Music Uncategorized

My Top Albums of 2011 — A Fact-Based Approach

21) Opeth “Heritage”

The cliched expression “The whole is more than the sum of its parts” plays into everything I love about Opeth. Their soft, acoustic side is complemented by their death metal and aggressive screams and vice versa. The “Still Life” and “Blackwater Park” albums displayed this best and will most likely remain my favorite material from them. In 2003 they released 2 separate albums that split the heavy and light side. They albums were good, but I felt as if combining the 2 albums into one could have given it the great Opeth feel that couldn’t be achieved by segmenting the hard and soft sounds. Separating the hard and soft sound is like a peanut butter and jelly aficionado eating jelly and toast for lunch and peanut butter and toast for dinner. They are both fine condiments on their own, but the magic only happens when combined.

To me, Heritage is another attempt to segment a specific, yet new, Opeth sound. It’s a relatively heavy album, though it lacks the growling found on all prior great Opeth albums. It has combinations of heavy and soft but the aspects of death metal were replaced with prog rock. Prog rock is one of my favorite genres, however, the removal of the death metal sound never lets the heavy side peak and the heavy/soft dynamic suffers.

I saw them live over the summer where they performed only material without the growl, which tended to be their softer material. The audience wasn’t expecting this. The place could have exploded with a well placed “Demon of the Fall” towards the end of the set. While I respect a band that experiments with new ideas they should never forget what made them successful in the first place. They are, in a sense, working for the audience.

22) Weird Al “Alpocalype”

I can’t think of any praise that hasn’t already been said about Weird Al. He manages to stay relevant and put out great material even after everyone has forgotten about him. As a kid I loved his parodies but today I can more appreciated his original songs as well. While these lines on their aren’t that funny, they make me smile every time they’re uttered…

“and I don’t wipe my nose on your couch even though that’s a super convenient place”

“All the nuns and nannies (all the welfare mothers). All the Pakistanis (all the Wayans brothers)”

23) The Book of Mormon Soundtrack

When the South Park movie came out in 1999 it was shocking. I had never heard anything so well produced and musically pleasant, but at the same time completely repulsive. Over a decade later it’s virtually impossible to shock anyone with simple audio. Matt and Trey set the shock bar so high that even they can’t top it. The music is entertaining and funny enough to warrant multiple listens. I suspect the visual of the theater performance will take the shock level up.

24) Edguy “Age of the Joker”

This albums sounds like every other Edguy album but I love it. I understand that English may not be their first language, but some of the lyrics are just embarrassing. Take a look at this gem…

In your eyes – in your mind
I’m two out of seven
In your eyes – in your life
I’m two out of seven
What the fuck? Suck my cock!
I’m only a seven out of twelve
When I wank at the bank
I’m ten out of ten my friend

It inspired this tweet.

@_edguy Is it common to wank at the bank in Germany? Is that the best way to get a low interest home loan?

25) Stephen Kellogg “Gift Horse”

Stephen is a family man and he likes to flaunt it. It’s refreshing however that he doesn’t bring religion into it, and even goes as far as speaking against it. I really enjoyed “The Bear” from a few years back but this album has a few issues that distance me from really enjoying the album.

It starts with the title track that sounds far too much like S&G’s “Cecillia”. A few songs later and it starts to sound a bit too much like John Mellencamp. But his song “1993” seems like an unfunny Weird Al parody of Mellencamp’s “Authority Song”. I searched YouTube for videos of him teasing Mellencamp during performances of “1993” and so far nothing.

26) Brandi Carlile “Live at the Benaroya Hall”

For a single live album I felt that 4 covers were a bit much, but in the end it’s what made this album great. Hallelujah is covered so much that many have no idea who actually wrote it. I’ve heard the song a million times but for some reason this lyric really stands out in her version; “But all I’ve ever learned from love, Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you.”

27) Della Mae “I Built This Heart”

I saw this band for the first time at the Ossipee Bluegrass Festival in 2010. They’ve become a local success story and a proper successor to Crooked Still as the veteran Crooked Still wind down for 2012.

28) Megadeth “Thirteen”

This album sounds like Megadeth. All of their albums sound like Megadeth. In the early 90s they had a streak of metal genius with Marty Friedman, but their albums after his departure are often overlooked. They will always take a backseat to Metallica, but at least Megadeth is still putting out perfectly listenable material.

29) Barnstar! “C’mon!”

Do we need yet another album with Taylor Armerding’s “Northern Rail” on it? Taylor, Jake, Mark Erelli, Zack Hickman and Charlie Rose say yes, we do. This album is full of fun.

30) Laura Pausini “Inedito”

Laura Pausini’s “Inedito” is available in an Italian and a Spanish edition. This review is available in an Italian and an English edition. However, my Italian is limited to a semester in college in 2001 and some second-hand in-law ramblings. Therefore, both reviews may suffer.

English Edition
I like this CD. I like Laura Pausini.

Italian Edition
Mi piace questo CD. Mi piace Laura Pausini.


  1. Does Tori Amos age?? She looks fantastic! I will have to check out her new stuff, I was pretty obsessed with her in high school.


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