Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Night Beat Best Albums of 2011

This isn't a Ten Best List, if only because I came up with thirteen entries. No, I'm not giving up on the Platinum Vinyl Awards. Most of the albums on this list are among the nominees for the PVA's (I say most because the PVA's extend Oct 1, 2010-Sept 30, 2011 and this is straight up Jan 1-December X, 2011 - Yes, I'm cheating a bit, but not as much as the others. I am sure regular readers of The Night Beat will figure out number one before I get to it.

Just Missing the Top 10

  • 13 - Stryper - The Covering
  • 12 - Thousand Foot Krutch - Welcome to The Masquerade, Fan Edition
  • 11 - Chevelle - Hats off to The Bull

The Top 10 Albums of 2011

  • 10 - Red - Until We Have Faces - The third release by the Masters of Melodic Metal prove that this band has reached that upper echelon of "Super Group", where you can turn out a Grammy Nominee in your sleep. I had heard a few tunes from their debut, enough to be impressed and want to hear more. Innocence and Instinct knocked my socks off. That was a Career Defining CD, and not many bands can put out two of them in their career. As I said in my review
    The album is an almost non stop adrenaline rush. Wisely though there are two rest stops. Red has always been know for awesome ballads and here there are two. Not Alone, which is the string heavy sixth track, could almost be interpreted as a modern worship song, but it doesn't quite fit that mold. It really is a plea from Father God for the Prodigal to return, no matter what he has done, that God still loves them

      9 - The Rocket Summer - Bryce Avery: His Instruments, Your Voices - This is the Way Live Albums were meant to be. Audience Participation was excellent, perhaps we even had rabid fans. Though the recording was helped by a small venue, all live recordings, except this one, suffer from "Dead Air" whenever they want you to hear the audience sing along. Sometimes they even drown out Bryce. That is quite an accomplishment.
  •   8 - Denver & The Mile High Orchestra - Groovy - On their first Children's Album, Denver and the band simply cut loose. The energy is contagious and you can feel that they are having as much fun as the children who are the target audience of this album. Grab Your Fedora and Swing along with your kids.
  •   7 - Jackie Evancho - Dream With Me - One of four Possible CROSS/over artists on the list (The other three being The Civil Wars, Switchfoot and Evanescence). Children's voices aren't supposed to sound this good. I'm not much of a fan of Opera, but this girl puts Sandi Patti To shame.
  •   6 - Mandisa - What if We Were Real - The American Idol misses again. Mandisa was one of CCMs Many signings of AI castoffs, and her early work had me scratching my head at their decision. (She was no Chris Sligh, but there was plenty of room for improvement. What if We Were Real is What we were looking for. This is a gospel/dance album that is sure to compete with Beckah Shae for the Platinum Vinyl Award
  •   5 - The Civil Wars - Barton Hollow - The first 5 Emerald ratings awarded this year, and it's a folk album. There really isn't much more that can be said from my perspective.
  •   4 - Various - Music Inspired by The Story - I can count on one finger the number of times a"Various Artists" album would make a 10 Best List, but that would be before this one came out. Top Notch Artists, Production Par Excellence, and a soundtrack worthy of Cecil B. DeMille himself are brought together in this exquisite package.
  •   3 - Switchfoot - Vice Verses - No Dark Horse in this music race. A Show still wins you some good money at the track. A lot of CCM Ten Best lists this year have this album number 1. While we at the night beat are somewhat less impressed, even we have it in the top 3.
  •   2 - Beckah Shae - Destiny - Come on Give Us Good Music. If the rest of the industry doesn't want to, Beckah Shae has no problem picking up the slack. For the squeamish CCM fan, be warned. This is UN-apologetically a DANCE Album, however it is combined with the same epic composition and strings, and Beckah's both haunting and soaring vocals. While I had the same feeling listening to Music Inspired By The Story, the fact that this comes from ONE ARTIST and not many is testament enough to its higher rating.

The Number One Album of 2011

I say again, was this the worst kept secret. Every regular reader must know by now what a big Amy Lee fan this blogger is, and it's much earned. Most bands, after a six year hiatus would be quite a bit rusty with their return. There was no rust evident here. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a Grammy Nominee in the cards for Amy for this album. (Fat Chance on a Dove). In the three albums they have produced (for a moment I am ignoring the Live Album, only going with the studio albums) of course Fallen is far and away Number one, but Evanescence (Self Titled) I consider a strong number two, pushing The Open Door to third place. I have my Top 10 Cross Linked to the original reviews, so check them out as well to get my initial opinions. If you think I snubbed your band, mention it in the comments. As always, I am Awaiting Your Reply.