Best albums of 2011, so far | Buzz Blog
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Best albums of 2011, so far


I’ve heard other music critics say this job is kind of like like casting a net and catching whatever falls in it.--- You listen to what you get and have to be content with not catching everything. I’ve probably listened to 200 albums so far this year, but I know music junkies live and die by lists.

So to ensure that nothing was left outside my nets, I’ve asked the folks who make our music community vibrant for their picks for the best albums of the first half of the year. And if this list of 10 isn’t complete enough, I’ve added some honorable mentions at the end.

Yuck, Yuck
“Loads of guitars on a set of short, sharp songs. Lots of folks proclaimed Yuck a sort of '90s guitar-rock revival, but I just hear a great young band with some excellent songwriting chops.”
—Dan Nailen, City Weekly music editor

Say Hi, Um, Uh Oh
“Eric Elbogen's seventh full-length album showcases a more personal approach to his songwriting. Blusey, guitar-driven hooks replace the electronic bleeps of before. It's full of fun dancey tunes, and, of course, some sad bastard songs... perfect for any mood.”
—Manda Bull, City Weekly marketing coordinator/graphic artist

Wye Oak, Civilian
“This Baltimore duo’s third full-length record is getting them major respect from music lovers around the world. With powerful songwriting, delicate instrumentation and masterful shredding, it is no wonder this is one of my favorites of 2011. I predict us reading about it on all the year-end lists come December.”
—Anna Brozek, co-owner Slowtrain (221 E. Broadway, 801-364-2611,

Papercuts, Fading Parade
“Picking up where Beach House left off with last year's Teen Dream, Papercuts deliver an intelligent dream-pop record that's immediately infectious yet interesting enough to earn repeat listens. Definitely a must-have for the summer.
—Chris Brozek, co-owner Slowtrain

The Head and The Heart, The Head and The Heart
“These guys put on a very memorable show at Velour in November [2010], got signed soon after and have quickly become an industry "buzz band." Their 2011 Sub Pop debut stays true to the "Northwest Sound" with great harmonies and folk elements but really shines with its refreshing dose of pop. This album rarely leaves the CD player at Velour.”
--Corey Fox, owner Velour Live Music Gallery (135 N. University Ave., Provo, 801-818-2263,

Burnell Washburn, Food & Love
“This album was a wake-up call to the [local] music community that great hip-hop still exists in Utah—and can dominate. It has great beats, superb rhymes, fantastic mixes and scratches and a hell of a unique voice hitting the mic. It’s one of the finest we'll see all year.
—Gavin Sheehan, Gavin’s Underground,

The Book of Mormon, Book, Music and Lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone
“Regardless of whether or not you’re a musical theatre person, The Book of Mormon, the musical, is absolutely worth a track-by-track listen. For me, numbers like “Hasa Diga Eebowai” are where it takes flight; its vulgarity (use of the c-word and God in the same sentence) is offensive and hysterical. And averaging a 102% capacity nightly audience, The Book of Mormon musical is quickly securing itself amongst Broadway legends.”
—Chris Borgoine, City Weekly editorial intern

Peter, Bjorn and John, Gimme Some
“It’s super catchy. After two albums—an instrumental album and a cold electronic record—when you weren’t expecting anything out of them, they dropped their most radio-friendly album yet. There’s not a weak track on it.
—Kyle England, manager University of Utah Graywhale Entertainment (208 S. 1300 East, 801-583-3333,

The Devil Whale, Teeth
“This is my local favorite. I’ve got to give it to these guys, patience has paid off. After some trouble getting the album off the ground, they’ve turned out an excellent effort on their own. Aided by some hefty spring touring and opening slots for The Head and The Heart, one of Salt Lake City’s best bands is getting some well-deserved national attention.”
—Austen Diamond, City Weekly assistant music and listings editor

Bon Iver, Bon Iver
“It’s a tight line a band has to walk after they have had big success with their first album. With fans lying in wait for more of what they’ve come to love butting against critics' disdain of stagnation, and all that topped by an artist’s desire to be creatively unbound, it’s gotta be tough. But Justin Vernon et. al., pull it off seemingly with the same easy grace as in Vernon’s angelic voice. The experimental last track is already all the buzz in the industry. And the album doesn’t get old even after lots and lots of repeat listens (trust me).”
—Austen Diamond, City Weekly assistant music and listings editor

Honorable mentions (in no particular order):
Loch Lomand, Little Me Will Start a Storm
Adele, 21
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., It’s a Corporate World
Typhoon, A New Kind of House
Fleet Foxes, Hopelessness Blues
Joan as Police Woman, The Deep Field
Panda Bear, Tomboy
The Kills, Blood Pressures
Iron & Wine, Kiss Each Other Clean
Noah and the Whale, Last Night on Earth
John Vanderslice, White Wilderness
Beastie Boys, The Hot Sauce Committee, pt. II