So 2011 has been a pretty good year all round and no less so in the world of music. To be honest, the previous few years had some great records come out of them but when I sat down to try and come up with a ‘best of’ list, there didn’t seem to be enough to warrant a list, by the time I got to no. 4 or 5 I was already grasping at stuff that was, welll, okayyyy, buuut…
So this year I was very happy to find that I had to actually trim the list down. Here’s my personal favorites of the year, I’m sure there was a million more I missed, these are just the one’s that stood out for me and if you didn’t get a chance to hear one of these, I strongly advise you give it a spin and see what ya think. Happy Nu yr!
1. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
Took a while to grow on me, but the lush production, compressed rhythm tracks, Annie’s bizarre Kate Bush brand of storytelling and the feeling that you never quite know where it’s gonna go next eventually won me over as album of the year (key track – Surgeon)
2. Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat – Everything’s Getting Older
Ok…. it’s no secret… I’m turning 30 this year. Iv’e always been a fan of Aidan both with and post Arab Strap, but this rumination of life, love, and just getting older set to the stunning experimental yet gorgeous jazz of Bill Wells was the perfect match made in heaven. This was very nearly No.1. If you only listen to one album from this list, make it this. (key track – The Copper Top)
3. Radiohead – The King Of Limbs
…Obviously. The boys keep it more subdued and subtle, yet somehow (gulp) sexier? Not the follow-up a lot of people wanted, or expected, to In Rainbows ut on it’s own merits, still a great forward thinking record from a band of this stature. (key track – Lotus Flower)
4. Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
60’s girl group harmonies via Sweden. Oh, and the occasional mention of prostitutes. Great. (key track – I Follow Rivers)
5. We Were Promised Jetpacks – In The Pit Of Your Stomach
It makes perfect sense that they recorded this in Sigur Ros’s studio in Iceland, an old abandoned swimming pool. There is so much space on this record with the vocals sometimes sounding like they have been recorded from the other side of a glacier, and when everything kicks in, it’s the most beautiful noise created this year. (key track – The Boy In The Backseat)
6. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
Justin Vernon comes out of the woods and starts the thaw as he channels Peter Gabriel and brings friends along for the trip, and a trip it most certainly is. (key track – Holocene)
7. Martin John Henry – The Other Half Of Everything
I was obviously extremely sad to hear the news a few years back that De Rosa would be disbanding, they really had something special going on. So I have naturally been waiting with baited breath for MJH’s rumored solo debut. This year we got it and it is immediately obvious what his contribution to the band was. Vocal harmonies galore, all tumbling over the top of each other, thick Scottish tones and colloquialisms and a smattering of electronics. Inspired stuff and looking forward to the follow up. (key track – New Maps)
8. Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will
A little bittersweet this one as one of the highlights of my year was to be seeing the lads in NYC… then, due to visa a problems and ilness, they were forced to cancel not just once, but twice! Regardless, it’s a leap in a new direction for them. The songs are shorter, more energetic and (dare I say) poppy?? Or as close to poppy as post-rock can get. Can’t wait to hear them live… one day. (key track – How To Be A Werewolf)
9. Elbow – Build A Rocket Boys!
The second album in this list to channel a bit of the old Peter Gabriel, Elbow follow up the world attention grabbing Seldom Seen Kid with this, again, more subtle and intimate record. After hearing the first few tracks, I was sure this was gonna be my album of the year. That the rest of the album doesnt quite live up to the start in no way ditracts from this being a great record for a band still hitting their stride in mid-life. (key track – The Birds)
10. Death In Vegas – Trans Love Energies
The return of Richard Fearless’s genre bending DIV. It’s been a while but he has returned with vengeance and a new vigor that looked like he might have been losing on the last album. Thumping electro beats, whispy, dreamy vocals, epic instrumentals… it’s all here. Welcome back. (key track – My Loft, Your Acid)
So there you have it… let’s hope 2012 ends the world with a bunch of more great albums, including, of course, the new TSTM record if we can ever get it finished! ha ha.