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UO's Top 25 Albums of 2011

Nadia Saccardo

It was Always All For You

Important! My Top 5 albums are not exactly albums. Most of them are singles, but they provide me with an album's-worth of good feeling. (I'm one of those douche-bags who plays things on repeat, but I usually play these things through my headphones so that I don't bother you too much. Promise.)

Royal Headache Royal Headache

Soulful, Shambolic, Sydney... I ran out of 's' words. Whatever, this album's a fucking belter.

Mint Julep "Aviary"

I love hazy girl music. I love School of Seven Bells. This song kind of sounds like them without being them. I love that.

College "A Real Hero" feat. Electric Youth


Lykke Li Wounded Rhymes

Again, it's the girl music thing.

Wavves Life Sux EP

I am 16 and I am dangerous and I am invincible. Heh--no, no I'm not, I'm just listening to Waaves.

Bob Myaing

Cork Grips

The Drums Portamento

I must have played this album three times a day when I first got it. It's a super feel good kind of album and my only complaint is that it didn't come out during the summer, because it would have been the perfect summer soundtrack. Top Track: "Days"

Wilco The Whole Love

As a big Wilco fan, I was really satisfied when The Whole Love came out. Another future classic for sure. Top Track: "Born Alone"

Real Estate Days

I've seen Real Estate perform a few times now and played their albums back too many times to count. The most recent performance I caught of theirs here in Philly was this past summer. They played mostly material from this album with their new arrangement (they now have a keyboard player) and it blew me away. Needless to say, I was really happy to hear those same twangy dreamy melodies again. Top Track: "Kinder Blumen"

Atlas Sound Parallax

Bradford Cox never fails to please my ears; Parallax has a nice balance of upbeat pop tunes and more spaced out reverberating tracks that are a staple of any project Cox is a part of. Since this album was just recently released, I'm hoping I can catch the band on tour playing some of this material live. Top Track: "Mona Lisa"

Beach Fossils What a Pleasure

Another band whose albums I could listen to on repeat without a care... and often do. I really enjoyed their first self-titled album and was happy to hear some new tunes from them. Their sound has a great dreamy quality to it, and not just because of the heavy reverb in the guitar, but the vocals of lead singer Dustin Payseur just melt right into the tracks. Top track: "Adversity"

Hazel Cills

Bonjour Girl

Iceage New Brigade

I fell in love with these teenage punks from Copenhagen after listening to their debut album, which quickly became an instant classic in my music library. New Brigade was an album of nonstop mayhem, evoking old-school hardcore and early '80s darkwave. Best album of 2011!

M83 Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

I've pretty much been madly in love with every M83 album to date and this one was no exception. An explosive double album with all of the intense shoegazy electronica the band is known for, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming has been one of my favorites of the year.

P.S. Eliot Sadie

Unfortunately, P.S. Eliot has broken up (too soon, too soon!) but this album was a great final album. It reminds me of a lot of bands from that cool decade that I barely lived in: the '90s! It's such a great album, I'll surely miss them.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart Belong

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart is quite possibly the cutest band in Brooklyn and their music is just as cute as they are. Belong is a musical valentine for moody twee teenagers across the universe and I accept it with open arms!

Wax Idols No Future

Wax Idols is one of my favorite new bands to come out of 2011. No Future is a perfect retro pop-punk album, with a sound that falls somewhere between Poly Styrene and Joan Jett.

Jen Hanley


Motörhead The World Is Yours

Technically this came out in Dec '10 but I didn't get it until '11 so this counts! The best and loudest band ever!

Chelsea Wolfe Apokalypsis LP

I love her. Everything she does is seriously magic. It's been years since I've liked a new band this much and she is IT!

RTX Heavy Cream split 7"

Tour 7" that all came out right before RTX changed their name to Black Bananas. Second favorite band of all time. Everything Jennifer touches turns to gold.

The Doors 4 x 7" L.A. Woman box set

There is nothing I want more than this release for Record Store Day on 11/25 and there's like a 10% chance I'll actually be able to get my hands on it! Heartbreaking, but who knows.

Against Me!

White Crosses / Black Crosses

Tom is my oldest friend and still the most shredding. They just played a show in Paris and they used to play in my living room. Forever killing it.

The War On Drugs

Slave Ambient
(Secretly Canadian)

War on Drugs front man Adam Granduciel looks back on what was a pretty good year for the band—and talks about Led Zeppelin and Oprah's Book Club.

What was the best thing for you about 2011?

Touring in general and finally having the live band to a place it hadn't really been in the past. With all the touring we've done since March, it was a much more solid lineup and the instrumentation was a lot more solid. And watching it grow, learning the new stuff and kind of getting the whole thing to a different level was pretty awesome. And with touring, seeing more people come and just taking the shows up a notch.

What was the best show you played?

Portland at Bunk Bar was awesome. It was in this really big sandwich shop where they do shows, about 250 capacity, and it's really close, everyone's right up front. It was just one of those nights where there was really good energy and we played really well. The whole environment was great and we love Portland. And also, shows in Minneapolis and Chicago were good.

And also the Paradiso in Amsterdam, that was the second show of our European tour, and we have a lot of friends there. We played with Megafaun, and that was just a great night. Obviously! It's in Amsterdam.

What was the best new place you visited this past year?

We played in Sweden, in Stockholm and Malmo. That was incredible, none of us had ever been to Sweden. Stockholm is obviously beautiful and it was just crazy. Tons of people came and it was a madhouse. It was so far from any place we've ever been and to play there and have that kind of response, blew my mind.

What were some of your favorite albums of 2011?

I would say Kurt's [Vile] record was one of my favorites for sure. And this band Tammar's Visits. Philly friends, like Purling Hiss, they put out two albums this year, maybe even three. But we've done some touring with them and they're good friends of ours, and that was one of my favs. Richard Swift put a record out called Walt Wolfman and I just got a copy of it. He does all his own home-recording and has a great studio outside of Portland. Oh! The new Wooden Shjips album, and the Moon Duo record that came out this year. It's Ripley from Wooden Shjips, him and his girlfriend. And Thurston Moore's solo record is really great, I got into that a lot...

What about old albums you rediscovered this year?

Ok, that's more up my alley! There is this record from this band called The Waterboys, A Pagan Place, that came out in '83. It's amazing. We played in Europe a lot and people have told us in the past, 'Oh, you guys sound like The Waterboys.' So the last couple of tours, I've been buying any Waterboys albums I see. I've come home with like 11 of them. And A Pagan Place is definitely my favorite. I've listened to it every day for the last week. And I've been going back to old Led Zeppelin, because I read the biography.

I'm actually reading that right now.

Hammer of the Gods? Oh my god, it's nuts!

I can't figure out how much of it is true?

Even Stephen Davis said that he definitely made it a point to make them out to be rock 'n' roll gods. It's sensationalized for sure, because it seems that every night of their lives from 1970-1976 was debaucherous. Since reading that, I've gotten back into a lot of their stuff.

And the other one I have been listening to a lot is John Lennon's first solo album with Plastic Ono Band. And also Yoko Ono's album from the early '80s, Season of Glass, I got a copy in Sweden, and I listen to that a lot.

So what other books did you read this year?

The Mick Jagger unauthorized biography. That will blow your mind. It's insane. I don't know if half the stuff is true.

But in those kind of books, you don't really care.

That's the thing. I don't care, but I like to think a lot of it is true. I never really read a lot of novels, I like short stories or collections of stories. I read Gallatin Canyon by Thomas McGuane, and I reread all my old favorite Raymond Carver books. And someone gave me The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. I always feel funny reading a book with an "Oprah's Book Club" sticker on the front, I don't know why.

What are you most looking forward to in 2012?

Mostly touring. We're doing a tour with Sharon Van Etten in March, and she's a friend of ours. We did one show with her before in New York, and I actually heard her new album and it's amazing. We'll do a ton of festivals in the summer. And I am looking forward to taking time to work on new songs and record them as a band. And maybe have a little down time, though I am not sure how much of that is being penciled in.

Fleet Foxes

1) Kurt Vile Smoke Ring for My Halo

2) Bill Callahan Apocalypse

3) The section of Codex by Radiohead where he sings, "Jump off the end" and the piano ascends but the vocal melody descends. And the drum sound that's like tapping your finger on a chair at the airport.

4) Portishead in Poznan, Poland & Bill Callahan in Chorzow, Poland.

5) The Walkmen playing horns together in the basement of the Masonic Temple in Cleveland, recording it on my phone, and then watching it all the time.

The Antlers

1) Neon Indian Era Extraña

2) Son Lux We Are Rising

3) Braids Native Speaker

4) Explosions In The Sky Take Care, Take Care, Take Care

5) St. Vincent Strange Mercy

Cut Copy

1) Toro Y Moi Underneath The Pine

2) Pure X Pleasure

3) Bon Iver Bon Iver

4) Architecture in Helsinki Moment Bends

5) The Rapture In the Grace of Your Love


1) Smith Westerns Dye It Blonde

2) Timber Timbre Creep On Creepin' On

3) Those Darlings Screws Get Loose

4) St. Vincent Strange Mercy

5) Tom Waits Bad As Me

Gang Gang Dance *

1) Eric Copeland Waco Taco Combo

2) Prince Rama Trust Now

3) AraabMuzik Electronic Dream

4) Oneohtrix Point Never Replica

5) Panda Bear Tomboy

* in no particular order

The Rapture *

1) The Hundred in the Hands The Hundred in the Hands

2) Drive Soundtrack

3) Gang Gang Dance Eye Contact

4) Jimmy and the Chicks Best Of Jimmy and the Chicks

5) Populette Presents: Throne of Blood

* in no particular order

Panda Bear *

1) John Maus We Must Become The Pitiless Censors of Ourselves

2) Kurt Vile Smoke Ring For My Halo

3) Eric Copeland Waco Taco Combo

4) AraabMuzik Electronic Dream

5) Iceage New Brigade

* in no particular order

Neon Indian *

1) Dirty Beaches Badlands

2) Oneohtrix Point Never Replica

3) Girls Father, Son, Holy Ghost

4) Toro Y Moi Underneath The Pine

5) Ford & Lopatin Channel Pressure

* in no particular order

Bon Iver *

1) Albert James St. Murder Laden Mitten Wonder

2) Fleet Foxes Helplessness Blues

3) Shabazz Palaces Black Up

4) Megafaun Megafaun

5) St. Vincent Strange Mercy

* in no particular order

Youth Lagoon

1) M83 Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

2) Bon Iver Bon Iver

3) Atlas Sound Parallax

4) Dirty Beaches Badlands

5) James Blake James Blake

Washed Out

1) Atlas Sound Terra Incognita

2) Cut Copy Hanging on to Every Heartbeat

3) John Maus The Believer

4) Real Estate It's Real

5) Tycho Hours

The War On Drugs

1) Richard Swift Walt Wolfman

2) Kurt Vile Smoke Ring For My Halo

3) Purling Hiss Lounge Lizards

4) Tammar Visits

5) Megafaun Megafaun

Toro Y Moi

1) Toro y Moi Underneath the Pine

2) AraabMuzik Electronic Dream

3) Kanye and Jay-Z Watch the Throne

4) Tyler, the Creator Goblin

5) Azari & III Azari & III


1) EMA Past Life Martyred Saints

2) Fleet Foxes Helplessness Blues

3) Smith Westerns Dye it Blonde

4) Bon Iver Bon Iver

5) Zola Jesus Conatus

Real Estate

Matt Mondanile

1) Big Troubles Romantic Comedy

2) Tomutonttu Elävänä Planeetalla

3) Martin Newell Songs for A Fallow Land

4) Dent May Fun

5) Heatsick Intersex

Martin Courtney *

1) Julian Lynch Terra

2) The Feelies Here Before

3) White Fence Is Growing Faith

4) Big Troubles Romantic Comedy

5) Dent May Fun

* in no particular order

Balam Acab

1) St. Vincent Strange Mercy

2) Oneohtrix Point Never Replica

3) Main Attrakionz 808s and Dark Grapes II

4) How To Dress Well Just Once

5) Hudson Mohawke Pleasure

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