Lovelies, we have some exciting news for you! One of my best girls, Ms. Astrid, will be blogging for Lovely all! As an amazing singer-songwriter herself, she adores listening to, analyzing, and finding new music. She'll be writing music related articles about twice a month, so let us know if there's anything you'd like to see!. Currently, Astrid resides in Brooklyn, loves Urban Outfitters, works in non-profit, and is in cahoots with Eric on an EP due out in 2012. 
Welcome to: Stereo at Your Side!
As a music aficionado and budding singer/songwriter, the holiday season is more than good tidings and the exchange of pleasantries among family and friends; it marks the beginning of an Olympic sport known as the ‘Album of the Year’ list. Throughout 2011, fellow music lovers and critics alike have been debating the merits of new releases, flagging standout tracks and clandestinely ranking albums in preparation for this moment.

The end of year list entails more than just a compilation of arbitrary albums; it requires the listener to think objectivity about an artist’s contribution to the indiesphere. When creating my list, I asked myself the following questions:

  • How well does this album’s aesthetic represent my personal brand?
  • To what extent does this album appeal to my sensibilities?
  • What memories from 2011 are conjured up upon pressing play?
  • How innovative is this album?
  • To what extent will this album influence future musicians?
  • Will I be playing this album one year from now, or is it merely an enjoyable fad in the soundtrack of my life?
  • Does this album represent a turning point for the artist’s career?
In short, the album of the year list encapsulates the tone and ambience of the year from a personal and cultural standpoint.

Without further ado, I present my top ten albums of the year. I hope you enjoy the soundtrack of my year!

10. Cass McCombs – Wit’s End

Wit’s End struck a chord with me during a (very long) stint with mononucleosis earlier this year. Its ethereal instrumentation and haunting melodies illuminate both the beauty and pain of isolation, reminiscent of Leonard Cohen and Nick Drake.

09. Ty Segall – Goodbye Bread

Although heralded as one of the best garage rock artists in the contemporary music scene, Ty Segall takes a different route on Goodbye Bread. Slower tempos underscore Segall’s gift as a songwriter, which may have been overlooked in the midst of loud distorted guitars on previous endeavors.

08. Real Estate – Days

Days sets a youthful and carefree tone through classic melodies. Its genius is in Real Estate’s ability to transport the listener to a more idyllic time period without coming off as affected.

07. Atlas Sound – Parallax

Parallax is quite a feat for frontman Bradford Cox. This album manages to be experimental, yet accessible to listeners who are drawn to structure.

06. Wye Oak – Civilian

On Civilian, Wye Oak combines subdued verse with voluminous choruses, resulting in memorable crescendos and a richer sound than preceding albums.

05. Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Bon Iver strays away from understated instrumentation found on For Emma, Forever Ago and instead, moves toward more sophisticated arrangements and dynamics. However, much to his credit, Justin Vernon continues to explore motifs of escapism and self-actualization through the timbre, tone and lyrics of the album.

04. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

On Let England Shake, PJ Harvey focuses on the trauma of World War I as an overarching theme. Like her predecessor Kate Bush, Harvey creates docile pop-folk melodies in order to offset the heavier political motifs on the album.  

03. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

Since 2008, Fleet Foxes has been drawing in listeners with their warm harmonies, beautiful melodies and pleasant disposition. Helplessness Blue is a darker, more experimental album that explores the interplay between tension and release; uncertainty and resolution; and love and destruction. The adventurousness of their songwriting in conjunction with their inquisitive lyrics prove that Fleet Foxes are evolving creatively and ready to take a lead role in contemporary folk music.

02. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy

Annie Clark mixes baroque pop instrumentation with jazz and electronica undertones on Strange Mercy to create a fervent, energetic and enjoyable album. Most notably, Clark’s exploration of femininity and sexuality shines through this album, with high-brow cultural references interspersed throughout.

01.  tUnE-YaRdS – W H O K I L L

W H O K I L L is a bold and innovative album that fuses Afro-Pop, R&B and rock. Maintaining the lo-fi aesthetic found on Bird-Brains, Merrill Garbus blends beautiful melodies with raucous textures, rhythms and dynamics. Taken together, the conviction in Garbus’ voice in tandem with the brash and instrumentation makes this album an instant classic in my collection.


  1. I love you, Ms. Astrid! Can't wait to hear your EP!

    Clever column name, by the way.

  2. Uh....where is the Lou Reed/Metallica collaboration?!?!