Here's my list. I'll try to add commentary in the coming days. These are the 20 albums that meant the most to me in 2011, in alphabetical order. It was a Herculean task just coming up with the list, and I'm not even going to attempt to rank them. Besides, the order would be different tomorrow if I tried to do so.
Ambrose Akinmusire – When the Heart Emerges Glistening
The Black Keys – El Camino
Richard Buckner – Our Blood
Ry Cooder – Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down
Dropkick Murphys – Going Out in Style
Peter Gabriel – New Blood
Josh Garrels – Love and War and the Sea in Between
Joe Henry – Reverie
Van Hunt – What Were You Hoping For?
King Creosote and Jon Hopkins – Diamond Mine
Lydia Loveless – Indestructible Machine
Laura Marling – A Creature I Don’t Know
The Milk Carton Kids – Prologue
Over the Rhine – The Long Surrender
Paul Simon – So Beautiful or So What
Southeast Engine – Canary
Craig Taborn – Avenging Angel
tUnE-yArDs – Whokill
Veronica Falls - Veronica Falls
Gillian Welch – The Harrow and the Harvest
As always, there are regrets with such a list. So I offer my particular apologies to P.J. Harvey, Tom Waits, Kate Bush, Son Lux, Julianna Barwick, Josh T. Pearson, Aradhna, Sonny and the Sunsets, St. Vincent, The Cars, Real Estate, Kurt Vile, Aaron Strumpel, Blitzen Trapper, The Decemberists, Ezra Furman, Iceage, Fucked Up, Kids on a Crime Spree, The Roots, Kip Hanrahan, Megafaun, Low, Seryn, Mind Spiders, Brad Mehldau, Lanterns on the Lake, Obits, Okkervil River, and The Unthanks, all of whom made splendid records in 2011, and deserve the positive accolades and commentary that I don’t have time to give them.