Our favorite album of the year is one of 2011's most original and refreshing. Self-described as a “digitized Velvet Underground," Erika M. Anderson's debut takes listeners down a path of musical and emotional shifts and twists. Nostalgia is backed by abrasive guitars, while talk of violence and self-mutilation sounds like a romantic ode. At turns haunting, vulnerable and defiant, Anderson’s vocals and lyrics keeps every song fresh, never quite allowing you to get comfortable with the album, but always leaving you wanting more. -- D.R.