Most Played Albums of 2011


Gen 5 2012, 20:52

Hello everyone! Welcome to this wonderful tradition of number crunching. A precious opportunity for yours truly to rant outside of my own head in a long form medium that's not limited to 140 characters.

2011 was definitely more varied than our last recap with a lot more diversity, thanks in big part to my new BFF Spotify. But there's always a downside: too much variety means not much repetition and this year we have the first ever recount without a song reaching 100 plays and don't even think about a single album passing 1000 scrobbles!

I noticed one particular phenomenon this past year: there were a lot of well-established and previous chart topping artists that were overlooked this past year, some of them, for no apparent reason! I even liked some of their preview singles. What a mystery! Albums like Okkervil River - I Am Very Far, TV on the Radio - Nine Types Of Lights, Dum Dum Girls - Only in Dreams, Beirut - The Rip Tide and Toro y Moi - Underneath the Pine, just to name a handful that never got the change to return. Ooooooops! Sorry, guys & gals. I can assure you are already in the January recovery cycle.

There were also all those albums that were released so late, there was no point in listening, like Atlas Sound - Parallax, The Black Keys - El Camino and Arms - Summer Skills. Not to count all those other that had songs I digged but never got around to playing the album much. All this music is... overwhelming. Oh, well. No point in dwelling on these past mistakes. Let's move forward.

Before we do that, here's the formula I use for this rank:

average plays = round(total plays/total tracks)

In case of ties, the upper hand was given to total scrobbles. I'd like to add that I had to disqualify two albums because half of their tracks were released in 2010 so it was damn near impossible to determine which plays came from the full release. I'm talking about Panda Bear - Tomboy and Cameras - In Your Room. It pained me because I enjoyed them both quite a bit.

Intro over. Here we goooooo!

Most Played Albums of 2011
25. tUnE-yArDs - w h o k i l l
Played 101 times. Averaged 10 plays per track.
The electric vocal loops, and the softer side, all make a comeback.
Most played: Gangsta - 31 plays

24. Ringo Deathstarr - Colour Trip
Played 119 times. Averaged 11 plays per track.
Twee pop to make heads bop or bodies sway in slow motion.
Most played: So High - 41 plays

23. Zola Jesus - Conatus
Played 148 times. Averaged 13 plays per track.
Less echo-y darkness, more robotic screeching and vocal melodies.
Most played: Hikikomori - 26 plays

22. Wild Flag - Wild Flag
Played 170 times. Averaged 17 plays per track.
Next best thing to the real thing. I'll take it.
Most played: Future Crimes - 37 plays

21. Active Child - You Are All I See
Played 174 times. Averaged 17 plays per track.
Enigmatic... choked up falsetto... mysterious... synths... haunting... harps.
Most played: Hanging On - 40 plays

20. Wye Oak - Civilian
Played 174 times. Averaged 17 plays per track.
Raspy voiced pop rock... with guitar breakdowns for added awesome factor.
Most played: Dogs Eyes - 50 plays

Played 198 times. Averaged 17 plays per track.
Full of groove and smooth melodies with some outstanding guest vocalists, most notably, the winner of most beautiful voice of the year: Sampha.
Most played: Right Thing to Do (feat. Jessie Ware) - 41 plays

18. Battles - Gloss Drop
Played 207 times. Averaged 17 plays per track.
Anything would pale on comparison to their last monster but you eventually get around to appreciating this one. It may happen too late to make it into the top 15, though.
Most played: Sweetie & Shag (Featuring Kazu Makino) - 32 plays

17. Jamie Woon - Mirrorwriting
Played 232 times. Averaged 19 plays per track.
In its broad spectrum, I'd say this could be considered a companion to the SBTRK album but it's a lot more downbeat, filled with heavier RnB and soul influences. Runner-up in 2 important categories: most beautiful voice of the year and biggest jam anthem - Lady Luck - to a song that will be later mentioned in this journal.
Most played: Street - 41 plays

And barely missing out on the Top 15...

16. Still Corners - Creatures of an Hour
Played 198 times. Averaged 20 plays per track.
It's got the classic dream pop element of ethereal vocals mixed with some clearer guitar melodies that makes you think more of the 60s than the 80s.
Most played: The Twilight Hour - 31 plays

Top 15
15. Maybeshewill - I Was Here for a Moment, Then I Was Gone
Played 200 times. Averaged 20 plays per track.

I would like to extent my most sincere congratulations to Maybeshewill. They're the first band to be featured three albums in a row on these countdown journals! They really got a head start by releasing their debut and sophomore two years in a row. In my 2009 recap, I noted their second album was more of the same - in a positive way - now, they shook things up a bit with this one. It still retains some of that exhilarating energy but they've added some textured, delicate arrangements that makes it sound even uplifting.

Most played:
To the Skies from a Hillside - 34 plays
Take This to Heart - 29 plays
Critical Distance - 22 plays

Least played:
An End to Camaraderie / Relative Minors - 13 plays

Loved 2 out of 10 tracks

Previously on the pecusita chart show: their sophomore climbed all the way to #10 in 2009 a mere year before that, their debut reached
#11 in 2008!

14. Little Dragon - Ritual Union
Played 219 times. Averaged 20 plays per track.

No, I'm not too cool. I discovered them after their vocalist collaborated on my favorite song off Gorillaz's Plastic Beach last year. I was initially intrigued by an old song called Blinking Pigs but got truly hooked on the catchy beats of this album. Even the slow tempo tracks can be quite catchy and they'd better be because there are quite a handful of them. The devil is in the repetition in this case.

Most played:
Ritual Union - 52 plays
Nightlight - 48 plays
Shuffle A Dream - 35 plays

Least played:
Crystalfilm - 7 plays

Loved 3 out of 11 tracks

13. Wild Beasts - Smother
Played 212 times. Averaged 21 plays per track.

Even though their last album left quite a mark in my stats, it took me a while to get around to this one, probably because I wasn't too thrilled by the first single. Upon further listening, it's a very logical - and enjoyable - progression for their style. I didn't find the melodies to carry the same level of memorable qualities that made Two Dancers such a great album, though; with notable exceptions like Bed of Nails and Reach a Bit Further that bridged the gap quite nicely. In the end, b-side Catherine Wheel ended up as my most played song of theirs in this past year. The album has been getting more plays as of late so there's still a chance I may fall head over heels for it.

Most played:
Lion's Share - 46 plays
Bed of Nails - 28 plays
Reach a Bit Further - 26 plays

Least played:
Burning - 9 plays

Loved 4 out of 10 tracks

Previously on the pecusita chart show: Two Dancers made it to #8 of the 2009 chart

12. Anna Calvi - Anna Calvi
Played 252 times. Averaged 25 plays per track.

Do you ever get tired of the trickery behind electronic music/arrangements? I do, from time to time. That's why it's a good idea to have a straight up record like Anna Calvi's debut album lying around. If you take a look at the No. 4 artist of my overall charts, I'd say this is right up my alley. Her retro, blues-y sound combined with her sometimes seductive voice are very inviting.

Most played:
I'll Be Your Man - 40 plays
Blackout / Desire / No More Words - 29 plays

Least played:
The Devil - 16 plays

Loved 3 out of 10 tracks

11. Radiohead - The King of Limbs
Played 217 times. Averaged 27 plays per track.

Geez, how annoying is it that a lot of people seem to think that unless it's a knock your socks off masterpiece, a Radiohead album is a disappointment? I know, I know, I remember what I wrote about Battles. I personally found myself enjoying their approach to this album, filled with darkly hypnotic and catchy songs. You can get chills by a simple "ooooohhhhhh", you know. Is it a Kid A or OK Computer? No, get over it already! Those are likely never to be matched. There were moments I honestly found myself enjoying this album a lot more than In Rainbows and Hail to the Thief.

Most played:
Feral - 43 plays
Bloom - 33 plays
Lotus Flower - 31 plays

Least played:
Separator - 19 plays

Loved 3 out of 9 tracks

Previously on the pecusita chart show: one previously charted album was #11 in 2007

10. James Blake - James Blake
Played 300 times. Averaged 27 plays per track.

This album was its own worst enemy. The first three songs blew... me.. away. The rest? Not that much. Things start falling, falling, falling fairly quick with following tracks, Lindisfarne I & II, only fans of Volcano Choir and Bon Iver's Blood Bank EP could ever love those songs. After those two, the album looses steam and, although there are some other solid songs in the back end, it just never lives up to the promise of those three songs. *DEEP* ... *SIGH* But I don't blame him. But I don't blame him. But I don't blame him. For as fast as you can skip the LindYouRuinedTheAlbum songs, you will be very close to melancholic electro heaven. Where I am, where I am, where I am.

Most played:
Unluck - 62 plays
I Never Learnt to Share - 44 plays
The Wilhelm Scream - 38 plays

Least played:
Lindisfarne II - 3 plays

Loved 3 out of 11 tracks

9. Planningtorock - W
Played 322 times. Averaged 27 plays per track.

The most enigmatic of the albums on this list. People will compare her aesthetics and distorted vocals to Fever Ray, no doubt about it. Would these comparisons stop if the vocals were different? Probably not. But there's a lot more to this album than those first impressions in similarities, darn it! I find it to be more pop aware, if that even makes sense, than FR. It can also be evocative, mystifying, seductive, cryptic and, most importantly, addictive!

Most played:
Manifesto - 55 plays
The Breaks - 47 plays
I'm Yr Man - 41 plays

Least played:
9 - 8 plays

Loved 5 out of 12 tracks

8. M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
Played 601 times. Averaged 30 plays per track.

I think this is a great showcase of his ample pop/shoegaze/ambient repertoire. One moment, it can turn evocative and moving, the next be filled with a genuinely uplifting and hopeful sound. It's a stark contrast with the more melancholic Saturdays = Youth. The pop songs are as catchy as ever, while others aspire not to reach beyond the sky in full grandiosity. Listening to Splendor is like watching a sunset while the ocean breeze caresses your skin. Skip to Raconte-Moi Une Historie or Reunion and it's damn near impossible to stay still! It's a truly cinematic and eventful album.

I don't usually love double albums as much as I do with this one. I figured the trick here is songs like Klaus I Love You that are a lot of shorter yet manage to leave you wanting more. I would definitely put it right behind Before The Dawn Heels Us for my favorite M83 record!

This is a good opportunity to show off my autographed cd...

Most played:
Midnight City - 65 plays
Reunion - 63 plays
This Bright Flash - 50 plays

Least played:
Outro - 11 plays

Loved 10(!) out of 20 tracks

Previously on the pecusita chart show: S=Y=#4 in 2008

7. Mogwai - Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will
Played 276 times. Averaged 28 plays per track.

Winner of most awesomely named album, of course! There's a fairly good mix of kraut rock-leaning songs and the atmospherics, slow build-ups driven tracks. It includes some of the most immediate songs they've released since Mr. Beast... ok, there's only been one record in between those two, Mr. Observation. It could definitely be called Catchy Songs For Catchy People. Certainly a big step up from The Hawk is Howling, as far as cohesiveness is concerned. There's no lagging in the middle, good rhythm in the track list and highlights can be found all the way through the album. The only disappointment here? I have not been able to listen to any of these new songs live due to two consecutive cancelations and no reschedule yet. WHYYYYYYY?!

Most played:
George Square Thatcher Death Party - 56 plays
Rano Pano - 50 plays
Mexican Grand Prix - 40 plays

Least played:
You're Lionel Richie - 11 plays

Loved 4 out of 10 tracks

Previously on the pecusita chart show: Hawks holwed at #7 in 2008 (pun!)

6. Washed Out - Within and Without
Played 260 times. Averaged 29 plays per track.

I remember listening to pbrnb band How to Dress Well last year and being disappointed by the lack of most drepressed man in the world gravitas from his gallery. Here we have Washed Out, aka Ernest Greene, who seems to fit the package rather well. Even the songs with uplifting lyrics, like Amor Fati, sound depressed. It does suffers, however, of the Wild Nothing syndrome, where the vocals can get somewhat anemic. That's part of the chill aesthetics, we can't frown upon it that much. And where WN's Jack Tantum sounds trapped in a fasting period, this man at the very least had some crackers in the morning. I have to add the cover art also fits the mood of the music.

Most played:
Echoes - 68 plays
You and I - 36 plays
Amor Fati - 35 plays

Least played:
A Dedication - 12 plays

Loved 3 out of 9 tracks

5. Widowspeak - Widowspeak
Played 286 times. Averaged 29 plays per track.

Whoa! What a solid turn out for these newcomers! Love this album but thought it would fall victim to a late release date, surely it was helped by early promo hit mp3 Harsh Realm. Looking back to this countdown - we are already near the top 5! - I'd say Widowspeak's sound could be described as the union of Anna Calvi and Still Corners. It's a mellow, old-fashioned style full of easygoing and melancholic melodies but also more upbeat head boppers. It is very well balanced.

Most played:
Harsh Realm - 62 plays
Nightcrawlers - 45 plays
Puritan - 28 plays

Least played:
Half Awake - 17 plays

Loved 3 out of 10 tracks

4. The Horrors - Skying
Played 311 times. Averaged 31 plays per track.

As my 2009 recap can testify, I was won over by the sheer force generated by the waves of distortion from their second album, Primary Colours. This album builds on, moves on. There's a bit more clarity in the reverb, some nicely added synth to add texture and horns to diversify, it even includes a guest spot from the second most skilled music instrument - the tambourine (the tambourine is second to the triangle, in case you were wondering). It's very put together, sounds cerebral but immensely enjoyable to listen. I also hear this is their first foray into self-production. Nice work, guys! From now on, you can save those production fees and get to gush and take every bit of credit.

Most played:
Moving Further Away - 56 plays
Endless Blue - 54 plays
Still Life - 37 plays

Least played:
Oceans Burning - 20 plays

Loved 4 out of 10 tracks

Previously on the pecusita chart show: same #4 position for 2009

3. Austra - Feel It Break
Played 350 times. Averaged 32 plays per track.

Though I was initially intrigued by the debut EP, this album is a complete turn. Even the EP title song has been reedited to achieve maximum eerie and claustrophobic doom status. Others sound intriguing and almost otherworldly, like Shoot the Water that never fails to remind me of the Fifth Element opera. Ultimately the combination of her soprano and vocalizations really make this record stand out amongst the other releases this year.

Most played:
Beat and the Pulse - 79 plays
Lose It - 43 plays
Spellwork - 39 plays

Least played:
The Beast - 16 plays

Loved 4 out of 11 tracks

2. Explosions in the Sky - Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
Played 198 times. Averaged 33 plays per track.

The power lies in the short track list! Mind you, not that this is a short stroll in the park here. There are so many ups and downs, turns and twists that a single song can drain you.

Just like Mogwai did this year as well, they dabbled with uptempo - and (gasp!) vocalization - but it did not translate to much of a departure for the album as a whole. The songs should still be considered one single epic that has been divided in chapters. Not so say there's no merit to the stand alone tracks, I simply find them to be more mesmerizing when listened without interruptions. I must say that Trembling Hands does stick out a bit in the middle but things quickly fall back into place to culminate in its most ecstatic moment with Let Me Back In.

For what it's worth, this was the second year in a row where a mainstreamer released an album with almost the exact same title as the small roasted potatoes I usually listen to. You know who they are.

Most played:
Trembling Hands - 53 plays
Last Known Surroundings - 37 plays
Postcard From 1952 - 33 plays

Least played:
Be Comfortable, Creature / Human Qualities - 24 plays

Loved 3 out of 6 tracks

1. The Kills - Blood Pressures
Played 427 times. Averaged 39 plays per track.

It's been a long time coming! What a rise they've had in my charts for the past 3 years, all the way to #3 in my charts, finally crowned by a chart topping album.

There are certainly some interesting moments here, like some gospel backdrops and plenty of stabbed guitars that want to smear you with the blood of its sacrifice. I must put into writing that's one of my favorite things about their music: how the guitars can sound like the notes were beaten out of them at times.

Where things don't seem to gel for me is songs like Heart Is a Beating Drum and Nail in My Coffin, the latter sounding a little bit like a Dead Weather spilled over - and you all know how I feel about that project (if you didn't, you can now risk a guess). Don't know how those made it instead of great b-side Blue Moon! So, is this the best they have to offer? Certainly not but it is still a strong offering that should keep me on board their band wagon. Beep, beep!

Most played:
DNA - 62 plays
Satellite - 56 plays
Damned If She Do - 55 plays

Least played:
Wild Charms - 19 plays

Loved 6 out of 11 tracks

Right on! Meet me sometime in the future for the songs installment.


  • threebright

    this is weak..

    Gen 6 2012, 1:52
  • pecusita

    Sorry to have let you down...

    Gen 6 2012, 3:39
  • priedits

    nice work! :)

    Gen 9 2012, 17:59
  • CaptainGaylord

    nice write-up as usual, m'dear. i must say, though, i'm surprised at how divisive opinions have been on the new mogwai.. personally i didn't care for it much at all, though i can say that those songs were MUCH better live (this is where i stick my tongue out from you and go "mmbluhh"). also, a wonderful number one! from what i've seen, blood pressures isn't getting anywhere near the love it deserves! anyway, good stuff.

    Gen 11 2012, 10:05
  • readaryan

    Great list. Your most played songs from the individual albums matches mine.

    Gen 14 2012, 3:01
  • heyadamo

    Nice list -- we only have 2 albums in common, but that's why they say variety is the spice of life. Or maybe that's just those damned spice lobbyists.

    Gen 15 2012, 5:07
  • pecusita

    Woohoo! Reached 80% approval rating! Thanks everyone :] I think The Kills album probably did not receive much list love because it's viewed as the weakest in their trajectory. It still has plenty of highlights, in my very obvious opinion. I just noticed that I forgot to add a sad side note to the M83 write-up: my initial calculations placed it at #5 but then I realized I had entered "20 tracks" in the spreadsheet so it was later downgraded. Yes, there's a spreadsheet involved in this process. I'm sure no one is surprised. O.o

    Gen 15 2012, 17:55
  • owl21

    haha thx so much for 10 you totally nailed it, i never understood neither what what's so special about the Lindersfarne and why it was considered by some the best part of the album.

    Mag 3 2012, 18:44
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