It’s been widely observed that 2011 was a rather uneventful year for cinema. Aside from Harry Potter, of course, there weren’t many widely anticipated film releases for the year, perhaps with the exception of Fast Five, which failed even to live up to everyones already low expectations. However, 2011 was a pretty good year for music. Aside from the obvious tragedies, such as Amy Winehouse’s death and Nickleback’s new album, 2011 was riddled with great releases. Adele’s sophomore album, 21, was like a solid rock in the midst of autotune and high warbly voices. Death Cab For Cutie went above and beyond expectations with their latest album. There were exactly five albums I had been anticipating for 2011 and they did not disappoint in any way.

5. (e)vening – Mae
Mae officially broke up in late 2010, but they had been planning to release the last of their (m)(a)(e) EPs before they went their separate ways. Because most of their equipment had been stolen about a month before the intended release date, they didn’t get this EP released until almost three months after they split up. Unlike their (m)orning and (a)fternoon EPs, which were mainly based around acoustic guitars, (e)vening featured songs driven almost exclusively by intricate piano melodies. Favorite song: I Just Needed You To Know

4. All Things Bright and Beautiful – Owl City
I love Owl City. I can’t really say much more about it. Not only is he a fantastically talented musician, he’s also a Christian and lets this show through in many of his songs. This, his third full-length album, focused a lot on abstract topics such as love and faith without being offensive to his secular fans. Favorite song: Galaxies

3. Vice Verses – Switchfoot
Where do I even start? Jon Foreman is one of my biggest role models in life, faith, and music. Switchfoot’s eighth studio album is their heaviest album so far, both musically and lyrically. It really reminded me a bit of The Beautiful Letdown, because many of the themes they explore in that record [individuality, belonging, living] are explored in greater depth on this album. Some bands get worse with time; Switchfoot has only gotten better. Favorite song: Selling The News

2. Your Sparkling Death Cometh – Falling Up
Falling Up broke up in January 2010. I wasn’t devastated because I actually only discovered them in June 2010. I was disappointed, however, when I found out that they weren’t together anymore, because it meant that they wouldn’t be making any more music. In October 2010, they announced that they had reunited and that another album was in the works. Words could not contain my excitement. I donated to their album fundraiser and counted down the days until their album would be released. Finally, in June 2011, it came. Falling Up is technically a Christian band, but with their new album they’ve struck gold with the secular market as well. They explore themes such as beauty and grace [in Blue Ghost there’s one particularly hauntingly beautiful line “Grace comes like a thief in the night, it blooms in the weak and the blind.”]. All in all, more than I was expecting from them. Favorite song: Oceans

1. Codes and Keys – Death Cab For Cutie
Yes, a secular album as my number one top anticipated! Who would have guessed? Death Cab For Cutie has always had a special place in my heart. I first heard of them in early 2008 and fell in love with the song  “I Will Follow You Into The Dark”. I loved Plans and Transatlanticism. Narrow Stairs was a bit of an acquired taste. When I heard of this, their next album, I was apprehensive that it, too, would be an acquired taste, but it was not. When I heard their first single, You Are A Tourist, I instantly fell in love with the theme and the upbeat major chord progression that seemed so out of place with the lyrics. When the album was finally released, I adored the rest of it. They seemed to ignore everything they had experimented with in Narrow Stairs, and instead went with a more downplayed Plans simplicity. This is, in my opinion, the best Death Cab album to date, and they couldn’t have done anything better. Favorite song: Unobstructed Views

All in all, 2011 was a good year. I’m looking forward to 2012.




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