Year End Wrap Up: Keven's 10 Best & 5 Worst Music Albums of 2011

I dare you to find another top 10 list this year that includes both Lady Gaga and Primus. Check out my top albums of 2011 and know that my top three are not only the best of the year, but some of the best music in a decade. Also: check out my top five worst records.

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It was a strange year in music, especially for myself. I began to branch out and listen to more music than I'd ever attempted to in years. I consider myself a metal music die-hard, so It was different for me to embrace all genres and try reviewing music full-time. Needless to say I found myself listening to not only the new Lady Gaga, but the new Coldplay and even more shocking, I wasn't vomiting on sound impact. I had evolved.

Top 10 Albums of 2011

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1. Blue October – Any Man in America

"Lead singer Justin Furstenfeld is a song writing genius. His music and lyrics are so personal it's almost hard to listen to despite how wonderfully crafted the tracks are. 'Any Man in America' chronicles Furstenfeld's divorce and custody battle for his daughter and it is also by far the best record I've listened to all year.

Blue October have created some of the most gut wrenching beautiful music year after year and their newest effort is the strongest album they've ever produced. 'Any Man in America' is the most personal album I've ever listened to, which makes it by far the most captivating record of 2011." - Read my full review HERE.

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2. Mastodon – The Hunter

"The fifth album from American metal pioneers Mastodon is their most well rounded and memorable effort yet. 'The Hunter' is a metal masterpiece. The songs are shorter, faster but the strangeness is still there and clocks in at 11. So tune in, trip out and take a journey through what will no doubt be hailed as a classic for decades to come.

'The Hunter' is the Mastodon album that I have been waiting 10 years for. It is an epic, forest dwelling monster wearing a plaid jacket, sporting a beard and carrying a box full of amphetamines. Do what 'The Hunter' wants or pay the consequences." - Read my full review HERE.

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3. The Black Keys – El Camino

"The Black Keys are quite possibly the best 'new' rock band on the planet. I say 'new' because although they've been around for a while now, there aren't many other rock bands out there with the ability to go toe to toe with legends from decades prior. 'El Camino' shows that The Black Keys can compete.

'Gold on The Ceiling' is my favorite track and not only is it a song of the year contender, but it's one of the best rock tunes ever made in my opinion. The next time someone tells you that there are no more 'new' rock bands worth listening to – slap them in the face with a copy of 'El Camino' and tell them to calm down." - Read my full review HERE.

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4. The Lonely Island – Turtleneck and Chain

"The Lonely Island's follow up to 'Incredibad' is not only hilarious it's actually a better music album than it's groundbreaking predecessor. The comedy hasn't taken a hit even though production has improved, making 'Turtleneck & Chain' a better overall record and perhaps one of the best comedic albums of the last decade.

There will not be a funnier record by any artist or group until The Lonely Island puts out their third album. Be prepared to overplay this freaking thing for the next two years because nothing else is going to come close." - Read my full review HERE.

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5. Primus – Green Naugahyde

"The strangest band on earth has returned with their first full length album in over 12 years. Fronted by Les Claypool, who I consider the best bass player of all time, Primus is back with an obscure vengeance. The band sounds like they never stopped turning out albums and the new record is one of the strongest of their career and a welcome return into their bizarre universe of music.

'Green Naugahyde' is a blast and it's something every bass playing enthusiast needs to own and admire. Without trying to sound like a hippie, it's the grooviest album of 2011 and a must-own for those not afraid to get their weird on. The record is not something even the most brave will be willing to hail as a masterpiece off the bat but listen to it a few times really loud and lose yourself in Claypool's world. It'll scare the absolute s*** out of you but you'll learn to love it." - Read my full review HERE.

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6. Trivium – In Waves

"Trivium have claimed that this album perfects the sound that they have been searching for throughout their career. If that's the case then I'm more than satisfied although I'm still not sure it is considering they've been tweaking their material for years now - for the better. 'In Waves' is an epic metal clinic that takes you on both a melodic and brutal musical journey.

I may have a special place in my heart for Trivium's last record 'Shogun' and I still consider it to be their most focused and strongest effort to date, but 'In Waves' is still epic. This new record is proof that the guys are going to continue hauling so much ass it's not even funny. The title track is a blistering effort with a chorus that is so devastating that the song has trouble containing it's fury." - Read my full review HERE.

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7. Winds of Plague – Against The World

"Winds of Plague are crafting death metal anthems for the ages on this record. Winds of Plague is quickly becoming a power player in the deathcore world. Because of their affinity to use symphonic elements amidst their chaotic metal arrangements, the band sets themselves apart from the rest of the horde. I found myself adding 'One For the Butcher' and 'Strength to Dominate' as tunes I would gladly blast while I ride a demon horse into battle.

Singer Johnathon Cooke applies his demon machine of a voice to this record as if it's another instrument. It almost seems as if he doesn't stop growling – ever. He applies his guttural vocals as if they were just another piece of this horrifically beautiful puzzle. Fun fact: The Ultimate Warrior (the famous WWF wrestler) does a spoken word track set to thrash guitar. It's amazing, ridiculous and most incredible of all - it somehow works." - Read my full review HERE.

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8. Jay Z & Kanye West – Watch The Throne

Hip hop phenom Jay-Z has tag teamed the hell out of this record with a guy I'd normally write off as rap music's Steve Urkel. 'Watch The Throne' is the best rap album since Eminem's 'Recovery' and a must-own for anyone with even a slight interest in hip hop.

Like him or hate him, Kanye West is a brilliant song writer. Jay-Z is someone many consider to be the best of all time and the duo here have truly outdone themselves and crafted a monster. The production is delicious and original, which is a must considering I've found many rap mash-ups to be forgettable after the beat ends up getting lost in a clash of rhymes. Some may take issue with much of the lyrics coming across as look how much bread I got and f*** you Southpark I'm still awesome, but it's hip hop. There will always be a place in rap for money and hoes – this album is no different." - Read my full review HERE.

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9. Tech N9ne – All 6's and 7's

"Although he may tell you differently now, rapper Tech N9ne was appropriately named after the machine gun of the same name. His uncanny ability to rhyme at ungodly speeds with ungodly lyrics that are both perverse and extremely dark makes him one of the best hardcore rap artists on the planet.

The songs here are beasts and the tune 'He's a Mental Giant' could quite possibly be the hip hop track of 2011. The song 'Pornographic' is also catchy as hell and features an all too common Snoop Dogg cameo, in which he raps something to the effect of putting his 'crotch' into your ear so you can hear him. Snoop admittedly raps, in mid-song, that he wrote his rhymes in one minute. I'd be mad, but when he does it so well I can't be." - Read my full review HERE.

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10. Lady Gaga – Born This Way

"My favorite band is Lamb of God and even I can appreciate this woman's abilities, proving her ability to reach new audiences. Leading single 'Born This Way' is one of the catchiest and best pop songs ever made. Sure the album fluctuates between the strange, offbeat and brilliant but that's Gaga's bag. She made a song called 'sh*t' (renamed in German form) and then proceeds to sing random German language phrases that are probably equally as disturbing as the song title.

Drop the Madonna comparisons in terms of sound because Lady Gaga is on a different level when it comes to song arrangements. Sure there are similarities in other aspects of the singers' careers, but there's also one glowing difference. Lady Gaga is not just a singer, she's a musician and Madonna can dance. That's it. 'Born This Way' is going to annoy the hell out of close-minded music lovers for years to come. Tune out the teeny boppers who like Lady Gaga because Twitter told them to and appreciate some truly brilliant pop music that is breaking new musical ground. I hate most of her fans but Gaga has earned this metal enthusiast's respect." - Read my full review HERE.

The Worst Albums of 2011

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1. Metallica & Lou Reed - Lulu

To say that Metallica is brave is both justified and dumb for allowing what sounds like a sexed crazed hobo yelling over their amazing new songs. 'Lulu' is a strange concept album composed by the world's most famous metal band and Velvet Underground front man Lou Reed. It is without a doubt the most absurd album of 2011.

"Reed spouts perverse and rhaspy spoken word type vocals about how he's "a little girl, spit in my mouth!" Or how he's "Spermless!" That's what I want to hear! My grandpa screaming about how he's a sex crazed female prostitute while I'm trying to listen to Metallica! What…the hell? Disclaimer: Technically, this is not the 'worst' album of the year, but it's by far the biggest disappointment by leaps and bounds, which is why I have given it this top honor." - Read my full review HERE.

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2. Gorillaz – The Fall

"The whole thing was recorded on lead singer (the guy from Blur) Damon Albarn's ipad. I've been fans of the cartoon band for years but after listening to their new album 'The Fall' I've come to the conclusion that recording your new record on an ipad is not revolutionary, it's lazy and stupid. I didn't think it would be possible, but with the right apps apparently the message is that you too can record an album and you can do it right on the toilet after playing Angry Birds.

The only halfway decent track here is 'Revolving Doors' and that's track #2. Listen to that then get the hell out before you become ensnared in a whirlwind of random voice samples set to cheezeball electro fart sounds." - Read my full review HERE.

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3. 3 Doors Down – Time of My Life

"It seems like every track on the album could be played during a sappy walk-off on American Idol, or perhaps set to a montage in some movie where a dude wearing a jeancoat walks onto a field and throws a love note on the ground and walks away somberly. I turned this album on and before I knew it, the thing was over and I didn't even notice. It's one, big, giant, sweaty rock ballad for sale to be used on TV programs in need of 'goodbye' montages.

This band milks the same formula song-in and song-out and because of their boring predictability the new album 'Time of My Life' ultimately becomes the worst rock record of 2011 by far. If you're a fan and I'm sorry if you are, then pick this up if you haven't already walked slowly to the record store to do so with your bland 3 Doors Down rock T. God help us all." - Read my full review HERE.

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4. Rihanna – Talk That Talk

"I can’t listen to Rihanna annoyingly chant ‘I Love it When You Eat It’ anymore and she says it about 4000 times on ‘Cockiness’, which I proclaim to be the worst song of 2011. I know it’s cool to make a pop sex anthem these days, but do you have to be so stupid about it? ‘Suck my cockiness; lick my persuasion”? Really? Those are your lyrics? Set to a pop reggae beat? It’s gross.

It saddens me to smash Rihanna’s new album so hard, but maybe she should stick to being the best guest star around, because she sure as hell exhausted her best laid plans on every other band on the planet’s records. ‘Talk That Talk’ is an empty shell of a pop album, meant only to be played in ridiculous dance clubs where stupid chicks can chant along to ‘I Love it When You Eat It’ and music dies a little more each time." - Read my full review HERE.

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5. Bjork – Biophilia

"There's such a thing as too much experimentation to the point where the music sounds like someone smashing their own privates into a keyboard while a crazy chick moans poetry on top of a donkey. In turn that donkey is puking fire onto the floor and voila, 'Biophilia' for your amusement. Bjork reminds me of Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective; when Ace pretends to be mentally challenged in order to sneak into an asylum

'Biophilia' on drugs or not on drugs, should not be considered a musical achievement. Original – yes, brave – yes, but music? No it most certainly is not. If there's a soundtrack for the circle in hell that all techno/rave junkies end up inhabiting, Bjork's 'Biophilia' is most certainly it." - Read my full review HERE.