SWEET 16 – The BEST Albums of 2011

We’ve compiled a list of Icon Fetch’s Sweet Sixteen – The Best Albums of 2011.  These are the discs that spent the most time jammed into our car stereo and in heavy rotation on our Ipod over the last 12 months.  Each album includes a link to a full Icon Fetch review.  Plus, we’ve also added links to each album so you can preview them at amazon. We’ll be posting our “Album of the Year” after Christmas.

Over the Rhine – The Long Surrender (Great Speckled Dog) Hands down a stunning release, hauntingly beautiful.  Excellent production by Joe Henry.  Gets better with every listen.  Read the review.

Smithereens – 2011 (E1 Entertainment) Our vote for “comeback of the year” – the ‘reens return with their first new original studio album in 12 years.  There’s a youthful energy to these tracks.  Read the review.

Davina & the Vagabonds – Black Cloud (Roustabout) A fun listen – nothing like a blazing horn section to cheer you up.  We’re expecting more big things from leader Davina in the future.   Read the review.

Ben Wilkins – self titled (Milagro) A late addition to the list, Wilkins is a young Canadian songwriter, but somehow he’s able to channel pop and soul from the early Seventies.  Not a bad tune on this one.  Read the review.

Gregg Allman – Low Country Blues (Rounder) We’ve been waiting for Gregg to make a great solo album like this.  Sure helps he’s got T-Bone Burnett as producer and the searing guitar of Doyle Bramhall III.  Read the review.

Maria Muldaur – Steady Love (Stony Plain) I don’t know how she does it – Maria can tackle any genre she wants and nail it.  Last year it was jug band, this year, she’s done our favorite blues album.  Read the review.

Sloan – The Double Cross (Yep Roc) No pretension, just hook-filled rockin’ tunes.  Think a slightly brainier Cheap Trick.  And, their songs all bleed into each other – almost insisting that you listen to them as a whole.  Read the review.

Suzi Quatro – In the Spotlight (Cherry Red) Yeah, you’re thinking “what'”?  Seriously, Suzi kicks some major ass on her new record.  She even covers an odd Rihanna song and NAILS it.  Read the review.

The Cars – Move Like This (Concord) Took them long enough – 24 years, but it sounds like they never left.  Great hooks, Ric Ocasek’s voice has weathered well, and keyboardist Greg Hawkes keeps things interesting.  Read the review.

Lucy Billings – No Other Road (Sassy Time) There’s a warmth and honesty in Lucy’s songs that make her music seem closer to the listener.  Her tales of the untamed West give hope in this corporate world.   Read the review.

John Waite – Rough & Tumble (Frontiers) John’s been at it a long time, but this is his best work in years.  These songs make you long for a time when people knew how to write great pop/rock songs.  Read the review.

Shelby Lynne – Revelation Road (Everso) A very personal album in every sense of the word.  Shelby sang and played every note, wrote every song, produced every track.  She keeps getting better with each release.  Read the review.

Thomas Dolby – A Map of the Floating City (Lost Toy People) If you only know Thomas for “She Blinded Me With Science,” you’re in for a surprise.  Easily the most diverse album of the year. Despite 20 years away, he’s still got it.  Read the review.

Tommy Keene – Behind the Parade (Second Motion) Tommy’s most spirited collection of songs in some time.  Of course, he’s been churning out hook-laden tunes for almost 30 years, with no sign of slowing down.  Read the review.  \

REM – Collapse Into Now (Warner Bros) Their swan song, and it’s a good one.  A diverse collection that’s held together by a warmth we haven’t seen from these guys since Automatic For the People.  Read the review.

Dave Alvin – Eleven Eleven (Yep Roc) I love Dave’s stories. Not sure if any of it is true, but it makes for great songs.  No BS backing and his deep voice.  He should host a radio show…hmmmm…  Read the review.