Best Of 2011 (so far)

We are now officially half way through the year folks, and it's turning out to be a pretty damn good one for music. Stylistically, the releases this year have been all over the place, but each and every one that we're going to talk about over the next two days are great, if not special in their own right. Don't believe me? check out the list of just the runner ups:


  • Gillian Welch – The Harrow and the Harvest
  • Other Lives - Tamer Animals
  • Peter Bjorn and John - Gimme Some
  • Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring For My Halo
  • Generationals – Actor-Caster
  • Tame Impala – Innerspeaker
  • Cass McCombs – Wit’s End
  • Jill Scott -  The Light of the Sun
  • Cults - Cults 


See what I mean? Impressive right? And some of those won't be staying out of the top 10 before the year is over. So now that you've seen what didn't make it,  let's get on with what did, shall we?



One of the first reviews we ever ran on, Barton Hollow takes the classic Nashville singer- songwriter duo and actually plays it pretty straight, but there’s a charisma and a charm there that keeps it from slipping into the hole where all Country/Pop goes to die. Joy Williams and John Paul White are literal magic together and it’s this chemistry that turns what could have been an overbearingly sentimental collection of songs, into a fantastic journey through some roughed up Americana that ends up having a very real emotional weight despite itself. In our review of their performance from February of this year, I compared the duo to June Carter and Johnny Cash, and I’ll stand by that today. If you haven’t heard this album yet (and really, who hasn’t) then you are missing out on something really special…so correct that problem, OK?



Rather than expound on the goodness of this album any more, I’ll just say that Bon Iver is an arguably good, if not great album. So good in fact that I changed my mind mid review about what I thought of the record. I called it “best Peter Gabriel album released in almost 20 years” then, but it’s more than that. It’s a fairly bold experiment that you either love or hate and somehow it has won me and most of the ChunkyGlasses team over. So the only question I have is Mr. Vernon, now that you have our attention, what’s next?



I feel dirty after listening to this record, and I’m not sure if it’s even a good way. Long hyped, and long overdue, Les Butcherettes hit the scene big time with this release and you owe it to yourself to give it a spin as quickly as you can. Aggressive, raw and 100% full of rock, you won’t find a harder song this year than “Dress Off”, and you sure as hell won’t be able to stop listening to this dirty firecracker of a record anytime soon. Now, please guys...come visit DC?



You can read our review of this fantastic release right here, but the short version is that this is TVOTR all grown up. While the rawness of their earlier releases still plays a very large part in their sound, Nine Types of Light is a refined, mature set of songs that drops much of the band’s earlier angst, but loses none of the punch. 



At the time of this records release, I said that it was the record to beat this year, and despite it's placement here, it still sort of is. Lush, haunting, and beautiful, it’s begun to take on a sort of timeless quality that all great records tend to do. The fact that it’s number six on this list doesn’t diminish any of the records power, it just means that The Low Anthem ultimately were up against some pretty heavy competition…which also puts them in some pretty good company, if you ask me. One of the year’s best, and it’s going to stay that way, Smart Flesh is a record you need to hear.


And that's it for the first half. Tune in tomorrow when we count down our final 5 top releases of the year so far, and if you're really good we'll let you take a look at Paul and Andre's personal lists. Until tomorrow!