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The best music of 2011

Our top 20 releases of the year in no particular order

Photo: Jenn Sweeney, License: N/A

Jenn Sweeney

Smith Westerns Dye It Blonde

This is the most luxurious yet sharp vision of glam rock imagined in an eternity. Their garage-punk roots keep the melodies tight, but this color burst into T. Rex teenage dream territory is done with such splendor and style that it makes for a knockout slice of fantasy. – BLH

Teddybears Devil’s Music

A ridiculously unsubtle, big and brash slab of booming party-rock. Despite the presence of Wayne Coyne and Cee-Lo Green, Devil’s Music is best when it’s at its worst: cuts like the Robyn-starring electro-pop of “Cardiac Arrest” and the utterly ridiculous (and utterly infectious) “Get Mama a House,” with BoB. FLMFAO. – JF

Those Darlins Screws Get Loose

Re-emerging as a garage-punk band built on oldies and original rock & roll, this album is a rebirth that marks a band truly finding its voice and footing. It’s simple, but it’s pitch-perfect in tune and attitude. See for yourself when they return Jan. 23 to open for Old 97’s (Plaza Live). – BLH

M83 Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

For me, the new M83 album (and, honestly, its predecessor) didn’t click until seeing the band’s show at the Beacham. But there, Anthony Gonzalez’s transformation from cinematic electronicist to peerless purveyor of epic, optimistic pop music was proven to be complete, casting Hurry Up in a whole new light. – JF

Kaleigh Baker The Weight of It All

By now it’s well-established that local producer Justin Beckler is a creative magician. This album showed that when he’s gifted something with genuine magic inside like formerly local soul singer-songwriter Kaleigh Baker, Beckler handles the power with respect and innovation. The artist-producer pairing yielded the equivalent of an engraved invitation to history with this blistering EP, which tidily puts on display Baker’s powerhouse vocals and her rousing authenticity. – JS

Flashlights I’m Not Alone

Refer to my review of this scrappy little rocket that just shot up from the Space Coast in last week’s music section for a more articulated case of why this made my list. And then thank Norse Korea’s Bradley Ryan for basically breaking them here. Their red-lining lo-fi euphoria is the deal. – BLH

Boris Attention Please

Yeah, Boris released three albums in 2011. And yeah, Attention Please is the most accessible of all of them, which, in the minds of many Boris fans, likely makes it the lesser disc. Still, the shoegazey stickiness the band amplifies here is mightily effective. – JF

Mr. Gnome Madness in Miniature

This thundering magnum opus by the mesmerizing Cleveland duo is a work of sensual mystery. It’s a stormy menagerie that’s beautiful, restless and seismic. Their highly signature sound may be wrapped in velvet, but their rock crunch hits like a mallet. And thankfully, through the belief and persistence of Parafora Presents’ Chris Anderson, they’re finally making real headway here. – BLH

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