2011 has been a great year musically for me, sure the Hot 100 was again saturated by the creme de la generic, but the under the radar stuff is where it really hits. Most of the records featured here have been released by bands who aren’t over saturated in American media, as we seen with my “Bands I’m Fucking With” series. Most of the bands featured in this article have been previously mentioned on the site before.
11. 2NE1 – “2nd Mini Album“
First up we have the 4 sassy ladies of 2NE1, K-Pop’s bad girls who capture their audiences with, bad ass attitudes and high fashion, they made their come back onto the Korean music scene this summer with the sassy electro house number “I Am The Best (내가 제일 잘 나가 )” with the irresistible Korean chant of naega jeil jal naga along with a fierce visual garnering 27+million views on YouTube. But where I Am The Best sizzles some of the other records on the album just go up in smoke, more specifically “Hate You” and “Don’t Stop The Music” they lack the spunk of the lead single they seem like obligatory place holders to satisfy YG’s standards. But the saving grace for this 6 song collection is the 2nd single “Ugly” a positive charge to the feeling of abandonment and misguided compliments.
10. Solomon “The Love Rocker Project“
The number 10 record comes from San Diego born, NYC based Electro Pop Rapper-Turned Singer, Solomon. His sophomore effort was headed by the single “With Us U Can’t” featuring rapper Bry’Nt was met with rave reviews and exposure on a couple media outlets. Following the success of the single the album was released to acclaim. Highlights of the record include “West Coast !$#” a summer filled party about life in San Diego and “Serial Killer”. The only real flubs on the record are the singer’s extensive use of “the ‘tune” and tracks were that kind of sound familiar, like “Bang Bang” which could easily have fit on Britney’s “Femme Fatale”.
9. SBTRKT – “SBTRKT“
Imperfect perfection is what I will call this next record, atmospheric with a hint of emotion. The embodiment of left-field blends of house music, garage and funky. UK producer SBTRKT provided a very bleak but delightful piece of work however the record fails to capture a sense of identity for me which may or may not be a good thing depending on whom you ask. A personal highlight of the record is “Hold On (feat. Sampha)” which if you asked me Sampha could have done the entire record.
8. Dom Kennedy -“From The West Side With Love II“
Because West Coast Hip Hop Ain’t Dead!
7. Nicola Roberts – “Cinderella’s Eyes“
U.K.’s leading Girl Band took a hiatus in 2008 all 5 girls went on to do solo albums and seemingly only was the most successful while the others went unnoticed. But despite the lack of “commercial success” of our next album this album successfully surpassed the others in quality. the lead single “Beat of My Drum” wowed critics across the board and subsequent singles also doing justice.
6. Jesse Boykins III – “Way Of A Wayfarer“
Apart of my Sunday Mornings, this voice alone one of my absolute favorites carries this entire project for me, but the material stands strong itself. I admire this guy a lot and this EP is the icing on the cake for me, notably the opening number “I Can’t Stay” melodic and cinematic it keeps me engaged the entire time.
5.BIGBANG – “BIGBANG2“
Another K-Pop band fav of mine goes Japanese again. For their 2nd Japanese album (11th overall) the group revisits some of their know styles of dance, r&b and hip-hop. The Bad Boys of K/J-Pop are more emotional yet cool on this record with tracks like “Beautiful Hangover” and “Tell Me Goodbye”.
4. Natalia Kills – “Perfectionist“
Most pop girls flirt with murder, death and “being bad ass”, but Natalia is more of the real deal than any of them. Her album is like the diary of a MK Mind Control victim meets a real femme fatale on a mission of revenge. Cuts like “Mirrors”, “Break You Hard” and “Wonderland” hit the hardest while “Free” and “Zombie” are two of the freshest.
3. B.C. – “B.C. Kingdom“
A blend of tribal house, world music and R&B, B.C. Kingdom a melodic, atmospheric piece, is a tight set from a long awaited release by B.C. whom released the lead single with Delivery in collaboration with AV/Scion called “Return To Me” had all the blogs buzzing and became one of my favorite songs of 2011. Other songs like “The Melody” and “Zulu” are hard hitting club beats that will put you in mind of Major Lazer’s work.
2. Steed Lord – “Eddie House“
I know you were probably thinking this was going to be the #1 pic because of the headline image but this record couldn’t compete with the #1 album of the year. This EP was released in the summer for the Steed Lord fans who crave music from the Electro House trio, led by the song “Don’t Hurt Love” fans eagerly flooded Steed Lord’s Bandcamp awaiting the release of the Eddie House EP. Other loveable cuts are “You”,”Midnight Affair” and “I’m Coming Over”.
1. Jessica 6 - “See The Light“
Now for the grand finale! Jessica 6’s debut “See The Light” hits the most cohesive record I’ve heard this year. Featuring Nomi Ruiz’s honey vocals over disco beats it’s like the album I’ve always wanted to hear. I never got to live and experience the disco era but with cuts llike “Prisoner of Love”and “In The Heat” I feel like I’m roller skating in Studio 54 after doing 4 lines of cocaine while wrapped in a boa and covered in glitter. But it was the lead single “White Horse” which grabs the attention of the listener telling a grim and dark tale of about cocaine. Most of the album’s content is very deep telling tales of the past allowing skeletons to come out the closet. The most dynamic records aside from those mentioned are “Stars In Your Eyes”, “Not Anymore” and “Good To Go” all of which shows the strength of Ruiz’s alto and the power she posses as a vocalist.