Top 10s for 2011: It's a Trap! Contributors

Ann Sung-an Lee

Top albums of 2011
Your Headlights Are On - "s/t"
Juv - "s/t"
Jenny Hval - "Viscera"
Dark Times - "Talk Too Much" from Dark Times tape
Next Life - "Artificial Divinity"
Kurt Vile - "Smoke Ring for my Halo"
PJ Harvey - "Let England Shake"
Gillian Welch - "The Harrow & The Harvest"
Oneohtrix Point Never - "Replica"
Thurston Moore - "Demolished Thoughts"

Top overrated albums of 2011
Feist - "Metals"
St. Vincent - "Strange Mercy"
Wilco - "The Whole Love"
Social Distortion - "Hard Time and Nursey Rhymes"
Girls - "Father, Son, Holy Ghost"
Wolves in the Throne Room - "Celestial Lineage"
Gang Gang Dance - "Eye Contact"
Liturgy - "Aesthethica"
Icarus Line - "Wildlife"

Top Concerts of 2011
Grant Lee Buffalo @ Řya 2011
Ghost @ Řya 2011
Pantha du Prince @ Řya 2011
Fenriz & Club Knulldröm DJ-sets @ Revolver
K-X-P @ Cafe Mono, May 6
Bad Brains, Shelter @ West Coast Riot Festival, Sweden
SWANS @ Rockefeller, May (a birthday present from my best friend:))

Top Books of 2011
Vernon God Little, DBC Pierre
The Angel's Game, Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga
Life, Keith Richards
Super Sad True Love Story, Gary Shteyngart

John Norby

Top 10 for 2011

It has been such a great year for metal -- old and new -- that I'm concentrating on it for this year's top 10. Let's call it top 10 'thinking outside the box' metal. Pretty much in order but it's also a bit loose.

Textures - Dualism
What can I say about this album? A combination of expert songwriting, flawless musicianship and simply astounding vocals makes this the band's best work to date -- and metal album of the year!

Pyrrhon - An excellent slave but a terrible master
Alongside Sweden's Ghamorean, these New Yorkers confirmed my theory that of the six million or so technical death metal bands doing the rounds there must be at least one that can actually write decent tunes. I haven't heard the likes of this since the Gorguts days. Mental shit indeed!

Ghamorean - Terra firma
Off-kilter, technical blackened death played with unwavering passion. It's not often that the two go hand-in-hand but Ghamorean have it nailed on "Terra firma"..

Unholy - From the shadows
This was so ahead of its time back in '93 that most people just didn't understand it. Finnish doom of the most unsettling order played with seven-string guitars long before they were hijacked by nu-metallers and, in later years, djent-freaks. Re-released in 2011 by .

Manilla Road - Playground of the damned
Old dudes of metal do it with absolute style. Retro doom is order of the day on this, their fifteenth album. Have you heard of them before? Probably not. Should you check out this album? Damn right! You do need to give the production time to bed in but once it does...

Ulcerate - The destroyers of all
Another technical death metal album of the askew variety, this time from New Zealand. I suppose this could be classed as post-metal with actual metal in it. If Isis was possessed by Pazuzu.

Unholy - The second ring of power
Another reissue. The follow-up to "From the shadows" is a different beast than its predecessor but the atmosphere is just oozing out of it. Another one that suffered at the hands of its own inventiveness, this time back in 1994. Essential!

Burzum - Fallen
Regardless of the man's politics Varg knows how to write great black metal. The fact that this stuff -- like "Belus" -- is a sonic continuation of the "Filosofem" album makes listening to this an oddly nostalgic experience.

Septicflesh - The great mass
The Greeks have been getting better and better with the release of each album and this -- surprisingly -- bettered the hell out of "Communion". Beautiful and brutal rolled into one.

Opeth - Heritage
This is really only metal by association. Some loathe it for its lack of the heavy stuff. I totally know where they're coming from. But this is still a killer album.

Laura Studarus

A list -- wherein I avoid mentioning my continuing obsession with söder tea. (But seriously Sweden, can you just start exporting the stuff already?)

1. Acid House Kings: Music sounds better with you -- Not just one of my favorite Scandinavian albums of the year, but one of my favorite albums of the year. Period. The perfect pop balance of ennui and joy -- i.e. what my diary would sound like when set to music in a perfect world.

2. Trentemřller live in Los Angeles at the Henry Fonda: Badass.

3. Pallers: The sea of memories -- I didn't realize how obsessed I was with this electro/ambient/pop album until I couldn't stop listening to it. Popping it on in the morning, soundtracking my walk through the darkened streets off LA (okay that only happened once), falling asleep to their unique, sun-streaked sorrow -- it's never enough, is it? Sneaky stuff.

4. Niki and the Dove: Somewhere deep in the heart of Stockholm, a big-voiced singer turned to an electronics wizard and said, "Let's make music that combines the slick production of 1980s Madonna with the darkness of Fever Ray." The much-hyped duo has put out several EPs this year. Seeing as how my name is not Sophie, and I hate to choose, I request you listen to them all. (I'm also giving them a journalistic gold star for being among some of the most charming interview subjects I've ever had the pleasure of speaking with.)

5. I Break Horses: Hearts -- Heartfelt shoegazy bliss. Sofia Coppola, please take note.

6. Amanda Mair: "House"/"Doubt" -- At sixteen Mair is a near-music genius. At sixteen I, self-preservation prevents me from completing that sentence. (An extra gold star for production by Philip Ekström of The Mary Onettes.)

7. Det Vackra Livet: Det Vackra Livet - I'm not a publicist. Nor do I speak Swedish. But I totally "get" this, and I suspect if you're a child of the 80s you might too.

8. Sóley: We sink -- How does an album of sparse guitar and piano compositions sound so beautifully creepy? And why can't I stop listening to it?

9. Korallreven: "As young as yesterday" (ft. Victoria Bergsman) -- The best track on an already fantastic album. Victoria Bergsman takes everything to the next level. Dreamy!

10. Sin Fang: Summer echos -- While I reject the comparisons to Beck (I mean, really?), I love that Sindri Már Sigfússon has turned folk into something sprawling and completely unpredictable.