From Frank Ocean’s new-school R&B to indie rockers Wye Oak, our team of music/clubs writers share their favorite releases of 2011.

'The Errant Charm' from SF folkie Vetiver was one of the year's best.

Lynne Angel

Feel It BreakAustra

What does Katie Stelmanis, a classically trained opera singer from Toronto, do with her mad skills? She writes undeniably accessible electronic music lead by her powerhouse vocals and commences blowing minds all around the world.

Don’t Rock the Boat, Sink the Fucker – Des Ark

Aimée Argote moves her sound from impassioned credos to fully orchestrated sonic masterpieces. As if your heart couldn’t break anymore, try this one on for size.

Civilian – Wye Oak

An ode to simplicity and a thick and poignant set of pipes, Civilian may just exist to remind us that duos do not have to play the blues and dress in color-coded uniform. “Plains” is the track to take out to a nice dinner and call within 24 hours, but the entire album is a something you will want to get serious with.

Empros – Russian Circles

At once soaring and punishing, meandering and colliding, Empros is a beautifully crafted, and exceedingly forward exploration of instrumental and progressive metal. These Chicagoan natives never fail to deliver but with their latest release they appear to have redefined the genre once again.

The Errant Charm – Vetiver

Local San Francisco Richmond district living, street strolling, beach perusing folkster Andy Cabic has done it again. The Errant Charm seems to float along a course decided upon inception. The album is pre-determined and self-guided, a journey of gentle persistence. This is the man to sing you to sleep and stir you to wake, a beautiful record through and through.

Christina Li

James Blake – James Blake

James Blake’s self-titled album is like the break of rain and thunder on a cloudy day. All the notes within each melody seem like an afterthought from the previous, shaping a meticulous album full of bass drops, rumbling piano, and gospel choir vocals.

King of Limbs – Radiohead

Radiohead is like an alien species sent from the future to guide us through the evolution of music (with its female version being Bjork). From the dynamic “Lotus Flower” to the incredibly beautiful “Codex,” I have yet to find a song unsuitable for any of my multiple personalities.

21 – Adele

After the 900th remix/re-edit/edit/un-edit of “Rolling in the Deep,” I thought I could never bring myself to listen to Adele again. But I did, over and over, because she’s just that good with her bittersweet lyrics, undeniable vocal talent, and ability to turn anyone into mush with her live performances.


I’m not quite sure what post-dubstep is with the blurred lines of genres these days, but if it’s SBTRKT, I’m very much looking forward of getting out of the present. First single “Wildfire” is simply divine, with R&B tidbits reminiscent of the golden age of Aaliyah, and the quietly poignant “Hold On” is my personal favorite track.

Drive Soundtrack – Various Artists

One of the best movies of the year must also has one of the best soundtracks of the year. Featuring synthesizer-driven tracks by Kavinsky and The Chromatics, the soundtrack is perfect for a car heist or an evening drive down the 101.

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