With a high-stakes presidential election around the corner, many people have wondered what's happened to protest music in America. From Pussy Riot to Paul Ryan, taking stock might not be as simple as it was a few decades ago.
With any debut album there's high expectations. When your previous work has been praised by numerous high-profile publications both online and print, those expectations skyrocket. Transitions somehow manages to exceed them.
This year's top artists are a diverse lot represented by two of the world's biggest pop divas, a plethora of critically adored indie faves, some new talents emerging from the hip-hop underground, a couple of veteran Americana acts, and a few alt-rock legends among many more.
Some of 2011's best songwriting came from artists whose work could be broadly defined as "alternative". Few of these artists fit the mold of the traditional singer-songwriter, creating music the blurs the lines defining genres.