Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

The best of 2011: “Strange Mercy” tops list that includes Gaga, G-Side

The best of 2011: Strange Mercy tops list that includes Gaga, G-Side

I know that list making does that annoying thing where I try to quantify art by saying one thing is somehow more valuable than the others. I also know that this framing device is pretentious, and that you’re going to be mad that your favorites didn’t make it. That is something that applies to every list, ever.


10. Lady Gaga – Born This Way

The best pop album of the year far and away, “Born This Way” is shockingly genuine for an album bred in the cold, hollow major label studios of the world. Authenticity to me is not the trueness of what an artist is doing, but more that you want it to be true. When Gaga tells of a 60-year marriage’s final moments in “The Edge of Glory,” you want it to be true that we all win in life.


9. Battles – Gloss Drop

Battles do not cease to sound interesting with “Gloss Drop,” a hard sell for most sane beings, but just enough musical experimentation to really speak to me. “Ice Cream” is one of those tracks that could sell you on this album immediately, or drop you out of the proceedings.


8. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

PJ Harvey has been brilliant and prolific for almost as long as most of our current student body has been alive, yet “Let England Shake” feels like her most vibrant work in recent days, creating one of the most wonderfully fiery tracks of the year in “The Words That Maketh Murder.”


7. Team Teamwork – Super Nintendo Sega Genesis

The mash-up group Team Teamwork goes for massive nostalgia, mixing hip-hop jams with music of 16-bit video games of yore. While there is resentment towards the method, this is simply a well-produced mix that porves that audio influence from our childhood can play as much of a factor in our modern enjoyment.


6. G-Side – Island

While they released an incredible record in “The One…Cohesive” to start 2011, it is “Island” that is the strongest release from the Huntsville duo backed with incredible production by Slow Motion Sounds. The work of the Blockbeattaz should be especially lauded as adding to the working-class rapping of Yung Clova and ST 2 Lettaz.


5. Hank Williams III – Ghost to a Ghost/Gutter Town

It may seem to defeat the purpose to only recommend wholeheartedly one disc of a two-disc effort placed on a best of the year list, but the dirty country of “Ghost to a Ghost” runs on such consistency through that disc that it has to be worth your time. Hank III brings back foul language, probable sexism and downhome logic and somehow I don’t hate it.


4. Vivian Girls – Share The Joy

Are they technically proficient? Probably not. But the Vivian Girls’ third record escapes being shoved off as a re-do simply by the incredible darkness in the detached lyrics. For all of the talk about boys, there’s even more obsession with the panic of death, which gives a shockingly real undercurrent to the surf-punk posturing.


3. F***ed Up – David Comes to Life

For all its punk rock trappings (including band names unable to be printed in this paper), the Canadian band’s second full-length is entirely old school. “David Comes to Life” is a rock opera of the highest degree, stretching the CD form for a four-act tale about love, death and bombs.


2. Wild Flag – Wild Flag

To call Wild Flag’s first record a debut album is both technically correct and slightly misleading. After all, the band features drummer Janet Weiss and guitarist/vocalist Carrie Brownstein of seminal group Sleater-Kinney. However, all the spunk and excitement of a debut album is spruced with the phenomenal skill its members honed through decades of putting out some of the best music of our time.


1. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy

“Strange Mercy” is a series of circular contradictions. It is beautiful, but obsessed with its flaws. It holds tracks speaking about the nature of humanity to beauty but also is a deeply personal work about how mood has nothing to do with the standards of beauty or even the joy of fame. St. Vincent’s best work of her career is in layering a truly transcendent album that will be tough to match.

More to Discover