The best albums of 2011 from Los Angeles artists came from a suitably diverse Angeleno cast of characters; there are rappers and singers, legends and transplants, folks with great careers in front of them, and those who may have peaked this year. One thing's clear: it was unquestionably a great twelve months for local music. Without more ado, then, here is our list, voted on by West Coast Sound's music writers.
10. Hanni El Khatib
Will the Guns Come Out
If you're looking to break a bottle over someone's head, be sure and slip Hanni El Khatib on the turntable first. The hot-blooded debut from this bluesy garage act oozes raw menace. Armed with only a guitar and his drummer Nicky Yaryan, Hanni El Khatib's raspy, whisky-soaked voice sings of destruction ("Build. Destroy. Rebuild.") confrontation ("Dead Wrong") passion ("Loved One") and defeat ("Fuck it. You win"). Hell, even the Louis Armstrong cover "You Rascal You" sounds like it's going to bite. -Molly Bergen
9. Dum Dum Girls
Only In Dreams
While Dum Dum Girls' debut Blissed Out was born from the same lo-fi scene as Best Coast, Wavves and Vivian Girls, their second album Only In Dreams emerged as the thoughtful, substantive answer to their peers. Most notably, frontwoman Dee Dee casts off the shackles of reverb to reveal a deep and nuanced voice that takes notes from Chrissie Hynde. That kind of strength and clarity proves necessary on somber, guitar-drenched tracks like "Coming Down," a song that will leave you doing the same. -Andrea Domanick
For more on Dum Dum Girls see: A Girl Group of One
Family & Friends
The first solo album on Anticon from Chicago-transplant rapper Serengeti is devastating when it's not hilarious; tales of secret polygamy and deadbeat fathers are often played for laughs. Featuring guest vocals from Why?'s Yoni Wolf and production from other members of his collective, it's perhaps Serengeti's starkest and cleanest work. The easy melodies and sharp humor make you forget that, at bottom, Family & Friends is a story of a man's life melting down. -Ben Westhoff
For more see: Free Download: Serengeti's "Tracks"
7. Crystal Antlers
Two Way Mirror
Crystal Antlers weren't supposed to stick around. Cochlear-cracking contemporary psych-rock bands typically disintegrate from the vibrations of sharp noise and short money. Especially after their original label Touch & Go folded, the press moved onto the next band with "Crystal" in their name, and lead singer Jonny Bell had to get a day job as a chimney sweep. But the Long Beach quintet managed to return with the elegant destruction of Two Way Mirror, a splintering antidote to the soft-bearded yawps of popular indie rock. It's loud, obtusely tuneful, and boasts an ideal SoCal balance of soot and sunlight. -Jeff Weiss
For more see: Crystal Antlers: Best L.A. Rock Album So Far This Year?