Top Albums of 2011

Okay folks, here are my top 12 albums of 2011. It’s kind of a weird number, but that’s what happens when there has been so much good music this year! 

1. Bon Iver by Bon Iver

2. Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes

3. Strange Mercy by St. Vincent

4. James Blake by James Blake

5. Watch The Throne by Jay-Z and Kanye West

6. Kiss Each Other Clean by Iron & Wine 

7. Barton Hollow by The Civil Wars

8. Summer Echoes by Sin Fang 

9. The Goat Rodeo Sessions by Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile, Stuart Duncan, and Edgar Meyer

10. Beautiful Mechanical by yMusic

11. We Are Rising by Son Lux

12. El Camino by The Black Keys

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order): 

King of Limbs by Radiohead, All Things Will Unwind by My Brightest Diamond, Early in The Morning by James Vincent McMorrow, The Head and The Heart by The Head and The Heart, and The Rip Tide by Beirut

Free Unreleased yMusic Track Penned By Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond

Here’s a new track “Skin & Bones” written for the ensamble by Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond! It’s free today, so hop over and download another lovely piece from this fantastic sextet! 


"Proven Badlands", written by Annie Clark, performed by yMusic from their new album Beautiful Mechanical.

A few months ago, the yMusic sextet (comprised of CJ Camerieri, Rob Moose, Clarice Jensen, Nadia Sirota, Alex Sopp, and Hideaki Aomori) completed their first album and used Kickstarter to raise money to officially release the seven song masterpiece.

I figured the album was going be good since it had songs written by Shara Worden, Son Lux, Annie Clark, Judd Greenstein, Sarah Kirkland Snider, and Gabriel Kahane, but even with the impressive line up of composers, I still wasn’t sure what to expect. I weighed the options of donating vs. not donating to the Kickstarter fund, and decided it would probably be a good choice to donate because really, with all of these people involved in making the album (even down to DM Stith creating the artwork for the cover), how could it be bad? 

Fast forward to September 10, when I received the e-mail with the downloads. Within the first 45 seconds into the first track, Son Lux’s “Beautiful Mechanical”, I was blown away by how beautiful it was. These songs each stand on their own as very distinct pieces, but come together to create a gorgeous collection of modern-classical orchestrations. I love that with each piece, the writer’s personality and style comes through to create something unique from the previous song. 

The album, aptly titled Beautiful Mechanical conveniently comes out in two days on September 27 for your listening pleasure. Make your Sunday great and preorder it on Itunes

Watch this a few times. 

I met Shara Worden and Ryan Lott today after his [Son Lux’s] show! I will write more about that in a post to come, as well as more details about both Son Lux performances (the one at Millenium Park and the other that was later in the day at Saki Records). 

Read this article, then watch the video. I haven’t spent much time listening to yMusic or My Brightest Diamond…but I think it’s about time. Both sound so incredible. 


Listen to the full-length Son Lux album We Are Rising on NPR. 

Son Lux (a.k.a. Ryan Lott) is an artist I found out about a few months back just as he was beginning his album in a month project he was challenged to do by The Wire magazine as a part of their yearly RPM challenge. I followed along while he made the album and it was fun to see the progression. 

Something unique about Son Lux’s approach to making this album was that he did not really use much (if any) samples or previously recorded music. As an electronic musician he could have easily created the sounds he needed, but instead he asked his musician friends throughout the country if they could record something then send it back to him and he could integrate it into the album. Some of the contributors include: DM Stith, Peter Silberman of The Antlers, members of yMusic sextet, My Brightest Diamond, and Midlake. 

After the album was finished, the Made Shop ( set out to make the album artwork in less than 28 hours (because Son Lux made his album in 28 days). They made this video: to document the making. I think the album artwork is very well done. 

The album came out yesterday and you can buy it here: