Let us start things with a few honorable mentions:
Radical Face - The Family Tree: The Roots
(Bear Machine, October 4th 2011)
Radical Face is the soloproject from Jacksonville, Florida based singer/songwriter Ben Cooper. This is his second album following 2007s Ghost. Think of the hushed qualities of the early albums of both Iron & Wine and Sufjan Stevens and you will get an idea of how Radical Face sounds. It's often hauntingly beautiful and somber with lyrics that match the sound. The Roots is the first of a trilogy that will be released under The Family Tree "header". The lyrics to this album is tematically set to the 1800s though they resonate cleary to the same feelings people encounter every day.
Blitzen Trapper - American Goldwing
(Sub Pop, September 13th 2011)
American Goldwing, Blitzen Trapper's sixth album, were a great classic american driving album. Songs that just seem made for cruisin' down the highways. It's a bit more streamlined and straight forward than the last couple of albums from the band, but in my mind, probably the best album they have released to date. Instead of trying a whole mish-mash of things the band has focused on really good country-rock tunes on this album.
Jonas Alaska - Jonas Alaska
(Jansen Plateproduksjon, September 16th 2011)
Easily the best norwegian debut of the year, probably my favourite norwegian album of the year as well. I have written about Jonas Alaska on this blog before, that was a concert review, but the album is nearly as good as his live performance. Lots of great folk-pop tunes in the vein of Paul Simon and Bob Dylan, but always with a Jonas Alaska-twist. This is a name we will be hearing more from in the years to come.
White Denim - D
(Downtown Records, May 24th 2011)
D is the fourth album from this Austin, Texas band. Probably their most accessible so far. A band that's really hard to pin down musically. They have done everything from straight garage rock to prog-ish rock via dub and funk. On this album they bring out their inner prog-rockers, though they never really go prog. It's a kind of Wishbone Ash meets Grand Funk Railroad meets Quicksilver Messenger Service type of album. Lots of extraordinaire playing and it really sounds like they had a hell of a time recording it.
Photo by Line Almhjell (Copyright)