Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Countdown: #1

HAPPY (almost) NEW YEAR! Thank you to those who stuck with me throughout the whole 2011 countdown - 15 days of rhyming off what I thought were the most breathtaking albums of the year. And now here we are, with less than 12 hours left of the year, down to the wire, and ready to celebrate three phenomenal artists who blew me away in 2011. All of them on their way to being seasoned musicians with memorable albums under their wings and a hefty amount of coverage to speak to their talent - and all of them artists we can expect to see blossom immensely as the years go on, the tunes are churned out and the masses fall even more in love. So, cheers to a fabulous year filled with wonderful sounds and beautiful new pieces of writing - and cheers to what I consider to be one of the most fascinating eras that music has ever seen.

Florence Welch

FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE - Ceremonials: This powerful, booming-voiced firecracker stormed onto the scene in 2009 with her debut album Lungs - a collection of gigantic, passionate songs that were laced with both obscurity and mainstream magic. She certainly hasn't retired or fizzled from the hype since then; especially after her most recent release - an all-encompassing collection of massive and triumphant anthems that would make even the most unaware listener scoff upon hearing the singer is only 25 years-old. Her pure and rich vocal chords crooning emotional prose alongside layers of unexpected instruments and harmonious choirs are all ingredients to make this one of the most flawless and mind blowing female soloist albums I've heard in years. Highlight songs: "Never Let Me Go", "Only For The Night", "No Light, No Light", "Shake it Out", "What The Water Gave Me"

Anthony Gonzalez of M83
M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming: If there was a special category for my apartment's most overplayed album of the year - this would win. This breathtaking double album was everything I could have asked for and more when it comes to a collection of music. The French electro-rock band delivered the perfect mix of crashing instrumentals, 80s-reminiscent pop-rock, atmospheric transition songs and heartwarming ballads. There isn't one song I would gladly skip over, because each creative gem in this mixed bag of music was impossible to ignore. Frontman Anthony Gonzalez says he created the album while keeping in mind the theme of dreaming, at any age, and the heartbreak and wonder that accompanies that process. With one listen, you'll hear every bit of that. Highlight songs: "Midnight City", "Wait", "Raconte-Moi Une Histoire", "Echoes of Mine", "Steve McQueen", "Intro"


ADELE - 21: Well, here we are with the last woman standing - or maybe more appropriately - the one and only. Adele - the young adult who "turned her sorrow into treasured gold" and then proceeded to chuckle all the way to the bank and Grammy's - has successfully pulled off something unheard of at her age. After suffering heartbreak and consequent vulnerability, the shining British star crafted her forlorn and angry emotions into classic-sounding melodies and soul and groove-caked love songs -with her hearty, enormous vocals orchestrating it all. What was the plain and simple result of 21? She blew everyone, at any age or level of experience, completely out of the water in comparison. She translated very real and relatable emotions into a handful of timeless classics that the world will  cherish for years, and as a result has secured herself as a musical genius who, after only her sophomore release, is one of the brightest stars the music world has ever seen. Whether or not it's your type of music, Adele undoubtedly wrote the best album of this year. Highlight songs: "Rolling in the Deep", "Someone Like You", "One and Only", "Set Fire to the Rain"

Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve - and we'll see each other in 2012!

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