Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Top 25 Albums of 2011 (Part One)

I’m excited to be joining a stellar group of my higher ed colleagues for this year’s best of music review. Music has always been a big part of my life. I own thousands of albums and have been to several hundred concerts and I have formed an opinion or two along the way. Before we dig in, there are two things you need to know about me that greatly influence how I judge music.

First, I’m an audio snob. Call me crazy, but how music actually sounds matters. I’m one of a dying breed that stills believes in high fidelity. I have a state-of-the art 7.1 surround sound system in my family room that is capable of knocking the pictures off the walls in my neighbors house without even a hint of distortion. (Don’t ask me how I know this.) This would be a much different list if I only listened to music on my computer or in the car. My 45,000+ plays on are only half the story.

Secondly, I’m old! One of the highlights of the year for me was getting carded as I entered Buffalo Billiards in Austin at #heweb11 and showing the bouncer my AARP card :) I bought my first album in 1969 and my musical tastes were formed during the late 1960’s through the mid 1970’s. If I was making a list of the top 50 albums of all time, at least 40 of them would come from that time period. (Bonus points to anyone who can name the first album I bought.)

2011 was a mediocre year of music for me. Many of my favorite artists did not release new material this year. I also found myself buying several reissues of classic albums. I debated about including reissues in this list. While I could have included several, in the end I decided to include just one.

Listed below are albums 25 - 6. On Tuesday I will share my top 5, including my thoughts and some personal stories on each.

25. Adele -21
24. Paul Simon - So Beautiful or So What
23. Kate Bush - 50 Words for Snow
22. Death Cab For Cutie - Codes and Keys
21. F—— Up - David Comes to Life
20. Robbie Robertson - How to Become Clairvoyant
19. M83 Hurry up, We’re Dreaming
18. Feist - Metals
17. Warren Haynes - Man in Motion
16. Social Distortion - Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes
15. Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost
14. Tom Morello (The Nightwatchman) - World Wide Rebel Songs
13. Tom Waits - Bad as Me
12. Teduschi Trucks Band - Revelator
11. Peter Gabriel - New Blood
10. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
9. Florence and the Machine - Ceremonials
8. The Black Keys - El Camino
7. Gillian Welch - The Harrow & The Harvest
6. Sigur Ros - Inni


  1. Mark - One of the reasons I wanted you in this group was so that I wouldn't be the oldest geezer rocker in the room. ;) Seriously, though, you bring an appreciation of music from your era while remaining open to new music and new styles. Thanks for lending your perspective to the group, and for broadening our collective perspective.

  2. Thanks for sharing your musical insights Mark!