The first picture was taken on my birthday during a hot air balloon ride over Albuqeurque. The second is of the miraculous staircase at the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe.
This list is constantly changing, but as of right now here is my Top 100 songs released in 2011. This concludes my "Best of 2011" series.
1. Helena Beat - Foster the People
2. Jack Sparrow - The Lonely Island ft. Michael Bolton
3. Immigrant Song - Karen O with Trent Reznor and Atticus
4. Second Chance - Peter Bjorn and John
5. 3-Way (The Golden Rule) - The Lonely Island ft. Justin Timberlake
6. Smile - Avril Lavigne
7. Romance - Wild Flag
8. Guilty Filthy Soul - Awolnation
9. Bonfire - Childish Gambino
10. Muppet Show Theme Song - OK Go
11. Rolling in the Deep - Adele
12. The Creep - The Lonely Island ft. Nicki Minaj
13. Color on the Walls (Don't Stop) - Foster the People
14. What the Hell - Avril Lavigne
15. Shake it Out - Florence and the Machine
16. Dystopia - YACHT
17. Pumped Up Kicks - Foster the People
18. I Just Had Sex - The Lonely Island ft. Akon
19. Sexy and I Know It - LMFAO
20. Party Rock Anthem - LMFAO ft. Lauren Bennett and GoonRock
21. Broken Open - Cold Wark Kids
22. Sail - Awolnation
23. Allies - Mutemath
24. Pictures in My Head - The Muppets Soundtrack
25. Houdini - Foster the People
26. Youth Knows No Pain - Lykke Li
27. Man or Muppet - The Muppets Soundtrack
28. Go Outside - Cults
29. Blood Pressure - Mutemath
30. Get Some - Lykke Li
31. Heartbeat - Childish Gambino
32. T.O.R.N.A.D.O. - The Go! Team
33. Royal Blue - Cold War Kids
34. Tongue Tied - Gouplove
35. Perform This Way - Weird Al Yankovic
36. What Baby Wants - Alice Cooper ft. Kesha
37. Life's A Happy Song - The Muppets Soundtrack
38. Make Some Noise - Beastie Boys
39. 99 Problems - Hugo
40. Changing - The Airborne Toxic Event
41. Outside - Childish Gambino
42. Tonight - Seether
43. Rainbow Connection - The Muppets Soundtrack
44. Fire Fly - Childish Gambino
45. Abducted - Cults
46. Call It What You Want - Foster the People
47. Bad Reputation - Avril Lavigne
48. You See Me - Childish Gambino
49. Best of Them All - Big D and the Kids Table
50. Super Bass - Nicki Minaj
51. Set Fire to the Rain - Adele
52. Backpackers - Childish Gambino
53. Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.) - Katy Perry
54. Price Tag - Jessie J ft. B.o.B.
55. Modern American Gypsy - Big D and the Kids Table
56. Pull Me Back to Earth - Friendly Fires
57. Lonely Boy - The Black Keys
58. Go - Santigold ft. Karen O
59. Shake Me Down - Cage the Elephant
60. Gold on the Ceiling - The Black Keys
61. Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win - Beastie Boys ft. Santigold
62. Panic - Sublime with Rome
63. Junk of the Heart (Happy) - The Kooks
64. Odd Soul - Mutemath
65. Zombie - Natalia Kills
66. Rotten - Big D and the Kids Table
67. Not Your Fault - Awolnation
68. Blue Cassette - Friendly Fires
69. Help is On the Way - Rise Against
70. Can You Feel It - Sublime with Rome ft. Wiz Khalifa
71. Colours - Grouplove
72. Moves Like Jagger - Maroon 5 ft. Christina Aguilera
73. Good Feeling - Flo Rida
74. Holocene - Bon Iver
75. PCH - Sublime with Rome
76. Always Something - Cage the Elephant
77. All of the Lights - Kanye West ft. Rihanna
78. What the Water Gave Me - Florence and the Machine
79. Sensitive Kid - Cold War Kids
80. Tonight Tonight - Hot Chelle Rae
81. Mr. Nice Guy - The Kooks
82. Last Man On Earth - Alice Cooper
83. Stringers - Big D and the Kids Table
84. Voice Yr Choice - The Go! Team
85. Electric Band - Wild Flag
86. Show Me Lights - Friendly Fires
87. Someone Like You - Adele
88. Cape Dory - Tennis
89. Comfort Me - Feist
90. Me Party - The Muppets Soundtrack
91. I Gotta Get Outta Here - Alice Cooper
92. Born This Way - Lady Gaga
93. Blow - Kesha
94. Champagne Showers - LMFAO ft. Natalia Kills
95. Every Teardrop is a Waterfall - Coldplay
96. No Church in the Wild - Jay Z and Kanye West ft. Frank Ocean
97. Ghouls Gone Wild - Alice Cooper
98. Movin' Right Along - Alkaline Trio
99. Blue Jeans - Lana del Ray
100. The Wall - Yuck
Below are my top 30 favorite albums of 2011.
30. Yuck - Yuck
Debut album from London-based indie band Yuck. The sound is like a 90's revival but done in a new way.
29. Thank You, Happy Birthday - Cage the Elephant
Cage the Elephant's sophomore album is good, but I definitely prefer to see them live as I did last summer at Lollapalooza. Their show is full of high-energy, which is usually a plus at a live show.
28. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
Four Grammy nominations and two wins (including Best New Artist) is well deserved.
27. Cape Dory - Tennis
Cape Dory is the first studio album from Denver-based married duo Tennis. The album has a soft indie-pop sound, and the songs are about the couple's experiences on a sailing expedition.
26. Never Trust A Happy Song - Grouplove
I first heard of Grouplove from my roommate while we were at Lollapalooza. I didn't see them, but he did. I heard their first single, "Colours," and really wasn't all that impressed. Their second single, "Tongue Tied," hooked me in however. I paid more attention after hearing that.
25. Metals - Feist
The debut of Metals was Feist's best week of sales ever, placing the album number 7 on the Billboard charts. Her fourth studio album is described as "modern ancient" and it is a soothing album to listen to.
24. Yours Truly - Sublime With Rome
Thirteen years after the death of frontman Bradley Nowell in 1996, the two remaining members of Sublime reunited with newcomer Rome Ramirez. Due to legalities they could not be known simply as Sublime, so they are now known as Sublime With Rome. Their "debut" album is on par with their 90's tunes and new frontman Rome is a solid replacement for Nowell.
23. Junk of the Heart - The Kooks
I am a big fan of the The Kooks and this album is ranked this low simply because I haven't had a chance to listen to the entire album yet.
22. Arabia Mountain - Black Lips
Arabia Mountain is the sixth studio ablum from "flower punk" band Black Lips. This is an interesting case of an album I really enjoy that doesn't include and individually favorite songs. It's just a great high-energy album from beginning to end but I haven't picked out any one song I prefer over the others.
21. 21 - Adele
I'm not sure there's anyone who isn't familiar with Adele and her powerful voice. With songs like "Running in the Deep," "Set Fire to the Rain" and "Someone Like You" it's difficult to not enjoy this album. It's no surprise Adele swept all six categories she was nominated for at the Grammy's this year.
20. Goodbye Lullaby - Avril Lavigne
Avril Lavigne's fourth album, and first since her divorce from Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley, brings her musical style back to that of her debut album. It is obvious much of the writing was inspired by her recent experiences in life and it makes for a very honest and raw album. There are pop hits like "What The Hell" and "Smile," but the deeper tracks add a lot of emotion.
19. Ceremonials - Florence and the Machine
Flo's debut album Lungs in 2009 vaulted them to superstardom. Their sophomore effort does not disappoint.
18. El Camino - The Black Keys
Though not their best album, El Camino is still a better album than many artists' best.
17. Wounded Rhymes - Lykke Li
The Swedish-born singer's second album is a great collection of indie, pop and electronic. The songs are quite catchy, especially "Get Some" and "Youth Knows No Pain."
16. Hot Sauce Commitee, Pt. 2 - Beastie Boys
For the record, there is no Hot Sauce Commitee, Pt. 1. Originally Rock N Roll Hall of Famers the Beastie Boys were going to release a two-part album with separate release dates. Unfortunately complications arose and they missed the release date of Pt. 1. The Beastie Boys insisted that Pt. 2 would still be released on time, so they decided to move the songs from Pt. 1 to Pt. 2 while bumping some of the Pt. 2 songs off the album. I find it interesting and awesome that they would leave the title Pt. 2 while not planning on releasing a Pt. 1. It makes for a great story. And to quote one of their songs for my birthday being later this week..."Make some noise it's your birthday!"
15. Cults - Cults
Cults are a New York-based noise-pop duo who were the first band to sign onto Lily Allen's new record label In The Name Of in 2011. Their self-titled debut makes it hard to believe this is a new band.
14. Alpocalypse - Weird Al Yankovic
At 52 years old, the singer-songwriter-parodist is still going strong. Weird Al has managed to tackle some of the biggest hits consistently for almost thirty years. His new album, the Grammy-nominated Alpocalypse follows a similar formula, mixing parodies with original songs and the always enjoyable polka medley consisting of several recent hits. Weird Al's latest parodies include "Perform This Way" (Lady Gaga's "Born This Way), "Party in the C.I.A." (Miley Cyrus's "Party in the USA"), "Another Tattoo" (B.o.B. and Bruno Mars's "Nothin' On You"), "TMZ" (Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me") and "Whatever You Like" (T.I.'s "Whatever You Like").
13. Welcome 2 My Nightmare - Alice Cooper
Weird Al may be 52, but the king of shock rock just turned 63! Normally you wouldn't expect them to be mentioned in the same sentence, let alone share a stage. This past New Year's Eve the two of them along with Steven Tyler were at the same party in Hawaii and performed "Come Together"...together! Check it out on YouTube. Anyway, Welcome 2 My Nightmare is a concept album that acts as a sequel to 1975's Welcome To My Nightmare. The new album tells the story of a character who essentially travels to Hell and meets the Devil. It turns out the Devil is played by Kesha, who features in the song "What Baby Wants." It seems like an unusual collaboration, but think of it this way...Cooper went through his "Trash" phase in the 80's and Kesha is what I currently consider the queen of trash pop. Welcome 2 features a variety of music styles including a childlike lullaby ("The Nightmare Returns"), disco ("Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever"), surf rock ("Ghouls Gone Wild"), love ballad ("Something to Remember Me By") and an instrumental overture consisting of elements from songs from both Nightmare albums ("The Underture").
12. Muppets: The Green Album - Various Artists
The Green Album is a compliation of songs from across the Muppets canon performed by various artists. Contributing artists include OK Go, Weezer, Alkaline Trio, The Fray, My Morning Jacket and more. For a special treat, check out OK Go's video for "Muppet Show Theme Song."
11. Megalithic Symphony - Awolnation
I just realized this is one of six debut albums on this list. Not a bad year for new artists. Granted some of them are made up of established musicians. Awolnation was founded by the former frontman of another band I really like, Under the Influence of Giants. Awolnation's debut Megalithic Symphony is a great electronic-rock album with some good experimental elements.
10. Rolling Blackouts - The Go! Team
What do you get when you combine indie and garage rock with sounds from blaxploitation and Bollywood, old school hip hop and distorted guitars? That's right, The Go! Team. The crazy, chaotic sound from this British eight-piece band is great fun. Their third studio album Rolling Blackouts keeps the party going.
9. Pala - Friendly Fires
I only just discovered Friendly Fires last year at Lollapalooza, but they were one of my favorite performances of the festival. After getting into their catalogue I found myself enjoying their recorded music just as much as listening to them live.
8. The Muppets Soundtrack - Various Artists
The Muppets was probably my favorite film of 2011 and the music definitely helped make the film as good as it was. Much of the music was written by Bret McKenzie, one half of the New Zealand duo Flight of the Conchords. It didn't hurt having Jason Segal and Amy Adams on board, both talent actors and singers. One of the best tracks of the film, "Man or Muppet," is nominated for an Academy Award!
7. Wild Flag - Wild Flag
Wild Flag is a four-piece all female band that includes two former members of Sleater-Kinney (Janet Weiss and Portlandia's Carrie Brownstein). Their self-titled debut is a high energy indie rock album
6. Mine Is Yours - Cold War Kids
The Cold War Kids' third album might be my favorite from them yet. It is a very moving and enjoyable album to listen to from beginning to end.
5. Odd Soul - MuteMath
MuteMath's third studio release really accentuates their southern blues rock. I really like a lot of their past work, but this album as a whole is probably my favorite.
4. Torches - Foster the People
It's hard to believe Torches is a debut album. With the amount of exposure it has had in the past year you'd think Foster the People have been around much longer. Their debut single "Pumped Up Kicks" is played by rock, pop and indie stations, and a few other songs have appeared on the radio and in commercials. Though they have two Grammy nods this year, it surprises me that they were not nominated for Best New Artist.
3. Turtleneck & Chain - The Lonely Island
The Lonely Island's follow-up to 2009's Incredibad is bigger and badder with new guests and great SNL Digital Shorts. A couple of the songs had already been released as Digital Shorts before the album was released ("Motherlover", "I Just Had Sex") and a few more have been released as Shorts since ("The Creep", "Jack Sparrow"). Special guests include Justin Timberlake, Akon, Snoop Dogg, Nicki Minaj, Michael Bolton, Beck, Santigold and Rihanna. Not bad for three writers-comedians-rappers. They were nominated for three Emmy's last year for "I Just Had Sex," "Jack Sparrow" and "3-Way (The Golden Rule)." "3-Way" is not on the album.
2. For the Damned, the Dumb & the Delirious - Big D and the Kids Table
The best thing about my favorite band releasing a new album is that it brought them back to Albuquerque. Big D's do-it-yourself attitude and non-stop performing has been a great thing to experience as a fan. Though they took some different routes with their previous album Fluent in Stroll, For the Damned brings them back to their fast-paced punk rock/ska infusion that I have loved for over a decade.
On a more somber note, Big D's frontman Dave McWane was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in November. He recently had surgery and as far as I've heard the cancer was successfully removed. I wish him the best in his recovery process.
1. Camp - Childish Gambino
Childish Gambino a.k.a. Donald Glover a.k.a. Troy from Community is a rapper/actor/writer/comedian who is very talented at everything he does. Glover may be more well known for his comedic prowess, but Childish Gambino is far from a joke. Camp is Gambino's first studio album, but he has released a few free EPs in the past. I am not the biggest fan of rap, but I appreciate true talent when I hear it.
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