but it warms every bit of me. Listen: The whole lot, now!

18. SLEEP ∞ OVER, Forever (Hippos in Tanks)

I wish sleep overs were always this dreamy. Listen: “Romantic Streams”

17. THE ANTLERS, Burst Apart (Frenchkiss / Transgressive)

While it lacks the angst of their self-titled record, the album gives faith that Peter Silberman isn’t the saddest bastard on the planet. Or is he? Listen: “I Don’t Want Love”

16. ATLAS SOUND, Parallax (4AD)

Bradford Cox maybe singing pop? Pop goes my weasel. I don’t know what that even means. Listen: “Te Amo”

15. SCHOOLBOY Q, Setbacks (Top Dawg)

Stepping out of that background role in Black Hippy, this album is elemental in west coast hip hop. No setbacks for sure. Listen: “Figg Get Da Money”

14. ELITE GYMNASTICS, Ruin 1 + 2 (Acéphale)

It’s too haphazard to even describe. It’s like a dude on a pommel who can’t quite grip that horse. Lovely sight. Listen: “Here in Heaven”

13. WASHED OUT, Within & Without (Sub Pop)

Doom, gloom, depressing love songs set to lush orchestration (yay strings) and plenty of disjointed pop. I make myself sick. Listen: “Eyes Be Closed”

12. PLANNINGTOROCK, W (DFA)

Never felt so fogged, woozed, perhaps roofed, but kept awake with such ease through this record. Listen: “The Breaks”

11. JAY-Z and KANYE WEST, Watch the Throne (Def Jam / Roc-a-Fella)

Two brilliant artists, plenty of thrones, right? That shit, cray, Yeez. Listen: “N***as in Paris”

10. SBTRKT, SBTRKT (Young Turks)

On fire. Throw some water on that poor forest. Listen: “Wildfire”

9. THE WEEKND, House of Ballons (self-released)

Arguably one of the more talked about records on the year, I’m just going to keep it quiet and let the balloon burst. Listen: “Wicked Games”

8. REAL ESTATE, Days (Domino)

Unexpected, well-furnished, great floor plan, totally welcome to move in. Listen: “It’s Real”

7. THE FIELD, Looping State of Mind (Kompakt)

Still lost in this record, and I mean that in a good way. Enough experimentation, but plenty of what Axel Willner does best. Listen: “Then it’s White”

6. M83, Hurry Up We’re Dreaming (Mute)

Never dreamt this record would be so lush,  synth-fully rockful. Shame, on me, not this. Listen: “Reunion”

5. PJ HARVEY, Let England Shake (Vagrant / Island Def Jam)

I don’t think England’s dancing days are over, do you? Listen: “Written on the Forehead”

4. A$AP ROCKY, LIVELOVEA$AP (Sony / RCA / Polo Grounds)

Flow. There’s plenty else to talk about, deals and monies included, but flow is the shit we care about. Listen: “Peso”

3. SHABAZZ PALACES, Black Up (Sub Pop)

Ishmael Butler isn’t repping hype or bullshit or even ushering in a new brand of hip hop. He delivered it on a silver platter, even before this record. Listen: “Swerve… The reeping of all that is worthwhile (Noir not withstanding) “

2. JAMES BLAKE, James Blake (ATLAS / Polydor)

This record makes me want to squeal, scream, quiver–nothing should ever be this lucky. Indeed, it is. Listen: “The Wilhelm Scream”

1. DRAKE, Take Care (Cash Money / Young Money)

Call him Sir, will you? No foolish Francis here. There isn’t a single unworthy moment of this record. Get at it, now. Listen: “Take Care (feat. Rihanna)”

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