TME’s Favorite Albums of 2011: #19-15

19.  Benjamin Francis Leftwich – Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm

The music world needs another average Elliott Smith rip off like it needs another Nickelback record.  Luckily, Benjamin Francis Leftwich, which I will call BFL, is not average on “Last Smoke Before Snowstorm.”  He expands on the Smith sound and makes it his own.  The music still has a somber feel to it, but it is not so sad sounding that at the end you want to go cry in a corner.  The harmonies throughout the album with female vocalist, Haley Hutchinson, give the album that something extra that helps BFL put his stamp on an overcrowded genre.  Girlfriends and wives beware when your man puts this on for you because it may lead to some extracurricular activities

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18.  Cunninlynguists – Oneirology

Listening to rap lately has become like talking on the phone with the cable company.  Sometimes you just have to do it, but afterwards I am always disappointed that I took the time out of my day to end up with the result.  Cunninglyrsysts was the exception in 2011.  The chilled out beats combined with lyrics that took more than five minutes to write make this concept album one of the best hip hop albums of 2011.

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17.  Death Cab for Cutie – Codes and Keys

At the beginning of the year when I saw the albums coming out for 2011 I didn’t expect Death Cab to make this list.  That is not a shot at Death Cab or a shot at this years music offerings.  I have really enjoyed their previous efforts, but none of them had more than a couple stand out songs.  This time around on “Codes and Keys” Death Cab steps it up a bit.  From start to finish there aren’t any tracks that feel like they should have been left out.  The replay value has risen because of the strong track list.

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16. Mastodon – The Hunter

I almost typed Clutch after the number 16.  Coming off their stellar album “Crack the Skye” Mastodon was destined for a let down.  Time after time a band changes its sound to become more accessible.  Problem is generally they end up getting farther and farther away from their original that they are almost a different band.  Good ole Dredg had that problem this year.  Sometimes though a band will change, and it works.  When listening to “The Hunter” it sounds like Clutch was directing Mastodon’s every move.  It wasn’t the proggy sound of old, yet they kept their edge and you could still tell you were listening to Mastodon.

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15.  Crosses – EP

When I heard I could get a free EP from a Chino Moreno side project I immediately searched how to get it.  Some artists just get it.  Give us some free music to wet our appetite and if it doesn’t suck we will buy it.  Chino has a history of dabbling outside of the Deftones.  I really didn’t like Team Sleep much, but I am a big fan of most of the guest appearances on other bands albums he has done.  Teaming up with his buddy, Shaun Lopez from Far, Crosses takes an electronic minimalist approach and adds Chino’s signature emotional vocals.  This EP is what Team Sleep should have been.  If you like this EP there is another one coming out in 2012.  Will it be free?  I don’t know.  Either way I will buy it.  Smart move.

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See #14-10    See #25-20

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