Best Albums of 2011

2011 was a great year of music that featured a long list of noteworthy releases. Here are the top albums that moved us the most here at Neurotic Media – the albums that echoed off of our walls daily as our computers fought each other to be heard. Todd usually wins that battle BTW (listens to hard core metal and such). But we do get to share and enjoy each other’s different flavors and diversify our tastes. So, here are our recommendations for the year – and feel free to share yours with us below too:

Above and BeyondAbove & Beyond: Group Therapy – This really covers the entire spectrum of electronic music. Above & Beyond are some of the best producers with their emotional hooks and catchy beats. (Earle Smith) 


AdeleAdele: 21 – Adele’s sophomore album showcases her timeless voice and her ability to cross the pond and dominate the charts in multiple countries with personal songs jetting straight from her heart. (Stephen Lam) 



ArchitectureArchitecture in Helsinki: Moment Bends – Sexy pop for smart people. This isn’t on Britney’s playlist. (Mazzy Solana) 



AWOLnationAWOLnation: Megalithic Symphony – The most positive, spiritually sarcastic rock you will ever hear; even your mom will like it. (Mazzy Solana)  



Bad Meets EvilBad Meets Evil: Hell: The Sequel – Eminem at his best. (Tim Kohler) 




Beastie BoysBeastie Boys:Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 2 – Hard to believe these guys put out their first album 30 years ago. This latest project finds their energy, rhymes, production and beats still going strong. It’s like a party for your ears! (Gary Eaton) 



ColbieColbie Caillat: All of You – This project shows the best of her husky tone, relaxing guitar and encouraging lyrics. (Ling Zhu) 




Hayes CarllHayes Carll: “KMAG YOYO (& Other American Stories)” – A steady fixture on the Texas scene, Carll delivers an album full of exceptionally clever and insightful lyrics in his trademark slurry twang . The song “Hard Out Here” is reason enough to be on a best of the year list. (Gary Eaton)


ColdplayColdplay: Mylo Xyloto – This album strays a little from the original sound of Coldplay but you can still hear where they started and they stay true to their sound. (Stephen Lam) 



Cut CopyCut Copy: Zonoscope – Australian pop so good, you won’t realize you’re dancing too hard until you get pulled over. (Mazzy Solana)



DevotchkaDevotchka: 100 Lovers – An amazing pop record, sounds like rock n roll Gypsies, a colorful canvas of melodies and song. (Shachar Oren)



EmeryEmery: We Do What We Want – Most bands in the Post-hardcore genre put out an album or two and fall off. Emery is different, they have continued to impress since 2004, and their latest album is definitely one of their best. (Todd Jones)



GameGame: The R.E.D. Album – Most know Game is lyrically talented, but the guest spots and out-of-this-world production make this album the best rap album of 2011. (Earle Smith) 




Holy GhostHoly Ghost!: “Holy Ghost!” – This album is so sexy you would think Holy Ghost was French, but they’re from New York so it’s much funkier. (Mazzy Solana) 




Lady GagaLady Gaga:Born This Way – A mind-blowing sophomore album. (Stephen Lam) 




Man ManMan Man:Life Fantastic – All life’s lessons in a single album. They literally tell you to punch your dad in the face if it will make you feel better. It’s like Rock for happy pirates. (Mazzy Solana) 


Mister HeavenlyMister Heavenly: Out of Love – It’s not any secret that I love Islands, so I was pre-destined to love this album. Add Honus Honus from Man Man, Joe Plummer, and an occasional tour appearance by Michael Cera and you get this heavenly musical experience. It has a sort of old school feel but is still very relevant. Definitely has an Islands-y vibe. Saw them live this year and they were all wearing matching friendship shirts! (Becka Hardy)  

Portugal, The ManPortugal. The Man: In the Mountain In The Cloud – A great alt-pop album, with fun musical tributes to the likes of Pixies, ELO, Supertramp and others mixed in if you listen close enough. (Shachar Oren)  


Sick PuppiesSick Puppies: Polar Opposite – An acoustic EP of some of their most popular songs. Allowed me to really listen to the words without the organized confusion of multiple instruments. (Earle Smith)



Thile and DavesChris Thile & Michael Daves: Sleep With One Eye Open – A fiery duo of acoustic masters playing traditional bluegrass songs with passion, speed, authenticity and technical brilliance. (Gary Eaton)



Eddie VedderEddie Vedder: Ukulele Songs – Heartfelt lyrics and an acoustic sound make this album excellent for those quiet, reflective moments. Classic Vedder. (Tim Kohler)




But wait, there’s more! Here are a few additional notable releases we liked this year:

Battles: “Gloss Drop” – This album sounds like two (or more) robots having sex: math rock at its finest while still being ridiculously dance-y. (Mazzy Solana) 

The Civil Wars: “Barton Hollow” – Absolutely (and truly) breathtaking. (Gary Eaton)

dEUS: “Keep You Close” – A wonderful new record from this Belgian band, which sort of picked things up where Radiohead left it after ‘OK Computer’ and been running with it ever since – this new album is the best since their mid-90’s debut, a strong, fun, innovative rock record. (Shachar Oren)

The Ghost Inside: “Returners” – This album actually came out in 2010, but I didn’t find out about it until this year. These guys are definitely one of the best hardcore bands to come out in the last 5 years. (Todd Jones)

Hooray for Earth: “True Loves” – I know what you’re thinking, and I don’t just love this band because of the name. (Becka Hardy)

Sondre Lerche: (self titled) – A fantastic release from one of today’s strongest alt-pop writers, in the tradition of Aztec Camera, Prefab Sprout, The Beatles. Unmatched vocal range, beautiful writing and composing, he just makes every complex song sound so easy and effortless. (Shachar Oren)

Silkie: “City Limits Volume 2″ – Most dubstep that comes out is released as singles or EPs, and even when an artist releases a full album it’s rare that I can listen to the entire thing end to end. Silkie expertly weaves jazz and funk influences throughout the album but still manages to stay true to the dubstep roots. (Todd Jones)

Stinkahbell & Psy:am: “Don’t Tell Mum About Ibiza EP” – Two highly anticipated up and coming dubstep producers. They’ve both put out some good tracks this year, but their EP together really set the bar for what they need to do in 2012. (Todd Jones)

STRFKR: “Jupiter” (Remastered) – I didn’t discover the dance party that is STRFKR until more recently, so I missed out on the original release of this album. Luckily, it made its way to me in the form of this re-release this year. Highly recommended if you’re into the synth-pop thing! (Becka Hardy)

The most popular thing in the world

Earlier this week I was on the phone with a new business contact, a poteGary Eatonntial client to be exact. We were talking about his business, how we might work together, etc.

As often happens, the conversation turned to the universal appeal and power of music and he quickly said “It’s the most popular thing in the world.”  I told him that was a great line and that I’d probably have to use it at some point in the future.

The person I was speaking with went on to explain that he couldn’t take credit for the line, that he had in fact heard it in an interview with Donald Trump.  He said when Mr. Trump was asked “What is the most popular thing in the world?” that he gave a one word answer “Music.”

Sure enough, I found a clip online. Not sure how I missed this but it’s from 2004 in a sit down with Ali G (a character played by Sacha Baron Cohen). In true comedic form, Ali G goes on to argue that the correct answer is ice cream.  Sorry Ali G, I’m going to have to side with Mr. Trump on this one.

(Gary Eaton – VP Sales / @garyeaton)

Big wheels and Christmas music

I caEarle Smithn remember during my 7th Christmas, I received a big wheel. Boy was I ecstatic! So much so, that I was allowed a one day reprieve by riding it throughout the house as soon as I got it – attempting donuts and all by applying the plastic brake as hard as I could! The reprieve lasted three minutes…

To me, Christmas isn’t about receiving gifts; it’s about celebrating the birth of Christ, being thankful that I have the ability to put a smile on the face of someone else – and make their holiday as joyous as it was for me when my grandparents put one on mine that day.

Christmas has a special place in my heart and I have an appreciation for what drives my Holiday spirit and creates joy in my life: It’s by far the music! Hearing a favorite Christmas song, or remembering a specific place or event when a Christmas song comes on – there’s no substituting that. The power of music makes the holiday season an enjoyable one for me every year.

(Earle Smith – Neurotic Media Production & Merchandising)