10 Best Albums of the Year--So Far

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Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
Hey, the year's half over! Isn't that reason enough to count back through the albums that have been released thus far in 2011 and decide which ones we can safely say are great? Yes, it is.
Check out our picks after the jump--and see which ones made it.

10. The Weeknd - House of Balloons

Hipstery, Beach House-sampling R&B from Canada -- a lot of things that don't sound like they should go together but do so deliciously.

9. Yuck - Yuck

A pack of young Brits steal their older siblings' records and make the best alternative rock album the '90s never knew.

8. Tyler, the Creator - Goblin

So. Cal. hip-hop collective Odd Future Wolfgang Kill Them All continues to make a case for itself as the indie Wu-Tang Clan with each successive release from its massively talented roster. Goblin is nasty and conflicted (Hey misogyny! What up homophobia!) but keeps drawing you back in with its scrappy beats and Tyler's alternately aggressive and weary delivery. It's kind of a mess, but a fascinating one.

7. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues

Fleet Foxes follow up their brilliant self-titled debut with a more introspective and low-key second album of wandering acoustic guitars and skyward harmonies.

6. Crystal Stilts - In Love With Oblivion

Crystal Stilts combine catchy riffs that are older than your grandma with aloof, cavernously reverbed vocals that somehow make them more immediate yet more mysterious than any of their garage-gaze peers.

5. Shabazz Palaces - Black Up

Do we have to invent a new genre for these guys? Chill-hop? Whatever it is, I can't stop listening to it.

4. Dirty Beaches - Badlands

At only eight songs, two of them without vocals, Badlands is the most intriguing debut I've heard all year. Alex Zhang samples his own motorcycle riffs and struts onstage alone, like a Chinese Elvis, combing his hair and crooning through smoky, David Lynch-esque driving songs like "Sweet 17" and the surprisingly tender ballad "True Blue."

3. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake

It's a given that anything PJ Harvey does is worth checking out, but on Let England Shake, she really brings her singing and songwriting talents to the table in a new way, emitting ululating, exotic vocals on ballads like "England" and "Written on the Forehead" to fit her hauntingly memorable and war-torn lyrics ("I saw soldiers fall like lumps of meat.")

2. Iceage - New Brigade

Really guys? Do you really want to listen to some snoozy Phil Collins music some guy made in a cabin or whatever? Wouldn't you rather listen to this regal noise-punk made by some Danish teenagers?

1. Toro y Moi - Causers of This

Chaz Bundick escapes the "chillwave" tag and makes the pop record of the year, drawing on Stevie Wonder, psychedelia and old school R&B to create an absolutely immaculate collection of alternate-universe hits.

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