Bon Iver - Bon Iver, Bon Iver

Paste just became the first big publication to come out with its top 50 albums of the year, and that means it also became the first publication to give its #1 spot to Bon Iver’s Bon Iver, Bon Iver. We can probably expect to see that happening a whole lot in the weeks ahead. For the most part, the Paste list stays true to the magazine-turned-website’s rootsy-indie sensibilities, throwing large amounts of love to stuff like Dawes and the Decemberists. And it’s cool to see a year-end list that features relatively under-the-radar stuff like Wye Oak, Holy Ghost!, and the Joy Formidable. It’s also nice to see an indie-identified publication going to bat for the most popular album of the year, Adele’s 21, simply on the strength of it being a good album. But I’m sorry, the idea that Childish Gambino made a better rap album than Drake did is just laughable. Check below for the full list.

50 Frank Turner – England Keep My Bones
49 Mates Of State – Mountaintops
48 Drake – Take Care
47 Real Estate – Days
46 Holy Ghost! – Holy Ghost!
45 Those Darlins – Screws Get Loose
44 Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo
43 The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar
42 Wild Flag – Wild Flag
41 James Blake – James Blake
40 Portugal. The Man – In The Mountain, In The Cloud
39 Gillian Welch – The Harrow And The Harvest
38 Over The Rhine – The Long Surrender
37 The War On Drugs – Slave Ambient
36 Mister Heavenly – Out Of Love
35 Childish Gambino – Camp
34 Seryn – This Is Where We Are
33 The Head And The Heart – The Head And The Heart
32 Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire
31 Telekinesis – 12 Desperate Straight Lines
30 Tom Waits – Bad As Me
29 Feist – Metals
28 Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
27 Black Lips – Arabia Mountain
26 The Low Anthem – Smart Flesh
25 The Antlers – Burst Apart
24 TV On The Radio – Nine Types Of Light
23 The Belle Brigade - The Belle Brigade
22 The Black Keys – El Camino
21 Charles Bradley – No Time For Dreaming
20 Beirut – The Rip Tide
19 Cults – Cults
18 Wye Oak – Civilian
17 The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow
16 Yuck – Yuck
15 Deer Tick – Divine Providence
14 Adele – 21
13 Radiohead – The King Of Limbs
12 Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean
11 St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
10 The Decemberists - The King Is Dead
09 M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
08 Dawes – Nothing Is Wrong
07 Wilco – The Whole Love
06 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – It’s A Corporate World
05 Middle Brother – Middle Brother
04 tUnE-yArDs – w h o k i l l
03 My Morning Jacket – Circuital
02 Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
01 Bon Iver – Bon Iver, Bon Iver
(via Paste)

You can check out Stereogum’s Top 50 Albums Of 2011 list here.

Comments (148)
  1. James Blake is significantly better than half of these records, should have been higher up the list.
    Where’s Jamie XX and Wild Beasts in here too!

    • I really felt like James Blake was going to dominate these lists but it looks like he is gonna be a victim of the hype machine instead. I love that album, definitely top 5 for me.

  2. ddogdunit  |   Posted on Nov 29th, 2011 -7

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • Lol, third time I’ve seen someone lump Bon Iver in with starbucks’ music selection; it’s not an equitable comparison, nor is it keeeeeewl. Likeability and ease of listening don’t presuppose selloutitude. The albums opener’s got slowed down metal fillz. It’s an interesting work. Maybe if Blue Bottle made a top music list it’d be on that shiz but def nawt starbucks. your new name should be chodey jodie.

      • Bon Iver, Bon Iver is neither the soundtrack for indie-cred Frappucino afternoons nor the top album of 2011: it’s just a good and solid record. By the way, I love your word creation: selloutitude!

        • I totes agree. It might make my top 50 list. Wu Lyf would definitely be top five, same with Kurt Vile, James Blake, The Antlers, and SebastiAn. No particular order. Lol, apparently magazines an blogs hate my list! haha

          • This is so true and I wonder if other publications are going agree. It seems like the TOP album of the year should also be the most innovative and relative to our situation. Just being a cohesive record that sound’s good shouldn’t be enough to make Bon Iver so deserving of all these accolades.

  3. I definitely expected Paste to go for all the delicate indie folk juggular with its picks. Although, #6 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – It’s A Corporate World… Uh, what?

    Side note, late last night, I became the first tiny blog to come out with its top 25 albums of the year (not really.) Again, I’d love to hear your thoughts. It’s definitely no “music for guys who pee sitting down” list…

  4. Is anyone else thrown off by the fact that Florence + The Machine’s ‘Ceremonials’ didn’t make it on the list?

  5. Pretty good for the first big list of the year. More surprises than I would have expected from one of the more prominent publications. Wonder if Spin or Rolling Stone will throw any such curveballs (doubtful).

  6. How is the Black Keys album on the list when it didn’t even come out yet?

  7. Man, I REALLY don’t find Drake’s album to be anything more than a snore. The combination of half-baked vulnerability and sensitivity with your typical, factor- made bravado and name-dropping does not make a good album, though it seems to be the golden ticket to critical acclaim in hip hop today. Different strokes, though; lots of people seem to love it so maybe I am just missing something.

    Missing for me was:
    Hooray for Earth

    Happy to see Mister Heavenly in there. That album flew under the radar in a big way, and “Bronx Sniper” was a serious jam.

  8. I liked the Fleet Foxes album as much as the next person but second best of 2011?

    i mean it /is/ the second best Fleet Foxes album, but that’s because they only have two.

    • I prefer it to their first, if only for “a shrine/an argument”

    • Paste caters to a very folky version of indie rock (For example, they love the young bands who play the Newport Folk Festival so you can expect all of those to be shoo-ins here i.e. Dawes, Middle Brother, Deer Tick) To Paste, Fleet Foxes is what a half-baked Metaliica album (not Lulu!) is to Revolver in that its quality is over-exaggerated.

  9. Where’s Wu Lyf?

  10. Is that Telekinesis on there? I’m mildly impressed.

  11. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  12. sounds more like a “check-out-these-albuns-pick-the-ones-you-prefer “- list.
    AND, there is no hip hop or electronica… hello, were in 2012!! I mean, what about the Amon Tobin album?? And it is all about US artists, how come Metronomy’s English Riviera isnt on the list, it was one of the 10 hottest albums of the summer… This list is very unprofessional… work harder music journalists!

    • Paste isn’t a hip-hop or electronica publication. I suspect you aren’t familiar with their brand. While it does give the occasional honor here to a few names outside the folk genre, it’s very much a folk-leaning publication and that shows here. Roughly 30 of the picks are folky / bluegrass / alt country type albums.

    • Amon Tobin? C’mon son.

      • Yeah, Amon Tobin hasn’t been good since the Bricolage days.

        • no love for permutation? i did some serious high school pot smoking to that album.

          • Oh I guess I thought Bricolage was after Permutation. That one’s pretty solid also.

          • sorry for complaining I didnt know paste was a folk rock only magazine, dont really know it that well.
            You guys should give a second chance to amon tobin, his last album is amazing. Yes i know he’s become a bit of hi-tech producer – it’s not pot-smoking-easy-listening-music anymore – but what he does is simply amazing. Go see videos of his ISAM tour with videomapping and you will see..listen to the album, keep an open mind!

            Great 2011 rock/folk albums missing in this list: anna calvi, battles, bjork, bon iver, braids, connan mockasin, fink, garden & villa, here we go magic, julliana barwick, metronomy, panda bear, pj harvey, thao & mirah, the do, toro y moi, wu lyf.

  13. Is it really laughable that Childish Gambino made a better rap album than Drake? Because I thought Gambino was better. But I guess I don’t have quite the hard on for Drake that Stereogum does.

    • Camp > Take Care + Blue Slide Park

      • Everyone agrees Blue Slide Park was terrible.

        • I’m pretty sure that nearly everything Mac Miller has put out is terrible. Same goes for Gambino. I wouldn’t expect Paste to recognize it, because they aren’t that type of publication, but One Be Lo’s L.A.B.O.R. is exceptional. Definitely one of the better than most hip-hop releases this year. And where the fuck is undun? It seems like Paste could give props to The Roots if they’re going to recognize Drake and Gambino.

  14. @Paste, I know January 2011 seems like a long time ago, but you did review Destroyer’s Kaputt on 1/25 (and did give it a higher rating than plenty of other albums on this list)… so why the complete snub here?

  15. Seryn! Denton, TX represent!

  16. whoa! i slept whole month? wicked!

  17. What’s really laughable is the idea that Childish Gambino and Drake made albums that were better than mediocre, much less the two best in their loosely defined genre.

  18. No Destroyer on this list.

  19. fuck this lack of cymbals eat guitars

  20. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  21. The Decemberists had a fantastic return to form in The King is Dead. After a bloated narrative in Hazards of Love, I firmly got behind these songs. Hope more magazines took notice, despite how long it’s been since they’ve released their album.

    Of the major magazines, very surprising My Brightest Diamond’s new release is missing from Paste’s Best of. It’s good.

  22. I really like Yuck, but seriously, there is no way that album was better than the Wye Oak and Wild Flag albums.

  23. James Blake at 41? A travesty! That album is easily top 10.

  24. No Girls on a top FIFTY – This list is invalid. Sorry. Have you guys HEARD the Girls album??

    • RIGHT!!! Girls is top 5 for me. Circuital surely (don’t call me Shirley) doesn’t belong at #3, it’s not even the bands 3d best album (that would be At Dawn). Admittedly, Circuital put MMJ back on the right track, but… NO.

      And… I hate to steal someone else’s thunder, but where the fuck is Shabazz Palaces?

    • Apparently they forgot they awarded it a 9.0 earlier this year.

      • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

        • That’s like saying every Elvis Costello song sounds the same (I’m on a Costello kick lately, and the comparison is apt). So a band has a sound that they absolutely own (albeit a sound that can be traced directly to other bands) and now the criticism is that all the songs sound the same?

          Wait, I know, Girls needs to add a member with a mac who does nothing but push buttons, twist knobs and add downtempo beats, then they’ll be the greatest band in the world.

          What is the “cult of personality” by the way?

  25. I’m just gonna come out and say it: Childish Gambino is downright horrible. He sounds like the kid in college who always tried to freestyle when he was drunk at parties.

    • You are correct. And why is the new Wilco ahead of The War on Drugs, Kurt Vile, James Blake, Real Estate, Drake, and Girls (who are strangely absent)????

      This comes from a huge fan of Wilco, but The Whole Love has nothing on YHT, Summerteeth, or Being There. Don’t get me wrong, The Whole Love belongs in the top 50, perhaps top 20, but the album has some definite lows that other albums are lacking (e.g., Girls!!! Shabazz Palaces!!!! Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, TKOL (the grower of the year for me), James Blake, and Smoke Ring for My Halo).

      BAH!!!! This list is “one-note” and that note is MOR folk-rock with some (read: very little) experimental and/or interesting music interspersed in it.

      I also see no Woods Sun & Shade, which, in my humble opinion, destroys a lot of the albums on this list. This list angers me.

      • Reasonable minds differ; when I compare YHF and The Whole Love – without giving credence to YHF’s legendary backstory – I feel like the songs on both are damn near equals in terms of quality. Tough to compare, for example, a “Born Alone” vs. a “War on War.” Both examples of Wilco at their best, IMO. Then again, my favorite has always been A Ghost Is Born, so what do I know.

        I’d put The War On Drugs over Wilco, though. That’s a top 3-er for me.

        • I’m just going to correct my abbreviation of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (I said YHT… always happens for some reason) and upvote you for your intelligent comment. We do differ on our opinions of The Whole Love.

          To me, The Whole Love is “transitional,” and mostly just gets me excited for what they’re going to release next. “Art of Almost” is one of the best songs Wilco has put out in a long damn time, and I like the additional influence of Elvis Costello (“I Might” sounds like it belongs on This Year’s Model), but I don’t think the band has fully shed their MOR tendencies (“Open Mind,” “Capitol City,” and “Rising Red Lung” just really bring the album down for me).

          That’s my opinion, but reasonable minds do differ.

    • correct sir

  26. I usually hate complaining about lists, but I haven’t been paying as much attention as I have in years past, and I’ve read Paste, and I am really surprised that my two favorite albums of the year, Girls’ Father, Son, Holy Ghost and Washed Out’s Within and Without are totally absent. The Girls’ record especially seems up Paste’s alleyway.

  27. No GOTYE, no Okkervil River, no Tinariwen?

  28. Why is it laughable that an artist such as Childish Gambino can’t make a better rap record than Drake? He’s not tied to any ridiculous cliches like Drake? Everyone on Doomtree puts out better records than Drake.


    This person/band I like/dislike was not on this list of best/worst and I’m outraged because they belong on this list.

    No, I didn’t make the list. No, I’m not an expert in this area. No, I’m not going to make and publish a list of my own. Certainly I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty details of the reasoning behind this list, or the rationale and viewpoint of the people who made it. NOPE. No reason to. I’d rather just name people I like who I felt were excluded.

    Great, now that that’s out of the way, the best overall album in any genre of music of 2011 is Hurry Up We’re Dreaming. If you’re talking about anything else you are incorrect.

  30. Where is Touche Amore’s “Parting The Sea Between Brightness and Me”? Balance and Composure?

  31. childish gambino is better than girls never. bizarre why girls wasn’t included. it’s not like their album was awesome or anything, and childish gambino is 2011 chiddy bang.

  32. I quite liked Dale Earnhardt Jr Jrs album. But they were one of those bands that got in the music hipster crosshairs as the year went on and for no good reason people really went after them. They are my #6 album of the year as well, though 1-5 are much different. I also include Destroyer as my second favorite of the year. How can you ignore Destroyer. come on.

  33. Where’s Other Lives’ Tamer Animals?

  34. UGH! i would have chosen 50 different albums in a way different order! how did Paste not know that???

  35. I’d flip Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver, but yeah

  36. Definitely prefer this to Q’s list, which forgot to include M83.

  37. No Florence and PJ Harvey? ashamed.

    • This is actually the first comment that has noticed the exclusion of PJ Harvey after tons of other comments. I mean, c’mon! She is apparently every critic’s darling, isn’t she? And…Kate Bush, anyone?

  38. The top three albums are like the same band…or one long album. My MornFleet Fonivers.

  39. I take offense to the Gambino jab. This is just a personal preference, but I hate the uprising of the minimalistic approach that has been running rampant this year in music, and Drake became one of the leaders of the movement with Take Care. Also, from a rap perspective, he was lacking. Lord Knows had too much blasphemy in it for me to really take it seriously (Marley and Hendrix…Going trigger happy…I wonder if they’d survive in this era), same for Over My Dead Body (I think I killed everyone in the game last year), and I’m sorry, but what in the good name of fuck was Practice? Camp got a little redundant after a while, but I’m a sucker for well thought out punchlines and that album is filled with them. As far as a rap album getting no love from either of these lists (although I can’t say I’m surprised), I did feel a wave of disappointment when I saw no mention of Kendrick Lamar’s Section 80.

    • i agree re:drake. my opinions couldn’t be more disparate between my initial impression of that album and subsequent impressions. First my thoughts were ‘hang on here, this could be rally something’ turns out after subsequent listens, it gets horribly worse. It’s just empty, I think nitsuh abebe put it nicely when he said ‘drake’s album works if u think the idea of drake making music in it self in interesting’. I guess I don’t find it interesting. We never had degrassi here in the U.K so maybe thats the source of my ambivalence. Or maybe it’s starting to sound boring. Because it is!??

      section.80, like you, i feel deserves a lot more attention. or at least some attention. I underrated it initially, but I haven’t stopped playing it since it’s release. Even the kid ASAP’s mixtape was more interesting than the solipsistic (brilliantly, some will have you believe) soundtrack for inertia that is Take Care.

      On another note, my surprise album in rotation, is King of Limbs. No idea why. House of Balloons anyone? Still dope as of right now…

  40. Remember when Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver came out with the best two albums of the year? Oh yeah that was 2008.

  41. Bon Iver is easily the most boring album I’v heard in many years.

  42. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  43. The list has a typo.. it says “Drake – Take Care”, should be “Watch the Throne”

  44. I keep hoping that people will eventually catch on to the amazing Gotye album, Making Mirrors. HUGE in Australia for good reason.

  45. Drake is the least charismatic MC ever, he just sound bored by his own forced introspection, “uh, i have to rap about myself, ugh”
    The only time he has any personality is when he’s borrowing a Kanye pronunciation

  46. Shouldn’t Paste’s folk-leaning brand be the biggest reason why the Civil Wars should be nowhere near this fucking list? It’s tantamount to a hip-hop publication listing Kraeshawn’s bullshit as some of the year’s best work. Shouldn’t Paste have at least a modicum of expertise?
    The Civil Wars make me ill. Buy some fucking standards Paste, not every Rye Whiskey Washboard band has to get press just because they bought an old hat.

  47. It is shitty for me to tell Paste what kind of mag to be, but I thought Bill Callahan would rank really high for them. He seems to be right in their wheelhouse. I do like the Decemberists in the top ten though. The backlash against them has been kind of annoying. They’re still a really great band.

  48. Saw Dawes open for Bright Eyes over the summer, and it totally turned me off. Seemed totally derivative. And to be honest, I can’t get into Bon Iver, but the heaps of praise it’s been getting make me want to give it another chance, since I haven’t really listened since it was released.

    Anyways, James Blake and the War on Drugs are too low, My Morning Jacket is too high, and I still feel like The King of Limbs was saddled by weighty expectations.

  49. The Weeknd
    Active Child
    Bright Eyes
    Cut Copy
    Toro Y Moi
    Washed Out
    Foster the People
    Gil-Scott Heron
    Explosions in the Sky

    All top 50 albums.
    Charles Bradley is getting his due though.
    Good list

  50. 4 of my top 10 albums of the year are not even on this list: Girls, Atlas Sound, The Horrors and The Features. Just an observation!

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