Staff Picks: Best Albums of 2011

Our staff, as well as our growing forum community (the “Brasky Society” over on Facebook), have been committed to following music this past year. Inevitably this means having to endure countless tracks that land well outside our preferred genres, but it’s a necessary toll before you can make sweeping assertions about what music is the “best”.

This year we recruited the opinions of a few of Tampa Bay’s music scene insiders – Jack Spatafora from Aestheticized (a long-time fixture in the Bay Area), Anna Serena from Don’t Stop Collective and No Clubs (booking powerhouse), and Yvonne Bell, music editor at

Earning top album honors on multiple lists this year are Washed Out, M83, Little Dragon, Neon Indian, Metronomy, Toro y Moi, and Bon Iver. For those of you scoring at home, that’s three bands that are firmly associated with the birth of “chillwave” (one of the predominant music trends in 2011).

Usual disclaimers:

  1. The omission of major pop acts doesn’t mean they weren’t given fair consideration
  2. Bands that released music too close to the beginning or end of the year are probably underrepresented. Some albums in this post were first released in late 2010.
  3. We each took our own stance on whether we wanted to order our lists and whether we wanted to include write-ups

Fine print disclosed, here are the Brasky collective’s choices for best albums of 2011.

Top Albums of 2011

Derek Clark’s Top 10

The Rural Alberta Advantage
I am very puzzled why this album didn’t make it on more people’s lists this year. This album i…
Washed Out
Within and Without
Pleasantly surprised at how excellent this album was, afraid that it would not match the appeal…
Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
When I learned this album was two discs I was a bit concerned. Not since SP’s Melancholy and t…
Alex Winston
Sister Wife
If this was one of those Miller Lite commercials where my friends sass me for doing the “second…
Morning Benders
Japan Echo
Somewhat under the radar, the Morning Benders released a remix album to help raise money for Ja…
Ricky Eat Acid
2 albums (Haunt U Forever, Seeing Little Ghosts Everywhere)
I include two albums here because hearing the second will completely change how you feel about …
After a few remarkably successful debut singles in 2010, Manhattan duo Cults was poised to drop…
(multiple EPs)
For me, the sound of Austin producer Galapagos’ work is a perfect blend of a lot of things I’ve…
Various Artists
Mad Hop: Volume 2
Believe me, I don’t like including a compilation on here; doesn’t feel right. BUT. During a “…
Germany Germany
From Canada Canada comes Germany Germany, an independent music project by Drew Harris. The m…

Nikki Elizabeth’s Top 10

1 Phantogram
2 Spies on Bikes
Man Overboard
3 Freddy Todd
Neon Spectacle Operator
4 Blaerg
Everything Was Altered
5 The Human Abstract
Digital Veil
6 Tom Waits
Bad As Me
7 Curren$y
Covert Coup
8 Kate Bush
50 Words for Snow
9 Auto!Automatic!!
10 Seefeel

Aaron Rogge’s Top 10

1 War on Drugs
Slave Ambient
War on Drugs’ newest album, Slave Ambient, scratches a particular itch that I’ve had ever since…
2 Real Estate
Real Estate is a relative latecomer to the indie lo-fi long-play ouevre but they seem to have f…
3 Neon Indian
Era Extrana
Era Extrana is the second LP from Denton, Texas producer/bandleader/electronics guru Neon India…
4 Smith Westerns
Dye it Blond
On Dye it Blonde, Smith Westerns successfully blend arena rock grandeur with the major-chord sc…
5 The Bees
Every Step’s a Yes
The Bees, or A Band of Bees interchangeably, are a collective of folk, jam and rock musicians f…
6 Russian Circles
The latest album from Russian Circles sees the Chicago based Post-Rock/apocalyptic instrumental…
7 Iron and Wine
Kiss Each Other Clean
Sam Beam is no one-trick pony. Iron and Wine’s newest album ‘Kiss Each Other Clean’ explores bi…
8 Buckethead
Buckethead Pikes (1-5)
Buckethead Pikes is a set of five (and counting) albums released by avant-garde guitarist Bucke…
9 Beach Fossils
What a Pleasure
Beach Fossils’ ‘What a Pleasure’ is your godawful-hipster themed party soundtrack. Guitars so c…
10 The Globes
Future Self
The Globes debut album ‘Future Self’ is a rich, personal affair. It feels as if the band member…

Emanuel Moshouris’ Top 10

1 Apparat
The Devil’s Walk
While everyone else was busy worrying about genres and other bullshit, Apparat reminded us that …
2 Wallpaper.
Lonely Island’s latest foray into fake rap may have been disappointing, but Ricky Reed done’ ch…
Goddamnit Nikki, you have to stop suggesting things that make my list harder to organize. I did…
4 Holy Ghost!
Holy Ghost!
Yeah, it took them forever, but, whatever. It’s catchy. It reeks of DFA. It’s delicious….
5 Metronomy
The English Riviera
I think this album was on repeat in my car for a few weeks….
6 Mexicans With Guns
Lord, give me the strength not to punch this artist in the face if I ever see him live for havi…
7 Dye
Taki 183
And here we were, thinking the early 00′s electronic thing was played out. These guys come and …
8 Com Truise
Galactic Melt
This sort of catchy should be illegal. Also, bonus points for showing up to shows dressed up li…
9 Nicolas Jaar
Space is Only Noise
On one hand, I loved parts of this album. On the other hand, he’s only, like, 21, and doesn’t k…
10 M83
Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
I didn’t feel like making an entire “Worst Of 2011 Album”, so instead, I’m simply placing this …

Victoria Casal’s Top 10

1 Washed Out
Within and Without
2 Adele
3 Blind Pilot
We are the Tide
4 High Highs
High Highs
6 Fionn Regan
100 Acres of Sycamore
7 Memoryhouse
The Years EP
8 Bon Iver
Bon Iver
9 Little Dragon
Ritual Union
10 Dustin O’Hallaran

Anna Serena’s Top 10

James Blake
James Blake
Washed Out
Within and Without
The King of Limbs
Little Dragon
Ritual Union
Native Speaker
Wolves in the Throne Room
Celestial Linage
Toro Y Moi
Underneath the Pine
Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
Shabazz Palaces
Black Up
John Maus
We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves
Prince Rama
Trust Now

Jack Spatafora’s Top 10

1 Metronomy
The English Riviera
2 Jamie Woon
3 Akron/Family
S/T II: The Cosmic Birth & Journey of Shinju TNT
4 Machinedrum
6 Junior Boys
It’s All True
7 Benoit & Sergio
Principles + Boy Trouble 12′s
8 Little Dragon
Ritual Union
9 Chrissy Murderbot
Women’s Studies
10 Here We Go Magic
The January EP

Yvonne Bell’s Top 10

1 Cut Copy
2 Sleepy Vikings
They Will Find You Here
3 Washed Out
Within and Without
4 Toro Y Moi
Underneath the Pine
5 Neon Indian
Era Extrana
6 Jay Z & Kanye
Watch the Throne
7 The Horrors
8 The Black Keys
El Camino
9 Lykke Li
Wounded Rhymes
10 Cults

Top Albums of 2011: Honorable Mentions

And because some great releases don’t quite fit in the top 10 discussion, we have included the collective’s honorable mentions (100% real bits of honor)

TV on the Radio
Nine Types of Light
I added this after seeing none of our reviews even mentioned it. It’s another excellent album …
The Weeknd
House of Balloons
I really do not like R&B, but the insane amounts of hype pushed The Weeknd into queue. I was (…
Air Drops
Random EPs like Air Drops EP, EP, are what make the music hunt fun. Five tracks, sequen…
Caregiver b/w Heirloom
A two-track EP gets a mention? Must be that both tracks are A+ songs. Two songs is about as m…
“Witch house”? Yeah, that stuff’s still popping up. Here’s my favorite of the bunch from 2011…
Native Speaker
Great EP from Montreal quartet Braids. Kinda dreamy, lovely fuzzy guitar loops, and occasional…
Music for Primordial Recollection
InfinitRock is a throwback to beat-driven IDM pioneers like Machinedrum. Supremely lush beats,…
Tech N9ne
All 6s and 7s
The English Riviera
Austin Peralta
Endless Planets
Animals as Leaders
Venetian Snares
Cubist Reggae
Tao of the Dead
Giraffes? Giraffes!
Pink Magick
Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr
It’s a Corporate World
Explosions in the Sky
Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
Gloss Drop
Blitzen Trapper
American Goldwing
Bon Iver
Bon Iver
The English Riviera
Real Estate
Sun and Shade
The Dreamer, The Believer

Check out our year-end picks from previous years:
Brasky’s Top 10 Albums of 2010
100 Notable Songs from 2010 (curated by Derek)
Brasky’s Top 10 Albums of 2009
Notable Songs from 2009 (curated by Derek and Nikki – didn’t really finish this one…)

Up Next

In 2012 we’ll be looking to share more forward-looking posts about the music industry, aside from our growth locally. We have some big plans this year! Stick around – soon Brasky will function much more like a service for savvy music followers in Tampa Bay.


I am the creator of Tampa is my hometown, where I attended USF and met most of the current collaborators on the site. Brasky is a project with friends - my day job is working professionally as a digital marketing consultant. Not as cool.

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