Best Albums of 2011 [HearYa’s Top 50]

by oz on December 13, 2011

Here are the best albums of 2011 as chosen by our panel of “experts” (Woody, Shirk and I). I’m not a huge fan of ranking albums because my personal rankings are fluid and change depending on the time of year, my mood of the moment, and the album’s propensity to get played again and again over time.

Because we collaborated on the list, we each had to leave off some of our personal top 50’s. In the end, man-to-man mud wrestling prevailed and we compromised. The unanimous top album among all of us was Tamer Animals by Other Lives and our second choice was the most snubbed band on best of lists in 2011, The Deep Dark Woods. Get in there and let us know what we missed. You can also hit play on the mp3’s and they’ll play as a playlist. Sit back and enjoy!

If some of the comments don’t make sense, it’s because we’ve used posted our favorite albums to this list throughout the year so they could be outdated.

1. Other Lives – Tamer Animals

Other Lives – For 12

Other Lives – Tamer Animals (from the HearYa Live Session)

Other Lives – Dust Bowl III (from the HearYa Live Session)

2. The Deep Dark Woods – The Place I Left Behind

The Deep Dark Woods – West Side Street

The Deep Dark Woods – Ballad of Frank Dupree (from the HearYa Live Session)

The Deep Dark Woods – The Banks of The Leopold Canal (from the HearYa Live Session)

3. Centro-Matic – Candidate Waltz

4. Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit – Here We Rest

Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit – Codeine

5. Elliott BROOD – Days Into Years

Elliott BROOD – Northern Air

6. Gillian Welch – The Harrow & The Harvest

7. The Low Anthem – Smart Flesh

The Low Anthem – Boeing 737 (from our live session with The Low Anthem)

The Low Anthem – Love and Altar (from our live session with The Low Anthem)

8. The Decemberists – The King Is Dead

9. Wilco – The Whole Love

10. Bon Iver – S/T

Bon Iver – Holocene

Bon Iver – Calgary

11. My Morning Jacket – Circuital

My Morning Jacket – Circuital

12. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

Fleet Foxes – Grown Ocean

13. Okkervil River – I Am Very Far

Okkervil River – Wake and Be Fine

14. Wye Oak – Civilian

Wye Oak – Civilian

15. Ryan Adams – Ashes and Fire

16. White Denim – D

White Denim – Anvil Everything

White Denim – Street Joy (from the HearYa Live Session)

White Denim – Keys (from the HearYa Live Session)

17. Charles Bradley – No Time For Dreaming

Charles Bradley – The World (Is Going Up In Flames)

18. WATERS – Out In The Light

WATERS – For The One

WATERS – O Holy Break Of Day

19. Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost

Girls – Vomit

20. The David Wax Museum – Everything Is Saved

The David Wax Museum – Born With A Broken Heart

21. Mount Moriah – S/T

Mount Moriah – Only Way Out

Mount Moriah – Lament

Mount Moriah – Reckoning (from the HearYa Live Session)

22. Megafaun – S/T

Megafaun – Get Right

Megafaun – State/Meant

23. AA Bondy – Believers

AA Bondy – The Heart Is Willing

24. The Black Keys – El Camino

25. Drive-By Truckers – Go-Go Boots

Drive-By Truckers – Everybody Needs Love

26. Southeast Engine – Canary

Southeast Engine – New Growth

27. Blitzen Trapper – American Goldwing

Blitzen Trapper – Love The Way You Walk Away

28. Middle Brother – S/T

Middle Brother – Me, Me, Me

29. Roadside Graves – We Can Take Care Of Ourselves

Roadside Graves – Double Feature

Roadside Graves – Love Me More

30. Ha Ha Tonka – Death of a Decade

Ha Ha Tonka – Usual Suspects

31. Deer Tick – Divine Providence

Deer Tick “Main Street” by Partisan Records

32. The War On Drugs – Slave Ambient

The War On Drugs – Slave Ambient

33. Caveman – CoCo Beware

34. The Middle East – I Want That You Are Always Happy

The Middle East – Jesus Came To My Birthday Party

35. Dead Man Winter – Bright Lights

Dead Man Winter – Nicotine

36. Caitlin Rose – Own Side Now

37. Brown Bird – Salt For Salt

38. Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears – Scandalous

39. Vetiver – The Errant Charm

Vetiver – Can’t You Tell

40. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo

Kurt Vile – Jesus Fever

41. Fruit Bats – Tripper

Fruit Bats – Tangie and Ray

42. Little Hurricane – Homewrecker

Little Hurricane – Crocodile Tears

43. Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside – Dirty Radio

Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside – I Swear

44. The Milk Carton Kids – Prologue

The Milk Carton Kids – Michigan

The Milk Carton Kids – Milk Carton Kid

45. Alela Diane and Wild Divine

46. The Devil Whale – Teeth

47. Ponderosa – Moonlight Revival

48. She Keeps Bees – Dig On

2. She Keeps Bees – Saturn Return by wepromised

49. Country Mice – Twister

Country Mice – Festival

Country Mice – Morning Son

50. Seryn – This Is Where We Are

Seryn – We Will All Be Changed

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

That Guy January 7, 2012 at 12:50 am

J. Mascis – Several Shades of Why
Generationals – Actor-Castor
The Strokes – Angles
Gold Leaves – The Ornament
Floating Action – Desert Etiquette

Eric January 7, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Woody – Thanks for mentioning the O’Death omission. Liking it a lot!

Chuck Nelson February 26, 2012 at 8:41 pm

I stumbled on this site and it has been the most enjoyable Sunday evening of music I have had in quite some time. Recently caught The Deep Dark Woods with REK in Wilmington NC and bought The Place I Left Behind on the 2nd song. It’s still in the player in the truck. THANKS!! I now have a wish list of music for my upcoming 55th birthday.

MyMusic April 24, 2012 at 6:17 pm

I may be starting out early with the best albums of 2012 but listen to Dr. John’s ‘Locked Down’ if you haven’t. It’s an absolute masterpiece of funk!

Maloojis May 3, 2012 at 7:57 pm

The fact that “Angles” didn’t even place makes this entire list invalid. Yeah, sure, it’s not the best album by The Strokes but it IS a wonderful work of art by THE STROKES nonetheless.

<3 M

Maura May 21, 2012 at 9:39 pm

I agree, and incredible album. Another great artist you should check out is Rebecca Ferguson. She is a singer from Liverpoolwho was discovered on The X Factor! You can check out a live version of “Glitter & Gold” here: and keep up with her on Facebook here:

Alexandria May 28, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Glad you included Wye Oak, Fleet Foxes, and The Middle East! Those three are my favorites, man.

Mike June 12, 2012 at 5:27 am

Black keys made it on the list! Seen them live in Liverpool loved every minute of it.

MyMusic July 14, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Cold Specks – I Predict A Graceful Expulsion. Hauntingly beautiful!

Hailey October 7, 2012 at 4:04 pm

The Black Keys are my BROTHERS.

MyMusic November 9, 2012 at 9:49 am

Jake Bugg – S/T – This 18 year old from Nottingham has put out an extraordinary debut record.

epabcdaef February 16, 2013 at 8:26 am

Where are the Hey Rosetta? Guys, I’m really disappointed.

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