Top 40 Albums of 2011: Part 1 (40-31)

1 year ago I made the first post on Miniature Tundras showcasing my top 20 albums of 2010. Well, the time has come for another edition of my year-end favorites. This time around I managed to pick my top 40 albums of the year but, instead of just plopping down a big list, I’m releasing it in stages. For the next few days I will be counting down my favorites (with brief commentary) until I reach the coveted number 1 spot. Enjoy!

MINIATURE TUNDRAS TOP 40 ALBUMS OF 2011: Pt. 1 (40-31)

40. Amen Dunes – Through Donkey Jaw - Super satisfying psych folk from upstate NY.

39. James Blake – James Blake - This was a great album at the start of the year, but it was eclipsed by many others and lost much of its luster after repeat listens.

38. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring for My Halo - Easily Vile’s most consistent output. A great rainy day album.

37. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy - Weirder than Actor, but oh so much more involved. Annie Clark is a fucking peach.

36. Jens Lekman – An Argument With Myself - I’m a sucker for Lekman’s dry wit, and this EP did not disappoint.

35. JEFF The Brotherhood – We Are The Champions - This album reminds me of Weezer, but in the best possibly way. Ridiculously catchy garage rock for every occasion.

34. Grouper – A I A: Alien Observer/Dream Loss - Personally I don’t think Grouper gets enough love. This double album is blissful collection of hazy soundscapes that will tuck you in and whisk you off to dreamland.

33. Crystal Stilts – In Love With Oblivion - Not terribly different from their 2009 debut, but more focused and to-the-point. A fun record.

32. Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost - I wasn’t a huge fan of this album at first but it slowly won me over and now I’m hooked. Best mixtape of the year.

31. A Winged Victory for the Sullen – s/t - Achingly beautiful ambient/modern classical from the genre’s finest. This album is stunning.

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The Caretaker is Leyland Kirby, only darker. It’s the ballroom scene from The Shining incarnate. If you fancy yourself a fan of ambient music in the slightest, chances are you’ve heard or, at the very least, heard of Leyland Kirby. However, The Caretaker is not music for the passing ambient dabbler. It’s equal parts haunted house theme music, and lo-fi looping bliss.

Earlier this year Kirby released a new Caretaker album titled An Empty Bliss Beyond This World, and it is a near perfect representation of everything that can go right on an album. The album may seem a little one note to the untrained ear, but if you stop and really listen you will find subtle clicks, pops, and loops that heap on the atmosphere and transcend the simplicity of the music itself. In the past Kirby has had a problem reigning in his ideas, but he has never sounded this focused on a Caretaker record. I love this album to pieces, and definitely urge fans of ambient music (or ghosts) to give it a spin.

Recommended if you like: Leyland Kirby (duh), William Basinski, Lawrence English, Fennesz, or Celer.