Hey, the year's half over! Isn't that reason enough to count back through the albums that have been released thus far in 2011 and decide which ones we can safely say are great? Yes, it is.
Check out our picks after the jump–and see which ones made it.
10. The Weeknd – House of Balloons
Hipstery, Beach House-sampling R&B from Canada — a lot of things
that don't sound like they should go together but do so deliciously.
9. Yuck – Yuck
A pack of young Brits steal their older siblings' records and make the best alternative rock album the '90s never knew.
8. Tyler, the Creator – Goblin
So. Cal. hip-hop collective Odd Future Wolfgang Kill Them All
continues to make a case for itself as the indie Wu-Tang Clan with each
successive release from its massively talented roster. Goblin is nasty
and conflicted (Hey misogyny! What up homophobia!) but keeps drawing you
back in with its scrappy beats and Tyler's alternately aggressive and
weary delivery. It's kind of a mess, but a fascinating one.
7. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
Fleet Foxes follow up their brilliant self-titled debut with a more
introspective and low-key second album of wandering acoustic guitars and
6. Crystal Stilts – In Love With Oblivion
Crystal Stilts combine catchy riffs that are older than your grandma
with aloof, cavernously reverbed vocals that somehow make them more
immediate yet more mysterious than any of their garage-gaze peers.
5. Shabazz Palaces – Black Up
Do we have to invent a new genre for these guys? Chill-hop? Whatever it is, I can't stop listening to it.
4. Dirty Beaches – Badlands
At only eight songs, two of them without vocals, Badlands is the most
intriguing debut I've heard all year. Alex Zhang samples his own
motorcycle riffs and struts onstage alone, like a Chinese Elvis, combing
his hair and crooning through smoky, David Lynch-esque driving songs
like “Sweet 17” and the surprisingly tender ballad “True Blue.”
3. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
It's a given that anything PJ Harvey does is worth checking out, but
on Let England Shake, she really brings her singing and songwriting
talents to the table in a new way, emitting ululating, exotic vocals on
ballads like “England” and “Written on the Forehead” to fit her
hauntingly memorable and war-torn lyrics (“I saw soldiers fall like
lumps of meat.”)
2. Iceage – New Brigade
Really guys? Do you really want to listen to some snoozy Phil Collins
music some guy made in a cabin or whatever? Wouldn't you rather listen
to this regal noise-punk made by some Danish teenagers?
1. Toro y Moi – Causers of This
Chaz Bundick escapes the “chillwave” tag and makes the pop record of
the year, drawing on Stevie Wonder, psychedelia and old school R&B
to create an absolutely immaculate collection of alternate-universe