Another year is almost over and I've been spending many hours putting together this list of the very best albums released in 2011. After much deliberation I've selected what I feel are the top 100. I freely admit that I've probably missed some that deserve to be here. As is true for all people, I have a finite amount of time available. So even with listening to upwards of 400 new albums each year, I simply can't hear them all. So please add your own favorites to the comments if you feel I've overlooked something deserving. All I ask is that you review the whole list first and tell us WHY your favorite album should have made the cut. A comment like, "What! No Lady Gaga!" or "PJ Harvey sucks!" is not an valid argument and will promptly be laughed at and ignored. Additionally, pointing out that you have not heard something automatically disqualifies you from having an opinion about it.
I've included the highest Billboard album chart positions and Metacritic score for each of my selections. Obviously, any list like this is skewed by the author's personal tastes. My hope is that by providing the numbers about how each record charted, and how critically acclaimed each one is, you can get a more rounded view of my picks.
To clarify some of my parameters:
In order to to be considered for my year end list the record had to be a full-length studio album. I did not consider live albums, greatest hits albums, compilation albums, or reissues. Also, the record had to be released in the U.S. sometime in 2011. Some of my picks may have had a limited release on an small label, or may have come out in a different country in late 2010.
So with those parameters in mind, here are my selections for #1 through #10.
PJ Harvey - "Let England Shake"#1. Let England Shake by PJ Harvey
Released: February 15, 2011
Metacritic Score: 86
Album Charts: #32 The Billboard 200, #7 Top Independent Albums, #6 Top Modern Rock/Alternative Albums, #6 Top Rock Albums
I tossed and turned about whether to make Let England Shake #1 over Bon Iver's self-titled album this year. Both are fantastic records, but very different. Ultimately, I decided to go with PJ Harvey because Let England Shake is less of a "one trick pony". PJ stretches herself here, which I don't think is true for Bon Iver's effort. Harvey has delivered an album that is both a piece of art forging new ground, and an incredibly entertaining listen. That's something incredibly hard to do, but she's done it in a way that sounds effortless.
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