Editors Note: As a special for the last week of 2011, BestNewBands.com is running lists of our writer's top-5 albums of 2011. Because it's the end of the year and because we want to find out what our writers really like, these albums are not restricted to "New" bands. Here are Kelly Knapp's top albums of the past year.
My favorite thing about Within Without is the cover. It looks like the music sounds. There’s intimacy. There’s security. There’s safety. There’s peace. Listening to Washed Out feels like falling into a lover’s arms. It’s an album that never pushes a listener out of their comfort zone because this music is comfort. It engulfs and envelopes, wrapping it’s arms around your ears, whispering “stay awhile; the world can wait.”
Unlike Washed Out, TV On The Radio doesn’t leave listeners in their comfort-zone. It’s inspiring and uplifting, but a bit jarring at the same time. While listening to Nine Types of Light I feel like I can climb Everest with an alligator strapped to my back just because I need to see the world from a new light. Tunde Adimpe, like a preacher of music prophecy, pushes his audience higher and higher, touching the clouds and scraping the stars. With his words beneath their wings, followers never fall back to Earth. They just run across the sky.
On his latest solo album, Panda Bear shifted gears from subterranean explorer to Cosmonaut. While Person Pitch sounded collected and hushed, scoured from the bottom of a lake, Tomboy set controls for the heart of the sun. With Brian Wilson harmonies and dancehall rhythms, Panda Bear charts sonic territory within the vast reaches out of outer space. Rocket fuel burns brightly and star dust sprinkles over the record, dazzling and fleeting for a mere moment before burning into the stratosphere.
On their sophomore album, Fleet Foxes show the maturity of a band twice their age. Robin Peckinhold’s old-country lyricism and Applachian melody belie a swiftly aging soul’s worldliness and sorrow. The band, like the musical accompaniment for an old-world story teller swell and stir under his tales, ornamenting and elaborating the memories of an ancient traveler.
M83 finally the struck the perfect chord. Anthony Gonzalez finally realized his true vocal talents and moved front and center. The John Hughes, wide-eyed innocence sounds more earnest shifting between male and female focus. It’s efforts at rationalizing teenage apathy and indulgence never sound contrived, but starry-eyed and honest. The record dances and jumps, but never loses control. Its melodies bury deep while the textures cascade and collide with excitement and abandon.