My goodness, 2011 is nearly half over. And what a spectacular year it has already been for music! Several of my favorite veteran musicians have created outstanding albums to add to their already impressive resumes, and like every great year, new bands have emerged and made me fall in love with music all over again. Here are my ten favorite albums of the year (so far). And these are in no particular order yet.
The Decemberists: The King is Dead – I had high expectations for this release, especially considering my adoration of their previous effort. The resulting album is a refreshingly different with sweet songs that could provide the soundtrack to a beautiful spring day.
Givers: In Light– If Dirty Projectors and Vampire Weekend birthed a band, it would be Givers. Need I say more?
Kurt Vile: Smoke Ring for My Halo– Oh, the voice. The voice and the sadness. You can’t turn it off because it’s too beautiful and too real.
Bon Iver: Bon Iver– I’m not sure what he’s talking about 80% of the time, but there’s something in Justin Vernon’s voice when he croons “And at once I knew, I was not magnificent” in the song “Holocene” that moves me. I still find myself gasping when I hear it.
The Head and the Heart: The Head and the Heart– Feels like I’ve known these songs my whole life. Gorgeous songs about a slow, simple life.
Smith Westerns: Dye It Blond– These youngsters have managed to capture summertime perfectly. Makes me wish I was 16 again…minus the acne and the drama.
Fleet Foxes: Helplessness Blues– It’s nearly impossible to get these songs out of your head. The album is addictive.
Destroyer: Kaputt– What a lovely homage to 80’s pop, complete with synthesizers and drum machine beats. It doesn’t come off as contrived or ironic either, which is rare for this hipster generation.
King Creoste & Jon Hopkins: Diamond Mine– A year is only as good as its best rainy day album. This one is nearly perfect. And don’t be surprised if you shed a tear or two yourself.
Elbow: Build A Rocket Boys– Feel good music. The best thing about this album is that you can go as deep or stay as shallow as you want with the music. You will have a good time either way.