Last week was actually the 26th chart week of the year, so we’re a little more than halfway into what has been a fairly solid year musically.

From a business standpoint, sales of prerecorded music are up for the first time in seven years, buoyed by hit albums from sources expected (Lady GaGa) and unexpected (Adele!).

In addition, just about every conceivable sub-genre has produced at least one classic album this year. So whether you like pop-flavored country, retro new wave or modern hip-hop, there has to have been at least one album released that causes you to give a thumbs up.

Over the next few days, several members of the Popblerd! staff will be presenting their lists of the best albums so far this year. We’re gonna kick it off with Nick’s Top 10. Keep your eyes glued to this site as other lists materialize.

 

Nick’s Top Ten List

1. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Only time will tell, but this could quite possibly be their greatest album amongst a discography that includes multiple triumphs. Is Dave Grohl the current greatest rock ‘n roll frontman around? I’d say yes, definitively. And a great touch that the song “I Should Have Known” which was a much hyped reunion with Krist Novoselic was not even in the ballpark of a letdown.

2. Kvelertak – s/t

Technically this was released overseas last year and the bit torrent sites made it widely available across the U.S. to anyone who was hip to it, but 2011 saw the proper stateside release, so I deem it worthy of my list. Turbonegro meets Converge? Metal music for people who don’t like metal? Call it whatever you want, I simply call it fun. And one of the best live bands I’ve seen in a long time.

3. Warrant – Rockaholic

Warrant? On a best of list….in 2011?!?! Without Jani Lane?!?! That’s right. Good music is good music and Warrant has delivered a fine hard rock album. Traces of their hair metal masterpieces “Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich” and “Cherry Pie” are here, but updated with a modern hard rock sound and a new singer, Robert Mason, who will have you saying “Jani Who?”. Lose the preconceptions and give it a try.

4. Rival Sons – Pressure And Time

This is certainly a strange signing for metal label Earache Records, but they’ve signed plenty of amazing bands over the years and Rival Sons is no exception. ’70s style hard rock done right in the year 2011. Retro? Sure, but when done properly, a tribute (read: a blatant rip-off) to rock bands of years past is thoroughly enjoyable.

5. Face To Face – Laugh Now…Laugh Later

Few bands can basically keep putting out the same album over and over and make it work. Face To Face is one of those bands. Welcome back guys.

6. Anathema – We’re Here Because We’re Here

Like Kvelertak, this album was also technically released overseas last year, but 2011 also saw it make its proper stateside debut. If you wanted to trick someone into liking prog music, then this would be the record to do it with. Everything about this record is “pretty”, but in a very ominous way.

7. Darkest Era – The Last Caress of Light

Celtic metal. CELTIC. METAL. It’s like peanut butter met chocolate all over again.

8. Art Brut – Brilliant! Tragic!

I’d heard a lot of talk about Art Brut, but never actually heard Art Brut before. My interest was admittedly mostly piqued by the fact that an artist, Black Francis (Frank Black of Pixies’ fame), that I greatly admire had produced the record. Snotty, indie, punk, British….this is infectious music made for nights out with one too many pints and for the morning after too.

9. Amon Amarth – Surtur Rising

Remember what I said about Face To Face earlier? Amon Amarth falls in that same category. It ain’t broke and they ain’t fixing it and their legions of fans deservedly continues to grow. Every time I listen to this amazing slab of viking metal, I have happy memories of building Eric The Red dioramas for elementary school and wearing my plastic viking helmet my parents bought me. Good stuff.

10. Whitesnake – Forevermore

Whitesnake is an institution in the hard rock world to most people based on the videos from the ’80s where Tawny Kitaen revved up the hormones of males from 10-100 (myself included) by dancing on some Jaguars, but let’s not forget the band has some incredible music. David Coverdale was always rooted in the bluesier side of hard rock from his days in Deep Purple and earlier Whitesnake releases and “Forevermore” finds him returning back to that style with fantastic results.

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