The Best Music of 2011 [#50-#31]

Our official countdown begins with albums 50 through 31. Although I was inclined to present these in groups of 10 with no particular order, that isn’t much fun. What’s the good of a Top 50 List if you can’t be totally outraged that a record ranked 47th instead of 34th?

So let the outrage begin!

As always, you can check out lots of music from this list on our Spotify playlist.

50.  Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie xx, We’re New Here

I thought Izzie B put it well in nom’ing this remix record of Gil Scott-Heron’s last album, and singling out “I’ll Take Care of U” for special appreciation. “Drake took that remix for Take Care, and while I really, really appreciate Rihanna’s vocals, I have to credit the original because the first time I heard that instrumental, I had chills up and down my spine.”

49. Night Birds, Fresh Kills #1

A great find by DBuu. He explains: “A collection of the first three 7″ releases about B-movies and freaks from this surf-ish punk band. There’s something about the songs and the style that remind me of music I got into when I was 15, sort of in that ‘touched for the very first time’ kind of way.”

48. Shabazz Palaces, Black Up

This is an incredible record that Noish brought to my attention. Did you know that Butterfly from Digable Planets is not only still in the game — he’s dropping records as fresh as anything out there? Black Up is a pretty raw, rhyme-focused record that is way out on the experimental tip. It’s kind of tough to explain what’s going on with this one, so check out “Swerve… the Reeping of All That is Worthwhile (Noir Not Withstanding)” on Spotify.

47. Iceage, New Brigade

Wha-bamm! Punk rock Danes on a mission to slay. DBuu pointed out that Iceage’s hype exceeds their greatness at this juncture, but dubbed this a “solid listen.” Twelve tightly-packed, rapid and intense tracks make this album well worth checking out for fans of noisy rock.

46. Van Hunt, What Were You Hoping For?

Fresh off having his last album buried by the record label — apparently Blue Note dislikes F bombs? — this protege of American Idol’s Randy Jackson (it’s not as bad as it sounds) returned with a fury. This self-released collection of songs dwells on recession-era blues and the misery of modern life — but the tracks are tinged with an upbeat funk that’s tough to deny. Tracks like “A Time Machine is My New Girlfriend” bust out in all directions, making you work your mind and your head-nod all at once.

45. Cass McCombs, Humor Risk

Cass McCombs released two full-lengths this year, and while WIT’S END has gotten more praise, I think Humor Risk is a more enjoyable record. This journeyman troubadour has been touring for a solid decade and his road-weariness translates straight into the music in a great way. Cuts like “The Same Thing” combine a propulsive groove with haunting harmonies. It’s a very impressive outing.

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