The Best Fit Fifty: Albums of 2011

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30. Zomby – Dedication

If you follow him on Twitter, you’d be forgiven for suspecting that Zomby is in the middle of a year-long breakdown – a suspicion to which Dedication gives nothing but credence. A claustrophobic, frequently nightmarish record that suffocates as much as it enthrals.
-Josh Hall

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29. M83 – Hurry Up We’re Dreaming

It seems like Anthony Gonzalez packed every captivating sound that has caught his ear these past few years into Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, crafting a sprawling but centered double-album that is both refreshingly new and unabashedly retro. The record draws on many different pop touchstones throughout its 22 lively tracks, but Gonzalez frequently takes his energetic synth anthems to a rarefied air, sounding absolutely massive in the process, but still managing to be intimate enough to find a way into your heart. The stirring songs are perfectly suited for both a packed nightclub as well as a solitary evening drive, allowing the listener both the freedom to get down to the music as well as the luxury of getting lost in it as well.
-Erik Thompson

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28. Josh T. Pearson – Last Of The Country Gentlemen

Long as most of the seven tracks on Last Of The Country Gentlemen are, especially as they’re pretty much just vocal and acoustic guitar, you can barely tear yourself away from them for a moment. Such is the intensely compelling nature of Pearson’s long gestating solo craft, willing to bear its scars and rake over long overexamined ground, telling its frank tales of self-doubt and self-loathing in search of a singular catharsis.
-Simon Tyers

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27. Real Estate – Days

Days follows the same sonic blueprint that made Real Estate’s debut so enjoyable: songs that run together, get jumbled in your memory and somehow make each other better, like the warm glow that nostalgia brings to childhood memories.
-Tyler Boehm

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26. Tom Waits – Bad As Me

Given that it’s the first album of his fifth decade, Bad as Me stands proudly as one of Tom Waits’s most concise, effective statements. Old friendships get rekindled, new collaborators are introduced and Tom Waits’s unique universe is once again open for business. Bad as Me is the man’s best work since Mule Variations, and yet another fantastic Tom Waits album. To quote the good man, is there any other kind?
-Alex Wisgard

iTunes

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25. CANT – Dreams Come True

Created by the fair hands of Grizzly Bear multi-instrumentalist Chris Taylor, Dreams Come True is a soul ridden, electronically driven gem of a debut record. Reflecting influences that might not necessarily sit comfortably within a Grizzly Bear environment, Taylor did everything to ensure that Dreams Come True was a work of pure self expression. Packed with masterful production and sublime textures, is there anything that this guy CANT do? (sorry).
-Francine Gorman

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24. King Creosote & Jon Hopkins – Diamond Mine

Songs that are expansive yet filled with solitude. There’s an idyllic quality throughout that suggests Jon Hopkins has captured the very essence of what King Creosote has spent 45 albums trying to convey. A (quietly) roaring success.
-Finbarr Bermingham

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23. Ghostpoet – Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam

The debut long player from the Coventry based poet has the potential to have wide spread appeal and is geared towards those who are receptive to pushing the boundaries of a genre that has yet to solidify its identity away from American shores. The infectious beats and relaxed style act as a persuasion to hit the repeat button and let the record play in its entirety over and over again.
-Slavko Bucifal

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22. Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost

Transcendent pop music rarely needs an asterisk, and even with all the subsequent (and valid) discourse we’ve assigned to a band like Girls, its sometimes meaningful to let it breathe, and let yourself fall in love. The place in the cosmos for Father, Son, Holy Ghost will be hammered out for decades. As of right now, it’s merely a great, great album with few caveats, which is something that can’t be taken for granted.
-Luke Winkie

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21. Wilco – The Whole Love

The American Radiohead™ pull a fast one on their expanding middle-of-the-road rockist audience by slamming the brakes on 2009’s Wilco: The Album and lunging backwards towards their ‘golden era’ of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost Is Born to reveal a tough, jagged tear at the seams of rock n roll with this progressive, endlessly melodic, nudging, winking album. Tracks like ‘The Whole Love’ represent the band at their most crafted and commercial while career highlight ‘One Sunday Morning’ sees them at their most heartfelt and moving. That wonderful tracks as disparate as the 60s tinged ‘I Might’ can sit so snugly alongside misanthropic balladry like ‘Sunloathe’ is testament to why Wilco can still legitimately be called one of the greatest bands in the world.
-Michael James Hall

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