Favourite Improv, Jazz & Avant-Garde Albums of 2011
Published Feb 03, 2012To wrap up 2011, we published our favourite Improv, Jazz & Avant-Garde albums of the year, including releases from Loscil, Lukas Ligeti and Tim Hecker, before turning the vote over to you, the fans, with our year-end Readers Poll.
After receiving our most entries ever, the results are finally in, featuring a Montrealer you deemed an "instrumental god," a "cult hero" who keeps getting better, and "smooth crooning" mom-favourite, Michael Buble.
Check out the full Improv & Avant-Garde results below and read why they topped your playlists in 2011.
Exclaim! Readers Poll: Top 10 Improv & Avant-Garde Records of 2011:
1. Colin Stetson
New History Warfare Vol 2: Judges (Constellation)
"Breathtakingly sexy innovation."
Michael Fiore, Toronto, ON
"This man is, frankly, an instrumental god."
Amanda Lewis, London, ON
Jason Ragan, Magrath, AB
"Crossing boundaries and sounding fucking amazing while doing it. Colin Stetson was everywhere and justifiably so."
Robert LaRonde, Toronto, ON
2. Michael Buble
"He's actually pretty catchy."
Serena Debolt, Sechelt, BC
"Tis the season to listen to his smooth crooning."
Grace Foli, Surrey, BC
Brigitte Inderbitzin, Smithers, BC
"I hear a lot of jazz in this album."
Linda Klages, Hanover, ON
"He is one of the most underrated stars."
Atul Parelkar, Richmond, BC
3. Tony Bennett
Duets II (Sony)
"What an awesome, lasting for decades singer. Such an inspiration to others."
Shirley Reeds, Kearney, ON
Antoine-Aubert Boissonneault, Montreal, QC
4. Tom Waits
Bad As Me (Anti-)
"Waits is unstoppable."
Nick Kewin, Toronto, ON
"Tom Waits is truly amazing. Gets better every album."
Megan MacLeod, Regina, SK
"Okay, so TW is not really country and folk but damn, his latest release feels, sounds, and grooves so real to dear life, it provides one's spirit with an uplifting sense of purpose with belief, that it does what classic country and folk albums have done in the past. Tom Waits may not be a pop sensation, but he is a cult hero that speaks with a voice of imagination, a higher power and follows a sense of a higher power."
Timothy Hawkins, Toronto, ON
"Just as perfect as a Tom Waits album can be. Great packaging, phenomenal songs, the musicians are back like old friends, and Kief is hanging out as part of the mix, including a duet. I loved it from beginning to end."
James Stadnyk, Brossard, QC
"An incomparable artist demonstrating touchstones of his entire career throughout all the tracks. Waits can never receive enough acclaim for his creative genius."
William O'Donnell, Winnipeg, MB
Gloss Drop (Warp)
"I liked their old stuff better, but this was still pretty tight."
Sam Kenny, Vancouver, BC
"Good follow-up to an amazing last album."
Steve Dunne, Ottawa, ON
"The best album of the year in any genre. Super tight!"
Dylan Bristowe, St. Catharines, ON
"Furthering the innovative work they did on Mirrored."
Patrick Pomerleau, Montreal, QC
"Really like how it does sound like an electronic album even if they use a lot of guitar and real live drum."
Julien Baby-Cormier, Quebec City, QC
6. Jill Barber
Mischievous Moon (Outside)
"I have never big the biggest jazz fan, but I listen to it occasionally. Jill's album is one that I found myself going back to again and again."
Matt Lozynyc, Winnipeg, MB
The King of Limbs (TBD)
"Most disappointing record of 2011? I think not. Radiohead beat the dub-steppers at their own game."
Richard Crevier, Laval, QC
Shane Kroeker, Rosenort, MB
"I love how Radiohead just keeps evolving."
Amanda Harper, Red Deer, AB
"8th studio album and still on the edge of creativity."
Kevin Wootton, Newmarket, ON
"Thanks to the video for 'Lotus Flower,' I spent all of 2011 with images of Thom Yorke's dance moves in my head. The rest of the album was equally hypnotic."
Shannon Palmer, North Bay, ON
8. Tim Hecker
Ravedeath, 1972 (Kranky)
"He can do no wrong. Ravedeath is another fine entry in his excellent catalogue. Haunting yet hopeful, unsettling yet soothing - plants grey images of decaying cities firmly in mind."
Darryl Brant, Oshawa, ON
w H o K i L l (4AD)
"I'm not even sure what category this fits into but I think it's pretty experimental and pretty ground-breaking. I think this album captures every genre, every mood, every feeling known to man. Possibly the album of the year, at least in my book."
Steve Fox, Windsor, ON
"This album is full of layers in every sense of the word."
Josee Lacroix, Gatineau, QC
"Another album that straddles a whole bunch of genres. Probably the most distinct album of the year."
Sean Moore, Camrose, AB
"This band needs to tour for as long as possible to as many places as possible so that everyone has the chance to bask in their off-kilter beauty."
Kristen Rutherford, Edmonton, AB
"Merrill Garbus offers melodic, abrasive, noise-pop that injects jazz, folk, R&B and hip-hop into the mix. This collision of sounds and ideas provides a new definition for the word 'eclectic.'"
Wayne Yuzik, Saskatoon, SK
10. Amy Winehouse
Lioness: Hidden Treasures (Universal)
"Jaw dropping and awesome! Just listen to it. If you need a reason then you should just die."
Steve Shon, Toronto, ON
"A great final tribute to this great artist."
Mark Belanger, Quebec City, QC
"What can be said about the most unique soul vocalist to come along in years that hasn't been said already? A masterpiece!"
Grimm Culhane, Vancouver, BC