2011 introduced us to a lot of new music, and as I mentioned in a previous article, at one point there was so much fresh material that I became a bit overwhelmed–I just couldn’t keep up! Now that I’ve had some time to sort through and listen to most of it, I’d like to present you with the Top 5 Debut Efforts of 2011. Some of these artists have been around for a while, doing covers and dropping singles, while others are fresh off the boat, but they’ve all got one thing in common: they released amazing debuts in 2011!

#5. House of Balloons – The Weeknd

This R&B newcomer caught my attention when he released his first ever album, the House of Balloons mixtape, featuring the singles “Wicked Games” and “High For This,” earlier this year. But that wasn’t all he gave fans in 2011. In the latter half of the year, The Weeknd released another mixtape by the name of Thursday, and he’s even featured on Drake’s newest album Take Care on the track “Crew Love.”

#4. Cole World (The Sideline Story) – J. Cole

“Work Out,” the first single off of J.Cole’s debut album, is also this past summer’s anthem. The album as a whole is impressive, dealing with mature themes that lead us into the rapper’s intimate world. The album was impressive from start to finish, and J.Cole just set the bar very for himself in 2012.

#3. Camp – Childish Gambino

All I really have to say about Donald’s Glover first studio album is: IMPRESSIVE. The words “entertaining,” “emotional,” “extravagant,” and “intense” also come to mind, all with extremely positive connotations. The album Camp features the single “Bonfire” and keeps us engaged with references to pop culture and the like throughout its entirety.

#2. Vows – Kimbra

This album was the most unexpected of surprises. It far surpassed my expectations, and I can confidently say that this artist has made a fan out of me for life! Kimbra is extremely talented. She has a beautiful range of vocals that complement the album’s intricate lyrics and funky/soulful beats. Favorite tracks are the single “Settle Down” and “Good Intent.”

#1. Torches – Foster The People

It should come as no shock that Foster the People’s debut album Torches is Number One on this list. The band’s intensely successful single “Pumped Up Kicks” was enough to land them on everybody’s musical radar in 2011. Torches also features singles “Houdini” and “Don’t Stop (Color On The Walls).”

There have been plenty of amazing debut releases this year, and these are just a few of the ones that really stood out to me. A short list, but it’s my little way of sharing my 2011-newly-established favorite artists and albums with YOU!